Straws for Mr. Strauss

I know this is probably well-known but I have seen this mentioned enough number of times to feel that I should be explicit about rebuking it. Let’s be clear about this.

Lewis Strauss was no expert on nuclear energy

This is for all those anti-nuclear people out there who are fond of quoting his rather asinine and knee-jerk statement about nuclear energy becoming “too cheap to meter”.

Strauss was a banker who was interested in physics (Leo Szilard corresponded often with him) but did not really have any sound knowledge of physics or nuclear engineering. As far as I know he never consulted with physicists or engineers with a view to assess the true potential of nuclear power.

More importantly Strauss was well-known for being a shrewd, calculating political hawk who could be counted on to toe the party line even for getting personal favors. He was the man who more than anyone else was responsible for shamelessly bringing down Robert Oppenheimer, a man who he enthusiastically supported earlier when it was convenient for him. Clearly anything that Strauss said was almost always politically colored with a view to advance personal goals.

So anti-nuclear lobby, please, if you want to erect straw men and pummel them to death, stop using Lewis Strauss. He is too easily recognizable as a straw man. You will have to be cleverer than that and look for someone else who could fool us more easily.



  1. 1

    Wasn’t Strauss being explicitly fanciful in his speech, anyway?

    The utilities that built our current nuclear plants built them because they expected them to be more profitable than coal plants. The idea of “too cheap to meter” certainly never entered their heads.

  2. 2
    nucleardreams Says:

    Probably. I really dislike the man to be honest. But of course blame here belongs to many antinuclear people who parrot the quote as a credible statement. Nuclear can be more profitable than coal as you know. Currently the long licensing times really add to the cost.

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