Little ado about nothing

A so-called scientific article issued on December 19 by Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman purports that an estimated 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors in Japan. The article, published in the International Journal of Health Services, is available by clicking here.

Not much media attention has been paid to the article, which has been labeled as “flawed” by the Nuclear Energy Institute. NEI, on its blog site, subsequently posted columns about the article and about Mangano, who has a history as an anti-nuclear writer. In one of the posts, NEI points out that “Mike Moyer, the writer at Scientific American who so expertly debunked Joe Mangano’s ‘research’ in June, had a chance to read Mangano’s latest coauthored piece.”

Moyer wrote:

No attempt is made at providing systematic error estimates, or error estimates of any kind. No attempt is made to catalog any biases that may have crept into the analysis, though a cursory look finds biases a-plenty (the authors are anti-nuclear activists unaffiliated with any research institution). The analysis assumes that the plume arrived on U.S. shores, spread everywhere, instantly, and started killing people immediately. It assumes that the “excess” deaths after March 20 are a real signal, not just a statistical aberration, and that every one of them is due to Fukushima radiation.

Moyer went on to say:

The publication of such sloppy, agenda-driven work is a shame. Certainly radiation from Fukushima is dangerous, and could very well lead to negative health effects—even across the Pacific. The world needs to have a serious discussion about what role nuclear power should play in a power-hungry post-Fukushima world. But serious, informed, fact-based debate is a difficult enough goal to achieve without having to shout above noise like this.

Others have chimed in to debunk Mangano’s junk science. You can read about it by visiting NEI’s blog site here and scrolling down to the article titled “Dr. Robert Peter Gale’s Statement on the Mangano-Sherman Report on Fukushima Fallout.”

NEI’s blog site also has other posts on the Mangano-Sherman report, which you can find by scrolling down at the site.

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5 Responses to Little ado about nothing

  1. Jim Raleigh

    It should be noted that the article itself says it was posted in the International Journal of Health Services — Not the International Journal of Health Physics… It would truly be sad if a Health Physics journal printed this rubbish…

    International Journal of Health Services, Volume 42, Number 1, Pages 47–64, 2012
    © 2012, Baywood Publishing Co., Inc.
    doi.http://dx.doi.org/10.2190/HS.42.1.f
    http://baywood.com

  2. Moyer’s statement “Certainly radiation from Fukushima is dangerous, and could very well lead to negative health effects—even across the Pacific.” is simply ludicrous. It hasn’t even been dangerous in Japan.

  3. @Jim Raleigh

    Thank you for the correction — the original text has been edited to reflect the proper title.

  4. Was this paper peer-reviewed? I find it very hard to comprehend how this would have gotten past a rigorous review. Criticize the authors, ok, sure, but it’s not like they don’t have an established anti-nuclear agenda, as has been discussed. The real problem is if this managed to pass peer-review.

  5. Yes, the paper was peer reviewed. Mr. Mangano and his colleagues have published other papers of dubious quality in this particular journal before. It seems to be one of their favorites.

    I suspect that this is the case of a sympathetic editor who is willing to send these papers to sympathetic reviewers for a kind of “pal review.” It’s unfortunate, but this kind of thing happens far more often than many in academia would like to admit.