There were a handful of clues which should have caused wind energy-hating American billionaire Donald Trump to pause before tweeting what he thought was an anti-wind power infographic to his 2.4 million Twitter followers.
One clue might have been the inclusion of a quote about research which suggested that health-related complaints about wind farms in local communities often coincided with the presence of anti-wind farm groups.
Another clue the infographic might actually have been designed to highlight the fallacy of Trump’s anti-wind cause, rather than bolster it, was a quote pointing out that “thinking anecdotally comes naturally, whereas thinking scientifically does not.”
The infographic, created by Australian blogger and wind energy industry employee Ketan Joshi, listed some 87 symptoms in humans and animals that have been blamed on wind farms, taken from a list of more than 200 maintained by University of Sydney Professor of Public Health Simon Chapman.
These symptoms included vibrating lips, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease and infertility in humans, “reduced wool quality” and “behavioural problems” in sheep and cows being born without tails.
Donald Trump has been battling a proposed offshore wind farm development in the courts claiming the 11 planned turbines will spoil the view for golfers at his new “greatest golf course in the world” gouged out of the sand dunes on the coast of Scotland’s Aberdeenshire.
Before the course was built, the Scottish Wildlife Trust had protested that the development would destroy about a third of an area listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, which was a “highly sensitive and dynamic dune ecosystem” recognized as one of the top five dune habitats in the UK.
Trump litters his Twitter feed with links and endorsements of anti-wind power groups.
So it came as a surprise when Joshi spotted his infographic on Trump’s Twitter feed last week.
Trump tweeting my infographic shows, quite beautifully and comically, that he’ll even quote evidence that directly demonstrates the fallacy he’s adopting. I’m a little proud to be the originator of this ironic morsel of accidental accuracy.
Joshi told DeSmog:
The infographic was part of a blog post on the problems of over-reliance on anecdotal evidence. When you rely solely on personal testimony, there’s no boundary to what you can attribute to wind farms, and that’s why we get this broad spread of claims about the technology. The fact that Trump saw it as further evidence of the ‘dangers’ of wind energy demonstrates that people with a highly motivated hatred of wind energy seem more likely to discard rationality and deliberative reasoning, in favour of accepting weak evidence, and sharing it unquestioningly. That it comes from a character as comical as Trump makes it all the more fascinating.
Trump has also tried unsuccessfully to get involved in a dispute over a rejected wind farm proposal on the central Shetland island. The Scottish government is appealing a decision to block 103-turbine wind farm there and Trump wanted to challenge that appeal.
Earlier this week, judges told Trump his organization would not be allowed to take part in that case.
Trump has previously threatened to pull any future expansion plans for his Aberdeenshire course if the offshore wind farm went ahead, but has also since announced plans for a second golf course on the same estate.
Advertising standards authorities in the UK earlier this year banned anti-wind farm newspaper adverts placed by Trump, which used images of a wind farm beside a motorway in California to suggest similar scenes were heading for Aberdeenshire.