Recent reports have revealed Colorado authorities had to shut down a park because so many people were taking selfies with the bears.

Needless to say, while they may be cute, bears are dangerous wild animals who sometimes enjoy eating human beings for dinner. It’s hard not to wonder whether the selfie-takers are unaware that real bears are different than cartoon bears.

Perhaps the basic problem is that they are thinking on an emotional basis (“Oooh look at the cute bear!”) instead of a rational basis that takes into account objective facts.

The tendency to think emotionally has become increasingly pervasive in our society. Take the hysteria over hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for example. Despite the fact that this oil extraction technology has been safely in use for over 60 years in over 1 million wells and that the EPA’s most comprehensive study to date found fracking to be safe, there are still those who spread panic with baseless accusations.

Recently, the Los Angeles Times ran a now-discredited article alleging energy producers sell fracking wastewater to farmers, who then use the wastewater to irrigate organic fruits and vegetables.

This prompted outrage by “fractivists”, who seized on the report as ammunition for their ongoing war on energy production and even resulted in proposed legislation. The only problem was the report was false, and the Los Angeles Times has since issued multiple corrections related to the story. In fact, the disposal of fracking wastewater, which is pumped into injection wells, is governed by strict regulations and its sale for agricultural use is already prohibited.

What seems to have confused the Los Angeles Times and the fractivists is the difference between “wastewater” and “produced water.” Produced water is generated in the course of the oil production process. This water can be sold to farmers but it is first treated under strict supervision by the Regional Water Resources Control Board and is regularly tested.

What drove the misleading report and ensuing panic was a failure to research the matter objectively. When people allow their emotions alone to dictate their behavior they tend to make poor decisions, whether that be taking selfies with bears or fearing a safe technology that contributes to California’s economy and energy security.

Eric Eisenhammer is the founder of the Coalition of Energy Users, a nonprofit grassroots organization for access to affordable energy and quality jobs.

Cross-posted at Energy Chronicle.