My inclination is to make this a political post, one that focuses on the importance of education and information. And I am really pleased to note that I read that the State of SC’s Ways and Means Committee just agreed to increase funding by $149 million for next year, what everyone thought was an impossible task.
Over 1600 emails and 500 phone calls caused those on this committee to consider this refunding. South Carolina has “led the nation” in cuts to education over the past two years (even exceeding Mississippi, supposedly!). We need to educate people so that they can make better decisions and contribute more to our society, their work, and those around us.
Anyway, I came across this work in some old files, went and researched it, and it stands up. So here is the Study on Gullibility, along with the proof that we need to educate more people on more things to allow us to make better decisions on things like climate change, genetic engineering, and environmental science in general:
A freshman at Eagle Rock Junior High won first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair in 1997. He was attempting to show how conditioned we have become to alarmists practicing junk science and spreading fear of everything in our environment.
In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical DHMO or “dihydrogen monoxide.” And for plenty of good reasons, since it can:
- cause excessive sweating and vomiting
- it is a major component in acid rain
- it can cause severe burns in its gaseous state
- accidental inhalation can kill you
- it contributes to erosion
- it decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes
- it has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients
DHMO is used as an industrial coolant and solvent, it is found in nuclear power plants, it is used in producing Styrofoam cups, it is a fire retardant, it is often used in animal research and drug production, it is used for distribution of pesticides and it is additive in many junk food products.
Nathan Zohner, then 14, asked fifty 9th grade students if they supported a ban of the chemical after describing the above conditions. Forty-three said yes, six were undecided, and only one knew that the chemical was water. The title of his prize winning project was, “How Gullible Are We?” He feels the conclusion is obvious.
In March, 2004, the California municipality of Aliso Vieho (a suburb of LA in Orange County) nearly fell for this hoax after a paralegal there convinced city officials of the danger posed by this chemical – it got so far as to having a vote be scheduled for City Council for a proposed law that would have banned the use of foam containers at City-sponsored events because they contained DHMO, this substance that could threaten human health and safety.
(Check it out for truth at http://www.snopes.com/science/dhmo.asp)
If you haven’t quite figured this one out, DHMO or dihydrogen monoxide is also known as H2O or something we commonly call water!
And it surely does all those things listed above and many many more. It IS one of most powerful solvents known, since it is able to dissolve so many things, many more than chemical solvents like gasoline or alcohol. It is one of the very few substances that expands when frozen (converted into its solid state) and it is also one of the few solids that will float.
We also commonly see it in all three of its chemical states, a solid (ice), a liquid (water) and a gas (water vapor or steam). Life as we know it could not exist without water (although we are just now discovering some life that does not require oxygen to survive, all need water).
We can convince people that water is dangerous by telling them SOME of the information and presenting it in a particular fashion. It is the same way we can rally people around being against gun control legislation or being for “clean coal” or for objection to more available healthcare for people.
We can share data that says that Social Security or the Post Office are damaging our country’s existence. The list goes on and on. Only education and critical thinking will help us battle those who have their secret agendas or their claims that Austerity or tax reductions for the rich will boost the economy.
Get all the facts. Make good decisions for yourself, your family and your people.
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Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
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