A Decade Into the Fracking Boom, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia Haven’t Gained Much, a Study Says
In an effort to ferret out Fake News, I tend to gravitate toward "news" articles that on the surface seem a little fishy. And with the algorithms populating my daily feed, the articles tend to have an energy focus to them.
Most click bait consists solely of a provocative headline, but for me, I look at the source of the article as well. I hit the mother lode this morning - a study published by "Inside Climate News" stating that the fracking boom has failed to deliver on its promise. In short, the article uses a myriad of statistics analyzing employment and wage growth over the last decade in the top fracking counties in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. And guess what? The article states the fracking boom was a big bust.
The selection of the data set in this article may seem like the Texas Sharpshooter or Cherry Picking fallacy, but in fact, the very nature of the argument coupled with the nature of the oil business negates that fallacy. The author sets forth a binary argument on the fracking industry - using counties with a high GDP due to fracking, an increase in employment and wage growth equates to success, and a decrease in employment and wage growth equates to failure. On its face, this seems like a very straightforward approach.
But not so soon - the main fallacy in their study is the Lying with Statistics fallacy. The author failed to correlate the county of residence for the employees of the fracking counties. The very nature of the oil business is such that the majority of the activity is in rural counties with very low populations. The employees reside in the neighboring counties, which have far more infrastructure, e.g. restaurants, entertainment, medical, etc.
Now, this does not mean that the assertion in the article is incorrect - it merely means that the author wasted a great deal of time proving absolutely nothing.