arrow7 Comments
  1. Neil Gussman
    Dec 05 - 7:41 pm

    It’s difficult to be upbeat about even Mom and Apple Pie in the ironic media world we all inhabit. Who could be sincerely upbeat about chemistry on a national stage? Image what it would look like on You Tube.

  2. Klug
    Dec 06 - 6:07 pm

    I agree with Neil. When I watched the first video, all I could think about was Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri as the SNL cheerleaders.

    Evenhanded media views of chemistry would be great, but I’m quite sure that it would be a lost cause. The latest case of rampant chemophobia? The viral video “The Story of Stuff”, where the host gives out this winner of a distortion:

    “”So, next, the materials move to “production“ and what happens there is we use energy to mix toxic chemicals in with the natural resources to make toxic contaminated products…

    Like BFRs, brominated flame retardants. They are a chemical that make things more fireproof but they are super toxic. They’re a neurotoxin—that means toxic to the brain. What are we even doing using a chemical like this?

    Yet we put them in our computers, our appliances, couches, mattresses, even some pillows. In fact, we take our pillows, we douse them in a neurotoxin and then we bring them home and put our heads on them for 8 hours a night to sleep. Now, I don’t know, but it seems to me that in this country with so much potential, we could think of a better way to stop our heads from catching on fire at night.”

    As long as people use bizarre logic like this to bash the chemical industry and get their lies spread in the MSM, we as chemists are screwed.

  3. Klug
    Dec 08 - 12:29 am

    Speaking of the MSM and chemistry, check out the chemical structure in the article (link below). That thing is a DISASTER of unfilled valences and extra bonds. Truly hilarious, especially considering the very proud quote from the “Eleventh Hour” producer:

    “In some ways, it’s much easier to make shit up. When you have to make it real, you’re holding yourself to a much higher standard.”

    http://blog.wired.com/underwire/2008/12/science-fact-fa.html

  4. Hedy Hadley
    Dec 12 - 9:55 am

    I was at the ’64 world’s fair with a classmate of mine. We were the only two women enrolled that year in the Chemistry program at Rochester Institute of Technology. At the time I really believed in DuPont’s slogan “Better living through chemistry”, but over the years I’ve come to realize that chemistry is a mixed blessing. We have to tread more cautiously than we have in recent years in deciding how to use the wonderful things we’ve made in the laboratory. A prime example of that is the use of polycarbonate plastics in food containers. I love my lightweight polycarbonate eyeglass lenses, but as far as I’m concerned, leave the substance far away from my food containers, .
    Chemistry can still be “swell” but we have to use caution and not let the profit motive overtake our good judgment. In a related matter, I believe that all high school students should have to take some sort of basic chemistry course that will make them more aware of the various additives in foods and other consumer products. I tutor chemistry at a county college and am surprised at how many of the younger people have no knowledge of what chemicals they consume every day.

  5. Carmen Drahl
    Dec 12 - 10:38 am

    @Hedy- it’s great to hear from someone who was there! I completely agree about developing more “chemistry in real life” courses in colleges and high schools. Maybe courses like that, instead of focusing on stoichiometry, could inform students on a more general level and encourage them to use judgment in their daily lives. I can’t imagine how daunting designing such a class would be, though, since I’m not optimistic that everyone will listen to reason. It hurts one’s brain less to just absorb the kind of alarmist drivel Klug describes than try to sort it out logically.

    Although, @Klug, I’d like to think that anybody in the MSM that uses junk like that as a significant source of material would be taken to task by the journalism community- google “Erika Lovley” and you’ll see what I mean.

  6. Klug
    Dec 14 - 12:14 am

    @Carmen: too late. “The Story of Stuff” has gone viral enough to the point that I learned about it from a story on PRI’s “Weekend America.” D’oh!

  7. [...] have learned of the existence of this 21-minute video last year from a reader’s comment on a blog posting by Assistant Editor Carmen [...]

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