For the few who may be unfamiliar, it plays on people’s chemophobia: an irrational fear of anything that sounds like a “chemical.” Everything you’ve ever eaten is made of chemicals; it’s the dose that makes the poison.
The dihydrogen monoxide joke is essentially low-level satire and should be immediately obvious to anyone with even the most basic understanding of chemistry. So it’s no surprise that a lot of people try to play off of this joke and dupe others into indirectly admitting that they’re a chemophobe- and people still fall victim to it. But despite the joke’s age, every once in a while hilarity ensues.
This is one of those times.
The joke itself works best when an anti-GMO or anti-vaccine proponent engages and challenges it. The more adamant they become, the better. It illustrates that despite claims of “doing their research,” they lack the necessary skepticism to be able to differentiate facts from misinformation. To be clear, I don’t think that those who get tricked by it are necessarily stupid. I honestly believe that most antis are actually victims in the process of fear mongering. Groups and people like GMO Free USA, Food Babe, and Organic Consumers Association thrive on creating a cloud of misinformation and deception.
Science Moms eloquently summarizes their strategy: “Fear is easy, science is hard.”
This brings us to the case of Wellspring Farm. According to their own website:
Wellspring is a Nonprofit Education and Retreat center, as well as, a Certified Organic Farm and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) whose mission is to inspire and teach people to grow, prepare and eat healthy food. In so doing, we transform food systems and build community.
I am completely in favor of educating people on how to making healthier food choices. Making a salad? Maybe skip the cheese. Having Starbucks? Maybe get skim milk or no whipped cream. Small changes like these can save a decent amount of calories, and could make it easier to get into a habit of making healthier food decisions. Hell, I can even get down with the idea of teaching people how to grow their own garden.
The caveat to this is if you’re going to teach me how to grow food, I have an expectation that you know what water is.
A scathing review of Wellspring was left on their Facebook page.
Innocent and playful enough. Surely a farm who brands itself as an educational center would quickly recognize what’s happening here, right?
… Or not. They even checked with the founder, who denied the presence of dihydrogen monoxide on their property. And, according to Wellspring, while dihydrogen monoxide is allowed in organic farming, Wellspring refuses to use it.
Chris is right. Inhalation of dihydrogen monoxide kills about 3500 people every year. Regarding the “artesian well water” statement: it’s a thing, but not an important one. And since when does anyone rave about the non-taste of water? Water either tastes like nothing or it tastes bad.
Wellspring continued (they have since deleted the following comment):
They’re reaffirming their affirmation of not using dihydrogen monoxide. Outstanding!
But don’t they know that electrolytes are what plants crave?
They then delve deeper into the pseudoscience nonsense hole when they attempt to discuss RoundUp:
“We are so anti RoundUp.”
As if, Wellspring.
Tom, bless his heart, tried to help Wellspring though. And it works. Sort of.
Perhaps the most concerning part of this entire debacle is not the fact that this company didn’t realize that we were talking about water the entire time. Instead, it’s how quickly the company adamantly denied usage of water on their crops, going as far as to say that they have never had it on their property. This demonstrates a lack of honesty from the company, and exemplifies the fact that organic companies are happy to spread misinformation if it helps their bottom line.
Perhaps the most damning part of all is their own admission that they used the very first Google search as their only source of information:
…I very quickly did a Google Search and this was the first thing that came up…
Yes, exactly. We know. That was our entire point.
This is the very essence of the anti-GMO movement- The Dunning Kruger Effect. In a panic, the company used the very first source that they found in a Google search as their source of information, didn’t question it, and outright denied using water on its crops. They even double downed on the thought process behind denying the claim:
“I didn’t do my homework and my only excuse is that I was passionate about ensuring clarification of what we do.” Wow. What happened here is an outright admission that they do not care about facts- they care about perception. This is likely how those who are opposed to GMOs/vaccines came to form their opinion. It’s not an opinion based on evidence or facts; it’s an opinion based on emotion. It’s more important that the belief feels right or sounds right than it actually being supported by evidence. People like Food Babe and Mercola have based her entire livelihood on this model.
This is exactly why anti-GMO groups will always be a step ahead of pro-GMO advocates. They are quick to advantageously manipulate information to suit their needs, regardless of what the actual facts may be. They simply don’t care about being factually correct. If it feels or sounds right, then that’s good enough for them. Fear is easy, science is hard.
To their credit, Wellspring was a very good sport about the entire incident. But that does not detract from the fact that they epitomized the entirety of the anti-GMO movement.
Since it was a review, and not a post to the page, Wellspring can’t delete it. You can read the the thread in its full glory here (or try their main page here if it’s not working for you). If you do leave a comment, ensure that you’re being polite.