Fear is a deep and integral part of us. Humans can be literally “scared to death” — driven by extreme fear to a lethal arrhythmia, heart attack, stroke, or fatal accident. Fear can make us freeze, when only decisive action can save us. But more commonly, fear influences behaviours in more subtle ways, causing us to avoid the sources of our fears, even when the fear is irrational. If enough people are forced by irrational fears to run from something that their society requires, the fear can cause a society to commit suicide.
Consider the fear of energy, specifically nuclear energy. Long after an earthquake and tsunami killed tens of thousands in Japan, the headlines that continue to drive global fears to this day center around a destroyed nuclear power plant. Tens of thousands were killed and injured — and not by radiation. But instead of being afraid of earthquakes and tsunamis, journalists, politicians, and the masses became obsessed with the fear of radioactivity and nuclear power.
It has been more than two and a half years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began to unfold, and still the world watches events closely, fearfully. The drumbeat of danger seems never ending: Earlier this month, to take just one example, international news reports spread word that six workers at the plant had been accidentally doused with radioactive water.
Yet leading health scientists say the radiation from Fukushima has been relatively harmless, which is similar to results found after studying the health effects of Chernobyl. With all that evidence, why does our fear of all things nuclear persist? And what peril does that fear itself pose for society?
Our anxiety about nuclear radiation is rooted in our understandable fear of the terrible power of nuclear weapons. But in the 68 years since those weapons were first used in anger, we have learned, from the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki themselves, that ionizing radiation — the type created by a nuclear reaction — is not nearly the powerful carcinogen or genetic mutagen that we thought it was.
… The robust evidence that ionizing radiation is a relatively low health risk dramatically contradicts common fears.
But nuclear accidents have provided strong evidence that those fears have dramatic health consequences of their own. The World Health Organization’s 20-year review of the Chernobyl disaster found that its psychological impacts did more health damage than radiation exposure did, and a principle cause of the population’s debilitating stress was “an exaggerated sense of the dangers to health of exposure to radiation.”
Epidemiologists are already seeing the same things in Fukushima, where radiation exposures were far lower than at Chernobyl. Radiation biologists say the increased cancer risk from Fukushima will be so low it won’t change general cancer rates for that area, or Japan generally.
… Nonetheless, thousands of people are refusing to return to their homes and businesses in evacuated areas, even where dose levels have fallen low enough to declare those areas safe. Levels of stress, anxiety and depression are significantly elevated. One survey found that stress among children in the Fukushima area is double the level of other children in Japan.
And the Japanese Education Ministry reports that the children in Fukushima Prefecture have become the most obese in Japan since the nuclear accident prompted schools to curtail outside exercise, in most cases in areas where the risk from radiation was infinitesimal. _New York Times
High doses of ionizing radiation can burn you to a toast, or kill you in other ways. But low doses of ionizing radiation may very well be good for you.
1-According to UNSCEAR report (1994), among A-bomb survivors from Hiroshimaand Nagazaki who received doses lower than 200 mSv, there was no increase in the number of total cancer death. Mortality caused by leukemia was evenlower in this population at doses below 100 mSv than age-matched controlcohorts.
2-Mifune (1992) (Mifune et al. 1992) and his co-workers indicated that in a spa area (Misasa), with an average indoor radon level of 35 Bq/m3, the lung cancer incidence was about 50% of that in a low-level radon region. Their results also showed that in the above mentioned high background radiation area, the mortality rate caused by all types of cancer was 37% lower.
3-According to Mine et al. (1981), among A-bomb survivors from Nagasaki, in some age categories, the observed annual rate of death is less than what is statistically expected.
4-Kumatori and his colleagues (Kumatori et al. 1980) reported that according to their 25 year follow up study of Japanese fishermen who were heavily contaminated by plutunium (hydrogen bomb test at Bikini), no one died from cancer. _Radiation Hormesis
Fear is the mind killer. Overcoming our irrational fears is what raises us up to be truly human. By that measure, most humans on the planet are still primitives, or mind-children.
Intelligence and education are no protection from irrational fear. Even skillful competence in potentially dangerous occupations cannot protect a human from specific fearful obsessions or phobias, if the person is susceptible.
The best cure for fear is to think the thing through, use rational decision-making and rational-emotive balancing to decide on the proper precautions to take regarding the object of fear. Sometimes no precautions are needed other than images of reassurance. Other times one may need to put some food, water, medicines, and heating fuel aside for a cold and snowy day.
Dangerous Children know all of this instinctively. They have been trained to face their fears with clear and prepared minds from before they could walk or speak. Very young children are trained using a variety of stimuli, in a playful manner. Most people cannot imagine the techniques that are used, which is perhaps why most of us live in such fearful societies.
Regardless, there are things that can be done, and that are being done. Not by mainstream government, media, academia, or activism of course. No, not by the skankstream. By the politically incorrect.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. Don’t forget: It is never too late for a dangerous childhood.