Fukushima farmer takes on Tepco over wife’s suicide

by Mari Saito and Lisa Twaronite

Reuters

The Fukushima District Court is due to rule next month on a claim that Tokyo Electric Power Co. is responsible for a woman’s suicide, in a landmark case that could force the utility to publicly admit culpability for deaths related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

In July 2011, nearly four months after the massive earthquake and tsunami that triggered a series of catastrophic failures at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Hamako Watanabe returned to her still-radioactive hilltop home, doused herself in kerosene and set herself on fire.

She left no suicide note but her husband, Mikio, says plant operator Tepco is directly responsible.

“If that accident hadn’t happened, we would have lived a normal, peaceful life” on their family farm some 50 km from the plant, said Watanabe, now 64, who discovered her charred body.

The Fukushima District Court is expected to rule in late August on Watanabe’s lawsuit, which Tepco is contesting. The outcome could set a precedent for claims against the struggling utility, said Watanabe’s lawyer, Tsuguo Hirota.

The triple meltdowns at the plant forced more than 150,000 people from their homes. Most of them remain displaced and about a third, including Watanabe, are living in temporary housing.

The utility has settled a number of suicide-related claims through a government dispute resolution system, but declined to say how many or give details on how much it has paid.

Japan has made public 25 disaster-related death cases that were settled through the resolution system, some for more than ¥16 million. Causes of death were not always specified, and include those due to natural causes, such as elderly patients who died in evacuation centers. A Mainichi report this week said arbitrators were encouraged to automatically halve requested damage to expedite the process.

Tepco said it could not comment on pending cases, including Watanabe’s.

Watanabe has so far declined to settle outside of court and has broken off contact with relatives who urged him to drop his suit. His oldest son left his job after co-workers harassed him, accusing him of using his mother’s death for personal gain. Watanabe is seeking more than ¥91 million in damages.

“No matter what verdict I get in August, I just want my wife to rest in peace,” Watanabe said.

Like her husband, Hamako had grown up in Yamakiya, a rural pocket of farms and rice paddies surrounded by hills inside the town of Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture. Being forced to leave plunged her into a sudden and deep depression, he said.

“For them to argue that the suicide is not directly related is unforgivable,” Watanabe said.

Hirota, Watanabe’s lawyer, said the verdict could set the stage for others who have experienced losses as a result of the nuclear disaster to take similar legal action.

“For the claimants, it’s not about the money. They want to know what the meaning of their husband’s death was, or why their mother had to perish this way,” he said.

Kazuo Okawa, an Osaka-based lawyer who has spent over three decades representing victims of Minamata disease, a neurological syndrome caused by mercury poisoning from industrial wastewater, said that courts in Japan generally tend to favor companies in liability cases.

Civil suits are uncommon in Japan, where victims are far more likely to skirt arduous court battles and accept settlements.

“There are massive hurdles to go to court in Japan. It takes a long time for court cases to proceed and this discourages many victims,” Okawa said. “If they felt they had a chance of winning they still might, but that hasn’t always been the case.”

The case also highlights what advocates call a quiet crisis of depression in Japan’s disaster zone, which many say has gone unnoticed in a culture that values stoicism and stigmatizes mental illness.

“Their houses are still there, but they can’t go back,” said Shinichi Niwa, a professor of psychiatry at Fukushima Medical University, who said that displacement contributed to anger, despair and suicide.

Between 2011 and 2013, suicides declined 11 percent across Japan. Suicides in Fukushima had also been decreasing in the years before the disaster, but deaths have ticked up in the past two years.

Since April 2011, there have been more than 1,500 suicides in the prefecture. Authorities have so far ruled 54 of those deaths to be “disaster related.”

The central government has dispatched counselors, appointed a government minister in charge of suicide prevention and provided funding to local organizations for survivors and evacuees like Watanabe.

Tepco was bailed out with taxpayer funds in 2012 and expects to spend more than $48 billion in compensation alone, and billions more for a decades-long costly decommission.

The utility currently pays all nuclear evacuees a stipend of roughly $1,000 a month for emotional distress caused by the accident. Tepco also provides compensation to those who lost their jobs and partially pays for the value of their homes, depending on the length of their forced evacuation. Those evacuees living in areas that have no timeline for their return receive payment for the full value of their homes.

The utility remains under pressure to cut costs as plans to restart its remaining nuclear complex in Japan’s northwest have stalled in the face of local opposition.

Last month, Tepco rejected a request by residents of Namie — less than 10 km from the destroyed plant — to raise their monthly compensation for mental distress.

Watanabe’s house is still in an exclusion zone, where traffic is restricted to former residents and decontamination crews. He now lives alone in prefabricated housing on what used to be a sports field and regularly commutes to maintain the empty home, and the yard where his family used to have barbecues and watch the fireflies blinking under the stars.

After evacuating, Watanabe’s family moved through a series of shelters before finding a small apartment. Then he and Hamako lost their jobs at a local chicken farm when it closed as the public shunned food from Fukushima.

“She worried constantly and kept asking, ‘What will we do next?’ and ‘How can we pay our house loan?’ “

In late June 2011, Hamako begged Watanabe to take her home. He agreed to go to their house and spend one last night there, hoping the familiar settings would put her at ease.

On June 30, Hamako cooked in the kitchen while her husband cleared the neck-high brush around the house. After, they sat together by a window with a sweeping view of their property. She seemed happy, Watanabe said. She asked him if they really had to leave the next day.

“She said, ‘Well you can go back, but I want to stay here even if that means living alone. I never want to leave my home.’ I told her, ‘Don’t be stupid, we have to leave together.’ “

The next morning, Watanabe resumed clearing brush. In the distance, under the spreading boughs of a tall tree, he noticed a fire. He assumed his wife was burning trash as usual, and continued working.

  • Sam Gilman

    After evacuating, Watanabe’s family moved through a series of shelters
    before finding a small apartment. Then he and Hamako lost their jobs at a
    local chicken farm when it closed as the public shunned food from
    Fukushima.

    TEPCO are of course responsible for failing to maintain Fukushima Daiichi. Without their negligence, none of this would have happened.

    But also responsible are the people who have exacerbated the situation by spreading false rumours about radiation dangers. This includes certain people in the anti-nuclear movement and also a large number of people in the media. I hope the editorial team at the Japan Times and some of their columnists might use this occasion to think over their responsibilities.

    • robertwgordonesq

      I generally like Sam’s comments on issues in general, and I agree with him that there are certainly people out there who wish to stoke fear and confusion via exaggeration and hyperbole.

      However, listening to Sam on nuclear power, you would think nuclear radiation was the best thing since sliced bread and so too that you could even eat it for breakfast.

      If nuclear power is so “safe” and relatively “harmless”…why all the precautions for people who work around the stuff??? That’s really all the proof you need about nuclear radiation’s dangers cranks or not.

      • Sam Gilman

        Robert,

        I’m sorry, but what on Earth are you on about? I’ve never said nuclear power is completely safe. I’ve never said that the situation at Fukushima is entirely safe. I’ve certainly never said there is nothing particularly dangerous about radioactive materials. Of course they can be very dangerous. The question is how dangerous and for whom. With the exception of people working to clean up the plant, it is simply true that our best experts nationally and internationally believe the threat to health is vanishingly small. Do you have a problem with me relying on mainstream science?

        Right now we are talking about a man whose wife committed suicide because of the stresses from Fukushima. Part of that story is losing their livelihood after the accident because of fears about food from Fukushima. These are fears which, as you yourself agree, have been seriously stoked by anti-nuclear activists. Perhaps you need to appreciate how bad the situation is.

        We have a situation where Japan’s leading thyroid and radioprotection specialist – the son of a hibakusha (atomic bomb victim), and a man who spent years of his life visting Chernobyl and studying the cancers that occurred in Chernobyl – gets labelled a murderer simply for reporting what decades of research has found about the threat from radiation – simply because he says there won’t be the high number of deaths that the anti-nuclear movement want to see. Is this the kind of situation you approve of, Robert? Of course not. So why is it not worth speaking out against this situation?

        The argument that the more qualified one needs to be to work in an energy industry, the more dangerous it is for human health, doesn’t stand up. 12,000 Americans, 20,000 Europeans, and a quarter of a million Chinese die from the pollution caused by coal burning every single year. Are coal-plant operators more qualified? I’m allowed – in any country of the world – to carry around large amounts of a volatile substance implicated in the deaths of hundreds of people following the tsunami with nothing more than a driving license. Seriously, this is the sort of argument that only serves to block people’s understanding of what the risks are that they face in life. That’s not a good thing.

        What is wrong with trying to help people understand the real, rather than imaginary, risks they face?

      • robertwgordonesq

        Ha, ha…take a deep breath (inhale…exhale).

        Relax.

        First, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not hit by coal bombs and had Frosty the Snowman’s eyes been made out of plutonium I’m sure many parents would be crying foul.

        Your point of view is well taken and your passion for the subject is admirable.

        However, if you are not careful you will start to sound like the “cranks” you deride (and that will not be good for your argument [i.e., reasoning]).

        You are right, there are people out there who will exaggerate for political purposes.

        However, it seems (note the qualifying word) you assume that science is “infallible”, almost (note again the qualifying word) giving science and scientists a semi-religious quality.

        Scientist can be just as wrong and politically motivated as anyone else, experimentation notwithstanding. And nuclear science isn’t something anyone can just pick up and do their own independent tests.

        The effects of Hiroshima everyone can see.

        The effects of Chernobyl everyone can see.

        Hence it is not unreasonable for people to be afraid and quite concerned.

        Are you saying that it is impossible for scientists to be wrong?

        Are you saying it is impossible for a scientist to be politically motivated?

        Are you saying that it is impossible for scientists to introduce bias into their interpretation of data?

        You are welcome to advocate and balance what you see as fear mongering…and I think that’s great. But at the same time, be careful not to place yourself in the same category as what you seem (note again the qualifying word) to despise.

        Looking forward to your next post!

        (and for the record, as I’ve mentioned before, and not that it should matter… I have relatives living in the regions of Fukushima affected by the radiation and also relatives who have been displaced by the radiological disaster. I’ve visited and lived in the radiologically affected regions of Fukushima personally after the accident, so I do appreciate how bad the situation is).

      • Sam Gilman

        Robert, I’m afraid that although I get an impressionistic sense of what you’re trying to say, I’m having difficulty pinning down a clear argument. You agree that there are people who are massively exaggerating the risks people face for political reasons (which is all I am saying), but still you’re not happy with me pointing out how this is a problem.

        (By the way, I’m not wound up at all, but thank you for your concern. I’m just doing you the courtesy of taking what you write seriously. Do you have a problem with that? ;-) )

        At one point you seem to suggest that I don’t appreciate why people are going to be afraid anyway of radiation even without the intervention of fearmongers. If that’s the case, then you’ve missed a central point of the outrage that I thought was too obvious to dwell on. These people certainly are scared, therefore they are vulnerable to such politically motivated fearmongering. It almost seems to be that you are arguing that the more scared and therefore vulnerable someone is, the less outspoken one should be at them being exploited. But that wouldn’t make sense, so surely you can’t be saying that. It also struck me that maybe you thought I was dismissing people for being afraid, but I haven’t done that either. I think I’ve been quite clear about my target.

        At other times you seem to be arguing that because people are frightened, the actual dangers must therefore be serious or significant. Again, this doesn’t make sense, so I’m not sure you’re saying that either, but then why did you try to refute my point about the real relative risks of something like burning coal, with how unfrightened people are of the stuff? How would that make the real risk different? The conversation here is about the gulf between fear and reality. At times (and not only here) you write as if they’re the same thing, as if someone’s fear will actually change the laws of physics.

        At another point you seem to be flitting between the proposition that any individual mainstream scientist can be wrong just like anyone can be wrong (which is trivially true), and the proposition that the general institutions of mainstream science are just as likely to be wrong about science as anyone else. A nanosecond’s reflection should tell you that the second proposition simply isn’t true. I wonder if perhaps the central problem is that you either don’t know, or are glossing over, how mainstream science works, and how cranks are different to mainstream science.

        The thing is, your suggestion that I regard mainstream science as infallible makes no sense in terms of the reason I or anyone like me has for trusting it (the skeptic movement isn’t exactly quiet these days). Mainstream science is founded foursquare on its own fallibility. It has at its heart, as part of the scientific method, rules for how to prove it wrong. You are correct to point out that science is practiced by people who, as in any other walk of life, make mistakes, and are corruptible and prejudiced. That’s why there is peer review, post-publication critique, replication, meta-studies etc etc at its best conducted across national boundaries, and all grounded in the same physical reality. Mistakes get picked up – or at least if they are going to get picked up, it’s only through this process of academic debate and critique.

        That doesn’t mean there is perfect unanimity in science, but we can easily start to talk about the boundaries of what is plausible. The process has over a period of time produced a range of views on low level radiation, but they pretty much agree on one thing: at the levels people face here, there will be no detectable rises in cancer or other radiation-related illnesses. Compared to other risks we can control (diet, living in urban areas etc) they are at most tiny. If so many people from so many different places and with so many shades of opinion can agree on that point under these circumstances of public critique, it doesn’t mean groupthink. It means it’s highly probably correct. The evidence is overwhelming. Yet you find my stating this a problem. I don’t understand why.

        For some reason you think it’s wrong for me to strongly insist that our scientific information come out of this process of oversight and critique. It’s the only good process we have, isn’t it? I genuinely can’t work out what your problem is with it, unless you simply don’t understand the process, or you’ve been hoodwinked by the cranks into believing the myth that whole fields of science can get bought out. That’s not how money and ideology campaign against science. You should read this paper on science denialism to see how science actually gets disrupted by special interests. It should help show why a “split the difference” approach between science and pseudoscience – which at times you seem to be taking – is problematic.

        Let’s be clear what a crank is, and what pseudoscience is. A crank is not a scientist with a minority opinion. Pseudoscience is not science with errors. It isn’t science at all. It’s junk dressed up as science. It’s a performance for the public, for paying customers and for the media. That’s why it’s important to ask if someone is qualified to speak, and has had their views examined by other scientists. If someone avoids, or repeatedly fails to pass through the oversight of other scientists, and if what they say contradicts consensus views of the main body of scientific opinion, you don’t count their position for a little bit less because of that. You give it zero weight. It doesn’t matter if the person appears in the media a lot. It certainly doesn’t matter if they speak to your prejudices and fears: that’s how they get to you.

        Pseudoscience has a primary and a fallback goal. The primary goal is, of course, to get you to believe just what they say. The fallback is to get you to doubt real scientists enough that you’re happy to contribute to an environment where pseudoscience can flourish. This is the Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt strategy. I think you’re being hoodwinked by this fallback strategy. Why else is your comeback to “the risk is small”, is “but people perceive the risk to be big”? Robert, we all know. That fear, far more than any radiation, is hurting them. The fear is a large part of the true public health crisis. We should help people to understand what the risks from radiation really are. We should strongly censure those alleging that the evidence is that the risks are even higher because the basis for such claims is clearly fraudulent, and we should strongly censure them for spreading conspiracy theories that only serve to disempower and demoralise the population.

        Yet you seem uneasy about me saying we should bring people’s fears down into line with reality. I cannot work out why.

      • robertwgordonesq

        (Sam has difficulty figuring Mr. Gordon out.)

        Ok, Sam, in short…I am an attorney. So it would be futile to try to pin me down to a specific opinion or ideology as I have none since my job requires me to be able to adeptly argue “both sides”.

        As I said before, I love the way you debate and argue your points. And you seem to have the advantage

        At the same time, those who argue against you, do not seem capable of identifying the weaknesses in your arguments without denigrating to name calling., which serves no one.

        Hence I try to add a little balance because your position (though relatively stronger than your opponent’s) is still susceptible to critique and I would hate for those advocating a science-based position become as evangelical and dogmatic as…well…evangelicals and dogmatics.

        Science is not omniscient, nor omnipotent and the scientific method is only as good as the person practicing it.

        Unless these nuclear scientists are all independently wealthy, I would hazzard to guess they get funding (at least in part) from people who stand to benefit from their scientific pronouncements (the nuclear industry perhaps?) and it would be hard I think for such scientists to “bite the hand that feeds them”.

        It does not mean these scientists are wrong. However, one should bear such possibilities in mind.

        I deal with people advocating “truth” all the time. It’s my job. As such, I have a particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you….oh wait…sorry… I’m monologing.

        Ha, ha…joke…(for the uninitiated that is a line from the movie “Taken” starring Liam Neeson).

        But seriously. I do have a set of skills geared for debate and I’m just trying to add some balance since you seem to have your opponents on the ropes.

        Now to address your specific “questions”:

        1) You wrote:You agree that there are people who are massively exaggerating the risks people face…but still you’re not happy with me pointing out how this is a problem.

        No, I’m perfectly happy with you pointing that out.

        2) You wrote:I’m just doing you the courtesy of taking what you write seriously. Do you have a problem with that?

        No problem at all. Thanks!

        3) You wrote:At other times you seem to be arguing that because people are frightened, the actual dangers must therefore be serious or significant. Again, this doesn’t make sense, so I’m not sure you’re saying that either, but then why did you try to refute my point about the real relative risks of something like burning coal, with how unfrightened people are of the stuff? How would that make the real risk different?

        Fear, thought irrational, does have some basis. Just because it is non-rational (i.e., not based on cognitive reasoning) does not mean the fear is not about something real and thus can’t be poo-poo’ed simply because it is non-rational.

        I addressed your point about coal because it was a good example and was a good point. Thus to balance it, I pointed out the argument’s relative shortcomings.

        4) You wrote:At another point you seem to be flitting between the proposition that any individual mainstream scientist can be wrong just like anyone can be wrong (which is trivially true), and the proposition that the general institutions of mainstream science are just as likely to be wrong about science as anyone else. A nanosecond’s reflection should tell you that the second proposition simply isn’t true.

        Well here, I do have an opinion. I don’t think science should be deified simply by giving it the label of “science”. We would call that an “appeal to authority” which can also be a fallacy.

        Scientists get their financial support from somewhere and are susceptible to the biases potentially inherent in such funding.

        In addition, the entire history of science is one of subsequent generations proving earlier scientists wrong (and even being persecuted as “heretics” for it).

        It seems that you use science as a mantle of “absolute truth” to be unquestionably obeyed and I think that some skepticism even in regards to “science” is healthy and investigating the possible biases in scientific pronouncements to be appropriate.

        5) You wrote:I wonder if perhaps the central problem is that you either don’t know, or are glossing over, how mainstream science works, and how cranks are different to mainstream science.

        Nope. I know how it works. Took several courses in college and I cross-examine scientific experts all the time. I think rather I know better how mainstream science doesn’t work at times. Again, occupational hazard.

        6) You wrote:“…your suggestion
        that I regard mainstream science as infallible makes no sense in terms of the reason I or anyone like me has for trusting it …Mainstream science is founded foursquare on its own fallibility.

        Well, your arguments seem to suggest that science can’t possibly be wrong…ever. And I know that not to be the case. I personally believe institutional scientist have reason to play down the facts for certain political topics while at the same time speaking “truth”.

        Unfortunately, my own experience with some scientists suggest they do take on a religious air of infallibility for their field.

        7) You wrote:“…but they pretty much agree on one thing: at the levels people face here, there will be no detectable rises in cancer or other radiation-related illnesses…If so many people from so many different places and with so many shades of opinion can agree on that point under these circumstances of public critique, it doesn’t mean groupthink. It means it’s highly probably correct. The evidence is overwhelming. Yet you find my stating this a problem. I don’t understand why.”

        Yeah…but how many of those scientists actually live in Fukushima or live in some other radioactively contaminated region? Should that matter? No. But it is a factor to take under consideration.

        Anyway…there was overwhelming and incontrovertible proof that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq…nearly a decade later we find…???

        8) You wrote:For some reason you think it’s wrong for me to strongly insist that our scientific information come out of this process of oversight and critique. It’s the only good process we have, isn’t it?

        No, I don’t think it is wrong to insist such at all. It’s just that your opponents don’t seem able to see the flaw in your arguments…you have them outmatched.

        9) You wrote:You should read this paper on science denialism to see how science actually gets disrupted by special interests.

        I will certainly check it out.

        10) You wrote:Let’s be clear what a crank is, and what pseudoscience is….and if what they say contradicts consensus views of the main body of scientific opinion, you don’t count their position for a little bit less because of that. You give it zero weight.

        That’s a bit extreme. You seem to be saying that any minority or individual who goes against consensus, must by definition be absolutely wrong (i.e., “zero weight”) because they don’t have “recognized” credentials.

        That’s the type of extremism I’m guarding against.

        11) You wrote:We should help people to understand what the risks from radiation really are. We should strongly censure those alleging that the evidence is that the risks are even higher because the basis for such claims is clearly fraudulent, and we should strongly censure them for spreading conspiracy theories that only serve to disempower and demoralise the population.

        Just to be clear, you are saying “censure” as in “express disapproval” (which is fine) as opposed to “censor” as in “silence their view point” (which is not fine). Correct?

        12) You wrote:Yet you seem uneasy about me saying we should bring people’s fears down into line with reality. I cannot work out why.

        The question is…what is reality?

        I think we’ve beaten this horse dead.

        See you in the next debate!

  • Demosthenes

    This might sound callous, but I’m not so convinced about this guy’s motives for suing Tepco here. Far be it from me to actually support Tepco in any way (because I think their handling of the whole Fukushima situation has been nothing short of pathetic), but taking one’s life is a personal decision and an extreme one at that. I just don’t buy the “oh, they made me do it” line.

    • robertwgordonesq

      Good point, but having actually dealt with these kinds of litigations, I can say…it is a real phenomena and one may be able to prove a causal link.

  • Sam Gilman

    Patricia,

    I wasn’t referring to this specific article, but to others that have appeared all too frequently in the Japan Times and in other media outlets. I was trying not to be inflammatory by naming names.

    This issue is not simply about TEPCO because it also involves how we help or harm people trying to recover from the tsunami, and from the nuclear disaster that TEPCO’s negligence led to.

    If (and I stress if) you are saying in a public place that there are “real dangers” from food on sale produced in Fukushima, you’re simply flat wrong, and are a small part of the problem yourself that leads to this kind of suffering. I stress if.

    You call me “irresponsible”; quite the opposite. I have taken a great deal of care in studying what genuine, qualified, experienced scientists have to say on the dangers. That was my responsible reaction to the avalanche of fear that fell on us all when the disaster began to unfold. Would you rather I relied on the work of cranks who profit from spreading fear? How is that responsible? Are you aware that fear can have real large consequences on health?

    Patricia, it may come as a shock to you to learn that the “scientific” leadership of the anti-nuclear movement is overwhelmingly dominated by cranks, frauds and snake-oil salespeople who typically have no actual recognisable expertise in the field they pontificate about – by which I mean no proper qualification or genuine career research record in the area. (It’s rather similar to the “scientific” leadership of the climate change denial movement: they’re not climate scientists.) Like climate change denialists, these “experts” do not seek to engage other scientists, but instead engage with the media. Their goal is to create fear, uncertainty and doubt.

    If you want names: Chris Busby, Helen Caldicott, Joseph Mangano, Janette Sherman, Arnie Gundersen, Harvey Wasserman, etc. etc.Please feel free to ask why any of these people are cranks, or anyone else like them; I don’t want to waste time laying it all out for each person in one post if you already know some of them to be dodgy, but here’s a recent article by a nuclear waste specialist on the problem.

    If you want media examples from the JT, there’s

    A JT columnist giving credence to patently ridiculous stories of radiation causing shrinking limbs, and of children with acute radiation poisoning in Yokohama.

    Or an openly anti-nuclear journalist for Associated Press trying hard to give “equal balance” credence to entirely groundless rumours of visitors to Fukushima getting nosebleeds spread by a for-profit manga publisher.

    Or space given again and again and again to an American religious studies teacher with absolutely no grasp of science who not only repeats the work of known charlatans Mangano and Busby, but even wanted people to believe that students visiting Kyoto were getting acute radiation sickness. He joins in the comments discussion, and his indifference to whether his sources are junk science is quite depressing.

    These are in English, so at least there is a slight barrier between them and the benighted population of Tohoku. However, they are part of a general culture within the international anti-nuclear movement of indifference to the truth and enthusiastic pursuit of fear. I have tried raising again and again with such people the established dangers of fearmongering, and the junk quality of their science, and they brush all of that aside. It really seems like they just don’t care. Their ideology and the media’s revenue-making clicks are apparently more important than the people they are pretending to worry about.

  • Enkidu

    Hi Patricia,

    I think Sam’s point is a good one. The Japan Times has featured a parade of unqualified people making technically illiterate pronouncements about the effects of Fukushima, including Colin Jones, Brian Victoria, David McNeil, Jeff
    Kingston, Andrew Dewitt, Christopher Hobson, etc. None of these people have any scientific background and, more importantly, they lack even the “scientific sense” to differentiate between real experts and cranks. If you need links to articles, I’m happy to provide (or you can just look at my commenting history).

    Trust me, if I had the money, I would pay for at least one person with a scientific or engineering background to sit in the JT newsroom full time and help them try to understand this stuff.