Sciencemadness Discussion Board

What to do about the sheeple

cranium - 10-8-2006 at 09:02

It occurs to me that the sheeple are ill - informed about what we do. We can prevent some of the stupidity by educating the sheeple about what we are doing. It will be difficult because sheeple trust their "head sheep" and not us. So, here's what we can do:

1. Encourage Polverone and Vulture to build a web page in layman's terms with stuff such as lab safety tips, examples of experiments that we perform, and examples of how what we do can benefit society by protecting them, obviously with the input of our entire community.

2. Post our input on blogs and link the page to it.

3. Seek the input of professionals to post pro- amateur experimentalism comments on the page.

4. See what the sheeple say and listen to them as well.

5. Make our page well-known.

What do you guys think? Can you think of anything else to put on the page?

[Edited on 10-8-2006 by cranium]

vulture - 10-8-2006 at 11:19

Ehehe. You're real funny. Educate the sheeple! What a stroke of genius!

A doomsday device is likely to have more effect.

Vitus_Verdegast - 10-8-2006 at 11:52

To "educate" the sheeple... I'm afraid you'll have to be at least a media tycoon genre Rupert Murdoch or Berlusconi for that.

Chris The Great - 10-8-2006 at 12:02

Hey, never hurts to try before we whip out the doomsday device and destroy society.

The problem is that fearmongering sells better than a nice, safe story.

However, you might have luck with your local newspaper. They stick to local stories and I see a lot of positive stuff in those compared to the constant "DEATH FEAR EVERYWHERE" in larger newspapers. So maybe we could start to have an effect on a local level?

12AX7 - 10-8-2006 at 14:47

Better to try getting a story in your local newspaper. If it gets popular, it may even get bigger.

As I've said before... stage parades of geeks and nerds. Geeks and nerds are people too! Geek pride! Spread the word, make people hear it, we just want to have some harmless fun!


not_important - 10-8-2006 at 16:00

Not calling them 'sheeple ' would be a start. As that term is all over this place, not inviting those people here would be the next step.

Much of the content of this board will frighten or upset those unfamilier with chemistry, pyrotechnics, and the like; the anti-WoD content will outrage many. The various close calls discussed will reenforce the fear of such activities.

I think that a separate site, set up as an educational tool, would be better. Avoid military explosives, fireworks would be OK .If you talk about drugs do it in the context of OTC ones and the non-dodgy things you can do - oil of wintergreen from aspirin, other esters and their smells. Tie chemistry to things the average person encounters every day.

I know that there are already sites a bit like that around. The thing to do would be to make it strongly linked with amateur experimentation, not classroom settings or demos by professionals. Discussions on getting the materials used, the difficulties and workarounds; if you are making nice oders then general public might have more simpthy with your problems than if you are making cratering charges. The public domain books and references can be shared, no reason not to post work in both places, this site gets tech discussions while the other is going to be a bit simpler.

cranium - 10-8-2006 at 17:55

I did not suggest linking to this site. I did suggest building a separate site. Please read my post more carefully next time and do a little reasoning. I do agree with your statement that "we should quit calling them sheeple".

[Edited on 11-8-2006 by cranium]

[Edited on 11-8-2006 by cranium]

[Edited on 11-8-2006 by cranium]

Fleaker - 10-8-2006 at 18:49

I think it might already be too late to reverse the somewhat tainted public image of chemistry. I think websites like Woelen's are what the web needs more of, not websites solely devoted to destruction.

I have seen several commecials sponsored by the ACS and several other societies (be it polymer or chem. engineering) that have tried to 'advertise' chemistry. Unfortunately, I think the stigma might just stick despite our collective best efforts. Really a shame that the average citizen does not realize and appreciate the wonders, miracles, and conveniences that chemistry has brought into this world. No, they see only the bad, or rather are told only the bad about it.

The_Davster - 10-8-2006 at 19:44

One site would be insufficient, if many of us were to create our own websites, linking to each others of course, there would be appear to be more of a following. I also agree that this site is not the best introduction to chemistry, the frequent drug stuff in the organic section is sure to turn many away. If the sheeple even see stuff like ephedrine or GHB they will instantly revert to their indoctrinated war on drugs stuff and be against it. Hell, even I don't like some of the stuff in there, mainly the obvious meth junk. Dropping acronym use there also would make it more professional looking.

I personally have a huge website plan in my mind for my own online home chemistry experiments, syntheses, and demonstrations(likely include energetics, but only with the insanly sensitive stuff that has no practical use). But lack of knowledge on web design makes it daunting to start as it might become one of those which I start but not finish, which is a waste of hosting money and stuff. Would even have the usuall boring experiments like slime, dry ice fog and such, because somehow that is more reputable.

I have been very very open about this being my hobby in the recent year, unfortunatly I still get crap on occasion (this was from a professor:o) such as:
Him: I saw a video with some guy lighting a fire with gasoline and loosing his hair
Me: What is the relavence of that to our discussion on trading some of my graphite foil for a can of your sodium?(what we were previously discussing)
Him: The dangers of home chemistry
I was too dumbfounded at this response to reply with what I should have said "how is lighting gas on fire chemistry?"
Jeez from a chem professor even...:mad:

But it is an interesting phenomenon, the post docs in the lab from Ukraine both played around with chemistry stuff when they were kids. One even suggested that after my research scholarship this summer is over that I continue my research at home, and he would let me in the lab to do stuff I could not do at home like XRD/EDX analysis and vaccuum stuff.

In conclusion(I got rambling), some sort of amateur chemistry webring type thing.

not_important - 10-8-2006 at 23:38

Sorry, carnium, was tired and read too fast, I read "Encourage Polverone and Vulture to build a web page" as being another section here . And got it a bit tangled with a discussion elsewhere.

Professional organisations have the reputation of being able to produce lackluster to deathly boring promotional materials. You start with nerd enthusiasm, then select those people who enjoy being bureaucrats from the nerds; and those are the people who approve the plans for the PR material.

cranium - 11-8-2006 at 05:26

If you build a website related to this, please post a link to it here. When I have my website up, I will put a link to it here. Then, I will take our links and post them as comments on blogs.

[Edited on 11-8-2006 by cranium]

woelen - 12-8-2006 at 12:59

I recently had an interview with a dutch radiostation, which will be part of a program on amateur science (me being the chemist, the others being an archeologist, a physicist and a fourth not yet known scientist). In the interview I told something about why I do chemistry at home, what drives me. For me it is the wondering of what is possible in Nature, with just a few tens of elements and I tried to explain that in the interview. We need more of that kind of stories, and not the stories on bombs, explosions, and drugs. Unfortunately, last year there also was an interview in Dutch media with a 25-year old home chemist, but that guy only focussed on pipe bombs and so on and also showed how he could blow holes in the ground and how he sometimes had a hard job to escape the police :mad:. That kind of stories only confirms the ideas of the general public.

So, I like the ideas of cranium and we should not be too cynical about that. If more of us are showing our driving forces behind the things we are doing (be it by means of a website, an interview, personal contacts, etc.) then there still is hope, but I agree with some of the more cynical reactions, that it will be hard. But if we make no attempt to change things, then we certainly will loose.

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take....

[Edited on 12-8-06 by woelen]

Sergei_Eisenstein - 12-8-2006 at 15:42

It's a shot in the dark (IMHO). There is too much trust in the goodwill of the masses. Plebeja ingenia magis exemplis quam ratione capiuntur. The masses don't really care about your interest in chemistry. They don't even realize that the world they live in is dominated by chemical products. And thanks to the fact that chemical production facilities have moved to Asia, there is little chance they will realize this in a timeframe of less then 50 years. Your world of chemical experiments is completely disconnected from their reality. In order for them to appreciate or tolerate what you are doing in your basement, you have to make them understand that chemistry is important for their daily needs, or in other words, make a connection between their reality and chemistry. It used to be like that until the 1950s-1960s.
Don't even try to put reason into mutton. Better concentrate on your chemical experiments. Idealism is nice, realism even nicer.

vulture - 13-8-2006 at 13:06


then we certainly will loose.

What exactly will we loose? The right to do homechemistry? According to safety and environment regulations, most hobby chemistry is forbidden anyway. Ditto for Terror laws and other BS.

Should we be sorry because the masses loose something they've never been interested in in the first place? To hell with em. More power to me.

Dutch saying: In the land of the blind, one-eye is king.

[Edited on 13-8-2006 by vulture]

franklyn - 13-8-2006 at 20:12

I have learned two new words or colloquialisms since I arrived here
Kwell and now Sheeple.

Having looked this up in wiki ->
If all you know is what you have been told to know, isn't
"educating the sheeple" the problem in the first place ?
Independent thinking and practical verification of
what is asserted to be fact is not only reserved
for scientific peer review.


Jacob Bronowski in his wonderful essay The Ascent of Man
more than 30 years ago said in part, in closing,

" The commonplace of the schoolbooks of tommorrow is the adventure of
today, and that is what we are engaged in."

" I am definitely saddened to find myself suddenly surrounded in the west
by a sense of terrible loss of nerve, a retreat from knowledge into - into what ? "

" It sounds very pessimistic to talk about western civilization with a sense
of retreat." - " The ascent of man will go on. But do not assume that it will
go on carried by western civilization as we know it. We are being weighed
in the balance at this moment. If we give up, the next step will be taken -
- but not by us. We have not been given any guarantee that Assyria and
Egypt and Rome were not given. We are waiting to be somebody's past too,
and not necessarilly that of our future. "


A long time ago a gathering of legal eagles communed and mused on this.

" The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the
instruments of tyranny at home. "
- James Madison

" Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the
argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. "
- William Pitt

" They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety. "
- Benjamin Franklin

" The people are the ultimate guardians of their own liberties. In every
government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of
corruption and degeneracy. Every government degenerates when trusted
to the rulers of the people alone. "
- Thomas Jefferson


Flip - 18-8-2006 at 02:53

People will always fear what they don't understand. The idea shouldn't be to expound upon the safety of chemistry, as indeed, there are very real dangers. The idea should be to educate as many people as possible with a basic knowledge of the fundamental principles of chemistry and it's socially beneficial applications. The idea, if anyone has the initiative or the money, should be to petition lawmakers and start programs in the schools. The idea should be to foster a sense of familiarity with chemicals and chemical safety amongst the public through educational programs for the youth. The idea is endless self-promotion.

No one person is capable of this on a large scale, but you can start with educating your children, friends, and other family members of the dangers around the house... but also do everything you can to instill your fascination in others... Hell, if I have to teach my kid to micro-brew just to get him interested in biology, so be it. True passion is contagious, no matter how bland or boring or dangerous most people find the subject matter to be.

quicksilver - 16-9-2006 at 07:16

There is a point being missed in this discussion. Tht is the concept of "Objectification" : symbols that are safe for political attack.
The gun does not jump off the table and shoot someone; someone has to pull the trigger. In Scotland they are now trying to restrict KNIVES because their gun-control didn't lower the violence as they expected. Terror using IED's prime object is chemicals. The chemical is a just a chemical UNLESS it is a political animal's scapegoat. Same with WMD concepts which are today's favourite headline grabber.
The "War on Drugs" was a failure since it's inception but it makes money, get votes, and maintains goverment agencies.....the drugs don't jump off the table and into someone's arm or nose.....people can't legislate morality but both political parties, BOTH sides of common political debate seem to think they can! Chemicals and chemistry have become symbols for political means. And once that happens, gentelmen, there can only be rationality vs emotionalism. When that is the debate guess who wins?

not_important - 17-9-2006 at 00:25

Good point, quicksilver. Most political factions have their own list of favorite 'bad things' - guns, this or that chemical, porn, tobacco, alcohol, other drugs, nudity, homosexuality, eating meat, whatever. And as humans seem to be hardwired, or at least firmwired, to hold beliefs that are fairly immune to critical analysis; this holds true across the political spectrum. If some concept makes into the belief realm it is very difficult to counter or displace it.

Interesting fragement of testimony
Science is based on evidence, and hands-on skills are very important in that regard. We can still go into laboratories today and see "Tony loves Cherie" scrawled on those awful brown-topped desks and remember how we spent boring afternoons watching the teacher doing the experiments and demonstrating to us how something worked, when what we wanted was to get into it ourselves—to make mistakes, perhaps, but to learn using hands-on skills. It is important to be able to do that.

Chris The Great - 17-9-2006 at 01:42

Let's stop a second and look to the future. Who is in charge now? A dying generation. Who will be in charge tommorrow? The current generation of youth. If the people I know are any indication, they love big explosions, they think it's cool I can make all this stuff in my lab, etc. Older people might not think so, but let's face it, how long are they going to be around?

Kids these days think making explosives is cool despite what the media says. Maybe you're having different experiences but with all the "rebel" culture amount youth, being an explosives and drug maker does actually make you cool and they think it's interesting. I kid you not. Is it a great reputation? I dunno, you decide. They still think it's awesome, and they are going to be the ones in charge tommorrow...

They don't gain a passion about chemistry, but they certainly will agree it's awesome that I can do that sort of stuff.

quicksilver - 17-9-2006 at 07:46

But hasen't every generation been rebel culture? Hasen't every group of youth been deemed at be at that level when compaired with the "establishment"?
When I see the current generation I see less interest in science but more importantly I see a "dumbing down" of the schools and lesson plans. The very issues that held our interest are now banned from chem classes today. The very wonders that got us thinking outside the box are looked upon as not appropriate for the classroom. Instead the kids are being taught to put a condom on a banana...shit: I didn't need to be taught to use a condom! But perhaps that being utilized to illustrate nonpermiable membrane concepts in bio classes. :D:D:D:D:D

not_important - 17-9-2006 at 07:51

It was the same forty years ago, or at least seemed so. Somehow 2006 looks different here than it was going to be looking forwards two score of years. In the 1920s the flaming youth were going to change things for sure. Those mostly wealthy white men in North America in the later 1770s would likely be surprised to see what happened to their new, free country that was going to change everything.

We starve - look
At one another
Short of breath
Walking proudly in our winter coats
Wearing smells from laboratories
Facing a dying nation
Of moving paper fantasy
Listening for the new told lies
With supreme visions of lonely tunes


One generation got old
One generation got soul
This generation got no destination to hold
Pick up the cry


We should be together my friends
We can be together
We will be
We must begin here and now
A new continent of earth and fire
Come on now gettin higher and higher
Tear down the walls
Tear down the walls
Tear down the walls
Won't you try

Which is to say - been there, done that.

[Edited on 17-9-2006 by not_important]

Chris The Great - 17-9-2006 at 16:22

Originally posted by quicksilver
But hasen't every generation been rebel culture? Hasen't every group of youth been deemed at be at that level when compaired with the "establishment"?
When I see the current generation I see less interest in science but more importantly I see a "dumbing down" of the schools and lesson plans. The very issues that held our interest are now banned from chem classes today. The very wonders that got us thinking outside the box are looked upon as not appropriate for the classroom.

Exactly! And then they feel the blast from my film canister of methyl nitrate and hear the car alarms in the distance, and they love it and think it's awesome! It's not going to make a scientist out of everyone, but it makes them think it's cool, and I have had someone decide he wants to try it too when he learns more chemistry.

quicksilver - 18-9-2006 at 07:33

OH don't get me wrong, I think it's good thing too but those Sheeple that react with fear toward objects would just as soon misinterperate science fun with misuse and rev-up the "gun-control" gut reaction toward energetic chemistry or high voltage physics. We live in a different world now with the politicization of many things that just awhile ago used to be intellectual stimulants. I have only one friend who shares my curiousity outside these furums. I am very careful to whom I share my hobbies with.

chemoleo - 18-9-2006 at 07:51

Not sure if today's youths are 'revolutionary' when they think EMs are 'cool' et cetera. Also, that'll hardly be your generic Western teen!

I just look at the amount of time many teens spend in front of TV, and computer playing games, complaining when experiencing even the smallest amount of discomfort. I wonder how this phlegmatic lazyass spoilt youth will affect the next few decades, within politics and the society.

Chris The Great - 18-9-2006 at 11:28

Well, not revolutionary, but hope for the future and all that.

As for what all this TV/laziness is doing- it's creating people with no practical skills whatsoever. Which will make our country completely dependant on others to do all the work, speeding up it's inevitable collapse! An4rchy 4 3v3R! :P

No seriously, it's a pretty worrying trend to see how increasingly dependant and unskilled people are becoming these days.

12AX7 - 18-9-2006 at 12:55

To be rightist about it, all the more money for us skilled persons. :shrug:


quicksilver - 20-9-2006 at 06:39

Unskilled is a powerful discriptor. Not everyone is cut out for university level education and there is nothing wrong with that IMO. But the problem is that in the States the amount of trade / technical schools has dwindled to an all time low. We need plumbers, electricians, etc. but the push is for kids to go to a four year school and the majority (again my opinion) are nowhere near ready to compete in such an environment.
I did well in school but I also see that the "dumbing down" of the secondary schools is so powerful that their "product" is very poor indeed. My wife was working on her doctorate and was in a class as a TA, she would bring the papers home to grade and we would look at them.....JESUS CHRIST! It was nothing like anything I would have ever believed! People who we supposedly Junior-level in an undergrad class could not put a coherant sentance together to save their lives.....maybe 3 out of 10 could perform at expected level....Maybe.
Now I know I am going to get a lot of Hell for saying this but what happens in the US is that unskilled labour from Mexico comes here and takes the technical jobs...THEY have NO skills (for the most part) and do a damn lousy job, thus we have homes that are substandard and builders make $...
.....Damn that sounds a bit rightist as well. (shrug)

tumadre - 20-9-2006 at 12:42

no, the substandard homes are due to the building requirements and many other complex factors,

unskilled labor is not the reason a house can get built with half the foundation left out because it "wasn't needed"

a smart man can make $50-70,000 in the Seattle area after about 4 years as an electrician, but the thing is, the average high schooler who is qualified for that work is already in the top 25 % of his class and goes to college.

maybe the national IQ is dropping...
it takes a good intelegence level to be a part of any construction job, if you want to do more than pull rope.

Magpie - 21-9-2006 at 18:38

Here's just another example of how society views us. Now even Spiderman is on the attack. He's even picking on vulture. :P

EbC: reduced picture size.

[Edited on 26-1-2007 by chemoleo]

spiderman.jpg - 78kB