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Environmentalists Sign Petition to Ban Water

July 23rd, 2007

A few days ago I received an email about someone in Idaho who had conducted an experiment for his high school science fair in which he asked people to vote on whether or not they would ban a chemical called “dihydrogen monoxide”. After mentioning several of its properties that could produce unfavorable effects, he managed to get 43 out of 50 people to support a ban of this seemingly dangerous environmental hazard. For those of you who may not have been paying attention in chemistry class, this “dangerous” chemical is actually water. And as soon as I read the email, I realized that this little experiment has been done before.

Back in 2003, the Penn & Teller show did an experiment on this by going to some public gatherings of environmentalists and having them sign a petition to ban “dihydrogen monoxide”. I remember watching the show on Google Video about a year ago, so I did a quick search on it and found the relevant clips. This is the portion of the show where they actually did the petition experiment. It is an excerpt of the original show and is a little over 3 minutes long:

A video of the full show can be found here. You might want to watch it when you have time (it’s about 30 minutes long). They actually have an interview with the founder of Greenpeace, who eventually left his own movement in disgust because it had gotten hijacked by anti-globalists and alarmists who had steered the organization in a completely different direction from what the founder intended. There are also discussions with representatives of various environmental groups (some are alarmist types, others are more skeptical). The water banning petition part shows up about halfway through the video.

Meanwhile, here is some basic information about the Penn & Teller series from answers.com. I have seen most of the shows from the first four seasons and have found them quite enjoyable, especially since the two hosts happen to share my general worldview (these guys are libertarians AND atheists- a double bonus). The only possible problem with the series is that they tend to use a fair amount of profanity as part of their entertainment style. While this does not offend me personally, others may be more sensitive, which tends to keep the shows from being aired on the mainstream TV networks.

Since many of these shows have some good educational value added to the entertainment, I wouldn’t mind seeing them do a remake of the series without the profanity. It could be marketed as a “family friendly” version and might have a chance of drawing a wider audience of viewers than the current Showtime programs do. Such a series might not have quite the same “punch” as the original, but the informational value would still be there, which is important for educating the masses and stamping out ignorance.


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