The illiteracy to most fear

This example is from Via Meadia: A Closer Look at New Nuclear. Nuclear power has been a bogey man starting with the rise of that 60’s phenomena. It is another technology burdened by the ‘reduce to the absurd’ logical fallacy where the overall implications are ignored in order to feed hysteria and hyperbole.

“Nuclear power is a forbidding energy source, both for its spectacular failures in places like Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima, and for its general incomprehensibility. It’s (relatively) easy to understand how burning oil, gas, or coal produce energy, but most of us can’t fathom what goes on inside those monolithic concrete cooling towers and the facilities they lie within.”

“It would be nice to know more about this phenomenon without enrolling in a physics course.”

From a scientific standpoint, combustion is a much more complicated phenomena than fission. Anyone who has tried to start a fire or keep down the smoke from a campfire gets a good acquaintance with this.

As for “spectacular failures” … two were management issues and one a natural disaster. Two of the cited examples have injury and death risks so low that they are not detectable in the noise of normal health statistics. The only thing that makes them spectacular is the hyperbole of the ignorant feeding their fears.

“If you’re like us, much of this will still make you go cross-eyed, but it’s worth reading the whole thing to get a better idea of the options ahead for nuclear energy. The West has already invested in the LWR reactors to help supply its baseload power, and won’t be making the massive investments necessary for a new kind of nuclear power mix any time soon. But as we’ve said before, the developing world doesn’t need to make the same mistakes as the the developed has.”

The issue here is that technology always develops and it is the capitalism related philosophies behind Western Culture that distinguish if from the “developing world.” What prevents the advance of nuclear power technology is the “developed” world has regressed to third world ideologies and stunted the adoption of newer technologies. Consider computing as if regulations, laws, fears, and hyperbole make development of devices any more sophisticated than an 1980’s computer nearly impossible and extraordinarily expensive.

Two phenomena need to be addressed in order for civilization to advance. One is the idea that understanding even simple technological concepts is acceptable and the other is that the fundamental requirement of science – that testable reality rules over fantasy and ideology – gets a priority in decision making. Nuclear power, climate change, vaccinations, and evolution are just a few of the social issues where these two phenomena take a beating.

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