Have five minutes? Correct anti-wind myths in articles and comments

Have you read an article or comment thread online that contains anti-wind myths and disinformation but didn’t have the resources at your fingertips to counter the spin? This post is intended to let you create factual, solid, referenced comments debunking disinformation in five minutes or less in the areas of Health, Environment and Smart Grid.

Courtesy of http://xkcd.com/386/

The Basics



Smart Grid

Advanced Debunking


  • An Ontario wind energy tribunal’s published judgment rejects both health scares and the health scarers Laurie and McMurtry. Two major contributors to wind energy health scares, Sarah Laurie of Australia and Dr. Robert McMurtry of Canada, attempted to testify in an Ontario appeal Tribunal related to a proposed wind farm. The judgment was published December 23, 2013.  Ms. Laurie was rejected entirely as a witness, and her lack of authority to refer to herself as Doctor was entered into evidence. Dr. McMurtry’s testimony and case definition were rejected entirely as being without merit. At the same time, environmental and human rights arguments were considered completely without merit as well. Read more here: http://barnardonwind.com/2014/01/08/ontario-tribunal-dismisses-health-scares-and-health-scarers/
  • How reliable are individual wind and health studies as evidence? Assessing five factors — quality of publication, hierarchy of evidence, full declaration of any biases, inclusions and exclusions of references and methodology and structure of the evidence — can assist in rapidly getting a sense of how much weight to put on individual wind and health pieces of evidence. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/06/27/how-should-you-assess-the-quality-of-a-wind-health-study/
  • Analysis of the 50 most commonly cited studies, reviews and governmental reports used by both sides finds that the literature used by anti-wind campaigners to claim health impacts is much, much less reliable than the evidence showing no health impacts outside of limited noise annoyance to some.  http://barnardonwind.com/2013/08/06/health-studies-reliability/
  • Amplitude Modulation impacts a vanishingly small number of people a tiny percentage of the time. It occurs on perhaps 3% of wind farms, it occurs only occasionally, it usually only occurs for brief periods of time, is mostly only audible to people downwind of the wind turbines and studies show that most people don’t find it annoying. Now there’s a problem worth spending millions to fix. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/12/17/amplitude-modulation-another-anti-wind-myth-goes-thump/
  • Pierpoint’s wind turbine syndrome is more wind than syndrome. Completely lacking in methodology, self-selected study group that blamed wind turbines for their ailments, no medical history, no peer review, self-published by the vanity press she set up for the purpose and so intent on leading the witnesses that it fell of a cliff.  http://barnardonwind.com/2013/02/28/wind-turbine-syndrome-is-more-wind-than-syndrome/
  • Sarah Laurie and the Waubra Foundation aren’t credible sources of information but an Orwellian Newspeak front for NIMBYism and fossil fuel.  They are consistently unethical in their operations, constantly misrepresent themselves, others and published reports and are at the forefront of causing the problems they claim to be worried about.  Here are the seven key things you need to know if they show up near you:  http://barnardonwind.com/2013/04/15/seven-things-you-must-know-about-the-waubra-foundation-and-sarah-laurie/
  • Wind turbine setbacks of 350-400 meters are completely safe in all but the tiniest fraction of cases. The World Health Organization sets 50 dB of regular and prolonged night time noise that cannot be mitigated via closed windows and white noise generators as the level at which sleep loss becomes a concern. 40 dB, the level that Ontario’s Regulation 359/09 regulations make the norm 99% of the time for 99% of properties, is a good cautionary level. 35 dB, the level set in a couple of Australian states, is even more conservative.
  • When anti-wind campaigners try to testify under oath related to wind energy and health, even under the kindest of examination only from the lawyer on their side, the results are a grisly train wreck. It’s hard to look away. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2012/bad-day-in-court-for-anti-wind-campaigner-sarah-laurie
  • The suggestion that wind turbine related-infrasound causes motion sickness is a wild leap in two directions. It extrapolates from motion sickness induced by flight simulators which violently shake and roll a person while simultaneously giving them visual inputs that only coarsely relate to movements. It assumes that there is a physiological response mechanism where 22 reviews have concluded no direct physiological impact and when the evidence with setbacks of 350+ meters points to psychological reasons for symptoms. As the hypothesis of a single acoustician presented at a conference, it shouldn’t be considered even likely, never mind entertained as probable. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/09/23/from-flight-simulator-induced-nausea-to-infrasound-a-remarkable-leap/
  • Sarah Laurie and other anti-wind activists with past and present medical credentials are ethics-challenged. Ms. Laurie is under investigation in Australia for performing medical research without ethics oversight, while in Ontario a dentist who has refused service to the leadership council of a native tribe erecting a wind farm is being investigated. This is in line with the ongoing violations of the basic tenet of medical ethics: “First do no harm.” http://barnardonwind.com/2013/04/24/medical-ethics-violations-by-anti-wind-lobbyists-such-as-sarah-laurie-receiving-attention/
  • The Nissenbaum / Aramini / Hanning study published in Noise and Health is unreliable. The data actually shows that everyone in the study group sleeps poorly, not just the ones close to wind farms. Their data is too scattered to support a correlation between wind turbine placement and sleep. Five of the six authors and thanked reviewers are Advisory Board members of the anti-wind lobbyist group, the Society for Wind Vigilance, but their long histories of anti-wind activism are unstated. One of the authors, Nissenbaum, was active in the wind farms studied previously doing poorly structured studies that would have increased fear and stress. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/02/25/a-study-in-noise-and-health-shows-that-wind-farms-cause-people-to-lose-sleep-how-reliable-is-this-study/
  • Vibro-acoustic disease is at best a mistake by an incompetent and at worst a workers’ compensation ploy. Norwegian studies  focussed on it using helicopter crews and passengers as study and control groups found no evidence of acute or chronic changes. One also pointed out that the key physical evidence Castelo-Branco found — thickening of the pericardium — was misinterpreted as he thought the pericardium was normally 3-4 times thinner than it actually is. An Australian assessment found that 74% of all citations to VAD papers were from the VAD papers themselves, instead of the more usual 7%. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/10/04/vad-venal-arrogant-distortion/
  • The Commentary “Adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines” in Canadian Family Physician is a deeply misleading article by long time anti-wind activists with irrelevant credentials — retired pharmacist, chartered management accountant, general practitioner — that may lead unwary medical practitioners to inappropriately attribute symptoms to wind turbines and possibly exacerbate pre-existing conditions. It ignores the vast majority of evidence and opinions of medical professionals in assessments world wide that wind turbines do not cause health impacts. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/05/22/when-medical-practitioners-mislead-trio-targets-family-doctors-with-bad-information/
  • The Wind Rush documentary was set up as a hatchet job on wind energy. There is no credible way that this degree of slant, distortion and inaccuracy could result without intentional effort. There is no way that this assemblage of known anti-wind voices came together on film without guidance and assistance of anti-wind groups, and there is no way that the enormous evidence to the contrary and the enormous number of experts who could counter this biased piece were ignored without deliberate exclusion. http://barnardonwind.com/2014/01/11/wind-rush-documentary/


Smart Grid

General Guidance

Correcting disinformation with coherent, brief and referenced comments can be a very productive way to spend a little time each day to assist in the ongoing PR war in support of wind energy.  Most media outlets have comments enabled on their online articles, and most blogs do as well. Those comments sections get read, and often get read a lot.

Here are a few suggested guidelines for being most effective:

  1. Make your audience the people who are silently reading. The ratio typically used for online discussion areas is 1:10:100. That is to say, one person posts something original starting a discussion, 10 people comment and 100 people read the back-and-forth.
  2. Stick to the facts, not the people. Make your comments additional information, not attacks on other commenters.  Let them take the low road (and many of them will).  The quiet reader will read your facts and their attacks and generally will make a judgment in favour of facts.
  3. Don’t argue too muchMany people on comment boards seem to view it as their primary social outlet. Don’t feed their need for attention. You won’t convince them, so don’t waste your time trying. Post your information for the quiet readers and move on. Only engage if a question or point of clarification is raised which enables you to make another solid insertion of information.

Four Steps to Countering Anti-Wind Disinformation

Step 1: Make sure you can comment comfortably.  Some comments sections allow you to submit with any user name of your choice and your email address which is kept anonymously. Others require you to register with the outlet.  Many or even most now allow signing up with Facebook, Twitter or Google accounts, making it pretty easy to get in and tie your comments to the rest of your social media presence. Figure out how public you are willing to be. Consider setting up social media accounts just for this if you want to isolate it from the rest of your online presence.

Step 2. Identify the myths being spread. Read the article and the comments so that you rebut the right myths.

Step 3. Create your comment from the boilerplate in this post. Copy whichever snippets pertain to the myths you’ve spotted into your comment.  The snippets contain accurate and brief summaries of the reality plus a link to — mostly — this blog with full and detailed information.  You may choose to grab one of the major links in the blog posts instead as your evidentiary link or something else entirely. What you write is your choice based on what you are trying to communicate and who you think the audience is. The snippets are organized into three sections for your convenience:

Note that a subset of comment sections don’t allow links at all, presuming that they are usually marketing spam.  Ditch the links and rely on the text in that case. Watch for character or word limits as well and edit accordingly.

Step 4: Share and bookmark this post. Help your friends and acquaintances make a difference too.  The more people there are telling the truth online, the lower the impact of the disinformation.


  1. Good article Mike. People underestimate the power of facts and truth. Anybody armed with those doesn’t need to resort to ad hominem attacks.

  2. Mark · · Reply

    very helpful , thank you

  3. Very useful, Mike.

  4. what would be great, is an alert system of when these articles appear. (It’s pretty depressing trawling through the Express/Daily Fail looking for articles! Does anyone know if one exists?

    1. Yes. I use Google Alerts to notify me. Very straightforward.

      1. you need a Google account. It’s free.
      2. Search Google News for a key search term of relevance to you. The name of your paper, news outlet, region or town plus wind turbine should get you news reports local on wind energy.
      3. Scroll to the bottom and you will see an option to create an Alert. Click on it and you’ll be given a couple of options. I set mine for daily best results and have a half dozen or so set up.

      Then you will receive daily emails with a pony new articles that match your search terms.

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