Straw men: debunking myths and fact checking

Fact check articles and myth debunking efforts are becoming more of a study in logical fallacies than they are in clarification and understanding. Study debunks 6 myths about electricity in the South is an example. First note that this is a ‘study’ which implies an appeal to authority.

A study by researchers at Duke University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, published in the journal Energy Policy, spells out and debunks popular myths about clean energy that have been promulgated by policymakers, business leaders and advocacy groups in the South.

The straw men here include the creation of an ambiguous opposition to the desired ideology and the selection of “popular myths” to debunk. The assertions being made include the idea that efficient and renewable energy can meet growing energy demand, that this sort of energy is available, that they are compatible with each other, current policies are sufficient, and power resource decisions impact water resources.

The researchers found that energy efficiency and renewable energy can work together to meet projected growth without escalating electricity rates.

So, what’s wrong?

There is a very basic measure that is being ignored. That is the market. If these desired energy sources can indeed meet demand at competitive rates, you should not need government assistance to do so.

How can you tell ideology is at work?

The first clue is the emphasis on “renewable” and “clean” with the assumption that greenhouse gases are inherently bad. Another clue is about the water usage concern. Then there is the goal of the ‘researcher.’ “Our research is motivated by the hope that promoting fact-informed dialogue can tackle such barriers and clear the way for a more sustainable energy future.” This isn’t a goal to learn something but rather to promote something. That sort of ‘research’ effort is being exposed quite clearly in the climate research communications exposures. Using terms such as research or study for such efforts at lobbying and propaganda are dishonest.

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