Science & Society

How The Media Has Hurt The Japanese People

First and foremost I have a personal message for the 180 or so heroes who have been working in shifts around the clock to save their nation from a worse disaster than the one that Japan has already suffered.

To the Heroes of Fukushima: 

May you each be most correctly and sincerely honored - not just by by your own nation, but by the whole world.  You have risked your lives to save others.  You are morally remarkable people who have actively taken part in serving our global society.  Through your diligence and perseverance you have become public role models.  You each deserve at least these three medals of honor:

In Nanjing, that is close to Shanghai, and I suppose also in other places around here*, you cannot buy salt anymore. Every last grain has been bought up. Why? Apparently, some evil guy started the rumor that table salt, which is sodium chloride (NaCl), can protect you from radioactivity. We are not talking about iodide salt here, nor even sea salt either, which has some iodide in it, but simple salt, which there is already way too much in the Chinese diet.

*(Update: In the whole of China, the first person died already from eating too much salt!)

So I check my blog comments this morning, and guess who the culprit is? IT IS ME! According to the comments to my last article, I am the one to blame! How so?

Language may have an undervalued role in learning the meanings of numbers.   A study based on research using deaf people in Nicaragua who never learned formal sign language showed that people who communicate using self-developed gestures (homesigns) were unable to comprehend the value of numbers greater than three because they had not learned a language containing symbols used for counting.
Really?  Seriously  according to OK Cupid's analysis of their data from asking 642533 people the question  5% of men (gay and straight) and 10% of women (gay and straight) think the Earth is bigger than the Sun.  This finding is in a posting by Ok Cupids researchers about gay Vs straight sex. 
Given the general fear regarding radiation levels around Japan, this seems the perfect time to give a short introduction to this important topic. There is a lot of confusion regarding radiation and radiation poisoning and this article will try and break it down. 

Radioactive decay
The UK Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir John Beddington, is in Tokyo trying to dampen expat fears that the Fukushima nuclear reactors could possibly ruin their lives.

I had actually received snippets of this meeting by email and was tempted to publish them yesterday. Luckily, Sir John's wisdom is now online for all to see. I just wish to copy some excerpts.
ASAN and the IACC

On Monday, I went through an ASAN petition to the CDC that appears to have been intentionally hyperbolic and meant to get supporters foaming at the mouth. Since I posted the piece, I've continued to look into the ICD-9-CM, IACC's take on wandering, and when it was first mentioned at the IACC, of which Ari Ne'eman is a committee member.

This morning, Wendy Fournier commented at the article on Science 2.0, providing information that placed when Ari Ne'eman would have been first informed of the CDC's interest in wandering:

For days now, scientists and science blogs tell us not to worry about Japan’s nuclear reactors. Nothing can happen; no radiation will be released, all is fine. We are treated to false experts even, to one-sided rants of somebody who studied risk management in corporations, published originally on a business friendly website.

Japan's Nuclear Emergency - The Straight Goods - Update

The latest reports coming from Japan indicate that the current nuclear emergency is not as great as some people had feared it might be.

Despite some media reports: there have been no reactor explosions.  Period.

Radiation levels are falling, according to the most recent news release by the Japanese government.
The online disability rights and autism advocacy movements intersect, with appeals from the autism advocacy movement appealing to the larger disability rights movement. Recently, a new petition has been started by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network calling for individuals to "Tell the CDC 'No' on Abuse-Enabling 'Wandering' Code!"