Published on Jul 23, 2017
Is Tesla a cult? Let’s find out.
A cult is: “a system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or object”.
We’re going to run with that. It fits. Religion is just a system of faith or worship - so it’s broader than just
worshipping Jesus or Allah. It’s any system of faith or worship. It all hinges on and devotion.
And faith - according to respected critical thinking academic Peter Boghossian (Assistant Professor of
Philosophy at Portland State University) - is (quote): “Pretending to know something you don’t know”.
Incorporating these definitions, a cult is: A group of people whose enthusiastic devotion to [something] is
built on a foundation of pretending to know something they don’t know.
So let’s look at Tesla - and see if its cult-membership qualifications are in order.
You are definitely part of a cult if you believe that your Tesla is also a green option - a planet-saving option.
An environmentally responsible option. If you pretend to know that you are part of the fast track to a clean,
green future in the driver’s seat of a Tesla then you are either an idiot or infected by the faith virus.
You are pretending to know something you cannot know.
If you are designing a Model S, the weight of the battery means you need to rely on relying on some very
exotic, lightweight and environmentally filthy materials, in the vehicle’s construction.
And then there’s recharging. EVs typically take six or more hours connected to a conventional wall outlet,
compared with three minutes for liquid fuels - or even hydrogen fuel-cell cars. It’s a distinct limitation.
Here in Australia, the national Greenhouse Accounts demonstrate that EV ownership in the Australian
Eastern Seaboard states (where most of us live) is (on average) about six percent better than owning the
average internal combustion engine car - on a well-to-wheel basis.
Meaning: Taking into account mining and exploiting the fuels as well as using them in the car. Bear in
mind if you own a small, fuel-efficient conventional car and compare that with a large EV, like the Model S,
the margin shrinks and might even reverse.
If you do this in Victoria, it’s already worse based just on the average cars of each ilk, because of the
Victorian Grid’s dependence on brown coal.
So if you are driving a Tesla Model S because you are pretending to know it’s green, you are infected by
the faith virus.
During the April 2015 launch of Tesla Energy (the Power Wall subsidiary) Mr Musk described the potential
of the world to be powered entirely by batteries charged with renewable energy. That’s according to a
report in The Guardian newspaper. Of course the media lapped this up without much critical analysis.
In the same report, Phil Hermann - chief energy engineer at Panasonic Eco Solutions (the supplier of the
lithium ion cells that form the core foundation of Tesla batteries) is quoted as saying:
“Elon Musk is out there saying you can do things now that the rest of us are hearing and going, ‘really?’ We
wish we could but it’s not really possible yet.”
In the same report, Tom Milnes - CEO of Open Water Power, an MIT spinoff commercialising fuel cells in
naval drones (not a Tesla competitor) is quoted as saying of Tesla Energy:
“It’s a smart business move, and it might be a commercial success, but as a scientist I don’t think what
Tesla’s proposing is a good solution,”
Mr Milnes added:
“Personally I think the Tesla factory producing hundreds of thousands more lithium-ion batteries is really
short sighted because those batteries are just never going to hold the amount of energy we need them to.”
These guys are experts. Musk has technical qualifications but it’s his job to spew hyperbole and talk Tesla
up. Who would a rational person believe?
(19:11 min video)