- 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
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.