Re: [SystemSafety] Saying the Wrong Thing

From: Chris Hills < >
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2013 16:32:49 -0000


In your comments you say: "Sir John, a population biologist and not a safety engineer, was inadvertently misleading his audience on a matter concerning danger."

Yes and no. Factually he may have been misleading but panic often kills more than the original threat. Misleading the public with a "debatable white lie" if you will, that stops undue panic in the population might be argued as making the situation safer.

As it was there were people suggesting that "by tomorrow night" we would have clouds of radiation sauntering across the Home Counties and sheep in Wales would glow in the dark meaning as from tea time the day after it would not be safe to eat lamb (or beef or pork or...) . You know what the UK Red tops are like ( ie

So perhaps whilst not 100% technically accurate (i.e. wrong) from a scientific point of view, though at the time the situation was still evolving, it was probably the right thing to say for the overall good of the UK population. I think we will never really know if it was "inadvertently" or not.

A bit of a political answer but sometimes to quote Jack Nicholson as Col Jessop from a Few Good Men: "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!" Not that I am suggesting our wonderful government is anything but open and honest all the time :-)

Chris H

PS this is on the Bielefeld list. What happened to the York-google list and the proposed SCSC-york list?

-----Original Message-----
From: systemsafety-bounces_at_xxxxxx [mailto:systemsafety-bounces_at_xxxxxx Bernard Ladkin
Sent: 28 March 2013 15:45
To: systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Subject: [SystemSafety] Saying the Wrong Thing

The Guardian praised the UK Government's soon-to-be-outgoing Chief Scientific Advisor, Prof. Sir John Beddington, on three interventions, one on Fukushima.

What Sir John was reported to have said in public on the Fukushima event, five days after the earthquake and after the three containment-building explosions, was inappropriate.

So here is my comment:


Prof. Peter Bernard Ladkin, Faculty of Technology, University of Bielefeld,
33594 Bielefeld, Germany
Tel+msg +49 (0)521 880 7319

The System Safety Mailing List systemsafety_at_xxxxxx
The System Safety Mailing List systemsafety_at_xxxxxx
Received on Thu Mar 28 2013 - 17:34:03 CET

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