This paper examines how both opponents and proponents of the proposed high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca mountain Nevada claim that uncontroversial information supports their conflicting positions. Four pieces of information in particular are claimed by both sides: the distance of the proposed site from Las Vegas, the volume of waste that has been produced, the threat of terrorism since 9/11/01, and the occurrence of an earthquake in early 2002. Possible explanations for the difference include naive positivism, social constructionism, persistent beliefs and implicit warrants. The latter two models better explain observed knowledge/preference states. If so, more or better information alone will not improve the dialog about Yucca mountain. Rather, dialog should include a discussion of the ways in which they interpret information and draw conclusions based on their beliefs and warrants. This conclusion may be generalized to a range of information-intensive risk decisions.
Data interpretation; Decision making; Earthquakes; Implicit warrants; Persistent beliefs; Radioactive waste repositories; Rhetoric; Risk analysis; Terrorism; Yucca Mountain
Nuclear | Oil, Gas, and Energy | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Rhetoric
Hassenzahl, D. M.,
Technical risk information: Decision tool or rhetorical ammunition? Undisputed facts in the Yucca Mountain debate.
International Symposium on Technology and Society
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.