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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Breaking the Cycle of Anti-nuclear Indoctrination

From a comment under one of my articles:  
"It's pretty obvious that tons of people have gotten duped on nuclear energy. Do you (or anyone else) have an idea why that is?"
 My reply:
Start by listing all of your favorite nuclear war apocalypse science-fiction novels and movies.
  • Conflate nuclear weapons with nuclear power stations.
  • Terrorize the public with false claims like "Nuclear power stations are nuclear bombs just waiting to go off"--Helen Caldicott
  • Capitalize on that fear by claiming your organization is trying to protect you from those nuclear power stations.
  • Pour gas on this misinformation with a for-profit, sensationalist-driven, innumerate, lay press.
  • Let it cook for a generation or so before the arrival of the internet to shine a light on the misinformation.
Voilà! A generation of indoctrinated aging hippies and a new generation that may yet be informed given enough effort.
From a comment under an Environmental Progress article:
They are lying to us!
The question is why? Presumably environmentalists at Greenpeace are good people who want the best for us and for nature. But why then do they lie about nuclear energy, scaring us half to death? (Or *actually* to death, if you consider the people killed in Fukushima as a result of the panic!)
My reply:
The question is why?

Indoctrination. Most think they're telling the truth at this point. They are indoctrination victims (Google synonym of victim). Those that realize the truth are ousted from the organization or just leave (think atheist evolutionary biologist in a creationist church). And then there is the comfort and anxiety relief (endorphin dumps) provided by being a member of a tribe. Human nature ...
Michael has explained how the snowball got rolling. It's been rolling downhill for a long time but there may be an inflection point ahead.

This post will serve as a place-holder for articles I've already written and for more I'll be writing that critique various anti-nuclear energy arguments. I hope that people will bookmark this article to copy and paste links from the list below as part of a rebuttal to these arguments when seen in comment fields, blogs, or our for-profit, sensationalist-driven, innumerate, lay press. They're not in any particular order.

Also, note that I sometimes sprinkle my posts with random nature photos I've taken over the years as a reminder that the sixth extinction event was recognized by science before climate change reared its ugly head.

Most anti-nuclear arguments are defeated by simply putting them into perspective. When it comes to cost, mining, land use, safety, waste containment, environmental impact, CO2 emissions, and on and on, most other power sources fair no better or are far worse than nuclear power stations.
  1. Breaking The Cycle of Anti-nuclear Indoctrination--Uranium Mine Tailings Argument
  2. Breaking The Cycle of Anti-nuclear Indoctrination--Nuclear Energy Waste; Making Mountains Out of Mole Hills 
  3. Breaking the Cycle of Anti-nuclear Indoctrination--The "Nuclear Energy Creates Thousands of Square Miles of Uninhabitable Land ...for Centuries" Argument
  4. Breaking the Cycle of Anti-nuclear Indoctrination--The "80% renewables" argument
  5. Breaking the Cycle of Anti-nuclear Indoctrination--The "Nuclear power stations will be disabled by a lack of water, warming water, rising sea levels, storms, and on and on" arguments
  6. Breaking the Cycle of Anti-nuclear Indoctrination--the "Nuclear is a mature industry" argument  
  7. Breaking the Cycle of Anti-nuclear Indoctrination--the "Electric vehicles will store excess electricity from wind and solar" argument
  8.  Breaking the Cycle of Anti-nuclear Indoctrination--Tribalism
Based on the above definitions, can we label an individual who uncritically accepts disinformation as true, an indoctrination victim?

Are you a victim of indoctrination? Interestingly enough, your answer is no. The answer to that question, paradoxically, is always no  ...whether or not you're an indoctrination victim. Nobody will ever say yes to that question. To answer in the affirmative would be self-contradictory (you would be consciously aware that your beliefs are false).

Inter-generational indoctrination is like a snowball rolling downhill. It may have started with falsehood, but that falsehood is soon buried deep inside as each victim passes on what they think is the truth to the next victim with the tale growing larger with each retelling.

Thanks to the internet, it's easier than ever to seek critique of beliefs or confirmation of them. A creationist can choose to read Darwin's On the Origin of Species, any of the books by Dawkins, or just stick to scripture.

Many of the reasons a creationist will stick with scripture rather than seek the truth are shared by people who stick with the disinformation disseminated by anti-nuclear groups. Abandonment of a core tribal belief will result in excommunication (social rejection). Recent research has found that social rejection is treated by the brain just like physical pain, which is a strong incentive to stick with shared tribal beliefs. My goal here isn't to cause pain to those already indoctrinated, but to provide information for those not already strongly indoctrinated with anti-nuclear misinformation--to break the cycle of dissemination of misinformation by the misinformed.

Thanks to indoctrination, the word evolution elicits a negative Pavlovian response in many creationists. Similarly, the word atheist has an intensely negative connotation with many theists. Ditto for those indoctrinated with anti-nuclear ideology when they hear the word nuclear, vaccine for anti-vaxxers, and on it goes.

If climate change and the havoc it will wreak is real (highly likely), and assuming we are capable of doing anything about it (highly unlikely), then it's critically important that we blunt the misguided stance of anti-nuclear environmental organizations (and their victims). We can't forgive them for not knowing what they do.

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