the "chemical" scenery is the mediatic vehicle
used to convey a
negative image for a substance or a process.
This is the
origin of several paradoxes typically present in
advertisements and news!
this is disinformation!
|hazardous chemicals: the "water" molecule|
stating the an additive is "chemical" is meaningless, because
anything is "chemical", insofar as for all substances it is possible (in principle) to give
Water is "chemical" too, its formula is well known. Nevertheless, would a media man DARE to
define water as a "chemical"?
It is clear that "chemical" is confused with
"synthetic", implying that whenever a substance has been produced in a factory, an
industry has polluted for its manufacture, and, hence, its composition can be harmful.
Therefore, "chemical" becomes the negative counterpart of "natural", ignoring that several
substances produced in Nature are much
more poisonous than those manufactured in the laboratory.
but they don’t care because…
... the strong point in advertising is claiming that no
scientist with a lab coat has contributed to the manufacture of that aroma, that fragrance or that amalgam of delicious
flavors for our senses.
the outcome is…
the firm reluctance of mass media to popularize chemistry and support its RELAUNCH, though
this discipline would indeed deserve such an attitude nowadays due to the efforts of scientists towards sustainable
The lack of effective communication between chemistry and
people is certainly also due to generally
poor language skills of chemists, to their unwillingness
to leave the lab and break into society, to a low ability to improve their professional
image. Therefore, the social impact of other professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, engineers,
architects, and the list can be longer, is much more brilliant than that of chemists.
…is this a world-wide problem?
It's hard to say: no doubt the problem is general, but some specific
language features may put additional difficulty. An example from Italian
In english, the term drug means any
substance with a physiological action, with no distincton between positive
(medicine) or negative (dope) effects.
In italian, two different words are used:
farmaci for medicine and droga for dope. This creates the equivoque: doctors are good, because they deal with "farmaci"; chemists are bad, because they
manufacture "droga". Clearly, this is false, because what
determines positive or negative effects of substances is doses,
and, anyway, a good medicine is always the outcome from a valid team of scientists which
…let’s conclude with a smile
The Hungarian chemist Horvàth wrote a nice editorial in the prestigious Accounts of Chemical Research (2002, volume 35,
issue 9). In this article, he complained about the "snobbish"
attitude of some important professionals in
Budapest high-society, when he introduced himself as a "chemist".
Thus, he changed his "label". Now, he triumphantly presents himself as a
"molecular designer!", which produces "wahoo's!"
of admiration, in lieu of the pitiful smiles he used to receive when he was just a