Dihydrogen monoxyde (DHMO) has no color, taste or smell. Today it is everywhere: in our rivers, in the air we breathe, in the food we eat.
Correct. Dihydrogen monoxyde (literally, two hydrogen one oxygen) is another name for H20, water.
DHMO kills hundereds of thousands people every year!
Correct. The main way that water kills is by drowning. WHO estimates that in 2002 there were 382 000 drownings in the world.
- Inhaling this chemical can lead to death in just a few minutes!
- Consumation through food and drink can lead to increased urination, sweating and even vomiting, disturbed balance of electrolytes in the body - and even death!
- In gaseous or liquid form it can cause skin burns!
- Prolonged exposure to DHMO in the solid state can lead to permanent tissue damage!
Correct. Inhalation of liquid water in large enough quantities can cause suffocation and death.
Correct. There is a medical condition called water intoxication, which occurs when people ingest extreme amounts of water. In some cases it resulted in death.
Correct. Hot water or steam (water in the gaseous state) can burn you good.
Correct. Water in solid state is — ice. A prolonged exposure to large amounts of ice can cause frostbites.
How is DHMO destroying our envirionment?
- It causes soil erosion.
- It is the main component of acid rains.
- If it comes into contact with electrical devices, it may cause electrical malfunctions that may endanger human lives.
- Even in small quantities it can be corrosive.
Correct. Erosion is mainly due to rains.
Correct. Acid rains are, like ordinary rains, mostly water.
Correct. Water conducts electricity and entering the electrical device is causing a short circuit.
Correct. Rust is the oxidation of iron in the presence of water.
What is it used for?
DHMO is a very useful and even indispensable in modern industry. Among other things, it is used:
- in nuclear power plants;
- on GMO plantations;
- as a fire retardant;
- for cleaning industrial machinery;
- as a solvent for other chemicals;
- as industrial coolant.
Correct. Water is widely used in industry, because of its practical use in cooling, cleaning, melting, irrigation and fire fighting.
You think I'm exaggerating?
Everything I wrote is true. Don't believe me?
This description is factually correct, but deliberately designed to distort the real state of things.
Here are some tricks you can use to distort the facts about a topic without outright lying:
- Present your information one-sidedly. Water really is dangerous, but it is also very helpful. The same goes for gravity, heat, oxygen, etc.
- Use unfamiliar phrases, like "dihydrogen monoxide" instead of "water". People fear what they do not know, especially if the word sounds dangerous.
- Use emotionally charged words like "chemicals", "acid rain", "nuclear power", "solvent", "vomiting". Although the meaning is correct, dislike for the word will spread to the concept you want to denigrate.
- Using misleading illustrations. This is another way to affect the emotional part of the brain without ever saying anything explicitly untrue.
- Do not give quantities. It is unlikely that you will die from water intoxication — you would have to drink very large amounts of water in very little time. But if you ignore the question of dosage, you can present almost anything as poisonous.
- Do not specify the circumstances under which there is a danger. Water can cause burns, but not because it has special properties compared to other chemicals, but because it can be hot.
- In general, avoid being specific. Leave a sufficiently general statement, but tone the article in such a way that the reader, in order to understand what they wanted to say, must jump to some conclusions. If they conclude something that is not true — that's their problem.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly: abundantly use the word "may". Anything is possible. But just because something can theoretically happen does not mean it will ever happen in practice.
So what's the point of this story?
The purpose of stories about dihydrogen monoxide is not to scare you unduly, but to illustrates how we can misinterpret the facts if we are biased or if they are presented in a misleading way. We see this approach in commercials and activist brochures, but also in ordinary newspaper articles and television broadcasts, regardless of whether the authors were aware of it or not. The fact is that people devote more attention to stories that sound frightening or sensationalist, and there will always be someone to take advantage of this fact.
The next time you run into similar claims, stop and ask yourself: is it possible that the information presented is biased? Is it possible that a person who wants to convince me of something wants me to react emotionally and without thinking? Just because something sounds horrible is not a good reason to be scared. Usually, a couple of minutes on the Web will be enough to discern claims that carry some weight from those that are just sensationalist.