The Fraud that is Truthland

So I heard about this film Truthland which is purported as a response to GasLand by Josh Fox. While I think Gasland barely scratches the surface of the issue of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas extraction (hydrofracking or fracking) — and promotes the most sensational aspects — I think it is overall a service that it raises awareness and encourages people to explore further.

So having "drank the Kool Aid" so-to-speak, I was skeptical of Truthland. I watched the trailer and it looked pretty good. But then I was thinking, "I wonder where the website is hosted" so I looked into it. It came back "clean" in the sense that it wasn't hosted at a gas company like I expected but by But then I thought, "man, that website looks really good". It'd probably be around $5K to $20K to make something that looks that good. That seems kind of unusual for a family to be able to afford (and without even a mention on, much less media attention or even a Kickstarter campaign.)

And then I thought, you know, the footage in the trailer looks really good too — like too good. I mean, I think it's possible that a mom in Pennsylvania knows how to produce a top-notch documentary, but it seemed kind of unlikely. The quality demonstrated in the trailer ain't from some off-the-shelf Canon no matter how much money you spend: shooting obviously included a recording engineer, someone with fill lights and reflectors, a good cinematographer, and at least two cameras. For instance, at about 1:30 in the trailer interviewing Joseph Martin: note the gap between Shelly DePue and Martin where you can see the tree trunk between them, then in the close-up, the camera is to the left of the first and zoomed, obscuring the tree? A digital zoom after-the-fact would show the same angle. Plus there's obviously wireless microphones to record the interview and reflected light to key their faces in the shade of the trees. These are not things the average person thinks of — only an extraordinarily exceptional person would.

So way at the bottom of the page are two links: one to Energy In Depth, and the other to The Independent Petroleum Association of America. Well gee, that seems weird. Most documentaries give thanks to friends and relatives who ponied up the thousands of dollars it would take to shoot it, but this one cites a couple industry groups.

So I Googled it and a few links down is Fracking Industry's Answer to 'Gasland': Devised by Astroturf Lobbying Group and Political Ad Agency. And that pretty much puts a lock on it. I don't mean to just make an ad hominem fallacy of it all: there is big money at stake, and the central deception (that this started from DePue wanting to find the truth) calls into question everything that is said. And if everything that's said can't be believed, why say it at all?