Truthiness: A quality characterizing a “truth” that a person making an argument or assertion claims to know intuitively, “from the gut” or because it “feels right” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination or facts.
Today we explore truthiness in action. Let’s start with the loftiest bully pulpit in the land. The Washington Post gave President Obama four pinocchios for his justification for cancelling the Keystone XL Pipeline.
- The Prez: Keystone oil “will bypass the United States and its products will end up in foreign markets”.
- The Post: Most of the products to be refined at Gulf Coast refineries will be consumed the United States.
- The Prez: Keystone was just for Canadian oil and we should be focusing on American infrastructure, American jobs and American producers.
- The Post: 65,000 BOD will be moved from the Bakken; U.S. energy companies control 30% of Canadian oil sands production.
Propaganda disguised as truthiness
According to Energy in Depth, anti-fracking activists use lies to scare us, such as:
- Fracking causes widespread water contamination,
- Fracking causes earthquakes (specifically, all injection wells induce earthquakes),
- Fracking causes climate change and increases air pollution (Really? See the Sierra Club article below),
- Fracking negatively impacts health (especially in babies),
- Fracking chemicals are not disclosed,
- Fracking is not regulated,
- The industry does not provide safety measures for workers.
See the article for details explaining why they are wrong.
Michael Lynch in Forbes runs through 11 of what he calls myths about the economics of petroleum and labels them either wrong, misinterpreted, or irrelevant.
An Energy In Depth report quantifies the threat of earthquakes from injection wells. To summarize:
- Percentage of U.S. disposal wells potentially linked to seismicity – 0.55%
- Percentage of disposal wells operating without seismicity – 99.45%
- Percentage of Class II injection wells potentially linked to seismicity – 0.15%
- Percentage of Class II injection wells operating without seismicity – 99.85%
The numbers are similarly low in Texas.
Could go either way?
This could be truth or truthiness. Energy In Depth reports that the Sierra Club admits but downplays the contribution of cheap natural gas to the reduction in carbon emissions in the United States. Read the article itself and all the links and decide for yourself who is more correct. This one could be a matter of your point of view.
Why this blog uses cute pictures
A study examining truthiness was carried out by Eryn Newman of Victoria University of Wellington. Experiments showed that people are more likely to believe that a claim is true regardless of evidence when a decorative photograph appears alongside.
Today we have a movie interlude. You will want to view this if college is in the present or future for you or someone for whom you are responsible.