Thinking for Yourself

Do you know what dihydrogen monoxide is?

Do you know what dihydrogen monoxide is? I would guess that most of you do. A freshman at Eagle Rock Junior High used this to win first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair. The student showed how conditioned we have become to alarmists spreading fear of everything in the environment using shoddy scientific data.

In the project, the student urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical dihydrogen monoxide for the following reasons:

  1. It can cause excessive sweating and vomiting.
  2. It is a major component in acid rain.
  3. It can cause severe burns in the gaseous state.
  4. Accidental inhalation can kill you.
  5. It contributes to erosion.
  6. It decreases the effectiveness of automobile brakes.
  7. It has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients.

The student asked 50 people if they supported a ban and 43 said yes, six were undecided and only one knew that the chemical is water.

What disturbs me is not that the people did not know what the molecule was, but that they simply believed the list of "facts" without checking it out for themselves or asking what it was or how it is used. People merely accepted all the negative attributes and jumped on the bandwagon.

This fear is "taught" in schools as well under the guise of environmental education or saving the planet. A popular theme in school ecology text books is that humans are evil and nature is the victim. Another theme is that technology and consumption are wrong. One geography book, Exploring a Changing World, states that China is an example to the world in food production since it relies on human labor rather than expensive machines.

We in the finishing industry know this mentality all to well. However, have you ever stopped to think that you may be guilty of it as well? Jumping on the bandwagon for a project or cause without fully considering the ramifications of your decision? Sometimes what seems like the correct thing to do, is not necessarily all it's cracked up to be (to quote my dad).