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Fact-Checking Snopes On Las Vegas And Renewable Energy

Fact-Checking Snopes On Las Vegas And Renewable Energy thumbnail

When I hear a claim that doesn’t sound quite right to me, I usually check in at Snopes to get the facts. They usually do a good job of debunking fake news, and they provide lots of references to back them up.

However, I think they did a huge disservice to readers recently with their fact check on a viral story about Las Vegas.

The story going around was that Las Vegas is now completely powered by renewable energy. The story contains a kernel of truth, but then that kernel got distorted into something that went viral, but was clearly untrue.

Why does it matter? Because when people start to believe energy myths, they start to have unrealistic expectations. That leads to bad energy policies. After all, if the glittering lights of Las Vegas can run entirely on renewable energy, there is no reason we can’t run the entire country on renewable energy. While it’s fine to have that as a target, if we start to base energy policies on that expectation, we are likely to create energy shortages.

The kernel of truth was a story about the city government of Las Vegas. The story first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal was City of Las Vegas reaches clean energy goal. In that story, they explain that the city government in Las Vegas has been moving toward running totally on renewable energy. Here is the key piece of information: “Through a combination of direct generation and credits, the city is powering more than 140 facilities, along with streetlights, with renewable sources.”

So the city government is now running its ~140 facilities on renewable power. Then, whether through careless reporting, incompetence, or intentionally misleading readers with click bait, that story morphed from “City of Las Vegas” to “city of Las Vegas” to simply “Las Vegas is running on renewable energy.” To emphasize that point, many stories ran a picture of the Las Vegas Strip with the accompanying headline.

One of the worst offenders was Popular Mechanics, which had the following up for four days before modifying the title and issuing a “clarification:”

A Misleading Story

Not only are the headline and subtitle of this story completely false, but the Las Vegas Strip isn’t within the City of Las Vegas. Thus, nothing you see in that picture was actually covered by the announcement by the City of Las Vegas.

Nevertheless, that headline was repeated verbatim in the mainstream media, and the story went viral. One version of the story I saw had 1.2 million views. As one might expect, Snopes fact-checked it. And they got it wrong.

The claim they fact-checked (at this link) was “The city of Las Vegas is now powered completely by renewable energy.”

Although within the fact-check they clarified that it is only the “municipal buildings and facilities” of the “city of Las Vegas”, they rated the claim “Mostly True.” In fact, as read and passed around it is “Mostly False” or “Barely True.” Instead of pointing out that many stories actually got it completely wrong, they put the blame on readers who just glanced at headlines and “may have come away with the mistaken impression that the glittering array of brilliantly-lit hotel/casinos that populate the famous Las Vegas Strip are now all impressively powered entirely by renewable energy sources.”

I am sorry, that just isn’t acceptable. Readers came away with that impression because media outlets blatantly made that claim with accompanying pictures of the Las Vegas Strip. Had Snopes fact-checked “The City of Las Vegas…” they would have been on firmer ground, but readers would still need some clarification of what “City” means in this instance. But that wasn’t the claim that went viral. It was “city of Las Vegas” or simply “Las Vegas.”

That claim rates “MOSTLY FALSE”, and Snopes blew it on this one.

Consumer Energy Report » R-Squared Energy Blog by Robert Rapier

21 Comments on "Fact-Checking Snopes On Las Vegas And Renewable Energy"

  1. diemos on Sat, 7th Jan 2017 3:01 pm 

    One of the flaws of human cognition is that people assume that whatever they hear means whatever they think it means.

    Mom once heard a news story about people into “live food” and, of course, the image that immediately popped into her head was a bunch of blood soaked people hacking apart a screaming animal. And she was outraged by this.

    Imagine her surprise when I had to tell her that “live food” referred to vegetarians who didn’t believe in cooking their carrots.

  2. Anonymous on Sat, 7th Jan 2017 3:27 pm 

    In the amerikan empire’s ‘free press’, things like facts, accuracy, are entirely optional. In most all cases, accurate reporting of events, is not even the goal. In the circus of lies and disinformation that is amerika, this sort of ‘reporting’ is the norm, not the exception.

  3. Cloggie on Sat, 7th Jan 2017 3:36 pm 

    The collective brain power on this forum saw through this from the first minute:

    Wonder how many energy insiders read this forum.

  4. GregT on Sat, 7th Jan 2017 3:46 pm 

    “Wonder how many energy insiders read this forum.”

    2. Boat and Nony.

  5. onlooker on Sat, 7th Jan 2017 3:48 pm 

    Haha, but they do not seem to be learning too much , judging from their trenchant dogmatic views.

  6. Davy on Sat, 7th Jan 2017 4:40 pm 

    Yea boy wonder like your claim tar sands are All-American. Dumbass practice what you preach.

  7. Outcast_Searcher on Sat, 7th Jan 2017 9:44 pm 

    OTOH, the super-greens have been making so many outrageous claims for so long now that anyone with a brain KNOWS to view any green energy headline (especially in a green specialist publication or blog) with a healthy dose of skepticism.

    Also, most people with a brain know not to rely on only one fact checker, and Snopes has had some controversy over the years as a fact checker.

    To me, the main take-away is how the super-greens continue to try to distort the case about clean energy. Which is too bad — clean energy is making progress — why fuel the deniers with lies from the supposed “good guys”?

  8. rockman on Sat, 7th Jan 2017 10:53 pm 

    Maybe Snops read a different story the the posted here. While it had the same lie in the title if you read the entire story the truth of the situation was plain. No need to “fact check”…just open your eyes and read the entire f*cking story. LOL.

    And while I’m on my soap box let me explain: someone posting a false story on the Internet is not “fake news”…it’s just bullshit. Which, if I recall correctly, began with the third message ever posted on the www. An intentionally incorrect story posted by a recognized media outlet is “fake news”. Everything else comes from other sources with little or no credible known history.

  9. Cloggie on Sun, 8th Jan 2017 3:40 am 

    This whole “fake news” issue is nothing but an attack from the establishment, that hates to see other uncontrolled opinions pop up (via the internet) than the ones they promote via their MSM. They hate the internet because it is “populist”. Without the internet, Trump would not have been elected.

    Freedom of speech implies the right to be wrong and to make mistakes. Which is OK as long as others are allowed to challenge these opinions.

    Our entire justice system is based on the idea of dialectics: accuse and defend. And sooner or later the truth comes out, most of the time.

  10. Kathy C on Sun, 8th Jan 2017 4:57 am 

    Snopes? Do you know anything about them? Who they are? Their political agenda. IMO they get it right on a whole lot of stories to create legitimacy so they can deceive their readers on other stories.

    Who are they – just a couple – well an ex couple. They have a bit of dirty laundry. I would trust them on little stuff, NEVER NEVER on big stuff.

  11. Davy on Sun, 8th Jan 2017 6:29 am 

    Fake news is many things and the internet just magnifies it like never before. Everyone is duped by it including the establishment. It is human to be duped. A sucker is born every day and life is about one sucker eating another. This is the brutish reality of life. It is so important we trudge through the spoil pile to find that nugget of truth because the truth is so rare. Truth is meaning and meaning has a special kind of value. It takes a special kind of person to face the truth because in the end it means facing our mortality. It is facing the fact that our faculties are leaving us as we age. Yet, it is also the youth who are idealistic and empowered by growth and understanding. Fake news is a little of many things and the reason it is so deceptive. I feel you need humility and acceptance to seek the truth. You need to be objective and bury your prejudices. Subjectivity has its place though. Many a door to truth comes from creativity and fantasy. Having wisdom to distinguish good subjectivity from bad is required though. Farfetched claims do turn out to be something sometimes. My advice is don’t try to hold on to the truth because the truth is something you can never find and have. The best you can do is get closer to the truth and even then eventually it will leave you in death. Ultimately we need wisdom to know when to say no because the truth is intoxicating and too much of it or lack of it leaves us drunk and stupid. Modesty is a prerequisite to wisdom. The truth is a journey not a destination. Good luck because we are all on this journey together. Some just starting and others like me nearing the end.

  12. Kathy C on Sun, 8th Jan 2017 7:33 am 

    Davy, you are so right. Truth is not easy to find. But in the realm of politics there are some ways we can get closer to truth. Track record is one. We know the track record of the CIA for truth telling and for doing regime change. We watched George Tenet sit (looking a bit sickly) behind Colin Powell as he held up that vial of ? to prove we should decimate Iraq at the cost of thousand of US lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. And the truth was that no WMD were found. We know that the NYTimes finally, belatedly apologized for their part in the whole thing (error, lies?) We know who turned out to be the truth tellers in that matter – Scott Ritter for one. The fact that he later got caught up in a scandal doesn’t erase the fact that he told more truth than Colin, George T, George B, or the NYTimes.
    Find out who has been proven to tell truths and who has been proven to tell lies and use that for a guideline. It is disgusting to see the progressives, the left, all fawning over the CIA murderers and accepting their words as truth just because they hate Trump. I hate him too, but he has not caused and I think cannot cause any more harm than the CIA in its long and bloody history has caused.

    As far as I can tell our mortality is for us humans the ultimate truth. As one also nearing the end I find it a great comfort.

    It appears to be true that about 300,000 humans are born on the world every day. About 1/2 of them are born to abject poverty. IMO (which I cannot prove) we are headed to extinction – nuclear war (perhaps averted by Trump being elected rather than Hillary), climate change, civilization breakdown due to peak oil and/or economic collapse, 400 Chernobyls ( ) due to economic collapse, EMP strikes or solar flares, accelerated global warming due to economic collapse and the end of the dimming etc. When that happens there will be no more births. No more joy of living, but no more agony of living.

    I am OK with my mortality, always have been. Took a while to see that extinction was OK too. Makes the journey easier to wrestle with these thoughts and get peace about them.

  13. Davy on Sun, 8th Jan 2017 8:31 am 

    Kathy, glad you are visiting. I hope you stay on. You may have been a longtime silent reader like many who visit but not comment. We need more women here to balance out our excessive testosterone. I very much agree with your last sentence.

  14. Kathy C on Sun, 8th Jan 2017 8:55 am 

    Davy, thanks! I have not been blogging anywhere for a while, but stuck inside with freezing weather and decided to test the blogging waters again for a bit.

  15. rockman on Sun, 8th Jan 2017 11:03 am 

    Kathy – “I would trust them on little stuff, NEVER NEVER on big stuff.” So true. The bad news: any ass can posts any intentionally false “news” on the net. The good news: they are posting on the net. A venue populated by many thousands that can instantly call bullsh*t for what it is. As I’m sure you’ve seen done many times on Free speech allows anyone to post anything they want. Just as it allows others to contradict them with the true facts.

    Our PEOTUS loves posting. But that also opens him up to instant WIDESPREAD public criticism when he gets the facts wrong. Which I actually prefer to see over carefully scripted press releases from any politian. Releases that are are not readily countered instantly in a WIDESPREED manner. One can characterize the PEOTUS tweets as foolish or clever. But either way he’s hanging his ass out there for the entire world to critique with just a few mouse clicks. LOL.

  16. Yorchichan on Sun, 8th Jan 2017 11:29 am 

    Kathy C,

    It is good to hear again from one of my favourite bloggers ever. I understand your attitude to the evolution of organisms with a central nervous system much more now than I did five years ago on NBL 😉

    Extinction is where we are headed for sure.

  17. Kenz300 on Sun, 8th Jan 2017 12:02 pm 

    Wind and solar power continues to grow. Coal continues its decline. Safer, cleaner and cheaper wind and solar are the future.

    Germans Get Almost One-Third of Electricity from Renewables in 2016

    Renewables Provide Majority of New US Generating Capacity through November 2016

  18. Outcast_Searcher on Sun, 8th Jan 2017 3:17 pm 

    Is Kenz a green bot, or just a troll who drops the same stuff in basically EVERY story/thread he can find?

    I’m pro green energy too, and for a huge carbon tax (replacing much or all of the income tax) to actually DO something about it.

    However, I don’t sprinkle my views everywhere in the equivalent of SPAM, rarely (as far as I can tell) actually contributing substantively to the topic at hand.

  19. Kathy C on Sun, 8th Jan 2017 3:33 pm 

    Hi Rock,
    Since we are on the way to extinction our PEOTUS at least provides entertainment for the ride 🙂 I think a tweeting Prez is an improvement. That is if he actually makes it to the inauguration.

    Guess we know who each other is, yes?

  20. Kathy C on Sun, 8th Jan 2017 7:18 pm 

    Yorchichan, what a nice compliment. Maybe it was worth sticking my head out of my shell for a bit :). I enjoyed your comments too on NBL.

    What a journey it has been through the blogs – starting for me with Jay Hanson’s dieoff blog, on through various other blogs – The Oil Drum, Alas B, America2.0, NBL and a bunch of others Met some great folks along the way, argued myself into and out of friendships. But here I am 15 years older and extinction 15 years closer and the answer for all of us is the grave just as it always was. And now it looks like the grave awaits our species too (but then well doesn’t it await all species).

    So we have today. Hug someone you love. Watch the sunrise. Laugh at the players on the stage. Cry for the children. Watch the end game gradually unfold. Sleep and do it again the next day until our days are done.

    So it goes……

  21. rockman on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 9:10 am 

    Kathy – I agree with that improvement. Forever I didn’t care for POTUS views being delivered by “official spokesmen”. So well scripted and no opportunity to respond directly to the POTUS. Yes, the PEOTUS needs to choose his words carefully but at least those are his words and not those filtered thru the daily “briefing”.

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