Ann Coulter on radiation: Wrong in a really interesting way


Last week, Ann Coulter told America that exposure to low levels of radiation might actually be a good thing. And most of America went, "What?"

But, while Coulter seems to have overstated the case, there is, apparently, a not-widely-accepted scientific theory behind what she said. PolitiFact ended up rating Coulter's claim as "Barely True" because of hormesis—a controversial idea based on some early studies in the United States which seemed to show that regions with higher natural levels of background radiation had a lower incidence of cancer. The trouble (for Coulter) is that hormesis is far from being a proven concept.

[Fred] Mettler [a radiation expert at the University of New Mexico] cautioned not to read too much into such studies, however.

"In addition to variability in populations, statistical uncertainties, potential bias factors, and chance, on one hand there will be instances in which there was less effect than predicted," he wrote. "This is all understandable without invoking a unifying hypothesis of hormesis."

Owen Hoffman, a radiation-risk expert at Senes Oak Ridge Inc., a center for risk analysis, said that studies show low levels of radiation might eliminate some cancer but initiate others.

Hoffman also pointed to the work of Dr. Charles Land of the National Cancer Institute, who "has shown in several of his recent publications that there is considerable uncertainty in the estimation of radiation risk. In his work, he does not give much credibility to the possibility that radiation induces a protective or beneficial effect. On the other hand, he concludes that even if some credibility could be given to the possibility of a threshold or beneficial effect of radiation exposure at low doses and low dose rates, the biological and epidemiological evidence that new cancers may be initiated or promoted by radiation exposure cannot be completely ruled out."

"At present," Hoffman said, "carefully conducted epidemiological evidence does not support the presence of such beneficial effects in human populations that have been carefully monitored and followed up over time."

PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter on Ann Coulter's radiation claims

Via Roobina

Image: Some rights reserved by Nomad Tales


  1. “Ra-di-a-tion. Yes, indeed. You hear the most outrageous lies about it. Half-baked goggle-box do-gooders telling everybody it’s bad for you. Pernicious nonsense. Everybody could stand a hundred chest X-rays a year. They ought to have them, too.”

    J. Frank Parnell

    1. Seconded, well put.

      Might I add that Coulter OUGHT to have a hundred chest X-rays a year. Fry that Randian cheerleader to a crisp and save us all from this raving lunatic. For science of course. Or…

      *Coulter opens the trunk and is vaporized in a flash*
      “Oh, my. What a shame.”

  2. Coming from Coulter, I can see her perspective that it is a good thing, since I imagine that she was generated to life through radiation, with all the left-over parts of soulless humans, in a laboratory, by some modern day Frankenstein.

  3. If you replace every instance of the word “hormesis” in this article with the word “horniness,” you get a more entertaining read.

  4. I have been noticing something, and I wonder how others would account for it: there seems to be a sector of the American political world, mostly on the right, that consistently tells lies, just for the heck of it.

    It doesn’t appear to gain them anything, sometimes, as in this instance, it doesn’t even really affect anything, except perhaps to create a kind of drift of public perception and behavior in a direction that I would call “negative”. It’s as if a whole group of people had joined together to create a perversion of the truth, for no apparent short-term reason. It’s as if they take the evil path, just because it’s evil (if I may be permitted to use that word), all under the same banner, supporting each other.

    Why would someone do this? That’s a serious question, and I don’t think a simple dismissal that they’re sick covers it, given the power they seem to be throwing around. The easy way out would be to say they’re all part of a conspiracy to create doubt of basic truth, but I think that gives them too much credit, that they would all get together at some meeting and decide to do that.

    It’s a serious question; I hope at least one or two people might have a serious possible answer.

    1. It’s kind of a weird situation, but the more they lie, the less likely they can be sued over it.

    2. You are correct, and I think I know why. The right isn’t really for anything. Yeah yeah, low taxes, smaller government, etc. But what they are really for is being against whatever the left is for. Environmentalists (viewed as part of the left) traditionally don’t like nuclear power. There is much discussion currently about nuclear projects and radiation exposure because of events in Japan. Hence she gloms onto a flimsy theory that makes environmentalists look bad, or at least like alarmist extremists. Of course, you have to play up said theory and bolster it with made up facts, but there you go.

    3. The convenient answer would be that the truth has a liberal bias. But there doesn’t have to be an active right-wing conspiracy here, just a general consensus that scientific and historical facts are always open to dispute. The relentless full-court press on all facts and truth makes it easier to cast doubt on facts regarding politically and culturally sensitive subjects such as climate change and evolution. IF you create a media environment that encourages the general public perception is that “experts” are often wrong or don’t really know anything, then you can more easily manipulate the public with your own “facts”.

    4. M, I think at least part of it comes from what I’ve heard called a “window” of acceptable discourse. A lot of Americans proudly identify themselves as being in the middle. If the right margin moves rightward, and the left margin doesn’t move, the middle moves rightward. By this theory, the goal of extreme right wing nut jobs isn’t to be believed, but to change the limits of believability.

      (Insert standard disclaimers about the validity of one-dimension political models.)

    5. It’s not about telling lies for the sake if spreading falsehood. It’s about saying anything without regard for the truth to provide support for whichever lobbyist group is currently paying for their dinners. From Coulter’s statement, we can deduce that she’s recently been getting attention from the nuclear energy lobby. Money talks.

      1. I’m not convinced by that one. The nuclear energy industry doesn’t spout such a daft line as “radiation is good for you”. It’s mostly “our plant is really safe, it won’t release much radiation” AFAICT.

        I know you could claim that the nuclear is secretly trying to shift the Overton window, but when you have a reputation as sinister liars, paying known liars to be your allies won’t help your image.

        (I sound like an Al Franken book title but you know what I mean).

    6. I agree with what’s being said here… in the Ministry of Misinformation’s arsenal this is just another mind-numbing nonsense bomb. Part of the right’s purposed strategy to discourage and cripple critical thought (aka “dissent”) among those who are most susceptible.

    7. I think it is possible that it paves a way to make more egregious lies seem believable when they need them to be. They create an atmosphere of conflicting information and distortion about a subject when the truth is actually simple and, to a point regarding some matters, cut-and-dry. They do this in order to maintain the atmosphere of confusion and uncertainty that allows for their ridiculous lies to be taken by a portion of the population as fact. Skilled propagandists will insert elements of clear truth into their message in order to communicate the lie. It gives the lie credibility. But what do I know? Probably not much and I admit that.

    8. This previous article at the link, and comment #9, appeal to my reasoning and would serve as my answer to your question.
      I don’t think it’s a question of right or left or good vs evil, it’s just a collective mind think that ebbs and flows, but always thinks it knows best. A majority is more susceptible to that ebb and flow then others. I can’t say that it’s media driven either. I hate to drag religion into it – but the suspension of belief or the inherent trust in faith shows to me that, more so than media, people are greatly influenced by what they feel to be a “community” or “fellowship” influence of thought, knee-jerk reactions, what have you. That is where the “trend” aspect of group think comes in, i.e. “I know this to be true because that’s what “we” think”.

      Much like kids at high school, the general public just wants to go with the flow in all things. Why those things t(r)end towards the negative? I think it goes back to religion. Society as a whole is secretly masochistic – they love to feel bad. There’s a reason we love drama and reality tv. Those feelings carry over into our politics and world view. My mom used to say, “it’s easier to drop an anchor than to pick one up.” Negativity, believe it or not, is the easy road. Even with religion many find it hard to remain positive. It only makes sense for people to take the easy path.

  5. In spite of this brave talk, I don’t doubt if she discovered that she found herself in a place with elevated radiation she’d throw children out of her way to be the first one out of there.

    Instead, she should get back to the task of convincing people that elevated carbon emissions and mercury tainted fish are a benefit to people. Republicans like coal power, not nuclear (unless it’s in a military vessel).

  6. In grad school I took a few classes from a prof who was funded by the DOE back in the ’50s to see if it was possible to evolve resistance to ionizing radiation. His model system was the tribolium flour beetle. His protocol was basically: zap ’em, breed ’em, zap the progeny, repeat.

    Take home from many generations of irradiated beetles: you can’t evolve resistance to ionizing radiation. Now that we know a bit more about DNA than the did back then, this isn’t too surprising what with ionizing radiation being mutagenic and most mutations being bad.

    Perhaps Anne should read a bit more of the original literature.

  7. I think since Ann’s dropped off the radar, there being so many *younger* female wingnut pundits now, she had to say something and show she’s still got it. Kind of like Camille Paglia in Salon using the death of Elizabeth Taylor to remind us that she (Paglia) is a “real feminist” in the sense that former Gov. Zell “What’re you trying to do–blackmail ME?” Miller is a “real Democrat.”

  8. let me extrapolate…

    if a little radiation is “actually good for you”
    then a lot of radiation must be really really good for you!

    the lamestream media must be lying to me about deaths among the Fukushima Fifty
    it all makes sense now….

    posted with ironyâ„¢

    1. Millrick, what’s the source of your apparent claim of radiation deaths among the Fukushima Fifty? I’m pretty sure the ultimate source is The Daily Mail which is confused about the number of dead and on close reading doesn’t actually claim they died from radiation. IAEA lists 1 killed during the earthquake at Daini and two missing at Daiichi. When and how they went missing is not stated, but TEPCO’s early reports said two were missing after the tsunami.

      Additionally, Fukushima Fifty is an inaccurate term caused by media confusion. 50-60 people (mainly managers) remained in an onsite airtight bunker. The managers direct work, the hard stuff is done by a few hundred grunts.

  9. Possibly an artifact of Darwinian theory? Those with a natural resistance to developing cancer due to background radiation have a better chance of surviving in areas with this radiation, thus the genes responsible for this would no doubt incorporate into the genome of the people who live there?

    That, or it’s just a case of the usual media propaganda bs you subscribe to.

  10. All politicians lie… even the ones on the left. And I’s say at the same rate as well. To say that lying in politics is monopolized by one side over the other reveals your bias.

    1. To say that lying in politics is monopolized by one side over the other reveals your bias.

      The right doesn’t monopolize lying, they’re just so much better at it. I guess that’s to be expected, they’re no good for anything else.

      1. “The right doesn’t monopolize lying, they’re just so much better at it.”

        Um, not to nit-pick but… Being better at lying is all about not getting caught. So they might all be liars, but I wouldn’t really say that they are better liars. Just more prolific. Or is that pathological.. hmmm.

        Also, the GOP seems to lie about the most ridiculous issues. It’s like they are in a contest with each other to see how many times they can say ‘meow’ or ‘moo’ in a conversation before somebody else catches on that they are just completely full of crap.

    2. Every now and then, you get something that you can evaluate independently of political bias. Scientific things like whether evolution is true or humans are likely to be causing global warming, or sometimes historical things like whether the Great Depression got worse when the New Deal was put in.

      Comparing what Republicans and Democrats say about these things makes it pretty clear whether they are lying as much or not. They aren’t, and declaring that conclusion as biased in advance of the data is only well poisoning.

      1. There’s good evidence that government intervention did prolong The Depression.

        Politicians, or specifically politicians on the Left aren’t lying? There is no well to poison. You’ve already emptied it to prepare a giant batch of Kool-Aid.

        1. You hear accusations enough, and I’ve wondered if I’m simply confirming my own biases. That’s why I went with things you can objectively verify. For instance, I didn’t say whether it prolonged the depression, which requires some analysis that could get skewed, but simply whether the depression got deeper with the New Deal. I’ve heard Republicans claim it did, but you can see it didn’t.

          The same happens with other issues; on most things you can verify as lies (evolution, global warming, death panels, war on Christmas were named here) either the Republicans are lying, or both parties are. I didn’t say everyone on the Left was honest, just that looking at these sorts of simple issues shows there is no symmetry between the two.

          People like you and OrcOnTheEndOfMyFork might insist there is no difference, but somehow the massive examples that are so easy to find for the right are never forthcoming for the left. Or when they are, they’re always fringe groups like Truthers, somehow held up as equivalent to the mainstream Republican leaders.

          If you still think this is “kool aid”, well, you’ve at least heard my reasoning; let’s hear what you have.

        2. There’s good evidence that government intervention did prolong The Depression.

          REALLY! Do share this evidence, please, since nobody else seems to have anything of the sort.

  11. Ann Coulter + deep American distrust of science = Hates anything too scientific (those eggheads!)

    Atomic Radiation levels, exposure readings, etc = too much scientific data


    Ann Coulter = thinks real radiation testing is bunk

    She’s just playing to what I call the “lower American hoi polli” demographic for coverage.

    “A ‘lil Rad-ee-a-tun ain’t goin’ to hurt me and mine!”

  12. I will gladly assist Ann, should she decide to relocate to Chernobyl to bask in the healthful rays emanating therefrom.

    @deltanine — the politicians on the right have of late honed their ability to ignore facts as well.

  13. I’ve noticed that people with different views than me constantly lie. Let’s discuss this unironically.

    1. I’ve also noticed that people on the other side from me in an argument are consistently wrong. Why is that?

  14. Didn’t this theory go out of style around about the time that “curative radium water” was giving people leukemia?

  15. It sounds like there isn’t much research into this theory. However, it isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Low levels of radiation could be “reving up” the DNA repair pathways and thereby leading to more accurate DNA copying.

    DNA repair mechanisms were discovered, in part, because one scientist (Kelner) discovered that bacteria accidentally left in the sun were more resistant to UV mutation.

    1. The politicians on the right have of late honed their ability to ignore facts as well [as lie].

      Sure both sides lie. That’s a given. The point is, the right disregards facts, unless those facts agree with a theology/ideology.

      That’s why most of the magical thinking occurs on the right (see: intelligent design) where facts have far less regard than ideology.

      Another example is how low/nonexistent taxes for the rich boost the economy.

    2. Perhaps, instead of repeating yourself, you’d like to give some credible current examples to prove your assertion.

  16. Coulter is right. As any fool knows, a little radiation is harmless, too much kills and somewhere in the middle it gives you SUPERPOWERS!

  17. For an extremist like Coulter their modus operandi is to take anything people believe to be true that violates their philosophy (in this case that there should be no limits on self-interest or indulgence) and either make themselves look like victims or take a completely opposite position.

    The goal is to create mental fog and doubt. The more complex and alien the subject the easier this is to do (e.g. healthcare, biological effects of atomic radiation, etc). Even when the issue is black and white they can still play on the built in human psychological mechanism of focusing on fears, in this case that they may be wrong about something. It also plays on selfish impulses, in this case that someone is causing you to miss out on something.

    “Gee, maybe there is something to this? Plus I could have cheap power to piss away without worrying any consequences. She is right, it is all those damn hippies trying to hold me back from enjoying myself. I always hated it when mommy made me go to bed early and wash my hands before eating!”

  18. Yes, Coulter is a whackadoodle.

    Yes, teabagger idjits will latch onto anything remotely contrarian which offends the Establishment.

    Yes, there’s a long history in the States, dating back to the ‘Know-Nothings’ of in-your-face-ish rebellion.

    However, when the *French* validate the theory, there may be something to it, even if people we dislike, like it.

    The 2005 French Academy of Sciences-National Academy of Medicine’s report concerning the effects of low-level radiation rejects LNT (the Linear No Threshold establishment theory) as a scientific model of carcinogenic risk associated for doses less than 100 mSv. [i.e., doses under 1 rem – ed. note] …they also point out that approximately 40% of laboratory studies on cell cultures and animals report some sort of radiobiological hormesis. They state: “…its existence in the laboratory is beyond question and its mechanism of action appears well understood.” quotes Prof David Wigg, a clinical radiobiologist at the University of Adelaide, in a discussion of background radiation: “Typical total annual values vary between 1.0 and 3.5 mSv (average 2.4 mSv p.a.). In some regions the background radiation is up to 100 times higher. No adverse genetic or other harmful effects including cancer formation have been observed in plants, animals or humans in these areas despite such exposure for countless generations” and also “There are more than two thousand published scientific papers on radiation hormesis (1)
    and there is an extensive literature on radiation benefits such as increased longevity.”

    Open your minds.

  19. I would have absolutely no problem with Coulter’s idiocy if she would spend the rest of her life drinking contaminated tap water and living next to a nuclear reactor (preferably one which has been deregulated by the Republicans).

  20. I wonder… at what point do people stop aligning themselves with a political party because that party has their personal beliefs, and when they start to conform their personal beliefs to better match the political party they’re backing?

    1. I wonder… at what point do people stop aligning themselves with a political party because that party has their personal beliefs, and when they start to conform their personal beliefs to better match the political party they’re backing?

      I wonder that too. I find it hard to imagine going that route. I guess when it happens at all, a great deal of the blame would fall at the feet of our two-party system. It’s long been the case that the only party large and powerful enough to compete with the Democrats has been the GOP, and vice versa. It seems like if you want to elect something approaching your ideal, it has increasingly become a case of holding one’s nose and going with the ol’ Lesser of Two Evils party. I’ve cast many a vote in vain for people like Paul Simon in 1988 and Dennis Kucinich in 2008… or at least I would have, had they stayed in the race long enough to make the California primaries. By the time the general election rolls around, it’s either embrace the candidate that the Party chooses at the convention, or embrace certain ignominious defeat.

      But see, I think there’s a difference between voting Democrat (for instance) in the general election rather than voting an ideologically purer (but electorally doomed) ticket like the Green Party or similar simply because you really don’t want The Bad Guy From The GOP to win, and becoming an apologist for the Democratic Party, loudly defending all its inconsistencies and failures and compromises and faulty policies.

      I voted for Obama in the 2008 general election, and I do not regret that vote because the alternative(s) was so very much worse. My hopes were high, but I’m hugely frustrated and disappointed by a great many of the choices his Administration has made. So I’m not one of the guys who blindly defends the President and the Party, no matter what it does. It may be an old-fashioned viewpoint (in fact, it may never have been fashionable), but I cling to the belief that compromising one’s beliefs and allowing intellectual dishonesty to creep into one’s arguments just for the sake of “winning” an argument is fundamentally bad policy. Fool that I am, I generally assume that other people will instantly recognize any prevarications, half-truths, exaggerations, or outright fabrications that I put forth in support of my position as the ridiculous bunk that they are, and thenceforth completely cease taking me and my arguments seriously. ‘Cause that’s what I do to them, when the roles are reversed.

      Still, I guess it’s true that there are a hell of a lot of “my party right or wrong” people out there who’ll do and say just about anything to support their side or tear down the other team, and I understand that the GOP has no monopoly on these people. Depressing.

      As far as the GOP’s skill at lying, I don’t really think that’s an accurate assessment of the phenomenon at play here. They’re not particularly crafty or skilled liars. From my perspective, it just seems that they’re spectacularly bald liars. What’s amazing is the right-wing rank-and-file’s readiness to believe the most astonishingly naked untruths.

      We on the left look at such blatant fibs as “death panels,” and “the War on Christmas,” or the peril that “traditional marriage” faces underneath the Spectre of Gay Marriage, or the very idea that people in possession of slightly under $7 million are not what you’d call “rich,” or the complete and utter inability of the Captains of Industry to manufacture things in America and create any jobs at all if they’re taxed or regulated to any degree whatsoever, or the idea that we’re all gonna be blown to smithereens by the marching horde of Islamic extremists who dwell in our very midst even as we speak… we see this endless parade of exaggeration and falsehood and we wonder how anyone could be suckered in by it. And yet, when the foot soldiers of the right lap up this horsepucky and call it God’s Own Golden Truth, then we feel we must assume that Gingrich, Palin, Coulter, O’Reilly, Hannity, et al, must just be extraordinarily clever and subtle ninjas of thought and persuasion.

      The rude alternative is just that we are a nation composed, in large part, of rubes, suckers, dipshits, magical thinkers, self-obsessed xenophobic nincompoops, and NASCAR fans.

      It’s not nice to think so, and certainly not nice to say so, since dismissiveness of the electorate helps improve the situation not at all (plus it eventually pisses off those rubes, once they figure out they’re being insulted), but really, what’s the alternative? Jesus Christ, I have a high school education (plus a handful of semesters at a community college as a Theatre Arts major), and if somebody’s gonna be called a Skilled Liar, I expect them to fool me too, at least a measurable portion of the time. I’m not so sharp as all that, not like most of you Boingers, but if they can’t even fool me once, then they’re not all that skilled at what they’re doing.

      It’s shooting fish in a barrel, and that’s what seriously makes me weep.

      1. The rude alternative is just that we are a nation composed, in large part, of rubes, suckers, dipshits, magical thinkers, self-obsessed xenophobic nincompoops, and NASCAR fans.

        I hate to break it to you, but yea, we are.

      2. I totally agree with you. The state of politics today is immensely frustrating.

        The big issue I see with the news and the extraordinary bad liars is this:

        Every news organization, but I will admit my bias and say that I believe that Fox is the worst offender on this, has set up a network of anchors, pundits, columnists and bloggers that all cite one another on their respective shows and columns. There isn’t any fact checking. When they say “reports have been saying that this will cost 4 millions dollars,” chances are those “reports” were written by the people that were on the previous or subsequent show on their own network.

        It’s hard to pierce through that inner-logic, even with facts and sound debating, skills when someone is completely pulled into that sphere of influence. It’s a self-perpetuating machine.

        1. Admit your bias? Until we start seeing the equivalent of “Obama wants to ban fishing” and “lesbian gangs are forcing girls to become gay” on other stations, Fox News simply is the worst offender, by any real measure.

      3. What’s amazing is the right-wing rank-and-file’s readiness to believe the most astonishingly naked untruths.

        What an astonishingly naked untruth.

        It’s laughably arrogant to depict any one side of a political debate as being more susceptible to lies than the other. I’m quite confident the left has been lied to by their own in a substantial number of ways.

        1. bruckselsprout explains this very well in post #70. The phenomenon has become known as “epistemic closure”

          Epistemic closure

          “…the problem is that the [conservative] movement has created its own subculture, and within this subculture, only information from sources controlled by the movement is considered trustworthy or even worth paying attention to. This can be the case even if conservatives disagree about the proper conservative policy.”

          Doesn’t happen so much on the left, where questioning ideas (even their own ideas) is encouraged.

        2. I’m quite confident the left has been lied to by their own in a substantial number of ways.

          Oh, you bet we have. No question. In my opinion, however, the lies of the left have a modicum of thought and skulduggery invested in them. The lasting prevalence of the “death panels” lie, or the whole birther phenomenon, displays a stubborn resistance to simple and easy-to-discover facts that you just don’t find as readily on the left.

          It is not my premise here to argue that the left is fundamentally more honest than the right. I’m just saying the left contains better liars, because for some sad reason, the lies need to be more sophisticated on the left.

          I don’t like to be lied to by anyone, right or left, but I feel particularly insulted when there isn’t even a half-assed attempt to provide corroborating (even falsified!) information. Saddam Hussein helped al Qaeda pull off 9/11. He’s got a stash of weapons of mass destruction. Waterboarding ain’t torture, nor is anything else the U.S.A. does. Obama’s a Muslim who was born in Kenya. Tax cuts create jobs. Socialized health care will kill us all and bankrupt us first. “Anchor babies” promote terrorism. Intelligent design is a theory on equal footing with evolution. Human activity has no effect on global warming. Brownie did a heckuva job. The mission was accomplished. The gay community is specifically targeting our children. ACORN stole the election for Obama. The Job-Killing Health Care Law is killing jobs. Public schoolteachers are grossly overpaid. The vast majority of recent job losses happened under Obama rather than Bush.

          Why are so very many people sitting on these one-legged (and no-legged) stools?

  21. She was paid to shill propaganda for the Nuclear lobby. End of story. It was money that Palin had to turn away b/c nobody thinks she is that crazy. This is your GOP, America.

  22. It amazing that Ann would propagate a scientific theory that has very little backing in either supporting evidence or in the scientific community while refusing to acknowledge evolution and climate change despite having both evidence and backing in the scientific community in spades.

    1. Yeah. Science subordinate to political idealism, blatant example. I thought the same thing. Hardly amazing though, if you follow Ann at all.

      1. It’s not about being right or wrong, but about the number of zeros to the right of the dollar sign.

  23. Well, a million monkeys, or even a broken (analog, if you can remember those) clock is right twice a day. By accident, she would have to say something kind of right.

    There is a fair bit of data that low levels of radiation are good for you. Mind you, we are talking multiples of background radiation, not 100 1980s vintage chest xrays a year level.

  24. No, there’s not compelling evidence that low levels of radiation are beneficial. There is also no evidence that they are harmful. Nevertheless, regulators treat low levels as if they retained biological effects, through the use of linear no-threshold (LNT) models. A quick scan of the literature (Google Scholar is your friend) shows that LNT is controversial, at best. This is as far as I know the only realm where homeopathy is treated as valid for regulatory purposes.

    The consequences of LNT are not small however. Not only has it had a huge impact on reactor design, cost, and acceptability, with the consequent impact on global climate change, it also impacts cost-benefit decisions in medical decision making, where a procedure involves radiation exposure.

  25. I wonder if anyone has checked for survivorship bias…

    That said, I think it’s safe to conclude that the wide-spread radiation contamination in Japan is a very “bad thing”, and that Coulter is putting publicity before morality, sound science and common sense to suggest otherwise.

    “Don’t feed the trolls” rule applies.

  26. When it comes to Coulter, it’s best just to look away. Because calling her a dumb hack would be overstating her position in the world of journalism.
    Calling her a whore for any and all levels of corporate pigs and the most disgusting of right wing lunatics would be.. flattering, I’m sure.

  27. Any chance we can get (m)Ann Coulter to hoover up a few lines of plutonium to verify her assertions?

  28. Most radiation fears are irrational, but it comes from the knowledge the general public has gained over 60 years that the industry habitually lies, as does the government. And the media.
    There’s zero public trust, so when an accident happens, people go berserk.
    From Reddy Kilowatt in the 1950s saying nuclear power is “too cheap to meter,” the lies just keep on coming. “There’s no connection between commercial nuclear power and nuclear weapons,” which went over well in India, Pakistan and Israel, to “nuclear power is a clean, safe and cheap” means to combat global warming.
    In the end, it’s not fear of radiation or Jane Fonda that killed the industry — it’s the traders on Wall Street, bless ’em.

  29. The real takeaway here shouldn’t be that Coulter isn’t playing with a full deck (or as Homer would say, D’Oh!)

    Its that Politifact is politically biased. They aren’t brilliant enough to be the arbiters of facts in this case, and due to this you should be suspicious of all their claims.

  30. I think the real problem is I went years without seeing her get a place in a headline and that has now changed.

    She was doing a good job at fading into obscurity.

  31. All of the talking heads say outrageous things so that they “value” is reflected by how much folks like us here on this board, discuss what they have said. This is about branding and its pertinence in public discourse which, of course, translates for them into media slots and publishing deals. I question how deeply Ann and Rush and Glenn truly believe much of what they say. They seem more interested in reactions than accuracy. The only REAL problem with this is that many people treat them like po-mo Cronkites, lending intellectual credence to them rather than just an entertainment quotient.

  32. She did say “might”, so what’s the big deal? Anyone can make any claim they want and add “might” and be absolved of any wrongdoing or quackery. Big Pharma has been doing this since its inception. Almost all medications that have no proven results have a “might” in them,also known as “is thought to”, its the same as “might” but sounds better, especially to someone who will do anything to survive.

  33. “The field of radiation safety has become so divided in recent years that some scientists now argue that low-level radiation may actually be good for your health.
    They point to studies, like one of tuberculosis patients who had multiple chest X-rays and one of nuclear workers, that showed that the tubercular patients had fewer cases of breast cancer than would be expected and the nuclear workers had a lower mortality rate.
    (The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement, however, has evaluated these and other studies on the protective effects of radiation, and found that they were “insufficient to support” the hypothesis.)”

    Read more:

  34. Hormesis makes sense of a lot of otherwise very strange data. Almost anything that’s a poison is good for you in small doses – strychnine is a stimulant. The major problems are a) determining where it goes from helpful to harmful – it’s certainly very different from person to person; b) nobody can quite agree on the mechanisms, though it may be like exercise – it forces your body to beef up in response; c) delivery method/location may make a huge difference – in your lungs vs under a fingernail.

    And of course it can be used by any sort of quack to justify spewing any kind of toxic crap into your air. So yeah, low level radiation exposure might be good for you. And you may already be getting that level or more from space, because nobody knows what the level is.

  35. People in the Rocky Mountains area (“where the scenery’s attractive and the air is radioactive” — Tom Lehrer) tend to have relatively-low cancer-mortality rates. That can mean only one thing: Radioactivity makes people stop smoking.

  36. How transparent we are. Political stance clearly informs not only many of the comments but the slant of the article as well. I’m confident that if we take the as-unpopular-as-she-is-popular Ann Coulter out of this, and the story no longer reads “wrong”, but magically is transformed to “unproven but interesting and worthy of study” – because that is what it unarguably is…if viewed objectively, that is.

    Try this little game as a check of your own supposed objectivity (which really won’t work unless you actually can be objective, so it’s likely doomed to failure): imagine you knew nothing of this story, and then imagine reading it for the first time (minus BB’s cue of ‘Wrong but’ slant). However, instead of the view being attributed to Coulter, substitute her politically opposite twin, Keith Olbermann. See if you can do it, and imagine what your response would have been.

    IMO if the views had been attributed to an icon of the left as opposed to one of the right, the tone of the comments, indeed the article itself, would have been substantially altered. I think then we’d see the greatest part of the vitriolic comments would instead become, “Wow! What out-of-the-box thinking!”, “a courageous theory” and “a topic for future study”.

    Political bias is today so pervasive it taints much of the public discussion of even scientific issues…even the discussions between today’s scientists, who are in no way “your father’s scientists”. More’s the pity.

    1. However, instead of the view being attributed to Coulter, substitute her politically opposite twin, Keith Olbermann. See if you can do it, and imagine what your response would have been.

      If we’re playing fantasy games, why not substitute Gandalf or Muad’dib? It would be more fun and just as enlightening.

      1. “If we’re playing fantasy games, why not substitute Gandalf or Muad’dib? It would be more fun and just as enlightening.”

        Then thou art eternally secure in thine impregnable Fortress of Smug.

    2. Nah. Pretty sure I would have said “let’s just wait to see if THAT’S wrong!” regardless of the messenger.

      Also, I can’t picture Olbermann saying “low levels of radiation might be a good thing” without at least a smirk.

    3. The mere fact that you consider Olbermann, who reports with a liberal slant worthy of taking with salt, on par with Coulter, who routinely says things with no connection to reality, tells me you are mistaking “halfway between extremes” for “objective assessment”. Ridiculous things are ridiculous no matter who says them, but no, I don’t mind being a little extra skeptical of people who have lied to me before.

      1. Sardondi:”…Try this little game as a check of your own supposed objectivity (which really won’t work unless you actually can be objective, so it’s likely doomed to failure)…”

        Heh. Thanks for making my point.

  37. (My apologies for the horrible grammar in my last post. I guess that’s what it looks like when I try to type and carry on a verbal conversation at the same time.)

    Sardondi is right about everything, except, I believe, for the Olbermann comment. Even if my own political reviews are slanted to the left, I’d say anything that sounds as radical as “radiation is good for you” would come across as a bit crazy. The fact that they come out of the mouth of a politically charged pundit does not help, and it would be met with opposition even if it was a liberal pundit. Mainly because they’re all just that – political pundits.

    The timing doesn’t help – this is immediately following – probably a direct response to – the nuclear meltdown. If this just came out of the blue, I honestly think more people would consider it. But the timing smacks of bad taste.

    If a report came out about the positive effects of crude oil on ocean habitats immediately following the BP oil spill…. wouldn’t we all be really skeptical of its legitimacy and motives?

  38. I was piqued by M’s questions – thanks for making me think.

    What I’m grappling with is ‘Why Oh Why, are we all still stuck on this left/right, Rep/Dem duality?’

    I can’t understand why we’re not past this smokescreen donkey and elephant distraction show.

    The reason why people lie is power.
    It doesn’t matter the flag under which lies are told, just as long as they lead to power over others.

    Add to this the epidemic of undiagnosed clinical psychopathy that holds our world captive. (Make no mistake, there IS an epidemic rampaging).

  39. ithilien in response to M

    i too have asked this question. thanks, M for putting it so clearly.

    my paranoid answers are global conspiracy and disinformation, but i think the real answer is an anti-social personality disorder that includes compulsive attention getting behavior, control and dominance and pathological lying. there’s a need to manipulate others and the need to be a “leader.” there’s is also real resentment towards others. i call it schizo-reactionary-ism. i’m serious about this.

    the easiest way along this path is to contradict the statements or positions of others (those who have done the work or who are actually involved in the process.) it’ s easiest because no real work need be done if you are simply “anti.” you are that way with very little effort bound to collect a following of similarly minded disaffected nay sayers with the same pathology. at the very least you will garner media attention. remember coulter’s comments about the 9-11 widows? outrageous and hateful but got lots of press.

  40. All things considered – only if the complete lack of radiation is deemed unhealthy, isn’t it better not to have any?

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