Fracking — Investigating Both Sides
One of the most important principles of critical thinking is having the willingness to hear all sides of a debate. This is something I learned the hard way, even before becoming a science major in college.
But before now, I have not really taken the time to investigate “fracking” and to understand what the debate is actually about.
So, here I am doing Step 1. Two of the most prominent documentaries on fracking are Gasland and Fracknation. Each documentary takes the opposite stance on the issue of Fracking. (Both are linked to watch free below!)
Watching these documentaries is only going to be Step 1. It is only to get a ballpark of where each side is going with their arguments. The plan is then to follow up by hearing expert testimony on all sides of this issue (scientists, doctors, etc.), and this will be followed up by comparing claims made by each side to what can be proven with experimental data, especially that presented in the scientific literature. Starting with a 30,000 foot view, and then narrowing in to find the chinks in the logical armor.
So here goes nothing! (Stay tuned for my conclusions!)
Gasland — I am watching this awful documentary right now. So many logical fallacies, and no interviews with any scientists or engineers so far.
The documentary (so far) in a nutshell: There’s dirt in our water — it must be fracking’s fault! … Or perhaps there is a hole somewhere in your pipes???
There are instances where people have gas in their pipes, and the documentary gives us some interesting pyrotechnics to this regard. Yet no evidence is given to show that this problem is the result of the fracking activity.
At one point, the filmmaker claims that the fracking sites appeared disorganized, and that structures and pieces of equipment were scattered around like a child’s toys. The obvious response to this is to ask on what basis the filmmaker can claim that there is no order — just because he does not understand why certain equipment is placed in certain areas, does not mean that there is no reason.
According to at least one site, multiple government investigations have shown the claims of this documentary to be false: https://www.energyindepth.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Debunking-Gasland.pdf
Of course, we have to be skeptical of the skeptics, and government agencies have been known to be dishonest in the past — granted.
But even on their face, the claims of Gasland represent huge leaps in logic, and are obvious appeals to emotion, based on virtually no evidence.
(Again, stay tuned for more updates.)
Fracknation was by far a much better documentary. It was partly, but not exclusively a response to Gasland, with a much better presentation, expert interviews, and a focus on the use of science and logic, rather than appeals to emotion.
Fracknation shows the impact of Gasland, and shows how this film received an award. I found this shocking, given the clear leaps in logic made in Gasland, and its poor production quality. We also learn that thanks to the presentation in Gasland, several countries have banned fracking, with a huge cost to the quality of life for their citizens.
One of the highlights of Fracknation was a Q and A session where Josh Fox was asked about the fact that water sources in question already had methane in them, even long before Fracking was even invented. Fox responds that he knew, but that it was not relevant to the documentary. In other words, Josh Fox essentially admits on Camera that Gasland was a huge lie.
In fact, we learn that multiple environmental agencies, including the EPA tested the claims made in Gasland and found them to be false.
There seems to be no evidence that any water supply has ever been contaminated as a result of fracking.
Now, perhaps some of these government agencies are corrupt. Perhaps all of them are corrupt, and part of a big, giant conspiracy to suppress the idea that fracking is harming our water. If that is your position, then ok. Stranger things have happened.
But even if such a conspiracy is happening, then it begs a huge question. Where is the evidence for the claim that fracking has contaminated the water supply? Where are the results from an independent lab showing that the water supply is contaminated?
Fox and his allies seem to give none.
What we find instead is a laundry list of series factual errors in Gasland, which are available for public record.
While Gasland was a bag of wind, Fracknation went on to provide an incredible amount of substance for one documentary. The producers of Fracknation went out of their way to interview scientists and experts who really know what they are talking about. They also interviewed people from local communities affected by this controversy, and found that fracking has been a huge benefit, according to the vast majority of those who are directly affected.
Fracknation was one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in a long time, and I look forward to seeing other titles from its producers. In the meantime, I recommend sitting back, clicking the link above, and enjoying the Fracknation documentary!
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