Baloney Alert: PolitiFact Is Light On Logic

30 May

The St. Petersburg Times Memorial Day edition had a PolitiFact article with the following headline :

“Bulb warnings are light on facts

There’s no plan to ban incandescents, just make them more efficient”

PolitiFact’s second statement above is so logically absurd it made me laugh out loud when I read it. At ET we believe in straightforward honesty: no lies, no spin, no deception, and no misdirection. This includes having the integrity to accept statements in their clearly-presented context. Unfortunately, PolitiFact often likes to twist and distort the context of statements, in effect gerrymandering them into one of their preferred liberal themes.

In this case, here are the facts: the government has not literally banned incandescent light bulbs, true. But it has passed regulations requiring light bulbs to have efficiencies that are impossible for them to achieve. There is no technology on the horizon that will allow incandescent bulbs to achieve that efficiency. Manufacturers of incandescent light bulbs have reacted accordingly by shutting down production. Therefore — bottom line — the government has indeed, in essence, banned the use of incandescent light bulbs.

PolitiFact’s childish contrary argument earns our maximum 5-baloney rating.

Regarding PolitiFacts’ other comments on the compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) replacement for incandescent bulbs, please see “Unintended Consequences: Nanny Engineering” in the DACI 2nd Qtr 2011 Newsletter, and “Why Government-Directed Energy-Savings ‘Investments’ Are Illogical.”


The St. Petersburg Times is as good as it is bad. We were planning a piece called “It was the best of Times, it was the worst of Times,” where best refers to their investigative reporting, and worst refers to their editorials and their PolitiFact operation. At this point other priorities have intervened, but we hereby want to provide an honorable mention of their stellar investigative work.

Also, we strive hard to be objective, with our critical commentary targeted at non-ET people or organizations, regardless of political affiliation. Although we believe there are sound reasons that support a small-government-is-better theme, this does not mean that honorable people cannot disagree, or that there are no ET deficiencies in the corporate/business world. If you have a suggestion of a person or firm that would be worthy of an ET review, please let me know.

Update 2011/05/31

Here’s another good summary of the unintended consequences of using CFLs: “The CFL Fraud” by Edmund Contoski.

Update 2011/06/02

For a follow-up discussion on this issue, including some facts on the halogen alternative to the standard light bulb, please check PolitiFact Bias under “Bryan adds.”

-Ed Walker



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6 responses to “Baloney Alert: PolitiFact Is Light On Logic

  1. Bryan White

    May 30, 2011 at 9:18 pm


    One of the PolitiFact stories in that collection provided the example of Philips’ “Ecovantage,” a halogen incandescent apparently suitable for typical incandescent bulb applications and meeting the efficiency standard. I’m no engineer, so from what I’ve read I’m buying that the example is legit. I do think it’s fair to argue a degree of equivocation on PolitiFact’s part regardless. But what’s your take on the Ecovantage bulb?

    • daci2

      May 31, 2011 at 1:24 am

      Bryan, thanks for the inquiry.

      A halogen lamp is a form of incandescent lamp that has been modified to achieve higher efficiency. The efficiency is achieved by various tradeoffs, including higher cost, more intense output, and much much higher temperature. I do not consider them suitable for standard incandescent bulb replacements (they are better for spot lighting, such as to illuminate artwork), and will not use them in standard fixtures because of the increased fire hazard. Suggesting that they are drop-in replacements is, in my opinion, irresponsible.


      • Barb

        May 31, 2011 at 11:29 am

        I don’t know about Politifact, honestly I don’t have time anymore to follow politics, much to my husband’s disappointment. What I can comment on is the way some of the articles are written! Important facts are left in the middle or end, with the flowery emotional descriptions right up front. Just wanted to contribute something remotely related and vent simultaneously. Thanks.

  2. lighthouse

    May 31, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    All current incandescents, including Halogens etc, are to be banned by
    2020 (USA) and 2016 (EU)

    The USA 2007 legislation essentially has 2 components, based on 2012 and 2020

    As you say, it is in practice a ban, because of the eventual CFL equivalence mandated.

    What is banned and when – and where are the counter-proposals?
    US, Canada, EU, Australia regulations
    Canada Government’s 2 year delay proposal (to 2014)
    Updates on US House/Senate, S. Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Minnesota and
    Arizona bills attempting to stop the ban

    The website also highlights all the other unpalatable truths behind the ban

    For example, regardless of savings,
    consumers would hardly save money compared to the situation before the ban

    Utility companies are already being compensated (UK ,USA) for people assumed to use less electricity
    = taxpayer ie citizen money.
    That is apart from any rise in bills to compensate for a possible
    reduced electricity use
    ( )

  3. lighthouse

    June 1, 2011 at 10:59 am

    yes its good that the less than forthright justifications
    behind the ban are getting highlighted
    including the less than ideal pushed replacements as in that link

    energy efficiency is always welcome,
    but particularly with electricity it can be done in so many better ways,
    from generation to distribution onwards,
    without the comparatively small society savings
    from petty bans on products people might want to use (and pay for using)


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