Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dihydrogen monoxide...

Ever heard of dihydrogen monoxide? No? That is probably because your government has covered up all the dangers associated with this toxic chemical. Here are some of the reasons why you should be concerned (find more at DMHO fact).

Dihydrogen monoxide...
  • Is a highly reactive chemical
  • Is one of the main waste products from nuclear power plants
  • Is used in the production of pesticides and is an ingredient in spray oven cleaners (!)
  • Has been used by ALL students responsible for school shootings in the United States in the past
  • Is used by athletes to improve performace
  • Contributes to the greenhouse effect
  • Have been found in large amounts, in children who live near factories

Trust me, the list goes on and on. If you don't trust me, listen to this girl at you tube, or visit DMHO facts, or "Ban dihydrogenmonoxide".

Fooled? I hope not, though if you were you are certainly not alone. The common name for dihydrogen monoxide, or DMHO, is water (di=two, mono=one, two hydrogen and one oxygen makes H2O=water). This hoax which I rate almost as highly as the Sokal hoax which I have written about here, was popularized by a 14 year old american high school student as a part of a science project. He came up with this alternative name for water and listed statements such as the ones above, all of which are of course true. He then went around and asked fellow student to sign a petition to ban DMHO, 43 out of 50 signed it.

According to wikipedia more influential people have also been fooled. In 2001 A staffer at the New Zealand green party was asked to support the campaign to ban dihydrogen monoxide, in response she wrote that she was "absolutely supportive of the campaign to ban this toxic substance". In New Zealand 2007 (are they lacking scepticism in New Zealand?) Jacqui Dean a member of parliment wrote to the health minister asking whether there were any plans to ban DMHO.

I think that this hoax illustrates that scepticism is more often than not a virtue. This hoax was very transparent compared to many of the stories that are circulating in the world which are also not true, and yet, people fell for it.


MikeE said...


I was one of the trio behind the 2007 one, and when Jacqui was interviewed on the radio not only did she refer to us as left wing (2 of us were members of the classical liberal party here, which is more right than left, at least economically!) but she also said that their were no lessons to be learnt.

ITs all in her wikipedia page.

Oh and the best thing was on her maiden speech to parliament, she mentioned that water was the most important issue facing NEw Zealand today!

And the irony is that Jacqui's party put out press releases making fun of the greens who fell for it in 2001.

I think the reason it happens in NZ is a) we have MPs who don't do research and are interested in grandstanding on issues they don't know about, and b) there is a tendancy to want to ban things over here without thinking of the consequences (in this case it was Dean pushing for a ban on BZP)

rasmussenanders said...

Thank you for confirming the story Mikee. I actually found it hard to believe that a member of parliment would fall for the story and not check it before moving on.

I love the hoax, maybe I should try it somehow here in Sweden.

Z said...

Fun post, brings back memories

I do agree that there was, in fact, something to learn from the story,
but on the other hand:
didn't it feel a bit non-original with a prankster kind we've heard about ten years ago? And our parents back before? (not that it wasn't useful for critical thinking.)

margahayu said...

wew.... gue nyerah deh klo masalah kimia dan fisika. kagak kuat otak gue.

Margahayu Land

rasmussenanders said...

I only heard about this hoax a few weeks ago. I was six when the prank was first carried out...

Pierce said...

Interesting information, to be honest I was aware of some of the bad things about it, but wow many of them i do not knew.

generic viagra

moonlight said...

I was one of the trio behind the 2007 one, and when Jacqui was interviewed on the radio not only salvia divinorumescort sydney