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My contribution at Andrew Revkin's 'Dot Earth' at NYTimes
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Chris Waigl's profile photoSkip Huffman's profile photoSheril Kirshenbaum's profile photoSteven Feinstein's profile photo
9 comments
 
I can't download that "standalone document" from where I am.  Can you post another link?
 
I guess I would have guessed no more than a third of Americans knew what fracking is.  Were you surprised?
 
I was a bit surprised because it's in the news so much. The poll results demonstrate there's a large disconnect between what bounces around the media and public understanding of energy issues.
 
Aside from NPR, NYTimes, etc, there's not a lot of discussion of the facts.  Fox News will mention it only in the context of anti-Obama, anti-regulation, pro-business messages.
 
By the way, you write about scientific literacy - how much of the problem is driven by the basic literacy problem in this country?  If you believe NAAL's stats, 40+% of US adults are at or below basic reading levels, i.e. cannot perform "moderately challenging literacy activities."  http://nces.ed.gov/NAAL/kf_demographics.asp
 
+Sheril Kirshenbaum Just because something is in the news doesn't mean people are "familiar" with it.  Huge portions of what constitutes "news" is nothing more than opposing sides counting coup on each other.  

Fracking is just one more thing to be "for" or "against" because your side takes that view.  I suspect that even those people who do have significant knowledge of "fracking" may have slightly differing definitions of it.  

I was rather surprised upon reading Chris Mooney's most recent book to find that fracking has two rather disparate definitions.  For some fracking refers to only the process of injecting a slurry of sand, water and chemicals into a borehole.  For others the same term also includes preparing the site, drilling, transporting and preparing the fracking fluid, managing the backflow, and disposing of the waste.  

If two people are using these different definitions, can they truly be considered to be evaluating the same issue?
 
I believe what you're surprised about mostly says something about the media use of the majority of people. It's important to remember that a debate that sounds very shrill to those of us who are already interested in science may be rather muted to many others.
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