Title: How radiation and its effect were explained?: Scientific communication after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster

Authors: Kazuhisa Todayama; Kaori Karasawa

Addresses: Graduate School of Information Science, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan ' Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan

Abstract: In this paper we examine eight popular books published immediately after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Our aim is to clarify the characteristics, problems in the scientific communication related to the health effects of radiation. The eight books are compared from the aspects of: 1) how units such as Bq, Gy and Sv are defined; 2) how the dose limits are explained; 3) how deterministic and stochastic effects of radiation are differentiated; 4) how LNT model is explained and evaluated; 5) how the fact that we evolved in the midst of natural background radiation is treated. The main finding of our survey is that although the authors of the examined texts start from the same 'scientific facts', in trying to make these facts easily understandable, they adopt different rhetorical strategies and eventually they end up delivering quite different and conflicting messages to the people.

Keywords: Fukushima nuclear disaster; scientific communication; health effects; radiation effects; rhetoric; nuclear accidents; nuclear energy; nuclear power; Japan; radiation dose limits; background radiation; natural radiation; conflicting messages.

DOI: 10.1504/IJKWI.2013.060276

International Journal of Knowledge and Web Intelligence, 2013 Vol.4 No.4, pp.336 - 348

Published online: 26 Jul 2014 *

Full-text access for editors Full-text access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article