A recent YouTube video purports to show the San Francisco area being “fried” by radiation, radiation which the videographer somehow knows just had to come from Fukushima. That’s hitting close to home, as I live near San Francisco and really don’t want to sizzle. The “shocking” video is accompanied by all kinds of links, most of which are irrelevant to the claim that he found dangerous radiation. A few, though, were quite helpful.
Regular readers of the blog should have already read Mike Rothschild’s excellent posts on Fukushima scare-mongering. If you haven’t yet, please do so now. He covers the science well and I won’t be adding anything new on the Fukushima radiation itself.
The emailer who alerted Skeptoid to the video pointed out one of the first red flags: Someone who can’t focus a camera on a Geiger counter might not be operating the counter itself correctly. As a thread I found on Slashdot points out, these are instruments that need calibration and training just to be able to interpret. They aren’t like light meters.
I decided to first see if what this fellow was measuring was real. Before doing that, I had to investigate the instrument he was using. Following his helpful link took me to a web page describing this particular counter. Then I found Amazon storefront of General Electromagnetics and the red flags started really piling up. (Note that they also supply hardware for all your ghost-hunting needs.) The store was started “out of personal interest and concern for the possible dangers associated with overhead power lines, cellular phones, microwave ovens, police radar and all the electronic radiation which increasingly pollutes our modern environment…” Brian has covered these concerns well already, such as here and here.
That led me to Less EMF, where you can find, uh, you guessed it. At least it’s “sophisticated Polyester/Cotton blended with micro-fine stainless steel fibers for excellent radiation protection” rather than just tin foil.
Arriving finally at the source web site, Radiation Network, threw up several more red flags. Now, cheesy web site design does not automatically mean that the information there is not valid but, as another Skeptoid episode pointed out, it’s often a marker for a particular brand of nonsense. But while the design on both was, shall we say, of a certain type, they both eventually traced back to the same place. Radiation Network is registered to one Tim Flanegin, of Prescott, AZ.
Who just happens to be in the business of selling Geiger counters.
This wouldn’t be the first time that scaring people has been used to separate them from their money. Apparently Geiger counters are almost unobtainable in Japan due to high demand.
And so it appears that something is radiating from Fukushima: Fear. It is not carried on the wind, nor washed upon our shores by ocean currents. This tsunami of panic, causing stress and emptying wallets, rides the internet, traveling “halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes”.