Debito gets slammed for pointing out that malfunctioning nuclear reactors aren’t safe.

My own malfunctioning computer has been keeping me from using it very much the last day or two, but I do like to read Debito.org. I’m not quite a daily reader, but almost every day. I especially like the comments section, because a lot of really good contributors add to the content there.

(I think a lot of people with a Japan connection read it for the comments, too. Sure, what Debito has to say. But also the comments.)

Well, he’s just been getting slammed because he put up some “exclusive” “first-hand source” material about the dangers of the Fukushima plants. To be frank, it sounded like a bit of puffery coming from a know-it-all source. But compared to a lot of the nonsense we’ve been hearing on both the no-nukes and the pro-nukes camps, nothing that I would expect to set people off.

Was it a tabloid-style post? Yeah. But people’s blog posts are what they are. You try to be factual about things, unless you’re giving your opinion, in which case the facts you base it on are either what you can show from a factual source, or are going to have to be taken on faith.

I think Debito, who I estimate is read monthly by ten or twenty thousand regular readers with an interest or presence in Japan, worries too much about individual reactions to his posts. Sure, if you are trying to persuade people to a point, you try to be credible. But if you just want to say your opinion, then, really, since about 2003 a keyboard and internet access will do it.

I blog for me, you know. I imagine that Debito blogs for himself, but he also takes a certain amount of pride in being someone credible. I think he cares passionately about a certain set of issues, and he promotes these. To me, it doesn’t seem to be a lot about self-promotion. I mean, how do you promote your ideas and not promote yourself?

So there’s part of this core following, out of the several thousand, who don’t like his post about the threats of nuclear radiation to Japan, or just to Tohoku. He’s got the anti-Debito blog, called Tepido.org, that I suspect tries to be credible and responsible, but really to me just seems to focus on sticking it to Debito. If they would change the mix a bit, I think they’d have more credibility. But the couple of times I’ve visited, it’s been about something that Debito said that they don’t like.

You remember, a few months back when I was still in Japan, that website popped up called “Japan Blog Review” that did the slam piece on whatever three or four tidbits the Google searcher could find about me? Then, they made a nasty post and linked it into Gaijin Pot or one of the big chatrooms in Expat Japan, where it picked up 170 or so hits.

Some people think this was “Senor Science”–whose real name [Update 9/28/11: Rene Juan Jerez a/k/a Renato Giovanni Jerez] was sent to me and who is in that Tepido crowd–but some of the evidence points to someone inside Interac, too. And of course it could be two people. Well, whoever it was did me a huge favor, because I know I picked up a couple dozen regulars off that.

So what I can’t figure out with Debito, is that when the people call him out on the obvious–which is that no one is always 100%–he has this sort of stance like he’s deeply hurt and he’s tossing in the towel for a while.

I’m not 100%.

Who is?

Prior to the earthquake and tsunami that have CHANGED EVERYTHING!!!!, (and it was very bad, but you should get my point,) I was talking about a State Department functionary who got canned for being a little too candid about Japan and how Japan negotiates. My take on it was, there isn’t any good way to get credible information in the public if you don’t let people be candid—and let them slip up from time to time.

If you ask me, there isn’t enough credible information about the dangers of the Fukushima reactors. I also don’t think that the Japanese government or TEPCO has been honest, or has any claim to trustworthiness. TEPCO’s attitude is almost like the black marketeer who turns the tables on you for asking where the electricity came from. “Hey, you wanted it. You use it. Now you’re asking us where we got it from?” Like electricity is some sort of illicit drug.

When this is the attitude, is it any surprise that the know-it-alls and the blowhards are going to go out there with their “credible” assertions and start asserting them?

Should people pass them on, without a proviso? If they do, I don’t really see where this is some moral failing. To me, the moral failing is with those who are making the stuff up. But if you are reading tabloid-level verbal produce, don’t you know it? When the anonymous people start telling you this and that, aren’t you tipped off?

So when I did visit Tepido today, I was surprised that some people in the blog circle, who I have a higher regard for based on either reading or knowing about them, are shocked, shocked! by Debito’s entry. Whoa hoooooa!

The Japanese regulators have little credibility.

TEPCO has little credibility.

The foreign governments are advising one thing for their people, and the Japanese government something else.

The foreign governments are even telling their people to get out of Japan, and for anyone thinking of coming, don’t.

Now there’s a big disconnect to get worked up over. And these people are worked up over a blog post. And they go to a “debunking” blog site that just seems like a slam site, and say they can’t beeee-lieve what they read at a blog. Well, Jesus.

I’ll tell you: the news around Pennsylvania has been about the runners of Three Mile Island (TMI) back n ’79, which was General somebody-or-other, didn’t give people the facts, were late with the bad facts, and put more people at risk than needed to be. Even though it all turned out well in the end. The thing that is coming back in local memory was about being mislead about the dangers of nuclear radiation.

Here you go. I guess some people are offended by being mislead about the non-dangers ot if. But I think most people don’t want any (i.e. near zero) risk from radiation. This also seems to be what foreign governments are “going with”.

There is a lot more to be upset about than blog posts.

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9 comments

  1. Reginald · March 22, 2011

    http://jpquake.wikispaces.com/Blogger+Wall+of+Shame

    Looks like someone had a bone to pick with you.

    • hoofin · March 22, 2011

      I’m not really interested in getting involved in internet spats. My opinion is what it is.

  2. chuckers · March 24, 2011

    The foreign governments are even telling their people to get out of Japan, and for anyone thinking of coming, don’t.

    US government doesn’t seem to be saying that.
    From the US Embassy Tokyo site

    Our employees remain in country, and we are absolutely open for business – in fact, the number of people working at the Embassy now is much larger than before the earthquake

    • hoofin · March 24, 2011

      I know the U.S. government had said this last week, and I have the bulletin from the State Department as e-mail to prove it. I of course wouldn’t expect that the U.S. embassy would close down, so what you are saying is no surprise. I also feel that the number of employees there would be larger, because of Uncle Sam’s involvement in rescue and relief in the Tohoku region.

      Major airlines have cut the number of seats they are offering to Japan, one by 20%. This means fewer people are travelling in.

  3. chuckers · March 24, 2011

    Here is another diametrically opposing view to the one that Debito has been presenting:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/22/fukushima_tuesday_2/

  4. hoofin · March 24, 2011

    I don’t want to get into one of this Frik-said, Frak-said type of things, but there really are two camps out there about the dangers of the Fukushima reactors. I think Debito’s stance was made into more than what it was, by the people who don’t like what he says about other bad things going on in Japan, and who use the internet as a tool for harassment.

  5. Simon · March 28, 2011

    >The foreign governments are advising one thing for their people, and the Japanese government something else.

    You understand why they do so, right? And if you do, then you realise that this isn’t something out of the ordinary, right?

    >The foreign governments are even telling their people to get out of Japan, and for anyone thinking of coming, don’t.

    Weasel words, Hoofin. Which foreign governments? Please be clear here. Please also be sure to distinguish “get out of Japan” from “get out of Tohoku and Kanto”, and “get out of Tohoku and Kanto unless you need to be there” for good measure.

    >I imagine that Debito blogs for himself, but he also takes a certain amount of pride in being someone credible.
    >Was it a tabloid-style post? Yeah.

    These two sentences contradict each other. You say that Debito tries to be credible, so we should respect him, and then that he produced a “tabloid-style post”, so we shouldn’t get our panties in a twist, because hey! he was just spouting stuff without reallllly meaning it.

    Which is it, Hoofin?

    • hoofin · March 28, 2011

      Simon says:

      >Hoofin: The foreign governments are advising one thing for their people, and the Japanese government something else.

      You understand why they do so, right? And if you do, then you realise that this isn’t something out of the ordinary, right?

      Yes and no. I think that the foreign governments–particularly America—have been more proactive about what the possible dangers are. The fact that some people are saying that the well-connected Americans in Tokyo are getting even better service from ACS–even if with things like the potassium iodide, which some argue is more of a psychological balm than anything–shows that each government is responding based on its own calculus. What I think is out of the ordinary is how typical patterns of expat life in Tokyo reassert themselves when it comes to Americans there during the crisis, and how the Japanese government will stretch others’ “gaman” to its limits.

      >Hoofin: The foreign governments are even telling their people to get out of Japan, and for anyone thinking of coming, don’t.

      Weasel words, Hoofin. Which foreign governments? Please be clear here. Please also be sure to distinguish “get out of Japan” from “get out of Tohoku and Kanto”, and “get out of Tohoku and Kanto unless you need to be there” for good measure.

      Hey, no name calling! You don’t know me personally, and I am not a weasel. To answer your more legitimate comments, you can do a Google search. I did. France and China had their citizens leaving NE Japan; Australia and the UK from Tokyo (and probably also NE Japan). I know I got an e-mail from the aforementioned ACS (that was American Citizen Services in case you didn’t know) saying that citizens should avoid coming to Japan. Granted, this was in the first week of the crisis, but it fits with what I had posted.

      >Hoofin: I imagine that Debito blogs for himself, but he also takes a certain amount of pride in being someone credible.
      >Was it a tabloid-style post? Yeah.

      These two sentences contradict each other. You say that Debito tries to be credible, so we should respect him, and then that he produced a “tabloid-style post”, so we shouldn’t get our panties in a twist, because hey! he was just spouting stuff without reallllly meaning it.

      Which is it, Hoofin?

      It is both. It is integrated. Debito tries to be credible; I think many bloggers do. But was he reporting or opinionating? My read of the one post (out of so, so many there) is that he was passing along someone’s opinion. But then, the people who stalk the site to pick fights with him ripped the post apart, and tried to stretch it to mean that the mere one post was saying something about everything (blog-wise and otherwise) about Debito. And that’s the real nonsense. So he wasn’t “spouting off stuff without really meaning it”–he was relaying someone else’s opinion about the dangers of the disaster. I, too, have my own view, which is that things are probably OK, with a strong emphasis on probably. Parts of Japan are going to hell in a handbasket, that’s for sure.

      Debito is not a news source, and definitely not a paid one. We’re bloggers. I think our posts are, by definition, opinion. (Some people say the real news sites are opinion, too; but that could be its own separate post.)

      • Simon · March 29, 2011

        I’m Australian so I can’t address your points about which Americans are getting which level of service from which acronym. But my point stands — governments usually act more cautiously when it comes to the safety of their own nationals in other countries. I don’t remember the specifics, but I did hear of a J. government official being asked about the US’ bigger evacuation zone, and his response was something along the lines of “we’d do the same thing if it were our nationals in a similar situation”.

        “Weasel words” is not name calling. You are right, I don’t know you and do not know the degree to which you resemble a weasel, so it would be wrong of me to call you one.

        The examples you provided, with the exception of the last one, refer to leaving the Tohoku region and Tokyo. I have no beef with you over that. As you wrote, the Australian embassy provides this advice:
        “Australians in Tokyo, surrounding areas and Honshu north of Tokyo should, unless their presence is essential, leave – either to Southern Japan or elsewhere.”

        However, your original comment was “The foreign governments are even telling their people to get out of Japan, and for anyone thinking of coming, don’t.” This is the kind of comment that, directly or indirectly, causes people overseas to get overly concerned about the safety of their child or relative in Osaka, Fukuoka or Okinawa.

        We’ll have to agree to disagree on your last point about Debito, and this being your site I’ll leave you with the last word on the matter. Just before that though, I’d like to point out that main issue people have with Debito on this matter is that he is not simply posting people’s opinion and encouraging free discussion — he actively squashes topics that do not fit his particular worldview and labels as “trolls” those who attempt to point out errors in his statements, logic or posts.

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