Guest post by David Middleton
There has recently been an uproar about “fake news stories.” Since the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of these nominally United States many have called for the censorship of fake news stories…
The war on ‘fake news’ is all about censoring real news
By Karol Markowicz December 4, 2016
Scrambling for an explanation for Donald Trump’s victory, many in the media and on the left have settled on the idea that his supporters were consumers of “fake news” — gullible rubes living in an alternate reality made Trump president.
To be sure, there is such a thing as actual fake news: made-up stories built to get Facebook traction before they can be debunked. But that’s not what’s really going on here.
What the left is trying to do is designate anything outside its ideological bubble as suspect on its face.
In October, President Obama complained that we need a “curating function” to deal with the “wild-wild-west-of-information flow.” Who would be doing this “curating” is unclear — but we can guess: “Obviously,” Noah Feldman writes at Bloomberg View, “it would be better if the market would fix the problem on its own . . . But if they can’t reliably do it — and that seems possible, since algorithms aren’t (yet) fact-checkers — there might be a need for the state to step in.”
In other words, censorship.
“In October, President Obama complained that we need a ‘curating function’ to deal with the ‘wild-wild-west-of-information flow.’ Well, Mr. Soon-to-be-ex-President, we already have an entire cottage industry of “curators.” One of these curators is a website called “FactCheck.org” and they have an amazing ability to get facts wrong and routinely deliver logically fallacious dissertations. Here is their latest example:
The chairman of the Senate environment committee falsely claimed that a new report “confirms” that “hydraulic fracturing has not impacted drinking water” in Wyoming. The report said a lack of water quality data predating oil and gas exploration prevented it from reaching “firm conclusions.”
Sen. James Inhofe, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, made his remarks in a statement issued Nov. 10 — the day that the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality issued a report on water-supply wells in Pavillion, a small town southeast of Yellowstone National Park.
The industry-funded state report specifically looked at the “likelihood of impacts from oil and gas operations” on 14 water-supply wells used by residents living near Pavillion. Since the 1990s, residents in the area have “complained of physical ailments and said their drinking water was black and tasted of chemicals,” ProPublica reported.
Inhofe, Nov. 10: The Wyoming DEQ’s thorough investigation over the past several years has come to a close and confirms what we’ve known all along: hydraulic fracturing has not impacted drinking water resources.
But that’s not what the report said.
The “fact sheet” for the Wyoming report said it’s “unlikely” that hydraulic fracturing had “any impacts” on these water-supply wells, but “[l]imited baseline water quality data, predating development of the Pavillion Gas Field hinders reaching firm conclusions on causes and effects of reported water quality changes.”
The burden of proof is on those who assert that fracking pollutes groundwater. FactCheck.org is shifting the burden of proof and employing a “distinction without a difference” fallacy in order to falsely claim that Senator Inhofe’s statement was a “false claim.”
Unless evidence is presented that fracking has polluted groundwater, this statement is 100% correct, if not elegantly worded:
The Wyoming DEQ’s thorough investigation over the past several years has come to a close and confirms what we’ve known all along: hydraulic fracturing has not impacted drinking water resources.
In 2011, the EPA issued a preliminary report that fracking was the likely cause of groundwater pollution in the Pavillion WY area. The API shredded this report in 2012. In 2013, the EPA cast doubt on their own report. And now, the Wyoming DEQ has issued a report which “contradicts” the EPA’s 2011 junk science…
Wyoming study: Fracking likely not behind well water problem
A final state report released on foul-smelling well water in Wyoming contradicts an EPA report from five years ago that ignited a national backlash when it suggested hydraulic fracturing was the cause of the contamination
Nov. 10, 2016
By MEAD GRUVER, Associated Press
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A final state report released Thursday on foul-smelling well water in Wyoming contradicts an EPA report from five years ago that ignited a national backlash when it suggested hydraulic fracturing was the cause of the contamination.
Bacteria were more likely to blame for the problem in Pavillion than the oil and gas drilling process known as fracking, officials with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality said after a two-year study that was hailed by fracking advocates.
“Today’s announcement from the Wyoming DEQ doesn’t just close the case on Pavillion, it’s a knockout blow for activists who have tried to use Pavillion as a key talking point for their ban-fracking agenda,” said Randy Hildreth, Colorado director of Energy in Depth, an advocacy arm of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.
Other EPA investigations into whether fracking caused groundwater pollution in Texas and Pennsylvania also failed to yield conclusive links.
The industry continues to assert the safety of fracking, which occurs in the drilling of almost every new oil and gas well.
Wyoming officials also called on the EPA in the report released Thursday to fill in and cap two wells it drilled to study groundwater in the Pavillion area.
The request underscores Wyoming officials’ position that the EPA’s science was bad and the chemistry of the well pipes probably led to its key findings, said Kevin Frederick, water quality administrator for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.
“EPA installed the monitoring wells. We believe it’s their responsibility to plug and abandon them,” Frederick said.
The irony is the fact that the groundwater pollutants identified by the EPA were likely the result of their own monitoring wells.
Media fact checkers like FactCheck.org and PolitiFact routinely employ “distinction without a difference” arguments to generate fake news stories.
In addition to the burden of proof and distinction without a difference fallacy, this statement was misleading and probably “unnecessary fear mongering”…
Pavillion, a small town southeast of Yellowstone National Park.
This was clearly to imply that any water pollution in Pavillion would imperil the pristine wilderness of nearby Yellowstone National Park. It is a meaningless geographical reference. The entire State of Wyoming is southeast of Yellowstone National Park. Pavillion is 170 miles southeast of the park.
Logic Referee from Flag on the Argument.
Featured Image from Shutterstock.