Friday, October 26, 2007

Elimination of Dihydrogen Monoxide

A friend of mine send me this interesting article about a sociological experiment. I do not know whether it is true or not, but nonetheless it makes for an interesting read and give some insight into the human gullibility even in this scientific age. A junior high school student from USA won the first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair. He was attempting to show how conditioned we have become to false reports when they come with a scientific packaging; how pseudo science is spreading fear of everything in our environment. To demonstrate this, he came up with the novel idea of urging people to sign a petition in demand of elimination or strict control of the very harmful chemical "dihydrogen monoxide". To back up the claim he had plenty of reasons as to why it should be banned :
  • major component in acid rain and is also known as hydroxyl acid
  • can cause excessive sweating and vomiting
  • accidental inhalation can kill you
  • contributes to erosion of our landscape
  • can cause severe burns in its gaseous state
  • decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes
  • causes electrical failures
  • has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients
The fellow also quoted the degree to which this harmful chemical Dihydrogen Monoxide has contaminated our lives :
  • found in large amounts in every stream, lake and reservoir
  • used as fire retardant
  • used in most forms of animal research
  • used as industrial solvent and coolant
  • used in food products and beverages of all types
The result of the campaign was very interesting. Out of a sample of 50 people, 43 were in favour of banning the chemical, 6 were undecided and only 1 could actually see through the fact that Dihydrogen Monoxide was actually pure water. The conclusion is obvious. We should not be intimidated by scientific pompous names. I have often observed that people are more likely to believe things which have big scientific names attached to them than which does not. We should just have some sense and learn to listen carefully before we pass on a judgment only because the something sounds scientific. At all the levels, science teaches us to think logically and not merely to believe.

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