Lauren Boebert, Electric Tanks, & Dunning-Kruger

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When it comes to electric vehicles, LGBT issues, and many other issues favored on the political left but hated on the political right, we often see the “checkmate liberals” self-own. You see a simple, but very wrong argument being made, sometimes followed by self-congratulatory language. The supporters of the person making the argument eat it up, while anybody with much knowledge of the topic isn’t even sure where to start arguing because the argument is so wrong.

It doesn’t matter if you have great information, though. People who believe the stupidity will go right on believing it, because it’s not only a simple argument, but it told them what they wanted to hear. When you come along with a complex rebuttal trying to convince them that they’re wrong, you’re asking two big things: for them to put some effort in and for them to accept something they don’t like. The only response you can expect is to be insulted or harassed for daring to argue with Dear Leader.

I’ll explain why this particular “gotcha” is wrong in a few, but first we need to figure out why it works at all.

Why Do They Act Like This?

Before we go any further, I do want to make it clear that this isn’t something that exclusively happens on the right. To really illustrate this to all readers, I need to challenge a common misconception, and explain why it’s wrong, so more people can see what it feels like to be on the other side of this.

“Why didn’t the cop shoot him in the leg?” is a common thing I see people say after a cop shoots someone who was threatening them with a knife. There is also the “Why didn’t the cop switch to taser?” and “They had a gun, so they shouldn’t have been afraid of someone with a knife.”

This one is wrong, but it will take a whole paragraph (with links) to debunk it. For one, legs have arteries, so shooting them is just as dangerous as shooting the chest. If you hit that artery, the person will probably bleed out and die before they can get to a hospital. There’s also a concept called the Tueller Drill that most people posting this haven’t heard of. Here’s a great Mythbusters video explaining it. So, if anyone is within 20-30 feet with a knife and starts running toward you, shooting the leg is not a better option, there’s no time to fumble with switching to a taser (which might not work), and they’re every bit of a deadly threat as someone with a gun.

I know that if you thought shooting legs was the answer, the last paragraph isn’t satisfying. It runs contrary to many people’s ideas on how the world works, and it takes a little bit of effort to see why it’s wrong. But, if you know just a little bit about the issue (like from movies and TV shows, where expert cops shoot guns out of bad guys’ hands without risking their lives), it seems sensible to suggest something like a leg shot.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

The fundamental problem is that once we know just a little bit, we don’t know how much we don’t know. We overestimate the value of what we know, thinking that we know most, if not everything, that one can know about the subject. This is called the “Peak of Mount Stupid.”

The Dunning-Kruger Effect (Public Domain image).

But, once we start to learn a little more, we quickly find out that we don’t know that much at all. We suffer and think there’s no way we’ll ever know it all. But, with time and effort, we can gain a lot more knowledge by asking for help and getting information from people who are real experts. With more effort, and a lot more time, one can become truly competent in a field of study or with a skill and our feelings of confidence can return, but for good reason this time!

Some People Use This To Take Advantage Of Others, While Others Just “Self Own”

It’s especially infuriating when someone who should know better says something that’s truly wrong and then gets a bunch of people to follow them to the Peak of Mount Stupid. You know that they know they’re wrong, but you run into a bunch of people who can’t be convinced that they’ve been misled. When that’s the case, you’ve run into an example of someone weaponizing Dunning-Kruger against others.

But when you run into a high school dropout who isn’t experienced or an expert in anything but running for office, you’re probably looking at an example of someone who is at the Peak of stupidity and is inviting others to spend time on the summit with them.

Why The “Electric Tank” Argument Falls Flat

Some readers probably don’t know why Boebert’s tweet is wrong, so I’ll give a quick explanation.

For one, it’s not an actual answer to Biden’s remarks. He’s saying something that sounds absolute, but that doesn’t mean that all vehicles in the military will become zero emissions vehicles at the same time. Someday, electric tanks will be possible, but that’s not happening any time soon. The weight is just too much for today’s battery technology and availability to really work out.

It’s also important to note that the vast, vast majority of military personnel serve in non-combat roles. Every soldier on the front lines doing actual fighting needs someone to provide things for them from further back “in the rear with the gear” or back at home. They need water, food, shelter, clothing, weapons, ammunition, transportation, training, intelligence, and many other things to be effective fighters. So, for every fighting person, there needs to be 8 or 9 other people who help take care of their needs. Most of these people doing support work can drive an electric vehicle with zero negative impact on the people doing the fighting.

US military bases are like cities, some rather enormous. These bases need everything a city needs, including law enforcement, fire protection, utilities, and maintenance. There’s no enemy presence at these bases, and electricity is widely available. So, again, there’s a vast fleet of vehicles that can be electrified without causing any problems for people on the front lines.

Boebert makes it sound like military personnel use tanks for everything. Need to take a trip to the corner store? Take a tank. Military police responding to some young guys partying too hard on base? The tanks are coming! Turn the music down and hide the drugs! Anybody who thinks for a few seconds knows this sounds absurd, but that’s the problem: you have to do some thinking.

When technology and battery availability improves, electrifying things like tanks and planes would be a very good thing, though. Why? Because these energy-intensive vehicles can grind to a halt just as quickly if they run out of fuel, and there aren’t usually gas stations out on the battlefields, either. Someone has to bring fuel to these vehicles, and attacking supply trucks or aerial tankers is a great way to stop an army in its tracks. Need some evidence? Look at the importance of fuel in The Battle of the Bulge.

Being able to “refuel” electric fighting vehicles with solar or perhaps even nuclear power would leave a military a lot less vulnerable to an attack on supply lines or problems with the industrial base of a country not being able to supply fuel. That self-sufficiency could make a huge difference. Don’t believe me? Keep in mind that a number of militaries are experimenting with e-bikes and portable solar panels for some limited use. So, the idea does have merit.

When you do a little bit of thinking and reading, Biden’s idea has merit. But, if you’re sitting at the top of Mt. Stupid and think you know everything about the military because you’ve seen some movies, it sounds like Biden is a bumbling idiot.

Featured image by Spc. Benjamin Tomlinson, 102d Public Affairs Detachment (Public Domain, US Government Work). The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1954 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba