Internet Scare Campaigns
My favourite quote is from Abraham Lincoln. “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet”…. There are many people on the internet with an axe to grind or out to maliciously scare people.
In fact it is very easy to scare people. All you need to do is present a list of ‘facts’ that are scary and you can influence people very easily. Scientific names or so called scary effects can be used to worry people into trying to ban certain things or purchase products that will ‘remove harmful chemicals’. People buy products or political views out of fear and unscrupulous people know this.
To help explain how scare campaigns work, we have illustrated the case with a discussion on a chemical known as Dihydrogen Monoxide. Hopefully it will encourage you to read things with a more critical eye in the future.
Here are a list of ‘facts’ from a website that discusses Dihydrogen Monoxide (http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html). We recommend school students taking the list of facts to their class and ask their class whether they are interested in banning Dihydrogen Monoxide from their country. Write down the number of students for and against. Then discuss what Dihydrogen Monoxide actually is and take the vote again. It is an excellent way to help recognise internet propaganda in our society. (If you are not sure what Dihydrogen Monoxide is, scroll down to the bottom of the page)
What are some of the dangers associated with DHMO?
- 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.
What are some uses of Dihydrogen Monoxide?
Despite the known dangers of DHMO, it continues to be used daily by industry, government, and even in private homes across the U.S. and worldwide. Some of the well-known uses of Dihydrogen Monoxide are:
- as an industrial solvent and coolant,
- in nuclear power plants,
- by the U.S. Navy in the propulsion systems of some older vessels,
- by elite athletes to improve performance,
- in the production of Styrofoam,
- in biological and chemical weapons manufacture,
- in the development of genetically engineering crops and animals,
- as a spray-on fire suppressant and retardant,
- in so-called "family planning" or "reproductive health" clinics,
- as a major ingredient in many home-brewed bombs,
- as a byproduct of hydrocarbon combustion in furnaces and air conditioning compressor operation,
- in cult rituals,
- by the Church of Scientology on their members and their members' families (although surprisingly, many members recently have contacted DHMO.org to vehemently deny such use),
- by both the KKK and the NAACP during rallies and marches,
- by members of Congress who are under investigation for financial corruption and inappropriate IM behavior,
- by kids who play Beyblades,
- by the clientele at a number of bath houses in New York City and San Francisco,
- historically, in Hitler's death camps in Nazi Germany, and in prisons in Turkey, Serbia, Croatia, Libya, Iraq and Iran,
- in World War II prison camps in Japan, and in prisons in China, for various forms of torture,
- during many recent religious and ethnic wars in the Middle East,
- by many terrorist organizations including al Qaeda,
- in community swimming pools to maintain chemical balance,
- in day care centers, purportedly for sanitary purposes,
- by software engineers, including those producing DICOM software and other DICOM software tools,
- by popular computer science professors,
- by aspiring young adult fiction writers and mental health advocates,
- by international travel bloggers,
- by the semi-divine King Bhumibol of Thailand and his many devoted young working girls in Bangkok,
- by the British Chiropractic Association and the purveyors of the bogus treatments that the BCA promotes,
- by commodities giant Trafigura in their well-publicized and widely-known toxic-waste dumping activities in Ivory Coast,
- in animal research laboratories, and
- in pesticide production and distribution.
The ‘regular’ name of Dihydrogen Monoxide is water…. So when you read internet based scare campaigns on fluoride and all of the so called ‘facts’, consider what you thought of Dihydrogen Monoxide.