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Response to Fred Sanders (Reply #10)

Sat Jul 21, 2018, 02:06 PM

13. Thank you for your civil and kind suggestion about an approach to, um, "getting my point across."

Of course, as you might imagine, it's hardly the first time I've heard a similar suggestion about how I might better persuade people to hold a certain viewpoint.

It's quite possible that I've heard hundreds of similar suggestions over the years.

I would crudely estimate that about 80% of similar suggestions come from anti-nukes, many of whom like to engage in the pretense that they have open minds.

I can actually date the year in which I changed my mind about nuclear energy becoming a pronuke person, after having spent many years previous being a dumb ass anti-nuke. It was 1986, when I began to look into the situation at Chernobyl. Having been a dumb ass poorly educated anti-nuke myself - although I trained as a chemist, none of the institutions I attended offered a single course in nuclear chemistry (few institutions do) - I needed to educate myself about nuclear chemistry, nuclear engineering, and general nuclear science, mostly at the level of neutronics.

The reason I changed my mind is because I had been trained by dumb ass anti-nuke rhetoric, which I accepted uncritically as a participant in the vast anti-nuke circle of grotesque ignorance, to believe that Chernobyl would kill hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of people.

Now this idea may not be popular among anti-nukes, since no amount of information can make them change their minds, but over the years I've come to believe that experiment trumps theory. (Under current conditions the language needs another word for "trumps," but I'm stuck with it here.) The results of the unintentional "experiment" at Chernobyl are in. It killed people, to be sure, and it was a very bad event, not just because of the physical damage it undeniably caused, but especially because it gave extremely ignorant people a talking point to do great damage to humanity.

Anti-nukism kills people, because nuclear energy overall saves lives, on balance.


Now a word about the much recently discussed - in a completely absurd fashion - topic of "civility."

Kelly Ann Conway is an extremely ignorant person who clearly lacks in intelligence, education, and a fragment of human decency. She who has devoted her life to doing great damage to humanity by producing propaganda for the most clearly evil person ever to live in the White House, a corrupt, venal, thug who compromises the stated (if hardly lived) principles of even his supporters, never mind Americans as a whole. Every word that comes out of her mouth is raw sewage. I would be very surprised to learn that even 10% of the members here would be inclined to treat Kelly Ann Conway, or any in the set of her peers with a shred of civility. I am most definitely in the estimated 90% who thinks she is beneath contempt and does not deserve an iota of respect.

Now. I've been an advocate for nuclear energy for over 30 years. You say that you are not a nuclear expert but support nuclear energy. That's fine with me.

I will state that I am a nuclear expert, because I've made it my habit to dig deeper and deeper into the details of the topic at the highest publicly available level, the level of the primary scientific literature. I have traveled deep into the bowels of academic libraries to locate copies of papers published in obscure journals in the 1950's - there are research librarians who have come to know me personally, at least by face. I can also intelligently discuss recent nuclear publications: Just this morning (for an obscure example) I was reading (in connection with Fukushima) a paper on the effect of chloride ions on the oxygen potential related to the chromium component of zircaloy-4 in the cladding in used nuclear fuel in the presence of highly oxidizing hydroxyradicals.

As it happens, at the risk of encouraging the flights of innuendo and idiocy of the ignorant anti-nuke community, the cladding in used nuclear fuel does corrode faster than used nuclear fuel in water with controlled chemistry, and thus the cladding in the pools at Fukushima, where the pools were temporarily cooled with seawater, had accelerated corrosion. The question is not whether or not this is a good thing or not; clearly it isn't. The questions are "does it matter?" and "Is it significant?"

Suppose a used nuclear fuel cladding is breached. Would this mean that all of the radionuclides would instantaneously find its way into baby food and concentrate there? How many people would be injured or killed if the fuel was breached? As many as will die in the next two hours and every period of two hours thereafter from air pollution?

The tacit assumption in these representations is that a single radioactive atom is somehow worse than a ton of mercury routinely released by coal plants, never mind 31 billion tons of carbon dioxide every damned year.

Now I referred to a particular instance - without naming the person - of an anti-nuke asshole in the OP here. The selection of this particular asshole is somewhat generic. Just as we generalize at DU about Trump supporters, after 30 years of often direct experience with these intellectual and moral human disaster zones, I generalize about anti-nukes. To my mind the individual variances among them are without interest. What is of interest is that they are working to cause great harm, much as Kelly Ann Conway is working to cause great harm.

Instead of referring to the asshole who carried on about the Hanford tunnel, I could have chosen to refer to another such asshole, for example the asshole who used to write here who believed that having temporary access to a tritium based RIA kit put him on a level to judge the life's work of Glenn Seaborg, or the asshole who loved to report about how much money was being spent on so called "renewable energy" because it was so popular, or any of a vast array of similar anti-nukes who embrace equally specious rhetoric.

Now here is one of the many lists of logical fallacies available by simple googling on the internet: 15 logical fallacies

I am personally known for engaging in the use of the ad hominem fallacy, especially before I came to my senses, and realized that some people are so stupid that there is no value in engaging directly with them on any level, and began using the wonderful "ignore" key here. I do use logical fallacies from time to time, because most often, I am addressing people who utilize all or most of them unashamedly. I don't believe in unilateral disarmament; I think it would be an ethical mistake to be civil to Kelly Ann Conway, or Donald Trump or a generic anti-nuke. So, I'm completely comfortable to using the term "asshole" to describe anti-nukes in the generic general sense.

The overwhelming majority of the posts I write here are either in this forum, or in the science forum, and of those, the overwhelming majority of these refer to papers in the primary scientific literature that I excerpt and include some editorial derision directed at the anti-nuke community of idiots. Now, in my case, these idiots have proved to be useful idiots for me, because, as a political liberal, I used to embrace the idea that so called "renewable energy" is a good and viable thing. This is not even remotely true, as it turns out, but I rather blindly accepted that it was true until I began to look into some of the claims made by people who were not interested in replacing dangerous fossil fuels with so called "renewable energy" but rather with replacing what proves to be the only available sustainable form of energy there is, nuclear energy.

I recently heard a dumb guy, the head of the Sierra Club in New Jersey, make the Trumpian scale lie - this at was advertised as the "New Jersey March for Science" which proved to be, much to my chagrin, the "New Jersey March for Renewable Energy." The lie, addressed to a person who noted the toxicology associated with the failed and unacceptably expensive solar industry, was the claim that "solar cells are becoming less toxic."

Now the most efficient lab scale solar cells, with thermodynamic efficiencies greater than 20%, are perovskite solar cells. The perovskites most often discussed are based on lead iodide, lead being the neurotoxic element that has been widely distributed by the coal, automotive (historically), and plumbing industry. This has lead to disasters like, but hardly limited to, the Flint, Michigan crisis. Now before us is a proposal to distribute lead solar cells for "distributed energy" with as little consideration as went into the distribution of lead for the distributed energy device known as the authomobile.

Now let us consider the specific asshole to whom I referred in the OP, although I certainly had a huge array of other equally generic assholes to whom I could have referred instead of this particular asshole:

I wrote a commentary on a proposal to recycle lead perovskite solar cells even before the disaster of making and selling them actually takes place. This a fantasy designed to put lipstick on an unacceptable pig: Recycling low energy to mass density materials that are widely distributed further degrades their already unacceptably low energy return.

Most of my highly technical posts in this space sink like rocks; which is perfectly fine with me. If some is amused by one or if someone actually profits by reading one, that's great, but my purpose in writing them is to force me to think about a subject I find interesting or useful either for rhetorical or practical reasons.

The post in question did just that, sank like a rock, only to reappear a few weeks later. Was the post that brought it back up a post about recycling lead perovskites or a comment on the (dirty) process by which the recycling was described? Did it relate to the sustainability of solar cells?

No. It was a comment about the collapse of a tunnel at the Hanford nuclear weapons plant...

Now. Here is how I described myself 11 years ago on another political website:

Here is the problem with my tone: I am extremely arrogant, extremely conceited, dismissive, insulting, fierce and rude. Other than those small drawbacks, I think I'm a nice guy. I have, I think, a number of strengths, but modesty and grace aren't necessarily among them, even though by any independent standard, I'm no great shakes...

(I wrote this about myself as part of a blogsphere apology, an apology I now regard as a mistake. The Nuclear Shill Apologizes.

Now suppose I point out that Donald Trump is "extremely arrogant, extremely conceited, dismissive, insulting, fierce and rude." Would this prove that I am not "extremely arrogant, extremely conceited, dismissive, insulting, fierce and rude." Of course not. The fact that Donald Trump is "extremely arrogant, extremely conceited, dismissive, insulting, fierce and rude," has no bearing whatsoever on whether I am also "extremely arrogant, extremely conceited, dismissive, insulting, fierce and rude."

Arguments of this type touch upon the Tu Quoque fallacy which is very popular among the right wing assholes in the Republican party, including the awful orange excuse for a "President."

Among the logical fallacies in raising a point about a Hanford tunnel collapse in a post about recycling lead laced solar cells are the red herring fallacy, the Hasty Generalization Fallacy (a claim that a particular instance of a problem with a radioactive site implies all nuclear operations are problematic), faulty comparison...etc...etc...etc.

Now as it happens, I did interact briefly with the dullard in question only to end up violating the rule here against ad hominem attacks. In addition, the person here was so stupid that I found my blood pressure rising.

To what end?

The asshole pretended to be open minded - a Trumpian scale misrepresentation - and "not really opposed to nuclear energy" but experience teaches that this sort of generic person is just full of shit. I neither knew or cared about this person before hand, but apparently he or she was familiar with me, familiar enough to stew for a few weeks over a post that pointed to a real problem with the expensive, toxic and useless solar industry to raise a point about problems with a nuclear issue, albeit one that had nothing to do with nuclear power (or recycling elements from toxic solar cells) but actually related to nuclear weapons, the latter, by the way, being a class of objects I generally oppose.

Now we could argue that fertilizer is dangerous because of the fertilizer terrorist Timothy McVeigh who blew up the Oklahoma City federal building using ammonium nitrate fertilizer along with dangerous diesel fuel.

An argument that fertilizer is a bad thing - and there are many environmental problems with fertilizer that have nothing to do with terrorism - might have, were it to succeed, an effect upon the survival of billions of people who need to eat using foods grown with the use of fertilizer.

Thus, like nuclear energy, the use of fertilizer needs risk/benefit analysis, balance.

But let's turn finally to the basic assumption that you make in arguing that I should be polite, which is that my tone is ineffective at changing people's minds. The assumption is that this is my goal, to make people change their minds. Often closed minded anti-nukes try to claim that they would in fact be more reasonable if I weren't rude and obnoxious, which is also bullshit, since no reasonable argument politely stated would have any effect on them whatsoever.

If I scream at someone on a roadway in the path of a speeding truck, "Hey! Get out of the road asshole!" it would not serve their interests nor the interests of the truck driver if they respond, "Ask me nicely and I'll consider it."

Anti-nuke ignorance kills people. There's nothing nice to say about that.

The fact is that I neither believe that these people can change their minds, nor am I attempting to change their minds.

I'm an old man. I'm seeing and deeply regretting what my awful generation is leaving behind. My goal in writing here, beyond clarifying things in my own mind is to express anger.

I stated it elsewhere thusly:

Thanks for your friendly suggestion, but...
...let me explain why I write the diaries the way I do.

The process by which I write my science diaries here begins with a scan of the usual journals that I read - although I do mix it up here and there and try to include some journals that I usually don't usually read - until I find some paper relevant to the on going catastrophe that I think I might be able to use to construct a poll here.

The polls are the thing itself.

Generally this list might involve 20 or 30 papers.

I narrow the list by deciding which paper involves a subject that I would like to know more about - since I always learn something when I write the diaries.

Writing this one while collecting the references from the original paper, for instance, I learned that the death toll from the 2003 European heat wave is estimated to be 70,000 people.

I didn't know that until two days ago.

When I was a younger man, I used to be very serious about writing, and engaged in lots of rewrites. Although there are exceptions in my diaries here, what I try to do is here now (partially because of time constraints) free write: Blurt out what comes into my mind as the diary evolves.

I think this shows up in the sometimes confusing rambling that my diaries sometimes involve.

I cannot read the things I read - for instance about the 70,000 deaths - without being simultaneously angry and filled with a sense of the absurd, and usually by the end, the anger just pours out.

The writer Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that he never felt as if he had absolute control over the lives of the characters in his novel: He compared himself to a puppeteer: A peppeteer (sic) with elastic strings.

So it is with my diaries.

I don't generally have time to fix them, which is why they sometimes appear with grammatic errors and mispellings. I might go back and change something a year or so later, but that's long after they've gone down the memory hole.

And, the truth is, really I don't want them to be nice.

You read scientific papers, and you recognize that they are often about real tragedy, real human tragedy, and the authors are trapped in this polite and gracious writing style.

The last excerpt from the Nature Climate Change paper above is about as strongly emotional as one sees, but look, they can't say, scream "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THESE INSIPID JOURNALISTS!?!" can they?

The editors wouldn't allow it.

We're supposed to be "polite."

Well there are no editors here. This place has its flaws and its frustrations, but it has no editors.

I have to think that there are a lot of scientists who want to do more than be politefeel it some of them: Jim Hansen for instance in "Storms of my Grandchildren.

I mean, 70,000 people dead from heat and we are all about the "radioactive" tuna fish?

I'm not writing here to save myself or to make myself seem neat, or professional or kind. I'm none of those things.

I'm just screaming.

I'm screaming in hopes of letting someone in the next generations know - should any of them ever read any of this - that someone cared about what we were doing to them, someone tried to stop it, that some of us weren't seeking to live in some kind of sybaritic narcotic haze where we didn't have to know anything and just did what we damn well pleased to do in the moment.

But that hope too - that someone will notice what I say and what I tried to do - is like the hope that humanity would have addressed climate change before it was too late, is nothing.

(Hence the Shakespear paraphrase above: "He should have died hereafter..." )

This is a backwater website; and I'm a minor writer on it; nothing that I say is likely to accomplish anything or even survive long; but if, by some accident, something of my work is noticed and survives, I want it to seem that I least I tried to do something.

I appreciate your kind words, and kind suggestion but these diaries have been this way a long time and I'm afraid I don't really control them as much as they control me.


Comment in "Is It Just the Weather?"

By the way, I was banned from that website for crudely telling the truth.

Here's the comment that got me banned:

Did anyone die from radiation at Fukuishima, anything like the 37 dead yesterday from the oil train crash? The 167 who died at the Piper Alpha explosion? Anything like the 200,000+ who died from the great Banqioa renewable energy dam collapse?

The great climate scientist Jim Hansen has published in the primary scientific literature a paper with something called scientific references, data that shows that nuclear energy 1.8 million lives. (Environ. Sci. Technol., 2013, 47 (9), pp 48894895) Hansen shows that were it not for fear and ignorance, nuclear energy might save 10 million lives more, with just a minor tech.

It follows that anti-nukes are not merely enemies of the people, they are murderers, pure and simple, murderers whose weapons are fear and ignorance.

Have a nice of evening.

Now "Kos" worked to elect Barack Obama, something I very much agreed was a good thing, and Barack Obama chose Nobel Laureate Stephen Chu to be his first Secretary of Energy, who then worked to restart the building of nuclear power plants in the United States, an effort thwarted by the lie that natural gas energy is cheap, which it isn't if one includes - as is not practiced - external costs.

But Kos's energy views are ignorant, as are the views of his equally energy ignorant journalist Tim Lange. They are efforts to kill people by opposing clean energy and allowing dirty energy not only to persist but expand. My statement above is true, and since Kos owns his website, he is perfectly free to ban me, which he did.

That power however does not make him any less asinine however; and one good thing - working to elect Obama - does not imply that the bad thing he's done, the evil thing - opposing nuclear energy - is either admirable or morally or intellectually acceptable. Both activities stand or fall on their own merits independent of one another.

People have written me to suggest I should apologize to Kos. For what? Telling the truth? This is an ass who once had his front page writers falling all over themselves to praise the "science of Jim Hansen" until Jim Hansen said something that they didn't like.

How does this make them different from Jim Inhofe or Mitch McConnell, the claim that science is valid if and only if it jibes with their political rhetoric?

Actually both sides are expressing contempt for science and scientists in order to aggrandize what is, in fact, awful political rhetoric.

No, I am not going to "be nice." Thanks for the suggestion, but there's nothing worthwhile in it. The planetary atmosphere is collapsing and there is nothing at all that I can do about it other than to scream into the void.

Thanks, again, for your suggestion. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

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NNadir Jul 2018 OP
Fred Sanders Jul 2018 #1
NNadir Jul 2018 #3
Fred Sanders Jul 2018 #8
NickB79 Jul 2018 #11
Eko Jul 2018 #2
Fred Sanders Jul 2018 #9
sfwriter Jul 2018 #4
John ONeill Jul 2018 #12
sfwriter Jul 2018 #14
NNadir Jul 2018 #15
GeorgeGist Jul 2018 #5
NNadir Jul 2018 #6
Fred Sanders Jul 2018 #10
LineLineLineLineNew Reply Thank you for your civil and kind suggestion about an approach to, um, "getting my point across."
NNadir Jul 2018 #13
Fred Sanders Jul 2018 #16
John ONeill Jul 2018 #18
Fred Sanders Jul 2018 #19
NNadir Jul 2018 #20
hunter Jul 2018 #21
JayhawkSD Jul 2018 #7
hunter Jul 2018 #17
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