Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Perils of Our Scientific Inadequacy

I just came back from a tiring (but truly memorable) squash tournament in Kelantan. I have no mood to write anything just yet, but this poster changes that. 

This small poster is making the rounds in my whatsApp group. Not one, but two unrelated groups are discussing the matter.

I didn't give it much attention at first because I believed they will eventually crack the trick and discover the truth by themselves. After all, they are all educated young men who know how to use Google. 

How wrong was I.

When two of my friends (both are currently doing their Master's in science) were seriously discussing the matter in lab, in front of me while I was busy having my dinner, I've had enough.

I asked them to search the true definition of "dihydrogen monoxide" online. But they were not yet thoroughly convinced. It made me wonder, how can they be confused by the term "dihydrogen monoxide" when in fact they were fully taught science & mathematics in English? (I studied science & mathematics in Malay, because PPSMI was implemented after my time).

After a brief explanation, they started to see the light (or, in today's hippy term, to get the drift). In the above photo itself, on the bottom right corner, they cleverly placed #h2okills. That alone is suffice to clear everything and put the matter to rest.

Is this scientific inadequacy confined to a select few, or is it contagious, even to people who were trained in chemistry?

I forwarded the image to one of my friends, a chemist, who holds a master degree in chemistry, asking for her comment. Surprisingly, she fell for the trap.

I fear for the future of Malaysia.

Then, trying to defy the odds (I didn't want to go to bed fearing the future of Malaysia), I forwarded the same image to a pharmacist graduate. Luckily, she spotted the trick and decipher the hidden message straight away.

A sigh of heavy relief emanated from my chest. The future of Malaysia is still safe. For now.