[Marxism] [pen-l] Fwd: Is a Controversial Nuclear Plant to Blame for Soaring Thyroid Cancer Rates in New York? | Alternet

Jeff meisner at xs4all.nl
Wed Dec 6 08:00:50 MST 2017


On 2017-12-06 14:30, Louis Proyect via Marxism wrote:
> 
> On 12/5/17 12:52 PM, DW via Marxism wrote:
>> 
>> This paper (from the link posted by Louis P.)  has "junk science / 
>> quack
>> medicine" stamped in red all over it, for a number of reasons.
> 
> This is ridiculous. The study, which was conducted under the auspices
> of Columbia University and not Gary Null, simply states:
> 
> "The data do not represent conclusive proof

Exactly. In order to be published in a scientific journal it couldn't 
state conclusions that are unsupported by the data. But in a popular 
science article there are no rules on what can be published, so if one 
is publishing in order to advance an agenda then any sort of innuendo 
may be employed -- and does not amount to lying! -- such as simply 
questioning "Is a Controversial Nuclear Plant to Blame...?" That's like 
me simply questioning "Is Louis Proyect actually a space alien? Would 
that not explain X, Y and Z about him?"

It was also clear to me almost as soon as I started reading the article 
that it qualified as "junk science", or  perhaps "junk journalism" based 
on an otherwise properly published paper whose data couldn't support any 
firm conclusions, but when exported to the popular press can, for 
instance, include testimonials from individual cancer patients as if 
their individual perceptions had any weight. But even as a properly 
published scientific paper, I'd already be more suspicious of a paper 
whose authors are working for an advocacy group; it would be as if I 
were investigating the dangers of smoking and began by reading papers 
published by (yes, actual) scientists working for the tobacco industry.

> I understand that David and Marty Goodman are pro-nuclear

Right, and so I would also not base my knowledge just on what they 
assert. That is the entire reason that the scientific method was 
developed: to be able to make actual conclusions (and attach levels of 
statistical confidence to them) and separate those from beliefs or 
careless generalizations even when the "evidence seems compelling." But 
look (and I'm pretty sure David will agree), it has been pretty well 
established that there has been radiological health damage from nuclear 
weapon testing, uranium mining and processing, nuclear reactor 
accidents, and nuclear waste disposal. What political/policy conclusions 
you want to reach about nuclear power (etc.) is a very separate pursuit 
from these scientific studies and neither should be held hostage to the 
other.

My main concern in these regards is that leftists, especially Marxists 
who proudly (and justly!) assert that our understandings are 
scientifically supported, do not make fools of themselves when it comes 
to the hard sciences. If you're not really sure about a scientific fact, 
then please just say so and don't try to conclude that scientific claims 
which happen to favor your political agenda are valid for that reason. 
Because if you do, then in the end what you claim to be a "Marxist" 
position will be disproved by what is properly concluded using the 
scientific method, and all claims we make within the social sciences 
will appear no more trustworthy than our careless claims in the hard 
sciences.

- Jeff



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