Dihydrogen Monoxide: One Of The Greatest Internet Hoaxes Or An Great Educational Tool?

(PCM) What is Dihyrdogen Monoxide? Could this chemical compound be making us sick? Could we really die from ingesting Dihydrogen Monoxide? These are just some of the questions an average person might have when they are attempting to research or study any type of new chemical compound and are worried, due to reports in the media, about certain health dangers associated with coming in contact with these chemicals. But are people really asking these questions or are they just blindly accepting information that is being fed to them as way to create an unnecessary cause for panic and concern?

Sadly, the answer is no. The average person is not asking those types of questions and they are certainly not partaking in adequate research to determine if they are really at any type of risk or not! If something appears to be true then most people will accept it without any further questions, which can lead to some very dangerous consequences. In science, we are taught to question everything, but unfortunately that mindset often does not transfer over when people are filled with fear or paranoia about a certain situation. It become more of an act fast, think later type of scenario.

This is what leads us to the case surrounding Dihydrogen Monoxide. In 1997, 14 year old Nathan Zohner was able to get 43 out of 50 of his classmates to vote to ban “Dihydrogen Monoxide” for his science fair project. His project aimed to prove that the use of true facts can lead the ignorant public to false conclusions. He won first prize. This is roughly around the same time that Dr. Tom Way created the website, DHMO.org, which is the Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division and is a spoof/parody website explaining the dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide and the effects it can have on our health and well-being.

If you have done your homework, you should find the website absolutely hilarious and also incredibly well researched. Here is just one example of what the DHMO.org says about why you should be concerned about Dihydrogen Monoxide:

“Yes, you should be concerned about DHMO! Although the U.S. Government and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) do not classify Dihydrogen Monoxide as a toxic or carcinogenic substance (as it does with better known chemicals such as hydrochloric acid and benzene), DHMO is a constituent of many known toxic substances, diseases and disease-causing agents, environmental hazards and can even be lethal to humans in quantities as small as a thimbleful.

Research conducted by award-winning U.S. scientist Nathan Zohner concluded that roughly 86 percent of the population supports a ban on dihydrogen monoxide. Although his results are preliminary, Zohner believes people need to pay closer attention to the information presented to them regarding Dihydrogen Monoxide. He adds that if more people knew the truth about DHMO then studies like the one he conducted would not be necessary.”

The website also goes on to explain some of the perils associated with coming in contact with Dihydrogen Monoxide which include:

“Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities.
Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage.
Excessive ingestion produces a number of unpleasant though not typically life-threatening side-effects.
DHMO is a major component of acid rain.
Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.
Contributes to soil erosion.
Leads to corrosion and oxidation of many metals.
Contamination of electrical systems often causes short-circuits.
Exposure decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes.
Found in biopsies of pre-cancerous tumors and lesions.
Given to vicious dogs involved in recent deadly attacks.
Often associated with killer cyclones in the U.S. Midwest and elsewhere, and in hurricanes including deadly storms in Florida, New Orleans and other areas of the southeastern U.S.
Thermal variations in DHMO are a suspected contributor to the El Nino weather effect.”

Most individuals would read that list and find many of the dangers listed to be completely and utterly ridiculous, however one would be surprised by the sheer number of people who would take many of these scenarios as the real deal, which they are in a certain sense, just not the way you would think. They require a bit more analyzing, but once looked at more closely the answer should become quite clear.

Many may feel that the website DHMO.org was created as some sort of “prank” or “hoax”, but in reality it serves a very important purpose. According to the creators, “The goal became to educate, and to promote cautious consumption of information and an active skepticism about what we read, see and hear. As such, the site is not a “hoax” or a “prank,” but is an educational tool.”

They are absolutely correct! Too often, as mentioned above, people just blindly accept information and do not ask nearly enough questions. We, as a society, need to be more aware and analytical about the information we are being fed by not only the media, but also, government, scientists and other public figures. A little extra research never hurts to be sure we have a well-rounded idea about what is going on in our lives and not just going along blindly with what everyone tells us is right. That is sheep mentality and it is very dangerous. This mentality has led to people blindly believing false information about a chemical compound like DHMO and literally demanding that it be banned, regulated or marked as hazardous.

So, by now you may be wondering what exactly this dangerous/hazardous chemical compound really is? Don’t worry, we won’t keep you in the dark! The answer is really quite simple: Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) is otherwise known as H2O, which we all know is …. ready for it …. just plain water! There you have it folks! Could you ever imagine banning plain old water as being hazardous? Probably not, which is why this example perfectly illustrates the way that peoples emotions can be manipulated using some very true facts to make people believe what they want them to believe. Scary stuff!

 

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