To the editor:
Russ Larsen’s August 11th LTE, “Left-wingers lacking in ethics, good sense,” was as expected a partisan attack laced with taunts and a distorted view of those who may not agree with his politics. But this letter brought to my mind the question of how? How does a seemingly productive member of society fall into believing things so devoid of any basis in reality? And how much can you blame someone for their hostility if they truly believe that this is what is happening in the world.
In the letter Mr. Larsen cited a July 5 Dave Ross show that he interpreted as “The EPA, nationwide, drove multiple vehicles in every state, racking up 400 thousand miles testing neighborhoods (mostly while idling) for excessive pollution with the mindset of using that data to impose higher property taxes so that they, the EPA loons, can better control the communities.” I think if this was true any rational person would agree with Mr. Larsen that this is an insane use of resources.
I went and listened to this show and did some research. The reality of this program was that the Google Streetview cars which take the images used for Google Maps are now being used in a pilot program in Oakland, California, to also gather air pollution data. A San Francisco based company, Aclima, has partnered with Google to outfit these cars with a mobile air-quality platform. This technology gives block by block data of pollutant levels which provides useful information to city planners.
As you can see, Mr. Larsen’s interpretation was far from reality. But how does this happen? Is it possible that our choice in media consumption can have such a strong impact that we fall into a trap that leads us to believe even the most ridiculous of claims just because it fits with our already preconceived notions/beliefs. I believe that this may be…