Misconceptions and Fear in the Media

fukushima explosion

The campaign of falsification and fear around Fukushima has to end. The issue I am raising, however, is not about whether Fukushima is a serious issue – it is – but more about how some media sources and journalists present false data in order to scare readers and invoke fear and panic. The way the media has portrayed Fukushima is a prime example of how a story can be twisted in order to invoke fear and get more views.

Many of us have seen posts on Facebook, twitter, and many other social media sites that present horrifying and scary ‘facts’ about fukushima: the nuclear disaster caused by the march 2011 tsunami that hit Japan.  One such post “28 Signs That The West Coast Is Being Absolutely Fried With Nuclear Radiation From Fukushima” causes fear in the reader just from the title.

A scary but false story will usually get more hits than a true but ‘lame’ story because people will show their friends the shocking news, not the normal news. The news and media shouldn’t be publishing stories simply to get hits; they should be publishing stories that correctly inform the public of current situations or issues. Many of the stories hitting my news feed make it seem as though I would die if I got anywhere near Fukushima. A research paper published by scientists at Stony Brook University states that the levels of radionuclides found in the surface water within 300 kilometers of Fukushima would not be higher than the amount most humans are regularly exposed to.  This means you could swim off the coast of Fukushima and be just fine.

Currently there are huge numbers of false reports and terror inducing articles that are swarming our social media, and until you actually look in to the issue it is easy to jump on the bandwagon of fear.  I found myself telling my friends the horror stories until one said “have you actually looked into all that?”  My friend had stumped me, and what I found out after doing some research painted a far different picture than what social media had portrayed.

One such article found on my news feed stated “We have fundamentally entered into a new way of life – one that takes a giant leap toward illness, disease and heightened mortality rates.

But according to many scientists, there really shouldn’t be a change for anyone in America. The only food that is greatly effected is the fish that live on the bottom of the ocean in the area directly surrounding Fukushima. In fact, it would not be dangerous to swim off the coast of Fukushima.  Even the scientists that were handling seawater samples from Fukushima didn’t wear protective gear because they knew the radiation levels were not dangerous.

An article by the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University says that the doses of radiation consumed from fish from Fukushima were “comparable to, or less than, the dose all humans routinely obtain from naturally occurring radionuclides in many food items, medical treatments, air travel, or other background sources.” This directly counteracts the statement made previously that life will fundamentally change.  According to these well researched scientists at Stony Brook University, life will not change due to Fukushima, in fact fish from that very area are just as radioactive as any other food we might eat.

There are some dangers from Fukushima, and low, non-dangerous levels of radiation have been found in active fish that migrate through the area outside Fukushima – such as some tuna.  The only fish that are greatly affected are bottom fish in Fukushima because the fallout settles on the seafloor.


The picture above is of a title page for the VC reporter. This page makes it seem as though this is a map of the radioactive fallout from Fukushima.  This is not a map of radiation. This map is of the estimated maximum wave heights of the Japanese Tohuku Tsunami and was created by modelers at NOAA. Tsunamis don’t even transport particles horizontally in the deep ocean, so this map could not have anything to do with spread of radiation.

Issues such as Fukushima should not be twisted. Real facts and figures should be used in articles discussing issues such as this. Readers will decide what they want to view; the media shouldn’t be modifying stories to shift the readers attention to these false stories.

All readers should be given true facts and not falsifications.

Journalists, magazine editors and news sources need to do better fact checking. The public should not be getting scared by false statements.

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