Ritchie tells me off again

Tim

I reiterate my point – all you prove is your inability to comprehend the human condition, blinded as you are by cost-benefit analysis, flawed as it is

You expose the weakness of your argument – rational as you think it may be – as a consequence, and it is precisely that rational indifference to the human condition that means the right cannot be trusted

We cannot agree on this issue.

This debate is therefore closed.

Which is a bit odd really.

He sez nuclear\’s bad because the Fukushima thing is going to kill lots of people.

I say that it\’s not going to kill lots of people and therefore shouldn\’t be considered bad for the reason that it\’ll kill lots of people.

And then the condemnation is that I\’m allowing facts to cloud my judgement?

Sadly, he\’s closed comments on the piece just as I was going to respond to this:

Not all the waste is iodine – or the radiation would have gone already

No Richard, no.

Iodine 135 has a half life of 8 days. No new iodine 135 has been created since the reactors were scrammed at the moment of the earthquake. We have been seeing releases of it since then.

What the half life thing means is that after 8 days half of it has become xenon (harmless) and the other half is still iodine 135 (not harmless but not very dangerous either). After 16 days, 75% xenon, 25% iodine 135. After 56 days under 1% iodine 135, after 80 days under 0.1% iodine 135.

In theory there will always, right until the end of the universe, be some amount of radiation left from these reactors. That\’s the way that radiation works, it\’s quantum, see? However, the thing we\’re interested in is how long will there be radiation that we can be bothered to care about? How long will there be radiation above background level for example? Or above a level that could possibly, even just maybe, do some harm?

As a reasonably informed guess, from the iodine 135, a few months at most.

These facts, ye see, these cost benefit analyses, they\’re important.

A prediction for you. The environmental damage from the whole thing…..after the dead have been buried (tens of thousands, let us not forget), the shattered houses rebuilt…the largest long term environmental damage won\’t be the radiation. It won\’t even be the millions of gallons of oils and weird chemicals that have been washed around by the tsunami. It\’ll be the inundation by salt water, the tsunami itself, of the farmland.

Could be decades before that gets sorted out.

39 thoughts on “Ritchie tells me off again”

  1. “And then the condemnation is that I’m allowing facts to cloud my judgement?”

    Well, yes. Look at it from his point of view: it’s like you challenging a legless man to a footrace and then laughing in his face when you win.

    You heartless monster… 😉

  2. Yet another example of the Left seeing themselves as ‘good’, because they dump rational thought when it gets too much for them and emote instead.

    Richie closes an awful lot of debates, doesn’t he?

  3. And then the condemnation is that I’m allowing facts to cloud my judgement?

    Why do you even need to ask the question? This is Richard Murphy we’re talking about after all.

  4. Rob – I think, from careful observation, that Richard Murphy is sui generis, and his tendencies should not be attributed to the Left in general, otherwise we risk getting lazy and complacent.

  5. Oh dear. You’d have thought a tax accountant ought to be able to understand half-life; it’s just like doing a reducing balance capital allowances calculation.

    Mind you, he probably doesn’t do those any more, because claiming allowances is part of the “Tax Gap” and therefore evil avoidance.

  6. Murphy is writing about this issue and doesn’t even understand how half-life works?! Does he not care if he looks a complete idiot?

  7. Alex – no, at least if his comments on tax are anything to go by.

    All he cares about is that the people paying him know even less than he does, so that they think he is the expert.

    The alternative is that he is a plant, part of a long-term scheme by KPMG (or whichever big firm it was that he briefly worked for) to discredit the opposition by being so utterly ridiculous and obviously ignorant. But that seems a bit over-subtle.

  8. “In theory there will always, right until the end of the universe, be some amount of radiation left from these reactors. That’s the way that radiation works, it’s quantum, see?”

    With greatly pedantic respect, I don’t think that is quite how it works… I think that it’s a probability thing – the probability of any I131 atom (for it is it) chucking off a beta particle and becoming Xe131 is such that, after 8 days, on average half of them will have done so. But any given I131 atom can do this trick at any time. So it is theoretically possible (but very unlikely indeed) that all of the I131 atoms at Fukushima could decide to chuck off their beta particles at the same time, which would give you a huge amount of radiation for a very short time. Or they could decide not to, ever, in which case you wouldn’t have any radiation at all.

    But we are talking about the real world here, so they will all randomly go for it and eventually there will just be one I131 atom left. It might never take the big jump (but then there will never be any radiation from it, either). On the other hand, it could do, at any time before the end of the universe, at which point you get exactly one packet of radiation and then it’s all gone.

    (Actually there is some gamma radiation involved to, and several steps, but never mind for now…)

    None of which takes anything away from your real point, which is that lefties stop developing their capacity for rational thinking at an average mental age of 8 years….

  9. agn – I don’t think you can generalise Richard Murphy to all lefties. Thankfully for the sake of humanity, and indeed the rest of us.

  10. “That’s the way that radiation works, it’s quantum, see?” Very true but scarcely relevant. What you’re describing is just an exponential decay aka first order decay. The same law governs the discharge of a capacitor, the rate of many chemical reactions, etc, etc.

  11. If I considered myself of the “left” (I once did) I would not only take considerable offence at being told only those on the “right” have any respect for arithmetic. This doctrine, that anyone who respects the numbers “cannot be trusted” was previously described by the term “triumph of the will”.

    In an earlier time he would have been generally denounced by “leftists” as a fraud. The intellectual bankruptcy of virtually the entire “left” is both a cause and effect of this willingness to let anybody, no matter how insane, fascist, illiterate or anti-progressive under their umbrella.

  12. So Ritchie has decided not to play and has taken his ball home. (again)

    Proves he’s got at least one then.

    Alan Douglas

  13. It would be interesting for a psychologist to follow Mr. Murphy.

    He displays a whole load of neuroses. Probably a profund inferiority complex that gets to him everytime his subconcious realises he is out of his depth:

    …the ‘taking his ball home thing’
    …emoting instead of arguing
    …but at least I’m on the good side thing.

    It would also explain his client base.

    Actually, he is very dangerous for the socialist position. He is so often factually wrong that he might create Monbioters amongst his parishoners.

    Or old mate George is on a tremendously slippery slope from which he may never recover. He is also going to discover what life is like outside the warmth of ‘accepted wisdom’. Stick with it George ‘cos they are going to give you some serious sh*t.

  14. Given that Murphy has proven himself ignorant in pretty much every sphere in which he’s become involved, the likelihood that he has anything useful (or even marginally coherent) to say on the physics or economics of nuclear power is vanishingly small. I’d like to see him, for example, produce a figure for the activity of 1 kg of iodine 131.

  15. Very true but scarcely relevant.

    Relevant in proving the opposite, actually. There will be a moment that it is all gone – when the last atom has decayed, and there will be no more radiation.

    Assume there is 100kg of Iodine 131 to start with. One mole of Iodine 131 (~6.022×10^23 atoms) weighs, by definition 131 grams, so 100kg of Iodine 131 = 100,000/131*6.022×10^23 atoms (~4.58×10^26).

    The number of half lives necessary to reduce 4.58*10^26 atoms to a single atom is roughly 88.56. So to reduce 100kg of radioactive iodine to one atom, we multiply this by the half life of Iodine 131 (8.02) days, and we get 710 days. This last atom has a 50% chance of being gone in 8 days, a 75% chance of being gone in 16 days, an 87.5% change of being gone in 24 days, etc, so in practice the idodine-131 will almost certainly be entirely gone after two years. No traces – entirely gone. The probability of there being anything left after two and a half years is something like 0.0(twenty zeroes) 1 percent – ie a certainty of nothing.

    The above analysis contains an approximation at the end, as the exponential decay is not necessarily exactly right once the number of atoms gets too small for a statistical description of the behaviour to be accurate. At that point it will describe the most likely scenario, but there will be some uncertainty. In practice, though, this doesn’t matter.

    Which is not relevant to Tim’s main point, no.

  16. On the subject of Iodine-131 atoms, the other week when it was reported that a dangerous cloud of radiation was blanketing the UK; from the given 300uBq/m3 radioactivity figure in one of the articles, I calculated that as being a whole 3 atoms per cubic metre….
    Also, if one extrapolates that figure across the entire land area of the UK, and up to an altitude of 7km (assuming that the Iodine-131 is evenly distributed at 3 atoms (300uBq) per cubic metre) that gives a total amount of 1 microgram of Iodine-131 across the whole country.
    Frightening stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree…

  17. Michael Jennings: it’s a Poisson process right up to the end. You can still say meaningful statistical things about it even you’re left with just a handful of atoms. For large numbers of atoms Poisson looks like exponential decay (as the distribution function shows.)

  18. “all you prove is your inability to comprehend my raging stupidity.”

    Fixed it for one D. Murphy.

  19. This reminds me of a call I received yesterday from a gentleman from the Green Party, wanting to know if the products my company manufacture could deal with the radionucleides in the steam on site.

    After some time trying to explain that in principle something might work dependant on many more variables than he seemed to grasp, he then wrote a blog and FB page saying that the solution to the Japanese radiation issue was simple and that the only problem was essentially lack of will…

    A telephone call indicating that he had misrepresented the conversation by removing all caveats from the discussion fell on deaf ears – either too stupid to understand, or willfully chosing to hear what he wants to hear….

    meh, non-scientists…

    (names withheld in case I have to sue in the future)

  20. David: Indeed. I didn’t express that quite correctly. You can indeed say meaningful statistical things, including the probability that the last atom will have decayed by any particular moment in time, or the time by which we can be sure that the last atom will have decayed to any chosen level of certainty.

    What I meant is that with large enough numbers, statistics gives results that are essentially exact predictions, as variations are tiny relative to the overall size of the measurent. With small ones, it doesn’t, and everything is all about probability distributions (about which we can still know plenty, yes).

  21. Well as someone who lived near Smithy Wood coking plant near Sheffield as a child, which is reported to have brought an early end to around 5000 people (thats real people, including an uncle of mine) during its 30 year operation, I would say Rich, needs to think a little bit more seriously about cost benefit analysis, but hey lets not hold our breathe.

  22. You’ve only got to look at his (sadly) abandoned revolutionary new economic theory, Enough Economics to see the man’s lack of basic reasoning skills. He’s a totally hopeless case.

    I mean really, he’s just not clever enough to understand why he’s wrong. I’m quite sure of that.

  23. Though I rarely chime in on the subject, I must say that I’m absolutely fascinated by the very regularity with which Murphy fails to assess the facts of any given matter or, given even a close working approximation of the correct facts, yet still manages to mentally misprocess same to an illogical conclusion.

    So consistent is he in this regard that I’m certain the talent can, somehow, be harnessed for “the “good.” Say, f’rinstance, that we’re nice to him, refrain from applying denigrating terms, disagree more mildly. Ya think we could cajole him a bit, string him along with, maybe, a bit of faint praise? What we’re after here, you see, is to get him into making some predictions–picking stocks, maybe even horse races, futures markets, elections–that sort of thing. Check him out, I say–if he’s as wrong as it seems on a consistent basis, we’ve got the makings of something good; better, than even a virtual monopoly of the scandium supply, I’d think.

  24. @Gene: That depends on whether Murphy is acting as a ‘Wrong Opinion Generator’ or as a ‘random opinion generator’… I dont think he has the skill to be *wrong* every time.

  25. You’ve only got to look at his (sadly) abandoned revolutionary new economic theory, Enough Economics to see the man’s lack of basic reasoning skills. He’s a totally hopeless case.

    Years ago, John Baez created the crackpot index so that we could evaluate revolutionary new physics theories – it was put to good use on sci.physics.

    Is there something similar in the world of economics?

  26. I have a two-and-a-half year old grandson who uses these exact same arguments when confronted with something he does not want to hear: he sticks his fingers in his ears and shouts NA-NA-NANAANA.

  27. “I reiterate my point . . . . “. Has anyone else noticed a habit on the idiot left of using intransitive verbs transitively? The most common one is “empower someone to . . . ” do something which is approved.

  28. Very interesting – but why are they banning food grown in the area if I 131 is so trivial?
    Does not radio iodine suppress thyroid activity? If this is the one used therapeutically.

  29. @ john malpas
    Because the overwhelming majority of those dying after someone calls “fire” have perished from being trampled underfoot.

  30. John77 is partly right – also, the only people harmed by Chernobyl other than the site emergency workers were people who consumed locally grown food in the days after the incident. The assumption that Fukishima won’t harm anyone is partly based on the assumption that the Japanese authorities are less insanely reckless than the authorities of the USSR.

  31. Murphy is a walking case study of the Dunning-Kruger effect. He’s a masters thesis in psychology waiting to happen.

  32. Surreptitious Evil

    JohnB – the Japanee authorities have clearly shown themselves to be less insanely reckless. They are banning products which are detectably readioactive but are almost certainly safe (I think the one justified ban – even under Japan’s very strict nuclear limits – is one water source in one village and for infants only?)

    This seems to be due to a general reluctance to buy high-iodine foods due to the mass media panic – therefore if they ban the sale of probably safe ones, people will restart buying the definitely safe (at least in radiological terms) from uncontaminated areas.

    On the other hand, it may be the classical political “something must be done – this is something – therefore this must be done” lack-of-thought train in action.

  33. There was a tsunami. Some veg must have been covered in poo, fuel oil and whatnot. Are people going to be sold that?

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