Preserving the Anti-Scientific Linear No-Threshold Myth: Authority, Agnosticism, Transparency, and the Standard of Care

Sep 5, 2017 by

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1559325817717839

 

The linear no-threshold (LNT) assumption is over 70 years old and holds that all ionizing radiation exposure leaves cumulative effects, all of which are harmful regardless of how low the dose or dose rate is. The claimed harm centers on the risk of future radiogenic cancer. This has been shown countless times to be fallacious, and hundreds of scientific studies—both experimental and observational/epidemiological—demonstrate that at low enough doses and dose rates, ionizing radiation stimulates an evolved adaptive response and therefore is beneficial to health, lowering rather than raising the risk of cancer. Yet the myth of uncorrected lifetime cumulative risk still pervades the field of radiation science and underlies the policies of virtually all regulatory agencies around the world. This article explores some of the motivations behind, and methods used to assure, the extreme durability of the LNT myth in the face of the preponderance of contrary evidence and the manifest harms of radiophobia. These include subservience to the voice of authority, tactics such as claiming agnosticism on behalf of the entire field, transparent references to contrary evidence while dismissing the findings without refutation, and seeking shelter behind the legally protective medical standard of care.

 

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