Fossil Fuel Industry Gets Caught Engineering Polls To Turn Public Against Electric Vehicles

Once again, the fossil fuel industry is trying to fool the public into opposing electric vehicles, this time by engineering misleading polls. And they are getting called out by polling experts.

For decades, the fossil fuel industry has ruthlessly held back innovations that would result in the American people relying on it less and less. The industry has even known that their product is a primary cause of climate change since the 1950s, but they have run an anti-science campaign ever since to cover up their complicity.

Recently, a group of scientists outed the fossil fuel industry’s tactics, which have been relentlessly used to dupe the public in order to protect their profits.

Now they just got caught by polling experts for asking misleading questions designed to further make fools of the public so that people will get angry and reject the technology that threatens their stranglehold on the energy sector.

Commissioned by the American Energy Alliance (AEA), which is funded by Koch Industries and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), the surveys are designed in such a way as to evoke a negative reaction to electric car subsidies by falsely claiming that they are for wealthy people and corporations, only to then turn around and use the results to claim that a majority of Americans oppose subsidies entirely.

But even polling experts such as UMass Center for Public Opinion director Joshua Dyck are calling out the industry for misleading the public and using survey participants as pawns to do their bidding.

“Agree/disagree items are not a legitimate way to determine public opinion on policy issues,” he said.
“There is a well-known response bias for respondents in surveys to agree to prompts in questions structured as agree/disagree items. This is known to survey researchers by the term ‘response acquiescence.’ In order to get at how respondents actually feel, you should allow respondents to pick from balanced options. I wouldn’t put much stock in the agree/disagree items in this survey.”

George Mason University Climate Change Communication director Ed Maibach agreed, and also blasted the industry.

“Unbiased survey questions intended to elicit people’s opinions about or support for a proposition (such as a proposed public policy) can be done in one of two ways,” he explained. “The proposition can be stated in neutral, factual terms with or without the leading arguments both for and against the proposition. The questions on AEA surveys did not state the facts about the propositions, but instead made negative claims about the consequences of the propositions. Therefore, people were responding to the negative statements made about the proposition, not the proposition itself.”

“The poll done for AEA was not intended to determine how people actually feel about public policies in support of EVs, rather it was done to give the impression that people do not support the use of public resources to support EVs,” he continued. “The problem with his poll is not that ‘the greens’ don’t like the findings. The problem is that his findings are bogus because they asked highly biased questions designed to elicit highly misleading answers.”

Indeed, it turns out that a proposal by Senate Democrats would provide vouchers to any American who is willing to trade in their gas-powered vehicle in exchange for an electric one. Grants are also proposed to help the auto industry transition into manufacturing only electric vehicles.

It should also be pointed out that the fossil fuel industry is being hypocritical considering it receives $20 billion in government subsidies every year.

Obviously, electric cars threaten the profits of the fossil fuel industry, which relies on constant gas purchases and carbon production to line their pockets. Moving toward a clean energy future is not something the fossil fuel industry wants this country to do. But it has to happen if we are going to save the planet. For too long, the industry has held us back from moving on from an outdated 19th-century energy source. They’ve done it by manipulating us into believing them over scientists and playing on our fears to get us to keep buying gas and believing that oil and gas are the best we can do. It’s time to finally reject these lies and strongly demand the transition to clean energy, a movement that is already gaining steam around the world. The United States could be a leader in this movement. We just have to break the power that the fossil fuel industry has over us and the government and do what must be done, even if it means this industry goes extinct.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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