A reflection on the nuclear crisis in Japan.
Philosophy of Science and Technology
Charles Sanders Peirce
March 11, an earthquake of 8.9 magnitude hit Japan causing a lot of destruction on life and property. The nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi caught trouble when the cooling system first stopped due to the earthquake, then later destroyed when the tsunami reached the plant. Soon, the nuclear reactors caught fire and exploded emitting radioactive materials. Many, according to the news reports, died in the said explosion.
Now, many do think that anything nuclear is inherently destructive and unsafe, still recalling the Chernobyl incident. However, some physicists and scientists themselves told the public not to make exaggerated comments on the real situation in Japan. They say that it is a technical matter to discuss.
Truly, some of the reports made by the media were not grounded on facts and do not speak of the whole truth. Some reports singly highlighted the idea that the radioactive material released from the huge explosion of the nuclear reactors killed people, without further factual information.
Basically, some of those who made rash comments on the issue are those who do not like anything nuclear at all. And no matter how the proper authorities themselves testified to the real scenario, they clung to their opinions with determination and perseverance. However, there are still others who simply listened and believed to the beliefs of some important personages who are not really equipped in the field. A few refused to listen to others’ comments but stated their opinions after subjecting themselves on speculation. Their ideas may be good but limited for they only agree on their subjective and personal inclinations and sentiments.
To remove our doubts, Peirce says, we must use the method of science to approach a satisfactory state of belief on the issue. He assures us that, because this method adapts an empirical procedure, it is error revealing and self-corrective, since tested against what is independent of our idiosyncratic tendencies. With this, at the end of the day, we will know what the nuclear situation in Japan was really.
So, let us first leave the inquiry to the scientific community for it will require a careful assessment of the situation and risk analysis of nuclear power itself, things in which the public is generally ill-equipped for.