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Old 04-14-2011, 07:21 PM   #81
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Indeed. And today we don't know everything either. We will know more in the future. In the meanwhile we'll make mistakes, have blind spots and underestimate what's "possible".
Meanwhile, people will continue to take very real and relatively high risks with their lives and the lives of those around them, many of which are easily avoided. How many people foolishly live in areas exposed to tornadoes, flooding, or electrical storms?

All figures below are for U.S. residents.
Cause of Death Lifetime Odds
Heart Disease 1-in-5
Cancer 1-in-7
Stroke 1-in-23
Accidental Injury 1-in-36
Motor Vehicle Accident* 1-in-100
Intentional Self-harm (suicide) 1-in-121
Falling Down 1-in-246
Assault by Firearm 1-in-325
Fire or Smoke 1-in-1,116
Natural Forces (heat, cold, storms, quakes, etc.) 1-in-3,357
Electrocution* 1-in-5,000
Drowning 1-in-8,942
Air Travel Accident* 1-in-20,000
Flood* (included also in Natural Forces above) 1-in-30,000
Legal Execution 1-in-58,618
Tornado* (included also in Natural Forces above) 1-in-60,000
Lightning Strike (included also in Natural Forces above) 1-in-83,930
Snake, Bee or other Venomous Bite or Sting* 1-in-100,000
Earthquake (included also in Natural Forces above) 1-in-131,890
Dog Attack 1-in-147,717
Asteroid Impact* 1-in-200,000**
Tsunami* 1-in-500,000
Fireworks Discharge 1-in-615,488
* figures from long term data. Others are baseline 2001 data.
** Perhaps 1-in-500,000

SOURCES: National Center for Health Statistics, CDC; American Cancer Society; National Safety Council; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; World Health Organization; USGS; Clark Chapman, SwRI; David Morrison, NASA; Michael Paine, Planetary Society Australian Volunteers
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Old 04-14-2011, 07:25 PM   #82
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"Worst case scenarios" usually just show the lack of imagination of the speaker.

Here's the worst case scenario in Japan: There is another, larger explosion at reactor 2, and then a really big asteroid hits reactor 4, and the nuclear plant and the entire earth explode into a million pieces.
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Old 04-14-2011, 07:31 PM   #83
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... relatively high risks with their lives and the lives of those around them, many of which are easily avoided.
Cause of Death Lifetime Odds
Heart Disease 1-in-5
Cancer 1-in-7
Stroke 1-in-23
Your top three don't seem that easily avoided.
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Old 04-14-2011, 07:36 PM   #84
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Your top three don't seem that easily avoided.
Piece of cake. Just get hit by a car first...
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Old 04-14-2011, 07:50 PM   #85
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Here's the worst case scenario in Japan: There is another, larger explosion at reactor 2, and then a really big asteroid hits reactor 4, and the nuclear plant and the entire earth explode into a million pieces.
Or maybe this.
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:20 PM   #86
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Meanwhile, people will continue to take very real and relatively high risks with their lives and the lives of those around them, many of which are easily avoided. How many people foolishly live in areas exposed to tornadoes, flooding, or electrical storms?

All figures below are for U.S. residents.
Cause of Death Lifetime Odds
Heart Disease 1-in-5
Cancer 1-in-7
Stroke 1-in-23
Accidental Injury 1-in-36
Motor Vehicle Accident* 1-in-100
Intentional Self-harm (suicide) 1-in-121
Falling Down 1-in-246
Assault by Firearm 1-in-325
Fire or Smoke 1-in-1,116
Natural Forces (heat, cold, storms, quakes, etc.) 1-in-3,357
Electrocution* 1-in-5,000
Drowning 1-in-8,942
Air Travel Accident* 1-in-20,000
Flood* (included also in Natural Forces above) 1-in-30,000
Legal Execution 1-in-58,618
Tornado* (included also in Natural Forces above) 1-in-60,000
Lightning Strike (included also in Natural Forces above) 1-in-83,930
Snake, Bee or other Venomous Bite or Sting* 1-in-100,000
Earthquake (included also in Natural Forces above) 1-in-131,890
Dog Attack 1-in-147,717
Asteroid Impact* 1-in-200,000**
Tsunami* 1-in-500,000
Fireworks Discharge 1-in-615,488
* figures from long term data. Others are baseline 2001 data.
** Perhaps 1-in-500,000

SOURCES: National Center for Health Statistics, CDC; American Cancer Society; National Safety Council; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; World Health Organization; USGS; Clark Chapman, SwRI; David Morrison, NASA; Michael Paine, Planetary Society Australian Volunteers
Just a curious note. I added up all the above statistics and came up with 0.4412. Far short of 100%. OK, there must be some more "popular" ways of death that are missing in the above table.

Just have too much time on hand, I know.
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Old 04-14-2011, 11:25 PM   #87
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Just a curious note. I added up all the above statistics and came up with 0.4412. Far short of 100%. OK, there must be some more "popular" ways of death that are missing in the above table.

Just have too much time on hand, I know.
Ah, infinite variety...

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There's amnesia in a hang knot,

And comfort in the ax,

But the simple way of poison will make your nerves relax.

There's surcease in a gunshot,

And sleep that comes from racks,

But a handy draft of poison avoids the harshest tax.

You find rest upon the hot squat,

Or gas can give you pax,

But the closest corner chemist has peace in packaged stacks.

There's refuge in the church lot

When you tire of facing facts,

And the smoothest route is poison prescribed by kindly quacks.

Chorus—With an ugh! and a groan, and a kick of the heels,

Death comes quiet, or it comes with squeals—

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Old 04-15-2011, 05:22 AM   #88
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Your top three don't seem that easily avoided.

Actually minimizing the risk of all these is pretty straightforward. Don't smoke, or drink beyond moderation. Get plenty of exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and balanced diet. Figure out ways of reducing stress. Avoid contact with chemicals known to cause cancer. Get regular physicals and follow your doctor's orders.

Doing all of these is way easier, than changing what type of power plants get built. Plus they all of have an impact on expected life expectancy at least an order of magnitude greater than anything related to any ER Political discussion. Alas they are less fun than debating things on the forum.
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Old 04-15-2011, 08:34 AM   #89
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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
Just a curious note. I added up all the above statistics and came up with 0.4412. Far short of 100%. OK, there must be some more "popular" ways of death that are missing in the above table.

Just have too much time on hand, I know.
I think you have to multiply them.
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Old 04-15-2011, 08:56 AM   #90
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Actually minimizing the risk of all these is pretty straightforward. Don't smoke, or drink beyond moderation. Get plenty of exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and balanced diet. Figure out ways of reducing stress. Avoid contact with chemicals known to cause cancer. Get regular physicals and follow your doctor's orders.
I don't doubt that there are weak statistical associations between the good lifestyle practices and the diseases. But is there a practical way to avoid cancer here? I don't believe it. I've been following two cancer forums for 5 years now, and I've seen dozens of posts from exercise/health nuts asking "why me? when I was doing everything right." Chance rules.
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Old 04-15-2011, 10:05 AM   #91
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I've been following two cancer forums for 5 years now, and I've seen dozens of posts from exercise/health nuts asking "why me? when I was doing everything right." Chance rules.
You can improve your odds, but they remain just that: odds.

C'est la vie. :-S
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Old 04-15-2011, 11:34 AM   #92
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Actually minimizing the risk of all these is pretty straightforward. Don't smoke, or drink beyond moderation. Get plenty of exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and balanced diet. Figure out ways of reducing stress. Avoid contact with chemicals known to cause cancer. Get regular physicals and follow your doctor's orders.
Oh, sure, you can do that. But what about the asteroids? Big ole rocks falling out of the sky! I don't wanna get smooshed!
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Old 04-15-2011, 11:42 AM   #93
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Oh, sure, you can do that. But what about the asteroids? Big ole rocks falling out of the sky! I don't wanna get smooshed!
So I wanted to know who this M Paquette guy was and I went over to his LinkedIn profile, which says:
"Visionary Retiree and Nuisance at Large"

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Old 04-15-2011, 11:50 AM   #94
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But what about the asteroids?
I'm rather concerned about this, but encouraged by what I've heard about ongoing efforts to locate the dangerous ones. Iirc we're scheduled for a near miss in 2029. (Edit: That's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/99942_Apophis.)
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Old 04-16-2011, 12:12 PM   #95
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So I wanted to know who this M Paquette guy was and I went over to his LinkedIn profile, which says:
"Visionary ... and Nuisance at Large"
That's just a continuation of his active-duty days...
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Old 04-16-2011, 02:09 PM   #96
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That's just a continuation of his active-duty days...
Ah, the good old days...

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Old 04-19-2011, 05:25 AM   #97
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There's this thing called innumeracy, an inability to understand numbers and reach rational conclusions. It's the same thing that leads people to take inappropriate risks with their lives, and worry about events that are very unlikely to pose any real risk.

Here's an easy one for you. The risk of getting a fatal cancer from one pass through a TSA Rapiscan full body scanner is around one in 30 million. If the Rapiscan use blocks half of all terrorist attacks on airplanes, has it increased or decreased the overall risk to an airline passenger? (Hint: use airline terrorist-related deaths for the 2000-2010 period, where mayhem has largely replaced hijacking, for the results that put Rapiscan in the least unfavorable light.)
That's not exactly "an easy one". There's more to it than the math that you mention.

Quoting from this article, underscore added by me:

Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, takes a pat-down instead of going through a scanner when he travels. He says he's concerned about whether the machines are calibrated and inspected properly.

"USA Today did a piece on how badly TSA maintained their X-ray equipment for carryon bags, and this gave me little confidence," he wrote to me in an e-mail.

Brawley's deputy concurs. "I do whatever I can to avoid the scanner," Dr. Len Lichtenfeld wrote to me in an e-mail. He says as a frequent flier, he's concerned about the cumulative effect of the radiation. "This is a total body scan -- not a dental or chest X-ray," he wrote to me. "Total body radiation is not something I find very comforting based on my medical knowledge."

Lichtenfeld says it doesn't necessarily give him great comfort that the TSA says the scans are safe.
"I can still remember getting my feet radiated as a child when I went to the shoe store and they had a machine which could see how my foot fit in the new shoes," he says. "We were told then that they were safe, and they were not."

(At first I thought Lichtenfeld was making this up, but you can actually see one of these foot scanners at the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices at the Science Museum of Minnesota.)

Another doctor who opts for the pat-down is Dr. Dong Kim, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' neurosurgeon.
"There is really no absolutely safe dose of radiation," says Kim, chair of the department of neurosurgery at the University of Texas Medical School. "Each exposure is additive, and there is no need to incur any extra radiation when there is an alternative."
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:27 AM   #98
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Quote:
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There's this thing called innumeracy, an inability to understand numbers and reach rational conclusions
That's not exactly "an easy one". There's more to it than the math that you mention.
Right, there's always someone on the internet that will agree with you. Quotes from other people demonstrating innumeracy does not invalidate innumeracy. Do they have any basis in fact? How much radiation could an uncalibrated machine put out, for example? Does the Doctor have any knowledge of this (I don't, maybe someone can supply this info - maybe in another thread...)?


[ edit - never mind, some of it was right in the article you linked (did you read it?)...

Quote:
some showing radiation levels 10 times higher than expected — simply reflect math mistakes by contractors who inspected the equipment. Indeed, even the highest readings listed on some records — the numbers that the TSA says were mistakes — appear to be many times less than what the agency says a person absorbs during one day of natural background radiation
]

The obvious solution is to kill ourselves, or live in a lead box to avoid all this dangerous radiation...

And some early steam engines blew up. I guess we can't use any technology that was ever misused or misunderstood when it was in its infancy. No, no way.


Quote:
Another doctor who opts for the pat-down is Dr. Dong Kim, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' neurosurgeon.
"There is really no absolutely safe dose of radiation," says Kim, chair of the department of neurosurgery at the University of Texas Medical School. "Each exposure is additive, and there is no need to incur any extra radiation when there is an alternative."
This is a classic example of what M_Paquette mentioned, 'an inability to understand numbers and reach rational conclusions'. If there is 'really no absolutely safe dose of radiation', then what the heck would you be getting on a plane for, which exposes you to more radiation? Another non-starter. Don't get on the plane, don't need the scan - 'problem' solved! So, does Dr Kim then drive to his destination, exposing him to the far higher risk of traffic accidents and death? There's that innumeracy thing for 'ya.

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Old 04-19-2011, 10:39 AM   #99
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Alternatives:
1) Continue using the present scanners. They have nearly zero risk.
2) Discontinue screening and make it easier for people to bring explosives and other bad stuff onto airplanes.
3) Highly "intrusive" pat-downs of every passenger. Kids, adults, the aged--everyone.

Option 1 is cheapest, probably most effective, and fastest. Option 2 significantly increases the likelihood of airplanes being hijacked, used as weapons, or blown up midair. Option 3 will significantly increase travel delays. Options 2 and 3 will increase the number of people traveling by road and being killed in accidents--a morbidity and mortality result that will far exceed even the most irresponsible and inaccurate estimate of any harm caused by the radiation exposure of Option 1.

Those wanting to avoid exposure to full body radiation can show up early and submit to the groping. You'll be contributing to the TSA Full Employment Program. You'll then board an airplane and probably receive far more radiation than would have been administered during the scan.

A mailing list of people who reject the body scans based on radiation fears would be a very valuable thing to many direct marketing companies. I see a way for TSA to offset some of these increased costs . . . they are checking your ID anyway, it would only take an extra second to optically scan the info.
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Old 04-19-2011, 11:41 AM   #100
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I don't really care about TSA's scanners, I do care about Fukushima. My comments were in reaction to a comment that proposed the question of the safety as the scanners as an "easy one".
I agree that 1 + 1 = 2. But safety issues rarely are as simple as that. Formulas are useful but don't always cover all sides of an issue.

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Right, there's always someone on the internet that will agree with you. (...) This is a classic example of what M_Paquette mentioned, 'an inability to understand numbers and reach rational conclusions'. If there is 'really no absolutely safe dose of radiation', then what the heck would you be getting on a plane for, which exposes you to more radiation? Another non-starter. Don't get on the plane, don't need the scan - 'problem' solved! So, does Dr Kim then drive to his destination, exposing him to the far higher risk of traffic accidents and death? There's that innumeracy thing for 'ya.
Ok, so you made me do my homework.

The TSA blog states their machines use backscatter X-ray technology that produces X-rays that penetrate clothing, but not skin. That would indeed amount to negligable exposure and is completely different from, for example, full body CT scans.
Some critics says their machines also use terahertz beams, of which the safety is less clear, but the TSA blog denies that their machines use it.

Wikipedia presents both opinions of "experts" that say it's perfectly safe and "experts" that disagree:

"Several radiation safety authorities including the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, The Health Physics Society, and the American College of Radiology, have stated that they are "not aware of any evidence"[61] that full-body scans are unsafe.[62] However, other radiation authorities, including the International Atomic Energy Agency and Nuclear Energy Agency recommend against using ionizing radiation on certain populations like pregnant women and children,[63] and opponents of the devices say that no long-term studies have been done on the health effects of either backscatter x-ray or millimeter wave scanners."

Opponents of backscatter x-ray scanners, including the head of the center for radiological research at Columbia University, say that the radiation emitted by some full-body scanners is as much as 20 times stronger than officially reported and is not safe to use on large numbers of persons because of an increased risk of cancer to children and at-risk populations.[66][67][68][69]

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF) have argued that the amount of radiation is higher than claimed by the TSA and body scanner manufacturers because the doses were calculated as if distributed throughout the whole body, but the radiation from backscatter x-ray scanners is focused on just the skin and surrounding tissues:[70][71][72]"

After reading it all, I suppose the scanners probably don't add significant risk for adults. Then again, when the only price is a little lost time, I would probably err on the side of caution and opt for the pat-down. In the past mammograms were also said to be perfectly safe.

Quote:
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Alternatives:
1) Continue using the present scanners. They have nearly zero risk.
2) Discontinue screening and make it easier for people to bring explosives and other bad stuff onto airplanes.
3) Highly "intrusive" pat-downs of every passenger. Kids, adults, the aged--everyone.
1 seems the most practical solution and is probably ok. Hopefully based on honest and complete information.
2 may be nearly equivalent and cheaper: according to some sources, those scanners don't detect objects hidden in body cavities. If that's correct, they won't stop motivated terrorists.
3: the one that would improve security the most. Like an unplugged computer is the only safe one, a plane without people aboard is probably the least at risk of getting hijacked.

But as I stated at the beginning of this message: I don't really care about TSA's scanners, I do care about Fukushima.
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