April 5th, 2011

A Thought Experiment

Suppose that you saw the following statement in the media, and after a little research discovered that it appeared to be well substantiated. How would you react? What do you think would be the general public reaction?
Radiation released from nuclear power stations continues to exceed safe limits in central London, and is causing over 4,000 deaths from cancer per year.

It's not true of course. But let's change a few words, and we get a statement that is true (as far as can be determined):
Particulates released from diesel vehicles continue to exceed safe limits in central London, and are causing over 4,000 deaths from asthma, lung disease and heart attacks per year.

So, what's your reaction to that one? And the public reaction? Is there a difference? Why?