Cognitive Dissonance In Japan

…As Paul Zimmerman writes in his must-read book, A Primer In The Art Of Deception,

Unbeknownst to those who first made forays into the world of the atom, their quest carried within itself a poison seed. The release of atomic energy on planet Earth is a supreme violation of the natural order.

Zimmerman describes how living organisms adapted to background levels of radiation in the environment, yet the artificially higher levels of ionizing radiation released from atomic bomb tests, depleted uranium munitions and nuclear power plants is “intense enough to break chemical bonds apart” in the cells of organisms (11; pp. 19 – 20). Zimmerman makes the point that elite decision makers are either foolishly allowing nuclear technologies to be used while not knowing the dangers, or are intentionally spreading radiation in order to cull the world population. Either way their actions are heinous crimes…

The college aged students I teach in Japan are in denial and do not want to talk about Fukushima. Some have even give pro-nuclear presentations in class! Indeed, many are keenly aware of the nuclear dangers and are critical of nuclear power, but others have fatalistic attitudes. Some students told me their parents who live in Fukushima or near there are worried and angry about the situation, but if you ask the average person in Tokyo about the issue, they would probably just shrug their shoulders. People do not like having bad news pointed out to them or having their noses rubbed in radioactive debris. If they feel, or the mass media helps them to believe, that they are far enough away from the problem, they can convince themselves that it is not worth worrying about.

Escapism and distraction is the name of the game. Japanese TV variety shows can only be described as narcissistic, self-absorbed, childish, silly and often substance-less nonsense. This is great for creating a dumbed-down and subservient society but not good for long term sustainability. A thriving democracy depends upon a well informed public. The situation is similar in many countries.

What is the psychological dimension for understanding how a society can become so complacent while life-threatening dangers stare us in the face? Like a beautiful but beguiling snake that has been trampled upon, the venom released from the bite of its fangs can be deadly to the victim.

An apt illustration of our cognitive dissonance comes from journalist David McNeil, who endured the 311 nuclear crisis in Tokyo and notes with irony, “[t]hroughout the worst week of the crisis, a diligent clerk at my local video store phoned daily to remind me that I had failed to return a DVD” (27). Even though the country had been nearly brought to its knees, it was business as usual…

While the lying governments of the world continue to insist that Fukushima is “no big deal,” all the evidence shows otherwise. Here’s a map showing the spread of radiation across the Pacific Ocean…


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