The story goes an emperor only interested in looking good hires deceitful tailors and is persuaded that his new clothes of special invisible material are only visible to intelligent people. The emperor resists believing he has been swindled. It takes a little boy to speak out. The boy is too young to care about being seen as stupid. Of course the adults are afraid what people will think or how they might be treated if they admit to seeing nothing.
The nuclear accident is like that but in reverse. The public are being fooled by swindlers. The swindlers are the news media and anti-nuke groups and individuals. The so-called radiation is like the clothes and no official will speak out about the false claims. The public is reluctant to accept that the radiation is harmless. Like the emperor and his subjects remain fooled, so do the public. Who gains from all of this? The swindlers. That is the news media and anti-nukes (the tailors) who keep perpetuating the fear and mythology around the subject of nuclear energy.
So what is the lesson? There will always be opportunists willing to make exaggerated claims in an attempt to satisfy their greed or perhaps their more base needs. Of course the Anderson story rang true to our ears because we have all witnessed this social phenomenon. Not that different from witch hunters, it’s the fear of the unknown that enables such myths to persist. The citizen’s of Japan feel that if they were to admit that they question the real dangers of so-called “high levels” of radiation they risk being ostracized. So the myth of “high radiation” is allowed to exist for fear of retaliation or loss of face. Now some citizens like in this article are willing to take advantage of the situation. It also demonstrates that the longer you allow a myth to perpetuate the harder it is to admit to it’s falsehood.