I ended last week's submission on the topic of Confirmation Bias* with these questions:
After all, who among us wants to be wrong about important matters on which we've staked no small amount of credibility?
But what if being wrong about those important matters winds up being the least of our problems?
It's human nature to seek out information, evidence, opinions, etc, which support positions we've taken on a wide variety of topics. Contentious political and social issues provide glaring examples of this from both the left and right sides of the various debates. Climate change is certainly one of the more noteworthy subjects.
I'm not alone, of course. There is an equally vocal, and more prominent contingent on the other side of this debate, claiming we peak-oil proponents are nothing more than doom-and-gloom messengers who've been consistently wrong in predictions.
That's the starting point.
Offering statements with an assortment of qualifiers ["if"; "possible"; "could"; "potential", etc] may offer those proponents some assurances that they are essentially correct. But to ignore an entire body of evidence contradicting--or least casting some reasonable doubt--on their staked positions calls into question motivations for disseminating partial truths.
Someone benefits when there's a deliberate failure to present both sides of the issues in dispute. Rarely is it the public seeking information from their preferred sources.
Close behind in the tactics of choice is to either attempt to distract with irrelevancies [past predictions made based on evidence then available does not then make future predictions invalid, especially when considering how often both sides have demonstrated less-than-stellar prediction skills], or intentionally confuse the public with phony straw-man arguments. Relying on an assertion by a fringe spokesperson as then being the foundational point for all positions offered by the opposing side is clever, but who benefits and who does not?
Credible peak-oil proponents regularly acknowledge the boon offered by tight oil/fracking production in recent years, while also pointing out the many evidentiary considerations casting considerable doubt on how much longer we can count on that option [not very is the answer]. Those opposed to the concept of peak oil will offer their phony "running out of oil" argument as the final say in whether or not to believe peak-oil advocates, while managing to address almost none of the facts raised that support our concerns for the future supply.
What's now being produced [by hydraulic fracturing--"fracking"--of tight oil-shale formations] is much more costly; uses tremendous amounts of water; involves the injection of chemicals whose composition is kept secret; requires much more drilling to keep pace with the rapid depletion rates from fracked wells; and is contributing no small amount of infrastructure damage to local communities.
As Robert Altemeyer observed with more than a bit of sarcasm, in his study on the conservative/authoritarian personality