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The Psychology of Denial and Rationalization About the Atom Bomb And How it Continues Today!

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Four Arrows
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In the winter of 1994, I received a call from Carolyn Jourdan. She was the executive director of a documentary she was making as part of a Nuclear Waste Documentary Project entitled Half Lives: Keeping the World's Biggest Secret. She told me she had just read a book I wrote, and that it represented an important perspective she wanted to have in the film. I asked her what possible connection she saw between The Bum's Rush: The Selling of Environmental Backlash (Phrases and Fallacies of Rush Limbaugh) and a documentary featuring discussions between the surviving scientists of the Manhattan Project. (She had told me the film had a budget of over $1,000,000 and had already done work in places around the world.) She replied that she wanted to have me analyze the rhetoric of the differing viewpoints between the scientists. She knew there were opposing views about the morality of dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She thought some of them would reveal that they held beliefs for reasons I exposed in the book.

I agreed to be the "soft scientist," as she put it, and had the honor of spending about a week in Hanford Washington with the elderly scientists. At the end of each of four days I offered insights about what I had heard from a hypnotherapeutic perspective. Sadly, most of film footage had to be deleted because each day a camera housed on a four-wheeled cart would film me walking and talking on a sidewalk along the Columbia River. After the four days of shooting they noticed during editing that the image of me kept bouncing up a down slightly. Upon investigation they noted one of the wheels on the cart had been causing the problem. Sadly, all the footage was scrapped and I had to do a "head shot" summary in about five minutes. I wrote Carolyn to see if she had any images for this article. She just emailed me back:

Dear Joe and Don,

All the footage and master tapes from Half Lives were donated to the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

I don't have anything but DVDs of the final edit of the film.

And, yes, Don's footage was ruined by a bad employee.

The original footage of Don's interview would be with the Oak Ridge Museum.


Carolyn Jourdan


Of course I was disappointed. I was paid well for my time but so wanted to have had my perspectives captured. Nonetheless, the most important thing to me was the experience of having had the opportunity to listen to the scientists argue about a question put to them: "If you knew what you know now, would you have participated in making the bomb?" Carolyn's mission was to give the vilified architects of the modern nuclear age a voice that would illuminate their motivations in developing nuclear weapons. I am now in Mexico and the video is in Canada, so I cannot quote what I said in my summary about how they responded. However, as I think back on it on this 75th anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima, I can offer this conclusion:

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Wahinkpe Topa (Four Arrows) is a professor at Fielding Graduate University. Former Director of Education at Oglala Lakota College, he is a made-relative of the Oglala and a Sun Dancer. Selected by AERO for their text Turning Points as one of 27 (more...)
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