The examples of conservative misinformation—devoutly believed by followers, repeatedly asserted by ideological leaders and media outlets—are growing too numerous to count. I seriously cannot keep track any longer, and this is an area where I specialize.
A new one has cropped up: Call it light bulb madness. My sometime co-blogger Jon Winsor, FrumForum, and Joe Romm/Media Matters have all you want to know about it. Brief summary: Many conservatives, and conservative media outlets (Rush Limbaugh, Fox News) are claiming that a 2007 law about to take effect banned incandescent light bulbs, and thus rammed compact-fluorescents down our throats.
It’s the kind of cry virtually assured to make individualist-slash-free market conservatives angry: How dare the government touch my freedoms? And it has even led to legislation to reverse the “ban,” sponsored by Texas’s Joe Barton.
Trouble is, there is no “ban.” Rather, the law required greater lighting efficiency, and some inefficient incandescents will accordingly be phased out beginning in January 2012, but you can still buy other versions. What has actually happened is that the legislation caused the lighting industry to retool and put more energy efficient incandescents on the market—and in fact, the industry wanted these standards in the first place.
Here are the facts, from David Jenkins of Frum Forum:
And here are the kinds of misrepresentations that are afoot, for instance from Fox News’s Forbes on Fox:
Sadly, this stuff is a matter of course nowadays.
What can we do about it? The falsehoods come so fast and furious now, refuting them is almost meaningless. And minds don’t change if you do, anyways.
We need a much broader national conversation about the prevalence of misinformation, where it is coming from, and the psychological and media dynamics that generate it.
Don’t hold your breath.