Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Difference of Opinion over Chemical Composition?

Plastics News is reporting that the Chinese plastics industry is complaining about remarks made on a popular Chinese TV show. Specifically,
"The health-themed show, which aired on government-owned Beijing Television, claimed that bottles marked with a No. 1 at the bottom — PET bottles — contain toxic plasticizers that can leach out in a low-temperature environment such as in a refrigerator and may cause cancer. A guest on the show also claimed that high density polyethylene food packaging contains a lot of plasticizers."
Both of those statements are laughably false.

Of course, the TV shows statements can easily be supported by analytical data, but the TV show has none. Instead,"...the producers brought English-language literature supporting their claims. However, they refused to give a copy of all materials to [the Chinese Plastics Processing Industrial Association]". So no data? Just some statements written down somewhere else? This follows the old line that "if someone took the time to write it down, it must be true". [*]

But this is the kicker:" 'We think our opinions are fine, not incorrect, just different views,' one producer said." No, that is not the case at all. One of the hallmarks of science and analytical science in particular, is that it is not subject to opinion. The analysis will be independent of your national origin, your political views, your sexual orientation, your faith, your diet, your age, your race, your criminal background, your income and even whether you are a TV producer or not.

I've always been lukewarm about science education in public schools. You don't really learn enough to make a significant difference. Speaking as a chemist, you really don't start learning significant stuff until your sophomore year in college. But the reason I do end up supporting it is for everything that I said in that long sentence above. Students need to learn that science is not subject to opinion or any of the other factors I listed off and a whole slew of factors that I didn't list. If high school students can just learn that, that is far more important than anything else that they will learn in a high school chemistry class.

Unfortunately, not enough teachers emphasize that here in the US. And that appears to be the case in China too.

[*] The more modern version being "if it's on the internet, it must be true". [†]

[†] The even more modern version being "if it's on Wikipedia, it must be true".

Previous Years

March 12, 2014 - If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

March 12, 2012 - PLA as a replacement of PC? or HDPE? or PP? Are you Nuts?

1 comment:

Chemjobber said...

Reminds me of this old urban legend: