A Quick Note on a Skeptical Thought

I received one of my monthly bills today and noticed at the bottom a quick plug for recycling.  Now before I go into what it says and why it inspired me to post this I want to establish context.  I’ve described the idea of a skeptic as a person who uses a scientific approach to all aspects of life instead of just for science.  One of the effects of this is that the critical thought process is always running in the background of a skeptic’s mind just waiting for something to trigger it.  We are always on the prowl for something that just doesn’t add up.

So what my bill said was this:  “Recycling one can provides enough energy to run a TV for three hours.”  Now I have no issue with recycling; in fact I encourage it and one can for 3 hours seems like a good deal.  But the implication here is that one can saves a lot of energy.  This is point the critical thinking part of my brain takes over and forces me to ask “What are the other possibilities?”  One other explanation is that a TV doesn’t require much energy.  And to be fair, it doesn’t.  Depending on models and other factors, I’ve found numbers online that indicate that using a hair dryer for 6 mins will use ~15 times more energy than running a TV for 24 hours a day.

Now this example is harmless.  But if you’re not prepared to notice when someone is potentially misleading you can fall for anything.  My next post will actually deal with possibly the most harmful area to be fooled in.  Medicine.

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