Date: Tue, 04 Sep 2007 11:56:15 -0700

From: "Russell 'Ace' Hoffman" <>
Subject: Re: [Hanford] Digest Number 1490 -- posthumous attack on Gofman

September 4th, 2007

Dear Readers,

What Mr. Boland has written (shown below, top) contains numerous "logical fallacies."  A logical fallacy is defined as follows:

A correct statement of the form "if P then Q" gets turned into "Q therefore P".

Let's get started with his first logical fallacy, which appears in his first sentence.  Mr. Boland equates pro-nuclear baseless denunciations of Dr. Gofman as proving that he has been "discredited for years."  Okay, perhaps I should have said, just to emphasize the point, that Dr. Gofman was not "SUCCESSFULLY" discredited, though in my opinion that's redundant.  Anybody CAN say anything they want -- as Boland proves with his letter.  That doesn't make it true (as Boland also proves).

That same paragraph continues with a misguided view of biological function in which no baseline is given (so we could determine what Mr. Boland means by "Low Dose Radiation").  Does he mean radiation above 100 mRem per year?  Above 320 mRem?  Above 400 mRem?  That matters, because the standard value given by the nuclear establishment for "natural background radiation" has been creeping up for decades.  At what level does Mr. Boland think just a little bit more, randomly given, is beneficial?  Pro-nukers NEVER say.  And what amount more becomes dangerous again?  They won't say that, either.

In truth, Gofman's studies (and other's) have shown conclusively that there is no minimum threshold for ionizing radiation.  Any amount can lead to cancer.  As I stated, even the National Academy of Science's BEIR VII (Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation VII) report was forced to conclude that there is no threshold.  All radiation exposure incurs an elevated risk of cancer, leukemia, birth defects, heart disease, and other ailments.  Boland's link contains nothing more than an eyewitness account (that is, not a scientific study with control groups, statistical analysis, peer review, etc.) about a radon mine in which visitors go specifically to breath radon-contaminated air.  I'm sure even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would condemn this "cure," just as health professionals (eventually) condemned x-raying children's feet to see if their shoes fit properly.  Furthermore, nowhere does Boland explain WHY he believes that "increased apoptosis" (cell death) MUST be beneficial.  That shoe doesn't fit.  Lastly, the supposed stimulation of "DNA repair mechanisms" (the most widely-claimed "benefit" of so-called low doses of radiation) is, again, hardly the subject of any proper scientific study, and there is not even a credible scientific theory of how it would work.  Instead, whenever proper studies are done (such as those by Gofman, or a recent study of the wildlife around Chernobyl, to name two examples) the long-term effects of radiation damage ALWAYS outweigh ANY short-term gains, except in dire cases of cancer and leukemia, where LARGE radiation blasts sometimes successfully kill what would almost surely be a fatal tumor.  Often this is done to people too old to bear children, and so any genetic damage will, fortunately, not be passed on.

Boland's next paragraph suggests that according to Gofman's theory, the fact that we all have K-40 (a radioactive isotope of potassium) in our bodies dooms us.  This is a most incredible logical fallacy!  Gofman's theory predicts no such thing, but Boland's twisting of Gofman's research strongly suggests a severe (possibly terminal) mental block on Boland's part, such that he cannot see the forest for the trees.  If P then Q does not mean Q therefore P!  If ANY amount of radiation CAN cause cancer, it does not imply that therefore ALL radiation inevitably causes fatal cancer.

Boland's next paragraph claims that because Gofman lived to be 88, therefore the radiation is his body is the "best evidence" that Gofman was wrong.  Ignoring the unscientific nature of using a single case to prove anything, Gofman died of a heart attack.  As it turns out, radiation can and does cause heart disease, too, so Gofman may well have died from his own radiation exposure.  The fact that this happened beyond the age the actuarial tables say he would live, on average, does not mean his death was not premature for him.  Nor does it mean that his death was not a tragedy.  Gofman was still doing valuable research.  I'll wager Boland has NEVER done valuable research of any kind.

Boland next claims that Gofman could not be buried in Oregon due to the K-40 in his body.  I have not seen the wording of Oregon's law but I suppose that's possible, since all states have "silly laws." Of course, it would mean no one else could be buried in Oregon either, so I suspect that's not the spirit or the wording of the law.

Lastly, regarding Gofman's "notorious" support of nuclear weapons, that too is taking his comments out of context and out of perspective.  Gofman did not think the United States could unilaterally eliminate ALL our nuclear weapons.  He may have been right about that, too.

Below (bottom) is an essay I wrote earlier this year, specifically comparing K-40 exposure to the EPA's limit for tritium (radioactive hydrogen) in drinking water.  There is little question that it will be beyond Boland's capabilities to follow along logically, since even the plain-speaking Gofman threw him for an unfathomable loop, but the rest of you might appreciate it.


Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA