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Posted by Harvey on April 5, 2002 22:30:55 UTC

Imagine if you or I were asked to run a nuclear power plant for a reasonable increase in pay. Feeling confident that a layperson to the nuclear energy biz would have no problem making informed opinions, we say "sure, no problem, when do I start?".

Our first day on the job we find that everyone on our staff is laypeople such as ourself (except one skilled employee whose job is to inform of quality problems at the plant - his name is Ralph). Well, unlucky for us Ralph comes to us after we had our coffee and says, "what kind of manager are you and who are your crew, we are about to have a nuclear meltdown if you don't instruct your people the correct procedure, and I mean now!".

Well, at this point we hope we wake up, but if you're like me you would quietly walk out get in the car and drive as fast as possible away (maybe call the media to warn everyone to do the same). If you were smart you'd something similar.

This is why laypeople in general should consider when criticizing popular notions of science or recommending their own solution to some 'problem' of physics. If you are in a position to know something (e.g., you know how a nuclear power plant operates), then maybe you are ready to take over that job. But, if you are that guy at the pub who's had one too many beers and says "I could do that job, why don't they pay me XXX dollars a year, I'd show 'em", then we should reconsider it.

We can all have opinions about nuclear power, how it should be better secured, etc, but telling the nuclear power guys how to do their job? That's another matter.

Warm regards, Hav

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