Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hysteria Alert!

I received an email the other day with pictures of a plant that had apparently been killed by being watered with microwaved water. Normally I delete these emails after a cursory glance but the hysterical language of this one caught my attention. I Googled it and found this website. The website admits what the email does not: that the experiment may have been flawed, that the results were not statistically significant, and that the photographs had been doctored.

But what I enjoyed most about the email was the additional conclusions added by one of the forwarders somewhere in the chain. I reproduce it below, with my own thoughts in square brackets.

The problem with microwaved anything is not the radiation people used to worry about; it is how it corrupts the DNA in the food [but water doesn't have DNA, so how does this experiment prove anything about radiation and DNA?] so the body can not recognize it. So, the body wraps it in fat cells [oooh, a present. For me?] to protect itself from the dead food or it eliminates it fast. [Dead food? Isn't all food dead when you eat it? I mean, maybe my parsley is still photosynthesising when I pick it out of the pot... and I think I ate a live pippi at the beach once.... It will definitely be dead once you microwave it, in any case.]

Think of all the Mothers heating up milk in these "Safe" appliances. [Uh-oh. Hysteria Alert! Using Capital Letters in the Middle of Sentences is always a bad sign.] What about the Canadian nurse that warmed up blood for a transfusion patient and accidentally killed them when the blood went in dead. [Those damned Canadians, eh? They're always doing stupid stuff that no-one in the good ole USA would do, eh?] But the manufacturers say microwaves are safe and to keep using them. Ask your Doctor. I am sure they will say it's safe too. [And you would rather me believe a 6th grader than my GP?] Proof is in the pictures of living plants dying. [That have been doctored, by the admission of the website owner.] Try it yourself. [This is about the only sensible sentence in the whole article.] Remember You are also Living. [So don't microwave your own head.] Take Care.

My reponse to this drivel is this:
The problem with alarmist anything is not that the original experiment was necessarily faulty, it's how it corrupts normally sensible people's brains so they cannot recognise rubbish when they read it. So the brain wraps it in hysteria to protect itself from actually having to process dead wrong information.

Think of all the Scientists trying to teach Sense to your children. And don't blame Canadians (or, in Australia, New Zealanders) when you are trying to make a far-fetched fictional anecdote sound scientific. Doctors say your brain is safe and you should keep using it. Ask your teacher. I am sure they will say it's safe too. Proof is obtainable with only a little effort, so try it yourself. Remember, you also have a brain. Use It.