JF Ptak Science Books Post 1378
Well, I'd think that this issue of LIFE magazine would've sold in the hundreds of millions with the promise it makes here--right on the front cover--that 97 out ot 100 Americans could survive a nuclear slugfest--if only they were to follow the instructions of this article.
We only get to the marrow of the issue after wading through a few articles and ads for Hires Root Beer, Maiden bras, silk skin girdles, Bayer aspirin, Schlitz beer, Old Taylor Whiskey, Ge "telephone color" night table clocks, scotchguard raincoats, Lanolin Plus Hair Spray Net, Marja bras, Red Rose cologne, nylon carpet, Maidenform girdles, NY Life, Sealy mattresses, Metrecal, Corn Flakes, Hammond organ, John Hancock Life Insurance, Friskies dog food, Cahmpion spark plugs, Budweiser, BF Goodrich tires, Tang, RCA, Anacin, Speedstick deodorant, Castro convertibles, B+W Whiskey, Kodak and Vista TV. Probably I missed a few. When you get to the big ad for Royal Crown Colas with the white-hatted BBQ cook getting a kiss with a big wiener on a stick, you've arrived at the article on saving the life of your family and your country.
If only we could build enough shelters--and by "we" I mean "you", and build them properly, and outfit them, and are able to get to them in the 14 minutes that you might have to get to your destination, and you stay down long enough and the attack light enough, then probably some people will survive. How these folks got the 97% number is an issue of faith--I think that they must've steeped themselves in mystical prayers to secretly reformulate the percentage "23" into "97" without actually telling anyone. I figure that this was the key to survival.
I've written many times on this theology of survivability (see the series on atomic and nuclear weapons on this blog, here) but seldom does one see such an incredible, indefensible claim such as this, and splashed across the cover of America's most popular picture magazine, accompanied by a letter of support from Camelot. Somehow in the great looming nuclear confrontation that actually comes to pass, somehow "only"3% of the population doesn't make it. Of course if there was a natural catastrophe in which 3% of the country was killed--that would be about 4.5 million in 1961 population or about 9 million in 2011--it would be an absolutely phenomenal tragedy. (Ofcourse there were many European countries that lost more than 3% of their populations during WWI and WWII, but that's another story). But to escape nuclear Armageddon in this country with 3% loss is much better than other government figures published around the same time that predicted casualty rates exceeding 100 million.
But hearts and minds are won abroad and at home, so the homefires must have been stoked to prevent a colossal depression from befalling the country, which of course goes hand-in-hand with the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction, with all policies somehow making it possible for the rush to the abyss to be the one thing that was keeping us (in a Zeno-ish paradox) from falling into it.
But 97%? You can read the article here from page 95 for the full story.