Subject: : A scientist tells the rat how to run the maze -- STOP CASSINI #112
Date: April 13th, 1999
Time Frame: There are 72 days left before the flyby of Venus, June 24th, 1999.
The scientist we sent a letter to in the last issue, responded.
Russell D. Hoffman, Founder and Editor, STOP CASSINI newsletter
At 12:06 AM 4/10/99 -0700, you wrote:
Dear Mr. Hoffman:
A later draft of the paper you wish to critique may be found at:
Dear Dr. Rodrigue:
Thank you for answering my letter.
I will look at the later draft soon (I note that it cuts off in mid sentence at the end?). First, though, I will answer your letter, which I appreciated greatly (especially the quickness of the response). I'm presuming you'll use my comments freely (i.e., for your "research"), and I'll use yours freely as well (i.e., in my newsletter and at my web site).
Your tone and use of ad hominem insults are not an asset to the side you represent in this very important debate.
It is amazing to be hearing this. A supposedly unbiased researcher/observer, critiquing an activists' methods in the very area the researcher claims to be studying with an unbiased eye! On top of that, the researcher has gone into the project with two premises which cannot be argued: That no "conspiracy theory" has a grain of truth in it, and that the public has nothing to fear from Cassini.
You treat these two premises as sacred -- as deserving of protection, as if they were information that a judge does not admit as evidence because someone's civil rights will be violated. But in this case, no truth should be excluded. We do not have that right here. For we are not trying a human being, who has personal rights, both civil and human (humane) rights, but we are deciding the truth and the facts about a government policy, regardless of where they might lead us. Agent-provocateurs exist. Military secrecy is a fact which I'm sure even you cannot deny happens all the time (is happening right now regarding what is happening (and why) in Kosovo). Can you guarantee there is no military connection to the civilian use of RTGs? Because if you disregard these things, you disregard the possibility of who is right, and who is wrong about the facts. Civilian cover operations for covert military actions is a fact. It happens. Can you be sure it is not happening here? Have you read the Outer Space Propulsion issue of my newsletter (#94), to see how old this battle is? I was one and one-half years old when that book was published. Yet you call being fed up with the lies behind this trash a fear of new technology! It is quite the opposite: it is a fear of old technology! Old, dirty and dangerous technology!
The first premise which you have not permitted is that there are no "conspiracy theories" involved, not even a military connection, and the second premise is that there is no reason to fear 72.3 pounds of plutonium dioxide, because the chance of an accident is "trivial" according to the observer, because NASA and its nuclear allies have assured her of that. And even if an accident happened, the stuff would spread so thin, that NASA's estimates of the deaths, despite being many orders of magnitude different from other (reputable scientists--) estimates, are the only ones that are permitted to be considered valid. In other words your report assumes that NASA is right in all regards concerning Cassini. This is the basis of my complaint. You do not feel it is fair to regard Cassini's plume over New York City as a catastrophe so grand, that it is immoral to risk it when benign alternatives exist! No you argue, alternatives do not exist!
Prove it. You cannot prove it. Your report is based on a house of cards. Every lie NASA has told must be the truth for this flight to have made sense, and that must therefore be the position you are arguing. But even the coarsest of reviews of the facts, such as in particular NASA's misuse of the D. E. Rockey report, can only lead to one conclusion: That in regards to Cassini specifically, NASA has lied. That makes the whole basis of your paper absurd.
You (the researcher) will not admit of the possibility that I (the activist) has a job to do which is quite a bit more honorable then the researcher proclaims: To announce to the world that a dangerous and risky fraud has been perpetrated upon the world in the name of science! You may perceive my actions as being designed to drum up dumb public opinion against a sane public policy. They are just the opposite. I have no argument with science as you imply so many (if not all) of the opponents to Cassini must have. But I believe it is my *duty* to try to influence public opinion about an insane and dangerous public policy whose details have been kept under wraps for over 40 years.
Indeed, it is a most curious situation, your advising me on how to behave. It is certainly a case of the researcher telling the rat how to run the maze -- I wonder what journal would publish that? (And the researcher does this after inviting commentary, at that!) You wrong me, you lightly pass over naming me (until challenged, when you let it slip), then you accuse ME of efforts that do not help my cause!
It's true, I don't think very highly of your draft paper. But to say I made "ad hominem insults" -- point to them. My "attacks" were based entirely on the content of your one article -- it was all I had to go on. I was quite specific that it is the contents of your paper and not the fortitude of your moral fiber which I don't like. What makes you so blind is your problem. That you are blind is mine. What is "ad hominem" to say that your paper, purported to be "scientific", is absurd and illogical and bad science? I cannot help that! You wrote it! And you wrote it about me (and others like me, if there are any). You of course take it personally, but that is your business, and I do not mean it that way. But your comments are inaccurate, your stipulations prevent good science from being performed, and on top of that you write and try to tell me how to do my "job"! But I do not see how anyone can read what you have written and call it fair. If the NASA folks didn't like your paper, and I don't like it, those two facts together hardly give it any "automatic" credibility! I'll bet I like lots of things you would find credible.
As to the strenuousness of my disagreement, time is on your side -- NASA's side -- not mine. I make no apologies for that. You presented this paper, but you never emailed it to me, yet I was one of your "research subjects". Now we are 72 days from the flyby of Venus. There is a lot to be done in the world. Yeltsin is saying he might retarget NATO nations (that includes us) with nuclear weapons. You don't see a connection. That is a big missing first step, Dr. Rodrique. But since you have disavowed the military connection, the possibility of agent provocateurs, the conspiracy theory, the possible dangers of low level radiation, the scientists on the activist's side, and most of all since you have disavowed the possibility that if there is a safe alternative to a very, very slim possibility of a catastrophe potentially the size of a World War, and that safe alternative is also cheaper, then there is NO reason to do something the risky way! None! Where is that fact presented in your paper? Nowhere! Why not? Because, you proclaim, NASA needed RTGs to get to Saturn! But NASA claimed the same thing to get to Jupiter and that was proven to be based on faulty evidence, namely the D. E. Rockey 1981 JPL report which Karl Grossman spent TEN YEARS wrestling with the FOIA to get. Then despite his having gotten it, NASA misused it in the 1995 Cassini EIS as we have plainly documented.
That NASA lies, and poorly, and about this very subject, is not indicated as a possible driving force for the activists' behavior, is it? Not anywhere does your draft consider the possibility, as I have said, that the activists are right to oppose Cassini and its "odds" when benign alternatives are far more worthy. That the public is right to be upset about Cassini without needing the gory details, that the logic is simple enough for anyone to understand, that it's not a risk society needs to take. If additionally, Cassini really is (as I and Grossman and many others contend) the tip of the proverbial iceberg of lies and innuendos, misdeeds, misstatements, and misappropriated funds, well, so much the more reason for the activists. And if on top of all this the activist has a deep respect for science, has never questioned its place at the pinnacle of society, and if also the activist is not afraid to touch HIV+ people or let them prepare his food, does not find cigarettes tolerable, and is in virtually none of the other fringe groups the researcher identifies as being similarly misinformed, well, what does it show? Probably that the researcher has artificially limited her research and made stipulations that are not valid. (Please visit www.animatedsoftware.com/whoisrdh.htm if you want to make a closer inspection of your research subject.)
Since in your letter to me you "confess" in no uncertain terms that it was/is indeed my efforts (at least in part) against Cassini which you "researched", I will take your comments personally from here on in. Thus, when you say the probability of an accident is absurdly low, I take it that you personally have made that assessment in clear contradiction to the facts you, yourself, could have sought out while doing your research. What is "absurdly low"? That is for society to decide, not you! NASA, and everyone else engaged in dangerous activities, must learn to present honestly to the public, the extent of the danger we face. Your draft, for instance, does not seem to realize that when individuals are willing to accept one level of risk for the vast majority of their own actions, that does NOT mean that society can inflict that same level of risk upon ALL individuals! Yet that is what you imply: That there is something wrong with saying "I can risk killing myself, but you do not have the right to risk killing me"!
You compare the scientific gain from Cassini to the "loss of perceived control" as the important factors -- it is not that at all! The scientific gain was perfectly possible other ways, and the loss of perceived control was/is perfectly real, and perfectly right for the public to be appalled by. As I said, it is one thing for me to do things which put myself at risk, it is quite another for me to put others at risk. Your draft does not understand that society must, at the very least, use as the base rate, that risk level which those of us who wish to live the longest would need, to do so -- that level of cleanliness of our air and our water, and a low level of background radiation (and one that is not constantly rising at an alarming and UNSUSTAINABLE rate!) which would allow humans to live with as few cancers, birth defects, leukemias, and other health effects as "humanly possible".
There are now reports that the human body might be capable of living 150 to 200 years on average -- but if we introduce additional random cancers to society via environmental degradation, that will be much harder to accomplish. It is perfectly reasonable to postulate that an effect -- which is not commonly seen when people live on average only around 48 years (or whatever exactly it is right now) -- will become very, very important when people would be able to live 150 years longer than that! Your draft does not take into account that "laypeople" are perfectly right to "become very upset" when outside forces impinge on their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of the perfect evening highball.
Take the axial theme of "fairness issues". You missed the point that if there is no risk necessary because solar alternatives would indeed have worked, then it is not a question as you put it of "whether the public perceives itself as a beneficiary of Cassini to the extent of the perceived risk". They simply do not equate. Indeed, it is that complete lack of connection that is the crux of many of the activists' arguments (but not all). Namely, that we would love to have the science from a proper, honest, solar version of the mission, which would probably have been cheaper too. And if, by some miracle, we cannot get to Saturn today with solar options, the public would just as soon wait a little, because any fool (except a NASA scientist, I guess) can see that it won't be long, and Saturn is not going anywhere fast. So your version of the axial theme of "fairness issues" is improperly stated as comparing scientific gain to a given risk. More to the point is whether the public likes to take risks for nothing. I know of no member of the public which does, and cannot conceive any need to research that matter.
Then there is the curious accumulation of hazards you claim the activists cannot understand. You state that "opponents imply that Cassini has a large probability of hitting Earth or its atmosphere and that the plutonium on board would then vaporize into inhalable particles to which millions if not billions of people would be exposed." I have yet to meet this activist, who has ever stated that "Cassini has a large probability of hitting Earth or its atmosphere". It has a probability, that is all one can say. We can contend that NASA's numbers are pulled out of thin air, but we do not attempt to pull our own thin-air numbers out. That would be "playing their game" in the worst way! When something is blatantly stupid, it doesn't really matter what the odds are. Russian roulette with 5 chambers and one bullet or 6 chambers and 1 bullet is pretty dumb one way or the other. In Cassini's case, there are many more "chambers" (chances of it missing us). But there is vastly more than one bullet in the chamber, too. Your bias shows most strongly in your next sentence, that "Furthermore, plutonium is characterized as the single most dangerous substance known, implying that inhalation means a sentence of cancer." The first part is correct. Plutonium has been, fairly I think, characterized as the most dangerous substance known (and that is Pu 239 they are usually talking about!) but to say that "opponent literature" necessarily claims that any inhalation of any amount of Pu "means a sentence of cancer" as in, will always cause a cancer, is nothing less than outrageous! You think a lay person's grasp of statistics is necessarily that weak? Or have you (like so many others) purposefully misread the literature? Please: Show me the opponent's literature which makes such a claim (and if you do, then you will still have to prove to me that that opponent is not a fraud, but you have not yet even admitted of that premise as a possibility.).
I would like to know on what basis you claim I "represent" a side at all. Did you take a vote of the activists opposed to Cassini and determine that they listen to me? Did NASA tell you I represent somebody? They certainly haven't said that to me! If you wish to do valid "research" on me that is one thing, but if you wish to do it on "the movement" you would not be unreasonable to exclude me from such efforts. For example I came into the movement after getting a package of articles from Karl Grossman on the evening of 12/31/96. Yet your article goes back at least to 1995 for activist activities -- I had nothing to do with that. This is mighty important, because I contend and you have not disproved -- that the movement is full of frauds. So most of your research is studying lies, yet you ignore that possibility! And you obviously came into the debate much later even than I did, since you joined it and used me as one of your first research efforts. If I missed the boat, you weren't even at the dock. I ask again -- what is the raw material for your discussion of efforts prior to 1997, and for that matter, what did you use for research in addition to my own material?
Like you, I, too, have personal stakes in this sort of issue: My father was a veteran of Eniwetok and died, at 60, of cancer. His family routinely produced centenarians; most die in their upper 80s of heart problems. I have always wondered about the connection between his being 29 miles from the blast and his death of cancer, and his medical team was divided on the possibility. Then, again, my mother, three of her siblings, and one of my father's sisters died of cancer, too, none of them with his direct nuclear exposure and all of them scattered across North America.
With this history, it is natural that I would be drawn to the Cassini controversy.
I am sorry to hear about the cancers in your family, but of course, I am not surprised either, as virtually every family has cancers in it, and they are scattered around the world, and often localized around nuclear waste (and other cesspools). Since nuclear waste is spread throughout the ecosystem, and since even one atom of plutonium, for example, can theoretically cause cancer, of course there are scattered and unattributable cancers. You have not indicated that you did the only reasonable thing -- to partially attribute all cancers to all causes -- your family's cancers specifically are possibly due to the nuclear waste issue. That is all that can be said, but nothing less than that is also all that can be said. You have only indicated that you researched your own father's death to the extent of asking a few doctors who saw his final stages of life whether it was possible that Eniwetok was a possible cause -- how could they possibly tell you? What makes that bit of personal history cause you to fee l "drawn" to the Cassini "controversy"? (What controversy? NASA lies, and some people attempt to expose them. There is no controversy that I know of.)
I have a friend whose father died of cancer and who (the father) was under the plume from one of the Bikini blasts. She is not "drawn to the Cassini controversy". I have not awakened her to this issue. The things you have stated do NOT explain why you produced your report in the first place, or why it was so biased, though again, having also lost close family members to the modern tragedy of cancer, you have my fullest and deepest sympathies.
If you are really interested in the dangers of radiation -- whatever your motivation -- you should research the matter with real honest-to-goodness American War Heros/Scientists, and other noted scientific experts. Have you researched the likes of Drs. John W. Gofman, Horst Poehler, Michio Kaku, Karl Z. Morgan, Ernest Sternglass and others? I doubt it, because from your rough draft, you don't even know they exist. Therefore you don't know that one isolated the first working quantities of plutonium for J. Robert Oppenheimer, one is known as "the father of health physics" and the others are also highly respected scientists in their own right. I have spent many hours on the phone with these men (though all my mistakes remain my own).
One of my first encounters with the opponent side was some of your work, and I was very put off by your emotionally- manipulative language and conspiracy-theorizing.
Well, now we are very, very personal. Be specific. Manipulative? What does that mean? Show me an example! Conspiracy-theorizing? Goodness, Dr., what does THAT mean? If there is more than meets the eye to anything, it is conspiracy-theorizing! What exactly are you referring to? Which conspiracy theory do you have proof is wrong?
If others react similarly, you may want to consider that you are injuring your case.
Well, I consider the possibility every day of my life, every minute of each day -- am I doing the right thing in this world? Have I studied all the possibilities? Do I know what is happening, really? Am I sure of myself? I am full of self-doubt, in all aspects of all issues. That is why I research everything I can as much as I do. That is why I have stuck to the Cassini debate. I do not appreciate your insults, any more than you seem to appreciate my constructive criticisms. ;)
I wanted to learn the whole truth, the full story -- I wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on. I feel I have done so. You're personal attacks, are certainly the bottom of the barrel. You will never agree with me, you will dismiss my side as unscientific to your own death, you will accuse me of everything under the sun that suits you -- I shall not worry if my writing does not persuade you. I do not think either facts or emotion would ever make any difference to you. You are set in your opinions and are merely looking wherever you might find, for "facts" to back them up, even if those "facts" are made up by a government agency just for people like you. If you don't like my writing, that is your right and I appreciate your comments. But hearing that you feel that way will not change the way I write, because I do not want to be like you in any way that I have seen yet, except in your willingness to engage me in your letter. That, I admire you for greatly, and I mean that without any touch of sarcasm. To me, it makes you a shining beacon of sincerity. You may still be as wrong as I claim, but I do not doubt your sincerity.
I've managed to annoy a few people in NASA, too, for giving the opponents "too much" credit. Perhaps I'm doing something right.
If you "annoy" both sides you have done a good job? What scientific publication uses that criteria to judge value?
Christine M. Rodrigue, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Geography and Planning
California State University
Chico, CA 95929-0425
(530) 898-6781 FAX
Delighted to have received your response and I'll critique the later version of your proposal some time soon, for you and my newsletter readers.
Russell D. Hoffman
[Editor's note: There has been no further communication as of this writing (April 25th, 1999)]
SIGN THE PETITION!
CANCEL CASSINI by JUNE 24th, 1999!!!!
To Cancel Cassini start by asking NASA for the 1995 Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission and all subsequent related documents (on paper, please!). Tell them you need it IMMEDIATELY (members of the world press should do this too). All citizens of the world are ENTITLED to these documents because of the global threat Cassini poses. Here's where to get information:
Tell them Russell Hoffman, founder and editor of the STOP CASSINI newsletter, sent you. I bet they love to hear that!
NASA states that they do not have the resources anymore to answer most emails they receive. Liars! They have $13 billion dollars to play with. They can answer the public's questions. At least, ask them one specific question: How many letters did they get opposing Cassini today? (And tell them you oppose it too!) If each reader asks them that...
Here's NASA's email address:
Daniel Goldin is the head of NASA. Here's his email address: email@example.com
Here's the NASA URL to find additional addresses to submit written questions to:
(Note that it looks like possibly a temporary URL assignment, but you can always start at http://www.nasa.gov.)
They imply at the web site that written comments are more likely to get answered -- quicker than emailed comments! Someone should welcome them to the 1990's before it's too late.
Long time readers know lots of questions to ask them! Ask them why they don't link to our web site. Ask them why they haven't got rid of Daniel Goldin, the glassy-eyed fool. Ask them why they haven't sent you YOUR copy of the 1995 EIS for the Cassini mission! Ask them anything, but demand an answer! YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT NASA IS DOING TO YOUR HEALTH.
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