Professional conservative troll Ann Coulter attempted to discredit fears regarding Japan’s nuclear disaster during a segment aired this week on The O’Reilly Factor by telling viewers “radiation is good for you.”
Coulter claimed that a “stunning number” of physicists believe radiation is good for you, and went on to cite several studies that revealed a correlation between some level of radiation exposure and decreased incidence of certain cancers. Coulter sites a NYTimes article from 2001 in which it is postulated that radiation exposure activates cellular defense mechanisms – yeah, do you know how it does that? By damaging cellular material, especially DNA.
David Brenner directs Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research, where he focuses on exactly how radiation damage leads to cancer. He’s also a leading voice on the overuse of radiologic imaging in medicine – read his piece on radiation exposure from CT scans, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Worse, Coulter went as far as to assert that the Chernobyl disaster was overblown and that there has been no attributable cancer risk to radiation expelled by the reactor:
“Even the thyroid cancers in people who lived near the reactor were attributed to low iodine in the Russian diet — and consequently had no effect on the cancer rate.”
I can’t examine the sources her claims were based on because she doesn’t cite any. I will, however, provide another free publication that actually did study the relationship between Chernobyl and thyroid cancer for your review. In fact, it has been well-demonstrated that a radiation-induced RET/PTC translocation is implicated in papillary thyroid carcinoma.
Papa Bear attempted to be the voice of reason (and for that I respect him), reminding Coulter that the media should be cautious about delivering such information in an irresponsible manner. Unfortunately, it was quite clear that neither pundit knew what they were talking about, as O’Reilly used “infection” interchangeably with “cancer” and compared radiation exposure to debris inhaled after the 9/11 attacks (by this point, I was engaged in a full-on facepalm).
This is what happens when people with zero science literacy are allowed to comment on topics beyond the scope of their knowledge. When things like this air, regardless of the network, I think there should be a ticker with a disclaimer aired through the entire piece.
Coulter, much like Suzanne Somers (as I outlined here), is trying to paint herself as some kind of crusader for truth – fending off imaginary power-thirsty oligarchs trying to suppress her message. Their message is the same: “I know something the experts don’t.” Being ridiculed for spreading dangerous misinformation only emboldens these delusional nutjobs – it feeds their belief that the effort to dispel their lies is really a conspiracy to conceal the “truths” they’ve uncovered.
“But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
Watch the segment here and decide for yourself: