Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

We cater to the most stupid people out of fear of . . . whatever

 

What do I mean by stupid?

This is an excellent example of stupid.
 

Florida country radio morning-show hosts Val St. John and Scott Fish are currently serving indefinite suspensions and possibly worse over a successful April Fools’ Day prank. They told their listeners that “dihydrogen monoxide” was coming out of the taps throughout the Fort Myers area.[1]

 

dihydrogen monoxide?
 

Terrifying.

di = Two
hydrogen = H
mono = One
oxide = O

Two Hs and One O.

We can rearrange these into the familiar chemical expression of H2O.

Danger! There is H2 in the drinking water!

I hope so. Water is not water, if there is no H2O.

So, some people were worried and called the water company. The water company should have stated –

Dihydrogen monoxide is just water.

Today is April Fools’ Day.

You have been fooled.

Have a laugh at yourself and get on with your day.

But no.

That would have been too reasonable.

This was the response – and threats of felony charges.
 


Click on images to make them larger.
 

Don’t tell people that there is dihydrogen monoxide in the water! Tell them that the reported problem is just a prank, but do not use the opportunity to educate people about what you sell them.

Feed their ignorance.
 

the two hosts could face felony charges for, again, reporting that the scientific name of water was coming out of the pipes. “My understanding is it is a felony to call in a false water quality issue,” Diane Holm, a public information officer for Lee County, told WTSP, while Renda stood firm about his deejays: “They will have to deal with the circumstances.”[1]

 

There is water in the water. – That is not a false water quality issue unless you are an idiot.

There are idiots making threatening to bring felony charges to try to deflect attention from the stupidity of the idiots. – That is a real water quality issue.
 

 
This is dihydrogen monoxide –
 


 

 

 

 
This is water –
 


 

 

 
Do you understand the difference?

What we call it has nothing to do with what it is.

Water is dihydrogen monoxide is H2O.

Water has also probably had every deadly disease in it for as long as there has been water. People, and other animals defecate in that water. The water company cleans the water that they provide to us.

The result is that tap water is almost always much cleaner than the bottled water you buy in a store.

We also fluoridate water in many places. fluoride protects teeth. The result is that the water is healthier with fluoride than without fluoride.

Some people make the mistake of thinking that a complicated name means that something is dangerous.

Or they think that a chemical is more dangerous than something that is natural.

Or they think that something man made is more dangerous than something that is natural.

That is not just wrong, it is Jenny McCarthy wrong, it is Creationist wrong, it is climate change denialist wrong, it is homeopathy wrong, it is just plain stupid, but too many of us are afraid to tell stupid people to stop spreading their stupidity, because we think that is not nice.

By that niceness, we lower ourselves to their level of stupidity.
 

How many scientists support Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccine conspiracy theories? Only a handful – and they seem to make money off of it.

How many scientists support Creationism’s anti-evolution conspiracy theories? Only a handful – and they seem to make money off of it.

How many scientists support climate change denialists’ conspiracy theories? Only a handful – and they seem to make money off of it.

How many scientists support homeopathy’s anti-medicine conspiracy theories? Only a handful – and they seem to make money off of it.
 

We give these con men equal time out of some distorted sense of balance between reality and their even more distorted misunderstanding of reality. Maybe these nuts should go hug a unicorn and leave sensible people alone.

Stupidity is not a virtue.

The cure is education, not denialism.

 


 

I do not know the origin of the Deadly Facts About Water poster. If you know, please send me the link and I will give credit. This poster is great.

Footnotes:

[1] Florida DJs May Face Felony for April Fools’ Water Joke Worse Than Rubio’s
By Alexander Abad-Santos
April 2, 2013
The Atlantic Wire
Article
 

Update, Wednesday: St. John and Fish were back on the air Wednesday, and officials with the local health department tell The Atlantic Wire that felony charges are not expected.

 

Maybe somebody did point out that criminal charges would be stupid and open them up to ridicule, but I had already written this when that update was posted.

.

Comments

  1. Really? Creationism is stupid? Every christian, jew, and other believers are stupid? The Bible is stupid?
    God and His followers are stupid? Thanks for the heads up. I guess I’ll cancel my ministry credentials and only believe what YOU tell me is ok to believe.

    • alan,

      Really? Creationism is stupid? Every christian, jew, and other believers are stupid? The Bible is stupid?
      God and His followers are stupid?

      Creationism is not a teaching of Christianity, or Judaism, or Islaam, or any other religion.

      This is a sectarian dispute between religious preachers who claim that science is wrong and religious preachers who do not claim that science is wrong.

      Religious preachers who claim that science is wrong are just making fools out of themselves with their arrogant ignorance.

      Creationists provide no valid evidence to support their claims.

      That is stupidity.

      Thanks for the heads up. I guess I’ll cancel my ministry credentials and only believe what YOU tell me is ok to believe.

      Feel free to provide some valid evidence to support Creationism.

      Why do you think that your ministry credentials have anything to do with science?

      .

      • First up (and this will be the only reply) The first 6 chapters of the Bible are about Creation. It is not a sectarian teaching. The validity of the claims can be disputed, I agree. There are 2 sets of EVIDENCE. You ask for PROOF. I choose to believe one side of the argument, you, another. I respect your right to believe the way you wish. My debate was calling believers stupid. We can disagree about an issue without getting nasty. It would seem that you feel strongly about this. I respect that. I will disagree with you till the day I die. I have studued the evidence and am convinced. Calling you stupid because you have been convinced is rude and unprofessional. I do not choose to resort to name calling. That is also Biblical. Polite discussion should be paramount, especially in our field, where our actions are supposed to be dictated by compassion and fair treatment. I wish you well in your professional endeavors.

        • Anonymous,

          What is debated among the religious is whether Genesis is supposed to be interpreted as metaphor or scientific evidence.

          Among the scientific community there is no debate over whether we evolved or were created as we currently exist.

          There is no valid evidence to support Creationism. There is a lot of evidence that makes it clear that we have evolved.

          DNA clearly shows us that we are related to the other species, while Creationism states that we are not related.

          You state that I asked for proof. I did not. I asked for valid evidence.

          My point in writing this is that we have to stop acting as if there is any reason for balance.

          The answer is no.

          I wrote about four difference areas of science that are criticized by people who do not understand science, not by people who do understand science.

          Vaccines are probably the safest and most effective medicines avaialble and supported by a lot of evidence. It is wrong to provide balance to the people who do not understand medicine and do not have any valid evidence to support their claims of harm and claims of lack of benefit.

          Evolution is supported by a lot of evidence and the research that continues to be done provides results that are predicted by evolution. It is wrong to provide balance to the people who do not understand evolution and do not have any valid evidence to support their claims that only micro-evolution is true, but that evolution on a larger scale is not possible.

          The effect of humans on climate is supported by a lot of evidence and the models have accurately predicted changes before they happened. It is wrong to provide balance to the people who do not understand climate change and do not have any valid evidence to support their claims that only littering on a small scale is a problem, but that dumping billions of tons of waste into the environment will never add up to anything.

          Homeopathy is an excellent example of a placebo. The valid evidence clearly demonstrates that there is no better outcome for the placebo groups than for the homeopathy groups. We are supposed to believe that making the homeopathic drug weaker makes it stronger. If enough studies are done, there will be runs of studies that show better outcomes for homeopathy and other runs of studies that have better outcomes for placebo. This is the same as tossing a coin hundreds of thousands of times. There will be runs of heads and there will be runs of tails. This is just the way random variation works, but it is not evidence that homeopathy does anything good. It is wrong to provide balance to the people who do not understand statistics or medicine, and do not have any valid evidence to support their claims that homeopathy is better than a placebo.

          We need to understand what we are doing, not make excuses for those who do not understand.

          If that is not sensitive enough, then I can live with that.

          Too much of what is defended with be nice, or provide some balance, is stuff that kills.

          Denying vaccines work discourages people from getting vaccinations for their children and for themselves. Vaccines save millions of lives. Avoiding vaccines kills.

          Denying that evolution is real discourages people from understanding biology and how medicine works. A lack of understanding of medicine can be seen in the irresponsible prescribing of antibiotics to treat illnesses that do not respond to antibiotics. We have a similar problem in the widespread use of antibiotics to promote the growth of cattle. Acinetobacter is one scary bacterium that, in some cases, has evolved resistance to every antibiotic.

          Denying climate change will probably result in malaria becoming endemic in the US, again. The plus side of this is that will be one way to get a lot of people working on better treatments. Nothing generates money like dead children we can relate to. Malaria currently kills about a million people each year. Malaria is also continuing to evolve resistance to treatments that were once effective.

          People continue to use homeopathy, including the bizarre concept of homeopathic vaccines, which does not work. People die because they avoid treatment that would have successfully treated their illness. People die because they take homeopathic vaccines and avoid prophylactic treatments that work.

          At some point, we have to stop acting as if these scientifically unsubstantiated ideas deserve any respect.

          It is to provide this false balance.

          The wrong is much greater than any concern over a desire to be polite.

          Manners are not more important than lives.

          .

      • By the way, other than this debate, GREAT article!

    • Alan – you assert something that isnt claimed, then pruport to ridicule it.

      THAT is a perfect example of “Creationism stupid”.

  2. To play Devil’s Advocate, I can agree with prosecution if the DJs actually used the words “not safe to use” or something similar during the broadcast. Claiming that a public water supply is contaminated and unsafe to use is out of line, regardless of how ridiculous the “contaminant” is.

    …and you had to go ahead and poke the Creationists, didn’t you. :-/

    • mpatk,

      To play Devil’s Advocate, I can agree with prosecution if the DJs actually used the words “not safe to use” or something similar during the broadcast. Claiming that a public water supply is contaminated and unsafe to use is out of line, regardless of how ridiculous the “contaminant” is.

      If they stated that, “This dangerous chemical is in your drinking water,” they would have been telling the truth.

      If they stated that, “The stuff coming out of your faucet can kill you,” they would have been telling the truth.

      Would that have been wrong?

      There is a difference between terrorism and education. When we are not well educated, we are terrorized by almost everything.

      Do we blame the people who are pointing out the flaws in our education system, or do we change the system.

      People think that a long chemical name means that something is dangerous. This is the problem.

      We do not speak out when these dangerous statements are made, but we blame someone for poking fun at the gullibility we have encouraged.

      We are at fault for not correcing the stupidity of “natural is good.”

      There is no safety in “natural.”

      There is no danger in “artifical.”

      We need to understand what is dangerous, or safe, and why. Often, it isn’t the chemical, but how you use it.

      We need to stop basing our decisions on ridiculous prejudices.

      …and you had to go ahead and poke the Creationists, didn’t you. :-/

      Should I treat Creationists any better, or worse, than I treat anti-vaccinationists, or climate change denialists, or homeopaths?

      These are all beliefs that are firmly held in spite of the lack of valid evidence to support them and in spite of the large amount of valid evidence to contradict them – and they are all dangerous.

      At some point we need to clearly state that these ideas are irresponsible, and stop trying for balance.

      Why are we trying to balance reality with their “alternative” reality?

      However, I did provide some balance. These are two mostly right wing denialist groups and two mostly left wing denialist groups. There are plenty more where these came from.

      Creationism, with roughly 45% of Americans claiming to believe in it, is probably the most widely believed “alternative” reality that can be clearly demonstrated to be false by means of science.

      It would be wrong to exempt Creationism from the list of ideas that are wrong.

      .

  3. What about the ideas propagated by Dr. Ben Goldacre that science isn’t such a shining beacon of honesty and routinely hides the results that aren’t favorable to what it wants to advance?

    • Can’t say, clowns will eat me,

      What about the ideas propagated by Dr. Ben Goldacre that science isn’t such a shining beacon of honesty and routinely hides the results that aren’t favorable to what it wants to advance?

      Science is a means to find out the truth.

      Scientists are humans with all of the flaws of other humans.

      Then there are plenty of people who are not scientists, who present science in ways that are dishonest, or just plain ignorant.

      We need to be critical of everyone.

      In science, criticism of the science is essential.

      In propaganda, criticism of the propaganda is forbidden.

      Science is not propaganda.

      .

  4. It would be just as stupid if the weather reporter made the same comparison and warned people not to leave the house because dihydrogen monoxide will be raining down on their heads.
    I loved the article and the sad excuse for a debate was the icing on the cake. Its like a child being told there is no santa.
    What people don’t get about placebo is you have to believe your taking the real pill. I lost a friend a few months ago when I sort of blasted them for promoting placebo is a viable treatment, meaning don’t take nothing. They stopped talking to me.
    At the moment we have a measles out break (600 children) going on in Wales (UK) purely as a result of anti vacc’ers.
    Its like the Forest Gump statement ‘stupid is, what stupid does’ This is what they do, by trying to balance targeted creationism and wishy washy beliefs against evolution, biology, science, physics or cosmology to name a few.
    I unfortunately didn’t manage to go to school as a child and as an adult have had to find alternative learning modules through books, debate and the internet. My mind boggles at the waste of education in the world for what the faithful espouse. Its reprehensible to forego intelligence for faith in supernatural beings and phoney scriptures.

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