We've gotten a heads up that Joseph Mangano, the brains behind the "Tooth Fairy" project, will be holding a press conference tomorrow afternoon fronting more junk science about nuclear energy. He'll be back with the usual suspects, Robert Alvarez and Janette Sherman, this time claiming that closing the Rancho Seco nuclear plant (click here for a photo) in California "might" have coincided with a decrease in cancer deaths.
Mangano and company are making these claims despite the fact that nuclear power plants only account for .1% of the radiation that a typical American is exposed to over the course of a year. Meanwhile, exposures from life saving medical procedures like CT scans and X-Rays account for about 50%.
Putting that aside, a number of third party experts and journalists have regularly taken turns debunking Mangano's research. In 2011, Michael Moyer of Scientific American said the following about one Mangano study that claimed Americans were suffering from severe health effects in the wake of Fukushima:
[A] check reveals that the authors’ statistical claims are critically flawed—if not deliberate mistruths.Thankfully, it appears that more and more journalists are starting to ask hard questions when it comes to Mangano's soundbites. In December 2011, Barbara Ostrov from Reporting on Health, a blog sponsored by USC Annenberg, warned journalists to "proceed with caution," when it came to Mangano's claims, especially considering that his research can only seem to find a home in a relatively obscure publication. To say the least, NEI echoes Ms. Ostrov's advice, and urges reporters to rigorously question his findings while also seeking out third party experts for their opinions.
Only by explicitly excluding data from January and February were Sherman and Mangano able to froth up their specious statistical scaremongering.
This is not to say that the radiation from Fukushima is not dangerous, nor that we shouldn’t closely monitor its potential to spread (we should). But picking only the data that suits your analysis isn’t science—it’s politics. Beware those who would confuse the latter with the former.