Archive by category | Neil Withers

Blogroll: Scary chemicals

Sensational chemophobia and the problems with biofuels

‘Are you scared yet?’ This is the title of See Arr Oh’s post on Just Like Cooking but could equally serve as the unspoken subtitle of the news report he’s blogging about. First highlighted on ChemBark the investigative report from US TV channel Fox29 is about “unlocked chemistry labs and the ease with which a terrorist could steal hazardous materials”. So far, so serious. But, as ChemBark says, “the underlying point of securing labs is a valid one, but the presentation is way Way WAAAAAAY over the top”. See Arr Oh takes the presentation to task more than ChemBark, giving us some random quotes that illustrate the chemophobic sensationalism of the report, which breathlessly reveals the presence of 0.1 M HCl and ether. He counted “26 mentions of the word ‘chemical’ (or once every 14.4 seconds)” – mostly “preceded by a sensationalist adjective”. We can’t deny that lab security is an issue for serious discussion, but perhaps it deserves better reporting than it got from Fox29.

A new look

Welcome to the new-look Sceptical Chymist! Of course, if you’re just reading this in your RSS reader, then things will look pretty familiar (unless you’re logging on to Google Reader for the first time in a few months — but then you probably can’t see through the tears of frustration you’re weeping).  Read more