Washington Post ends its debunking column

washington-post-logo

The bottom line: hoaxes and scams get more attention. Washington Post ends its “What was Fake” column after a 1-1/2 year run. They found that over the years, what started as debunking and truth-telling has become viral “via old-fashioned schadenfreude – even hate.” Rick-rolling, trolling, exploiting, and sensationalism is at an all-time high with people wanting information confirming and conforming to their views.

NC Town Rejects Solar Farm for fears of causing cancer

Shelby_Farms_Solar_Farm_Memphis_TN_2013-02-02_010The original at: http://www.snopes.com/north-carolina-town-rejects-solar-panels/ which references the original Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald

During comments at a Woodland, North Carolina Town Council meeting a woman, Jane Mann, a former science teacher, made comments questioning the unusually high number of cancer deaths in the area near solar panels, saying no one could tell her that solar panels didn’t cause cancer.

Larger reaching sites reported on it using the sensationalized headlines. The Independent said  “US town rejects solar panels amid fears they ‘suck energy from the sun’, cause cancer – and will harm house prices.” Huffington Post’s article said it was rejected “Amid Fears It Will ‘Suck Up The Sun’s Energy.’

Other comments were made by towns people, and in general the town did not want another solar farm, but Jane Mann and her husband’s comments made headlines. Jane and her husband’s comments overshadowed the rest of the Town Council meeting, turning it into a tabloid with New York Daily News reporting it. Tech Times had to point out that “No, That North Carolina Town Didn’t Ban Solar Panels for Sucking Up Sun.

As Justin Alford from IFL Science! points out solar panels do not “suck up” the sun’s rays. Simply because no one can tell you something does not does not mean it does. Correlation is not causation. Simply noticing the high amount of cancer deaths in the area does not mean they were caused by the solar farm and not being able to tell her they didn’t cause cancer does not mean it does.

Understanding how photovoltaics works is the first step in figuring out why Jane Mann is wrong.