American Claims Children in Chiba Are Sick From Radiation Poisoning / Raises Thousands of Dollars Online
It has come to my attention that an American man and his mother are using YouCaring.com (cached copy here) to raise money so they can help his family escape from Chiba prefecture, which he claims is dangerously contaminated with radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant. They assert that his children are suffering from radiation poisoning:
“The Josh Swift family has been gravely impacted by the Japanese tsunami and the 2000+ earthquakes that followed since March 11, 2011. The children are sick from radiation poisoning and the food source has been compromised. They must move to the USA now! Currently, at the Swift home in Chiba, their Geiger counter registers radiation levels 70 times higher than normal. Radiation levels remain high at the children’s school as well, so they receive constant doses of radiation from the air, food and drink, which has sickened all three children……..THE DECLINING HEALTH OF THE CHILDREN LEAVES THE SWIFT FAMILY NO ALTERNATIVE. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THEY COME TO KANSAS TO SAVE ALL THEIR LIVES, BUT THEY ARE VERY HARD-PRESSED TO DO SO WITHOUT OUR HELP. ”
They live in Inzai, a city that did not suffer serious contamination from the Fukushima accident. If one searched in certain spots, such as drainage ditches, one might be able to detect amounts of radiation that sound scary, but actual radiation exposure for residents of the city is negligible. To have an impact on human health, radiation levels would have to be extremely high, much higher than 70 times normal background radiation. Given that there have been no documented cases of children in Fukushima prefecture suffering from radiation poisoning, it is almost inconceivable that children in Chiba would have radiation poisoning.
Stress, not radiation, is a far more likely culprit. There is no evidence that tiny doses of radiation can cause problems like those described by Swift, but the link between stress and autoimmune disease is well-documented. Moving to Kansas could free the children from the stress brought on by radiation-obsessed family members and earthquakes, but a “please give us money so we can move to a less stressful area” fundraising page probably wouldn’t attract as much attention as a plea to save children from radiation poisoning.
It is a ridiculous story, but it has been embraced by bloggers committed to spreading anti-nuclear fear and panic. The Swift family has already raised over $6,000 in contributions.
Aside: Swift states that they are making their children drink Zeolite every day to protect their bodies from radiation. A quick check of Google found that experts believe that sellers of Zeolite health products use pseudo-scientific quackery to fool ignorant consumers into thinking it provides protection from cancer.
Update 1: Reader Jonathan has posted a very intelligent comment about this blog post.
[ Oh dear. I'm quite sure this family are genuine and are really fearing for their children. That they're wrong about this is simply awful. It's nice that there are so many people willing to help them out, but it's dreadful that they don't know enough to direct their efforts to something worthwhile.
Now this comments page is being filled with obvious nonsense like "Parents know best about their health of their children" and "One family at a time is about our only hope right now of saving the children of Japan". Over on the family's youcaring page there's also a flood of comments calling them frauds and liars (which they're deleting almost as soon as they appear).
It's simply a tragedy that so many people are queuing up to use this family's request to push their own agendas. The Japan Probe article here is factually correct. Those rushing to condemn this article have no idea how irresponsible they are. They honestly think they're fighting some international conspiracy and that their actions are somehow saving children (notice that it's always children - so much more emotive).
It's a year on from the tsunami and Fukushima incident. No one has died or even become ill from radiation. And no one is going to either. The doomsayers ignore all scientific evidence to the contrary and have no knowledge of the subject themselves, but happily latch on to anything that appears to support their pre-decided stance and reject everything else as part of the conspiracy.
One of the reasons this issue is so enticing to the conspiracy-minded is that it seems to simple. People are suffering because of the nuclear whatever, so we need to get the people away from it and ban all nuclear everything forever. Simple. So much easier to deal with than something more intractable like poverty.
As one commenter has said here "You know the saying, everybody has opinions..." to which one could add that it's a tragedy that knowledge and wisdom aren't in such plentiful supply ]
Update 2: Mr. Swift (Chibarooks) has posted some very creepy messages on Twitter.
Very serious stuff. Let this screen shot serve as a public record. Instead of addressing numerous online skeptics by providing evidence to back up his case, Mr. Swift is singling out individuals and trying to find out where they live.
Just in case he tries to delete the record of his fundraising, here is a cached copy of the page.
Update 3: Instead of provide evidence to back up his claims of radiation poisoning, Swift has removed the information from his fundraising page and stopped receiving further donations. According to a cached version of the page (which swift cannot remove), $7,500 were raised and deposited into Swift’s Paypal account before the campaign was brought to an abrupt stop.
So there you have it. When the fundraisers were subjected to straightforward and reasonable questions about extraordinary claims of sickness due to radiation poisoning, the fundraisers tried to remove all evidence of their fundraising campaign.