Tuesday, 21 June 2016

5 chemistry facts to know before opening your mouth


In our ongoing efforts here at NOT PC to help you avoid looking like an idiot out in public, here are five things you need to know before holding forth on the self-congratulatory Hippy Issue of the Day – “five rudimentary facts about chemistry that you must grasp before you are even remotely qualified to make an informed decision about medicines, vaccines, food, etc.”:

1). Everything is made of chemicals
[Hence :] A “chemical-free lifestyle” is totally impossible…
It’s also worth noting that the length of a chemical’s name does not indicate how toxic it is…

2). The dose makes the poison
No chemical is inherently safe or inherently dangerous…essentially all chemicals are safe at a low enough dose, and essentially all chemicals are toxic at a high enough dose. This is a fundamental fact that people in the anti-science movement routinely ignore…

3). There is no difference between “natural” and “synthetic” versions of a chemical
[So]…as long as the chemical structure is the same, it doesn’t matter if the chemical was extracted from a plant or synthesised in a lab.

4). “Natural” chemicals are not automatically good and “artificial” chemicals are not automatically bad
…this claim is nothing more than an appeal to nature fallacy. Nature is full of chemicals such as cyanide and arsenic that are dangerous at anything but a very low dose, so there is no reason to think that the “naturalness” of a chemical is an indicator of its healthiness…
Further, remember that chemicals are nothing more than arrangements of elements. There is absolutely no reason to think that nature has produced all of the best arrangements or that we are incapable of making an arrangement that is safe or even better than what nature produced….

5). A chemical’s properties are determined by the other chemicals that it is bound to
Chemical compounds are made by combining different elements or even molecules, and the final product may not behave the same way as all of its individual parts. Sodium chloride is a classic example of this concept….

Much more simple detail to back up those main points here: '5 simple chemistry facts that everyone should understand before talking about science.'

[Hat tip Bill Evers.]

Here’s Tim Minchin:


1 comment:

  1. Damn right. "Storm", one of my favorite. Only a few days ago I came across this wonderful piece of nature https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchineel if ever there was proof Nature is not benign.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.