5 simple chemistry facts that everyone should understand before talking about science
Here is a wonderful article by The Logic of Science website – posted on May 27, 2015. We have split this up into 5 parts, as it is a lengthy article, and each point is very important and deserves it’s own blog. Find the original article here.
One of the most ludicrous things about the anti-science movement is the enormous number of arguments that are based on a lack of knowledge about high school level chemistry.
These chemistry facts are so elementary and fundamental to science that the anti-scientists’ positions can only be described as willful ignorance, and these arguments once again demonstrate that despite all of the claims of being “informed free-thinkers,” anti-scientists are nothing more than uninformed (or misinformed) science deniers.
Therefore, in this post I am going to explain five rudimentary facts about chemistry that you must grasp before you are even remotely qualified to make an informed decision about medicines, vaccines, food, etc.
Everything is made of chemicals
This seems like a simple concept, but many people seem to struggle greatly with it, so let’s get this straight: all matter is made of chemicals (excluding subatomic particles).
You consist entirely of chemicals. All food (even organic food) consists entirely of chemicals. Herbal remedies consist entirely of chemicals, etc. So, when someone says something like, “I don’t vaccinate because I don’t want my child to be injected with chemicals,” they have just demonstrated how truly uninformed they are, and you can be absolutely certain that they don’t know what they are talking about because all matter is made of chemicals.
Is a “chemical-free lifestyle” possible?
A “chemical-free lifestyle” is totally impossible. You can only survive without chemicals for 1-2 minutes, after that you will suffocate from a lack of oxygen. Right now, you are breathing in dioxide (aka oxygen) and your body is using that chemical as an electron acceptor for a process known as cellular respiration.
This process takes carbohydrates such as glucose (which is a chemical) from your food, and breaks those carbohydrates down in order to release carbon dioxide (a chemical), water (also a chemical), and energy stored in adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules (still chemicals), and it is ATP which fuels your entire body.
This process also involves numerous enzymes and electron acceptors such as acytle coenzyme A and nicotine adenine dinucleotide (NADH), all of which are chemicals.
Are you getting the picture here? You are a biochemical machine and every single thing that you do is driven by chemical reactions inside of your body. Even just reading this post is causing various chemical reactions inside your nervous system which are allowing you to process information. So there is no inherent reason to fear chemicals. You and everything else on this planet are made of chemicals and you would quickly die without them.
The name sounds too much like a chemical – does this mean it is toxic?
It’s also worth noting that the length of a chemical’s name does not indicate how toxic it is.
The internet is full of scare tactics and fear-mongering over chemicals with long scary- sounding names. For example, Vani Hari (a.k.a. the Food Babe) is famous for proclaiming that you shouldn’t eat anything that you can’t pronounce or spell. This is patently absurd. For example, consider the following chemicals: retinal, cyanocobalamin, ascorbic acid, and cholecalciferol. Having taught college biology and listened to my students butcher scientific words, I am confident in saying that a large number of people would struggle to pronounce those, and many of them would likely freak out over things like ascorbic acid which sound like they should be bad for you.
In reality, those are simply the chemical names for vitamins A, B, C, and D. Similarly, all living things contain DNA, and as a result, virtually all food contains DNA, but DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. Again, its a long, difficult to pronounce name, and it sounds bad because it’s an acid, but it is essential for life and it is in nearly all foods. It is naive and childish to base your diet or medical practices on your pronunciation skills.
Part 1 of the wonderful article 5 simple chemistry facts that everyone should understand before talking about science by The Logic of Science website – posted on May 27, 2015. Find the original article here.
Content and images courtesy of The Science of Logic website.