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Saturday, May 27, 2006

On the importance of education 

Whether you are going for your doctorate or your GED, the most important thing that an educational institution can teach you is how to think. How to process and evaluate information.

A certain intellectual level is required to evaluate certain messages. For example, Stag links to dmho.org:

Welcome to the web site for the Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division (DMRD), currently located in Newark, Delaware. The controversy surrounding dihydrogen monoxide has never been more widely debated, and the goal of this site is to provide an unbiased data clearinghouse and a forum for public discussion.

Here is some of the shocking information that is provided:

The dangers, uses and potential threats posed by this chemical, Dihydrogen Monoxide, are widespread, and some feel, terrifying. Here is just a small taste of what Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) is....

Dihydrogen monoxide was found at every recent school shooting
Athletes use DIHYDROGEN MONOXIDE, or DHMO, to enhance performance
Dihydrogen Monoxide has been found in our rivers, lakes, oceans and streams
Dihydrogen Monoxide is a major component of acid rain
Thousands die each year after inhaling dihydrogen monoxide
Dihydrogen Monoxide can be deadly....

And this page doesn't even categorize the addictive qualities of DHMO, which are well-proven and widespread. Again, education can help you understand this important information. As well as this, which I just saw on TV this past week (in a rerun):

There is a famous episode of "The Man Show" on Comedy Central in which the hosts of the show started a petition campaign to "help stop women's suffrage." They managed to gather a group of women to march and chant "Stop women's suffrage now!"

Back to DHMO. In response to an e-mail, the office of Sue Kedgley sent the following (emphasis mine):

From: Sue Kedgley's Office
Sent: Wednesday, 10 October 2001 13:30
Subject: Re: DHMO

Dear Philip

Thanks for your email regarding DHMO. I know Sue would be absolutely supportive of the campaign to ban this toxic substance in NZ. Unfortunately, the reality is that she is working on many such issues, and there are only so many hours in the day! That being said, and taking into consideration her time constraints, did you have any ideas in mind on how she could be of assistance to the campaign?

Kind Regards
[name deleted]
Sue Kedgley's Office

Subsequently Kedgley blamed the whole thing on a temporary secretary.

"Until today I had not seen the e-mail in question. At the time I had a temporary secretary in my office who responded to the hoax e-mail."

I believe that she needed a temporary secretary because her regular had been getting sick. From dihydrogen monoxide overdoses, no doubt.

Fast forward to 16 June 2004:

Oral Question - Beauty Product Labelling
Sue Kedgley MP, Green Party Health Spokesperson


SUE KEDGLEY: Is the Minister aware that I was calling for a simple electronic system of registration along exactly the same lines that the Green Party is proposing for dietary supplements, and why would he seek to ridicule a proposal to introduce cosmetic regulations and mandatory labelling requirements that other countries like Australia, the USA, and the European Union already have?

Hon JIM ANDERTON: I think it is because a recent study carried out in Australia indicates that a number of adverse events are associated with herbal medicines. The recorded use of nutritional substances and homeopathic medicines in Australia is substantial, as it is here of course. The types of events that are negative in terms of their use are not trivial, and this most recent study indicates precisely that.

LARRY BALDOCK: Does the Minister think that health issues of this type, which are often raised by Sue Kedgley and her ilk, perform a useful public service, or does the Minister of Health see them as dangerous scaremongering in the pursuit of an increasingly narrow political agenda?

Mr SPEAKER: That is asking for a matter of opinion. The Minister will be careful.

Hon JIM ANDERTON: Parliament is a robust arena, and members individually and collectively as parties have the right to raise issues that they deem to be important. I think it is equally important that those who advise Governments from a specific and specialist point of view have their viewpoints and that the information they give to the Government is advised to members and to the general public. Members of the public then have to make up their own minds, and I am sure they will.

LARRY BALDOCK: In the role of Minister of Health is the Minister of the opinion that parabens cause more or less of a concern for public health than dihydrogen monoxide, a potentially deadly substance used in nuclear reactors that the member for the Greens also tried to have banned until discovering that its more common name was water?

JEANETTE FITZSIMONS: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You really cannot allow questions that make statement like that that have no basis whatsoever in fact.

Mr SPEAKER: I think that the question was getting wide of the responsibility of the particular Minister and I will not allow it.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

Hillarious! Yea, I had heard of several people falling for this hoax. It's amazing what a "real" looking web site and an email can propagate.
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