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Jason Holliston
Tuesday, July 15, 2003  
Environmentalist Spin

This is to all you reactionary and non-critical readers out there: when reading "reports" about the environment and the state thereof from different organizations, departments, associations, and groups, consider what the data and arguments they're making could do for them and theirs. Spin can sometimes wander dangerously close to outright lies, as this air quality report shows, published by the Reason Public Policy Institute (thanks to Reason's Hit and Run blog).

Spin can be a powerful thing, and when enough powerful interests do it, the public can be convinced to follow. This assertion is made:

The United States has made dramatic progress in reducing air pollution over the last few decades, and most American cities now enjoy relatively good air quality. But polls show that most Americans believe air pollution has grown worse or will become worse in the future, and that most people face serious risks from air pollution.

I believe the report shows that even people with the best interests at heart can fall under the spell of that extra donated dollar (or extra funding from the government). Do all activists spin to slam their point home and get more money and converts? Of course. Does that make it right? Absolutely not. We need to keep calling these people to the mat, and demand that the truth be told -- even when it's good news.

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