So it turns out that there *was* a meltdown around reactor #1. Quite a lot of people suspected this from the visual evidence, but TEPCO and the Japanese government denied, denied, denied. Accusations that those arguing for a meltdown were all internet conspiracy theorists (which also occurred early in the Katrina disaster as well, and in other instances) were used to discredit people who argued that a meltdown had, in fact occurred.
This is a useful thing to know, because it gives you a sense of the dynamic being built up between governments and ordinary people as things become less stable on the world scene. On the one hand, extreme events are more common due to climate change, lack of ability to maintain infrastructure, etc… On the other hand, the idea that there is a coherence to these events, and that historically it is risky to trust official versions is maligned as conspiracy theorism.
The thing is, there is plenty of nutjob conspiracy theorism out there, from the vaccines cause autism folks to the birthers, to the “that wasn’t really Osama Bin Laden” gang to the always-popular illuminati folk. It can be genuinely difficult to sort out who is nuts and who isn’t. At the same time, however, the more world governments feed this stuff by looking like cartoon politicians from bad disaster movies, the harder it all gets, and the lower everyone’s degree of confidence in their government gets..
Conspiracy theorists of all kinds are an easy target – and a common one, and they should be punctured. The problem is that the best tool to puncture conspiracies is for governments to tell the truth about what the heck is happening – and that’s not happening. It is easy to blame the weak-minded and crazy for believing foolish things. It is, however, increasingly reasonable for people to work from the assumption that we’re all being lied to – because we are. That’s not a recipe for reducing the conspiracy theorists’ numbers.
At Dynamics of Cats, they’ve got a great visual for the planned solution. Check it out!