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Specious 'Nuclear Logic'

February 07, 1988

With a mixture of voodoo metaphysics, bad moral reasoning and bad logic, Lee Dembart argues that the physicists who made the atomic bomb were not responsible for the "nuclear logic" that says that if "someone else has atomic bombs, you don't want to be without them" ("The Birth of an Atomic Standoff," Jan. 29).

Dembart reassures us that the physicists didn't create this "terrible state of affairs. The laws of physics did." The laws of physics did no such thing. They are not causal agents; they only describe how things happen in nature under certain conditions.

Richard Rhodes, whose "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" Dembart reviews, appears to fall into the same muddle. According to Dembart, Rhodes says that when these physicists discovered nuclear fission they were only reporting what was already there. Therefore, to blame science for "the nuclear dilemma," is to confuse the "messenger with the message."

Would Rhodes have us believe then that the dilemma was created by nuclear fission and its laws, and not by physicists who used the nuclear fission to design and explode the bomb, and by the politicians who paid them to do it?

Sophistical thinking is not going to get these complicitous physicists off the hook for the nuclear madness that they enormously--though not exclusively--contributed to, and continue to contribute to. The logic, the rationale, the "terrible state of affairs" are their responsibility.

THOMAS ROBISCHON

Venice

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