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We all know about radiation…don’t we?

 

I sometimes feel a little stupid when I hear or read that phrase.
 
“Well, we all know that walking is harmful.”
 
We do?
 
“Well, we all know that the stars are alien lights.”
 
They are??
 
That phrase is a smooth way to convince me that I know something I really might not know or even agree with, but since the person is assuming I’m “smart enough” to know that stuff, I’m not going to correct them and look stupid.
 
I see this phrase in many articles that discuss radiation.
 
“Well, we all know that radiation causes…..” 
 
Really? Does it?
 
“Well, we all know that radiation is…”
 
Wow. Is it?
 
My complaint is that once this statement starts a sentence or paragraph, the author of the sentence then feels no inclination to back up their statement. I mean, after all, we all already know….don’t we? Plus it makes me feel a little stupid to think that I don’t know.
 
This phrase is a great way to perpetuate a myth and the person stating it often does not offer references to show that what is being said is current scientific thinking. By using this phrase, I am, in a way, convincing you that what I’m about to say is accepted by everyone.
 
“Well, we all know that driving is hazardous.” It can be, but most times it’s not. The more miles we drive, the greater the chance we have a mishap, but it’s not a given every time we get in the car.
 
“Well, we all know that radiation is harmful.” It can be, but most times it’s not. The highest doses do cause harmful effects, low doses either do not or the number of effects is too few to observe.
 
What I’m suggesting is be careful when you read a statement or paragraph that begins with this particular phrase. Try to keep yourself from simply agreeing when, in fact, you have more questions and maybe don’t know what “we all know.”

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