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In 1990 many a man started panicking about the fact that an extremely dangerous substance leading to a lethal addiction was released into the atmosphere. The name of the new hazard is dihydrogen monoxide. In fact it was a joke where the IUPAC name of the water commonly unknown to a wide audience is used. The joke is meant to illustrate the fact how the absence of logic and knowledge and the preconceived analysis can lead to mass panic. The people were convinced in the need of a diminishing or even banning the water usage as its negative effects and potentially dangerous characteristics were described during the campaign.

The popular version of the joke was created by the students of California University in 1990, who distributed the leaflets among their mates in the campus. These leaflets said that the water is polluted by a poisonous chemical substance- dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO). The idea of the joke belonged to Matthew Kaufman who has read about “hydroxil acid joke” published in the “Durand Express” Michigan newspaper and decided to use the term which would sound more threatening. His friends made dozens of copies and spread them among the other students. In 1994 Craig Jackson ran a web-site of the “Association against DHMO Usage”. In 1997 Nathan Zohner, a 14-year old schoolboy from Idaho, collected 43 voices for banning DHMO production having asked only 50 of his classmates. He was awarded a prize for his experiment called “How Credulous We Are”. To acknowledge his contribution the famous journalist James Glassman suggested a term “zohnerism” to denote using of a fact leading to miscomprehended and the incorrect conclusions among the people who are incompetent in scientific or math issues. On the 1st of April in 1998 a member of the Australian Parliament announced of ceasing the usage of DHMO all over the world.

The first to mention this event on the internet was Pittsburgh Post Gazette, a fictive organization made up by the students of California University. The warning against the usage of water was the following.

  • “The recent studies showed that or water contains a poisonous chemical called Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO). This is a colorless liquid with no taste or smell. It is widely used in the pesticide and Styrofoam production as the diluent and coolant.
  • It is the basic constituent of the acid rains.
  • A long contact with its firm forms leads to serious damage and mortification of skin.
  • It was found in the malignant tumors and abnormally altered tissues.
  • The poisonous substance is evinent to cause the soil erosion.
  • If even a tiny amount of this liquid will be breathed in and stay inside the lungs it will inevitably lead to a torturing death.
  • Those who consume this substance develop a lethal addiction to it. Once having drunk any amount of this chemical a person will die in 168 hours without further consumption”.
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