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Merry-go-round Disasters
6 April 2011
chernobyl mutant dog
Example of a Dog in the Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum with dipygus probably caused by radiation around Chernobyl.
Here we go again.  Round and round we go.  Subprime crash, Gulf of Mexico oil spill, credit crunch and Fukushima.  We are not as clever as we seem to think we are.  In fact we are probably less clever than monkeys.  Our problems are possibly the consequence of not using our cleverness.  That is, we are capable of being clever but instead we abuse the benefit and the consequences are worse than if we were never endowed with that attribute in the first place. (See: Education or Indoctrination)
Rationality seems to be a real benefit.  Logic, formalised by Aristotle, is a mechanism of reasoning which is reliable and informative.  Logic allows us to realise more than we might know otherwise.  It is a great tool in learning more about the world from the scant facts and observations that we can make as individuals.  One of the beautiful characteristics of rational thought is that is always produces reliable and valid results.  It is truly amazing but that is how it is.  If you believe in God you might exclaim that God is wonderful because he has ensured consistency in his creation.  The main consistency that is overtly evident to the human is in language.  If it is stated that all swans are white then they are.  It is really simple.  If it is not white it is not a swan.  It is as simple as that.
But of course you can't believe in God if you accept rationality because God is an invention by humans to make themselves feel that they are safe in an oppressive environment and he is fundamentally self contradictory.  (See: Good God the Oppressor and God claims he doesn't exist) God is the antithesis of what people who believe in God think he is.  God is supposed to be benign and all powerful and yet we keep going round this merry-go-round of disasters.  How do we do that?  Well in part we do it by believing in God instead of the God given gift of rationalisation.
There is an interesting thing about probability that most people seem to miss.  Frighteningly the experts seem to miss it too.  If you have a one in a million chance of winning, the general feeling seems to be that you don't have a chance.  Or perhaps there is just a feeling that the chances are so low that you can't expect to win.  (See: Doubling System for more on probability) What most people don't realise is that a one in a million chance is a better chance than a one in two million chance.  What most people don't get is that the figure of a million has not been plucked from nowhere to indicate infinity or just a massive number so big that your brain can't deal with it (See Something Interesting to put big numbers in perspective.).  Simply put, the up side is that in every million goes there will, on average, be a winner.  So if you have one thousand billion goes you can expect to win almost exactly one million times.  If that were not the case it would not be a one in a million chance of winning.
The same applies to economic risks and to nuclear power plants.  To build Nuclear power stations to withstand the greatest earthquake an area has experienced in the last hundred years is simple stupidity.  To take financial risks that stand to lose vast rafts of money occasionally is not acceptable.  In both these cases there is a perfectly oppressive and selfish model.  The gains are kept by the gamblers and the losses are suffered by the population (See UK Budget Tax Hike).
There are approximately 440 nuclear power stations worldwide (see : World Nuclear Foundation) and we started building them 60 years ago.  We have had the equivalent of about 40 years with 400 nuclear power stations.  There have been about 40 significant accidents involving radioactive material and at least two extremely serious events.  These figures do not constitute statistically significant numbers but it is interesting to consider some facts.  If the chances of a serious accident were one in a million then with a thousand reactors you might expect one accident every thousand years.  But in this case so far we have a figure more like 1:8000 chance of a serious accident.  As we continue to invest in nuclear power the ratio comes down.  That is:  The odds of a serious accident go up.
The cost of the Chernobyl disaster was estimated at 200 billion US dollars.  But that is only a fraction of the real cost.  7 million soviet citizens receive social benefits on account of the accident.  If they only got $1,000 per year that would be 7 billion dollars per annum for a very long time.  Thousands of people have died and there are an inordinate number of genetic mutations and other ailments as a result of the radiation.  The containment of the nuclear substances requires constant expensive maintenance and there is no getting away from that for millions of years. The land around Chernobyl is wasted and uninhabitable for thousands of generations.
But someone made a healthy profit from this enterprise and where are they now?

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