Fact-Checking Chernobyl

By , March 18, 2020 11:59 am

Last night we watched Chernobyl on Crave while we still have it (until Picard is over). While I thought the drama was great, I was annoyed at some inaccuracies I discovered while fact-checking mid-way through the episodes. I know, my fault; I just can’t help wondering if what I’m seeing is true.

It turns out that reliable, agreed-upon data about Chernobyl, especially its after-effects, is not easy to pin down. There are differing interpretations of how many people have died, how many people have been affected, etc. It bothers me that the “facts” given at the end of the miniseries are presented as the gold standard.

If you’ve seen the series, I invite you to do some fact-checking on your own. You’ll find the minimizers and the maximizers in terms of estimates. There’s also some new research using interesting methodologies.

Nightmares aside, I thought it was a very well-acted series that gave a real sense of the USSR in the 1980s (not that I was there but I definitely studied it).

Lots of lies and every so often the truth. We haven’t come very far, regrettably.



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