chapter  23
5 Pages

Lionel Caplan, Michael Thompson and Charles Lesl ie CORRESPONDENCE

TH E I S S U E C A R R Y I N G Brian Morris’s letter, cautioning social scientistsagainst pretensions to neutrality, contains an apt illustration of the very point he is making. The lead article in RAINews 41 (December 1980) is devoted to a report on a paper presented by Michael Thompson to a meeting of the pro-nuclear Scientists and Engineers for Secure Energy (SE2) group. His brief seems to have been to instruct them in how best to combat what they and, apparently, Thompson perceive as the anti-nuclear bias of the American media and the inability of the US government to decide a nuclear policy. Groups like Friends of the Earth who vigorously oppose the nuclear option are defined as ‘hairy’, ‘uncompromising and regressive sects’, making ‘strident and hysterical demands’, while the pros, like SE2, are more reasonable ‘castes’, who ‘negotiate, compromise, value scientific knowledge and respect expertise’. Thompson’s advice to the latter is to expose the ‘hypocrisy’ of the sect leaders (‘Porsche populists’), so that the American public and government can finally come to appreciate, like the author, that radiation ‘can be good for you’. While he is entitled to his opinion, are your readers really expected to believe the claim made (by the Editor?) in the Preface to the article that Thompson ‘is not committed to either the pro-or the anti-nuclear camp’? Is this RAINews’s idea of unbiased action anthropology at work?