Friday, June 3, 2011

Nuclear Radiation! Earless Rabbit Born Near Fukushima! Panic Ensues!

The headlines read: "Mutant Rabbit Born Without Ears Born in Namie City, Fukushima Japan!" It's the end of the world. Rabbits breed faster than humans so an earless rabbit being born near Fukushima proves that the radiation is worse than we suspected and that Japan is truly doomed. I was wrong all along....
LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III - DEAD SKUNK
Well, no. Not exactly. In fact, not at all. Panic not needed. Read on and then you decide for yourself. Once again, a clear head and some calm, level-headed rational research will do. 


Today we will discuss the rabbit born without ears panic that is now engulfing the west as "proof" of terrible radioactive fallout from Fukushima.




No. This earless rabbit argument carries no basis in fact or reliable data. It is just another example of how people today have lost the ability to think analytically and read critically and I'll prove it to you here. 


In my post of May 31, 2011: Nuclear Panic Time? What's Important to You?  I wrote:


I often wonder what people are thinking and how they deem what is important to their lives or not. I never ever wonder if people watch too much TV (they do) or if they are brain-washed by the mass media (they are)....


We have a saying, "If you go looking for trouble, you'll find it." I think that now, since everyone is so concerned about Fukushima, that we are being much more careful and diligent in our checking of our immediate environment. But I want to postulate one idea that won't be comfortable for most people...  I am wondering if this newly found radiation is not from Fukushima and we found it because we actually bothered to look. The fact is, it came from somewhere else.

Perhaps it came from another nuclear power plant? Perhaps Tokai or Hamaoka? You know, there was a cooling breakdown at the Tokai nuclear reactor on March 14th? Could these sorts of things be the origin of this radiation? Or could it be from something else? 

I suppose we might never know. Like I said, if you go looking for trouble, you'll most probably find it....



I went on to point out that people will panic about unproven or imagined problems that could damage their health, but happily ignore, for example, proven dangers to their health like processed foods, fast-foods, foods high in sodium, excessive alcohol consumption (Did someone call my name?) and smoking, etc., etc...


Ignoring the point of the article and making an illogical argument one writer, named Mark, responded to that post with this comment: 


Any thoughts on the rabbit without ears or the mutated flowers that are going around right now? It's clearly a case of looking for something and finding it, as neither of those things are uncommon mutations. If all the rabbits had no ears, or the entire patch of flowers were different, maybe you could worry, but radiation doesn't really mutate things, it just kills them.
I believe that Mark is being facetious. I responded with: 
Mark, your cynicism is not supported by facts. From the owner of the rabbit video
"When accused of posting the video to intentionally cause panic, the user pointed out: “Please don’t get me wrong; I have not explicitly stated that this is a result of the radiation.” http://bit.ly/mSWhVr
Now, let me delve further into this and prove just how extremely illogical Mr. Mark's comments are by using his very same argument.
The fact is that earless rabbits, while sometimes rare, are actually not all that unknown. Here's an article about an earless rabbit that pulled at the heart-strings of the readers of a a famous UK newspaper. He was introduced in What's Up Doc? Meet Vincent the Rabbit Born Without Ears. The article states:
For a moment teenager John Haig thought a guinea pig had found its way into his family of young rabbits. 

One of the young animals that came bouncing out of a hutch with the rest of the brood was lacking something - a pair of ears. 

But the little creature was indeed a rabbit, otherwise healthy and part of a family of ten brothers and sisters.

No horns blaring about nuclear radiation to be found in this heart-warming "tale". I also notice the word "healthy" in that last sentence.

Reader is invited to do a Google search on "earless rabbit" (here I did it for you: http://bit.ly/mcMZ7W) and you will also find a few results from rabbit breeders and their associations discussing this problem. 

The other glaring logical inconsistency with Mr. Mark's comments comes in his last sentence. He wrote:

"If all the rabbits had no ears, or the entire patch of flowers were different, maybe you could worry, but radiation doesn't really mutate things, it just kills them."

Mr. Mark is attempting to be cynical or "cute" but his argument, due to faulty logic, fails him. Of course, radiation can mutate things. That's been proven. But Mr. Mark's conclusion is guilty of at least the fallacy of secundum quid. Which is defined as:

Hasty generalization is a logical fallacy of faulty generalization by reaching an inductive generalization based on insufficient evidence.

And, as he also writes, "if radiation poisoning doesn't really mutate things, it just kills them." I've already proven how earless rabbits are not that unheard of and there is no proof that this particular earless rabbit being earless due to radiation. Let's look at the rest of Mr. Mark's cynicism. If radiation doesn't mutate and only kills, if this is true, then how to explain the rabbit being born earless? At this point, definiteively not by radiation. Using Mr. Mark's  argument, had radiation been the culprit, all the rabbits would have been still born. I know Mr. Mark just attempting to be facetious, and cynical, but his argument is circular. 

I hope most readers can see the fault in it. It is a common mistake and I hear stuff like this nearly everyday. 

It is possible that this rabbit was born earless due to radiation poisoning. It might even be plausible. But that is pure conjecture not substantiated by any data or facts. Rabbits being born earless in the past, as a part of common birth defects, is substantiated by history and facts. 

Finally, my skepticism of this earless rabbit due to Fukushima radiation is also due to my childhood growing up in a rural area. I know that this "earless rabbit" can't be all that rare because, when I was a kid in 4th grade, they had an earless rabbit in our school's 4H animal husbandry club.  Also had a hairless mouse and a sheep who had a common birth defect that caused it to have bow legs. I can't remember what that birth defect was called, but I certainly can tell you that no one suspected any of these animals having these problems due to nuclear radiation even though the USA had tested about 500 nuclear weapons above and below ground by that time

Once again here, with this earless rabbit sensationalism, is another example of hysteria ignoring reality and irresponsible people spreading idiotic rumors because they watch too much TV and fail to check facts because they are to lazy to read and think.

In this earless rabbit case, anyone can easily check the facts. I didn't have to. I only had to have nice childhood memories of an earless rabbit in 4th grade.

This Fukushima earless rabbit deal is just like a dog that won't bark (pun intended).

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Earless rabbits are apparently created due to overgrooming by the mom rabbit

http://forums.rabbitrehome.org.uk/showthread.php?t=194355

Murasaki Shikibu said...

I have read that one of the key points of risk management is to react proportionately to the risk. It seems this is easily said than done as some consumers appear to be looking for doomsday scenarios everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this.... Again!

Lily said...

Thank you for this, and I really like your blog!

Here's one article (in Japanese) featuring an interview to the actual owner of the rabbit:
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/life/news/110529/trd11052912010002-n1.htm
And it says that her farm is more than 30km far away from Fukushima Dai-ichi.

Anonymous said...

Here we have a saying that states that dogs that won't bark will bite ;)...