I have to confess, taking a deep dive into the comment sections of some conservative blogs over the last few days as part of following the Heartland story has been educational, if fairly off-putting. It brings home to me something I already knew, but had tended to wall off from my day-to-day existence: The more-rabid parts of the conservative blogosphere are a pretty horrific place. I’m sure the rabid lefties are bad, too, but man, it’s ugly out there.
I realize it’s not just the blogs; this is a phenomenon that cuts across all media. Case in point: Fox News, where the willingness to just outright lie without shame is fairly striking. Take this example: Fox News apparently ran a segment about how rising gas prices represent a political problem for Obama. They wanted to illustrate the segment with a chart of gas prices, so they consulted the dataset represented by the following graph:
Gas prices are certainly rising, but the visual impact of the image, with last year’s bump prominently above the current price, wasn’t quite punchy enough for them. No problem: They just cherry-picked their way around the troublesome datapoints, and displayed the information via this graph:
There you go; much better. Also, completely misleading. More at Media Matters: Fox Still Struggling With Basic Chart Concepts: Gas Price Edition.
Given the tendency of modern Republicans to trust and obtain their information only from Fox, is it any wonder that their view of things like climate science is completely FUBAR?
Oh, while we’re on the topic of gas prices, Stuart Staniford’s take on this is informative. See: Life on the Plateau.
I can confidently predict that any resulting political debate will have very little to do with the actual causes – the plateauing of global crude oil production since 2005. But none the less the story does vindicate those of us who’ve been saying for a number of years that this would be an effect of the plateau – whenever the economy starts to improve – as it has in the last quarter – oil prices would have a tendency to increase and start to choke off the improvement.
In particular, this means that future growth in the US economy is highly contingent on it becoming more oil efficient.
Reading Staniford is like a breath of fresh — depressing, but fresh — air after being down in the fever swamp for a few days. God, I’m glad I spend most of my time in the reality-based community.