Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication
Interactive science series
Q: After reading your articles on post-truth and the-science-of-politics , I am asking this question: How do people of religion, politics etc. manipulate things to make people make bad decisions on issues like climate change, GM foods etc.?
Krishna: In the scientific community, we give some examples to make general public understand how this Manipulation could be done. One of these examples is the story of Dihydrogen Monoxide Hoax.
A student wanted to test how people's opinion can be manipulated.
In 1997, a 14-year-old boy did a science-fair project around this. He surveyed 50 random people, and asked if dihydrogen monoxide should be banned.
He told them that this chemical:
Not only does Dihydrogen Monoxide have all of the negative effects listed above, it has so many more harms.
It’s just as dangerous outside of human contact
It’s also everywhere.
The majority of people who had consumed Dihydrogen Monoxide had been found dead at some point.
A resounding 47/50 people the student surveyed after telling them these 'differently told truths' said that it should be banned totally!
2 people were undecided, and 1 was a strong supporter of dihydrogen monoxide.
Now...get ready for the twist in the tale...
Guess what dihydrogen monoxide is also called?
H2O. Also known as…Water.
Obviously, water should be banned, according to 94% of the population, the student surveyed.
Why did they think so? Because the student tried to trick them into believing that water is harmful. Please go through once again what the student had told about water to manipulate their minds. Each point is correct in 'certain conditions' but not that relevant in our right use of water daily!
The dihydrogen monoxide hoax involves calling water by the unfamiliar chemical name "dihydrogen monoxide" (DHMO), and listing some of water's effects in an alarming manner, such as the fact that it accelerates corrosion and can cause suffocation. The hoax often calls for dihydrogen monoxide to be regulated, labeled as hazardous, or banned. It illustrates how the lack of scientific literacy and an exaggerated analysis can lead to misplaced fears in the scientifically illiterates.
That is what happens if you are not aware of scientific facts. People can manipulate your mind in any way they want and that is what politicians and people of religion in certain countries are trying to do.
In the late 1990s when a 14-year-old student, Nathan Zohner, collected anti-DHMO petitions for a science project about gullibility (1). The story has since been used in science education to encourage critical thinking and avoid the appeal to nature fallacy ( is an argument or rhetorical tactic in which it is proposed that "a thing is good because it is 'natural', or bad because it is 'unnatural' .
We, the science communicators, are fighting a tough battle to make general public realize this.
Dihydrogen monoxide from Urban Legends Reference Pages, retrieved September 25, 2006.
Read here what scientific literacy means: http://kkartlab.in/group/some-science/forum/topics/literate-people-...