In 1997, 14-year-old Nathan Zohner polled his classmates to see if they would support a ban on dihydrogen monoxide. Before they answered, he warned them of the dangers of DHMO.
Here are the facts: the chemical can be incredibly dangerous. Accidental inhalation, even in small quantities can be fatal. Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO can result in amputation. It is found in tumors, pesticides, and the cooling systems of nuclear power plants. It has been used by governments to torture suspects and disperse rioters. Many cults even have rituals that require this substance.
Despite these risks, DHMO is common even in food that has been labeled “organic,” household cleaners, and even swimming pools. After presenting his classmates with these facts, 43 of his 50 9th-grade peers voted to ban DHMO. How would you have voted?
If you voted to ban it, congratulations!
You voted to ban water.
Yes, dihydrogen monoxide is just plain ol’ high quality H2O.
Everything Zohner said was true, but misleading. Inhaling water is called drowning. Ice does cause frostbite. Water is in all of our food and most of our industrial systems, but you and I know that doesn’t mean it is terrifying.
Zohner’s little experiment has plenty of applications. We can be misled with true statements. Did you know that the devil quoted scripture to Jesus in Matthew 4? He used truth to lie. Peter warned that some people would do the same thing to scripture—twisting for destruction (2 Peter 3:14-18). Perhaps that’s why Paul told Timothy to “rightly handle” the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
So remember – when someone gives you “just the facts” (or the scriptures!), don’t forget to make sure those facts are telling the truth.