Native Skeptic

Native Skeptic
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Saturday, June 16, 2012


Half of the crew and eight people in the cast of the movie, The Conqueror, starring John Wayne, died of cancers that some people claim were a direct result of being exposed to radiation after the A-bomb tests held at the now infamous, Nevada Test Site.

A popular newspaper column that carries the motto, "Fighting ignorance since 1973 (it's taking longer than we thought)", written by Cecil Adams is called, “The Straight Dope”. This question-and-answer column, which is also available online, gets syndicated in both the United States and Canada. The author takes on questions from the general public surrounding a variety of subjects such as history and science, even reaching out to superstitions and urban legends. Mr. Adams often boasts to being able to answer any and all questions. In the article from 1984, Did John Wayne die of cancer caused by a radioactive movie set? a reader inquires about an incident regarding John Wayne, cancer, and a Nevada A-bomb test. The following is the actual question posed in the original article,

“My girlfriend says that half of the film crew and eight of the cast of the movie The Conqueror starring John Wayne died of cancer after an A-bomb test in Nevada. It can't be the truth — that many people — can it?” (Adams 1980)

However, there is nuance hidden in between the lines of that question posed by the reader which must be carefully examined, or there might be an impulse to draw connections based on assumption, rather than evidence.