Senator Blumenthal Blames TikTok… Due To A Popular And Widely Championed Science Experiment Gone Wrong

from the why-do-you-hate-science? dept

Senator Richard Blumenthal seems to fill our pages with every possible moral panic about an internet he doesn’t understand, but on which he’s made a name over-reacting to. This goes back over a decade, honestly, since well before he was even a Senator.

For the last few months he’s been really ramping up the moral panic about TikTok, complaining about various trends on TikTok and demanding execs testify before him. The latest is that he has sent a letter to TikTok’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, demanding an explanation of how a kid in Connecticut (Blumenthal’s state) was burned by messing up a science experiment called the “Whoosh Bottle Experiment.” Lots of news sites — and Blumenthal in his letter — imply that “The Whoosh Bottle Experiment” is some sort of TikTok thing.

I write to express my grave concerns over TikTok?s failure to ensure the safety of the users on its platform. Time and again, TikTok users?including children?are seriously injured attempting to emulate videos they watch. TikTok must do better to enforce its own community guidelines and promote the safety and best interests of all users on its platform.

Last week, a twelve-year-old boy in East Haven, Connecticut, was hospitalized after suffering severe burns. He had watched a video on TikTok of the ?Whoosh Bottle Experiment,? where alcohol is poured in a plastic bottle set aflame to hear a ?whoosh? sound as the alcohol burns off. Because alcohol is highly flammable, its mishandling can inflict serious injury and lead to devastating consequences. TikTok knows of this danger: multiple people were injured in a previous trend to draw shapes in rubbing alcohol and ignite them.

Thing is, the Whoosh Bottle Experiment is not “a TikTok thing” it’s a science thing. It’s listed as a useful science experiment/demonstration for students on tons of educational resources, including the Royal Society of Chemistry, ChemEdX, STEM Learning and many, many other respected educational resources. Atlas Obscura referred to it years ago as “science’s coolest fire experiment,” noting dozens of science teachers doing demonstrations of the Whoosh Bottle Experiment.

Now, yes, this is the kind of experiment that should involve adult supervision, but it’s not just some dumb random “TikTok challenge” and it’s ridiculous to somehow hold TikTok to blame here. There are tons of science experiments that, if done wrong, could lead to injury. Is Senator Blumenthal really saying that all such educational resources teaching such science experiments need to be taken offline?

This kind of grandstanding seems to get Blumenthal headlines, which is what he seems to care about most. And the media seems to be eating up the false claim that the Whoosh Bottle Experiment is somehow “a TikTok thing.” But it’s not. It’s a science thing and it’s utterly ridiculous that Blumenthal is blaming TikTok for that — and that the media is aiding him in this stupid, stupid moral panic. Stick to misunderstanding “finsta,” Senator. You don’t need to attack cool science experiments too.

Filed Under: , , , , , ,
Companies: tiktok

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Senator Blumenthal Blames TikTok… Due To A Popular And Widely Championed Science Experiment Gone Wrong”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
39 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
David says:

To be fair:

It’s become an accepted strategy that you can repatent anything by adding the clause "with a computer" to it. So why not reignite any old stupidity by adding "on the Internet" to it?

It just takes adding some mumbo-jumbo that patent clerks or the general public has no clue about in order to warm up some cold nonsense.

And if "on the Internet" is already well-known to clerks/hoipolloi, then "on Tiktok" is certainly going to be much more ominous.

We need your votes to stop child terrorist trading. On Tiktok. How does that sound to you? If it sounds ridiculous to you, you are likely not part of a critical majority that can be outraged into voting for people who might or might not be as clueless as their political proposals.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
TaboToka (profile) says:

Re: To be fair:

So why not reignite any old stupidity by adding "on the Internet" to it?

If the ‘issue’ is reignited by specifying the platform it is on, doesn’t that mean the platform is not the issue?

  • The Whoosh Bottle challenge is bad because kids see it on TikTok
  • The Whoosh Bottle challenge is bad because kids see it on YouTube
  • The Whoosh Bottle challenge is bad because kids see it on Insta
  • The Whoosh Bottle challenge is bad because kids see it on cable tv
  • The Whoosh Bottle challenge is bad because kids see it in a book
  • The Whoosh Bottle challenge is bad because kids see it demonstrated in school
  • The Whoosh Bottle challenge is bad because kids are stupid and need supervision
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: To be fair:

It’s the usual story – politicians need issues to grandstand on and look like they’re "doing something". Media get more hits by writing stories that make something sound "new" rather than just the same old stuff. The target audience for both are people who want to blame everything wrong with the world and things that are new and scary (read: anything that wasn’t around when they were a teenager).

The only "new" thing here is that because the number of people in the latter group who didn’t use a computer before they had kids of their own is dwindling, now it’s the platform being blamed. So, now it’s fear about whichever platform their kids use that they haven’t really used themselves. Thus the cycle will continue until the general population either demands politicians focus on underlying issues or media stop being dependent on clickbait and fearmongering for easy revenue. You can probably see the problem here…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Whoosh

"Wouldn’t a better idea be to have someone to teach him how to do initial research using a search engine"

No, it would be better to have someone teach him how to evaluate sources and understand history and context (or know when to delegate to someone who does). Surely this whole pandemic shows you that you shouldn’t let these people "do their own research" with Google?

This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
Eric says:

I write...

I write to express my grave concerns over the US Government’s failure to ensure the safety of its citizens. Time and again, US citizens—including children—are seriously injured due to other stupid US citizens. The US government must do better to enforce its own community guidelines and promote the safety and best interests of all citizens residing in its country.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The trick is to have someone who knows what they’re doing supervise and not just randomly copy what you saw on a video that may or may not give all the details involved in a safe experimental environment. But, lack of qualified supervision being present when kids decide to imitate something is hardly a new thing.

MathFox says:

Re: Re:

I hung out with a couple of friends that did some "outside the curriculum" chemistry experiments. Yes, some of those experiments included making fireworks. (NOTE: first make or acquire reliable fuses so that you can be at a safe distance when your experiment ignites.)

The solid fuel rocket that one of the friends made was a success: it went so high and far that we never found it back.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: WTF?

"AND can anyone show me HOW this kid hurt himself enough with a plastic bottle?"

Because obviously it was the bottle that sent him to hospital with severe burns and not the other parts of the experiment?

You should really think your random screeds through before you post them more often, things like this make you look really stupid and get people to automatically skip over the posts where you do have a point.

That One Guy (profile) says:

If it's stupid and dishonest but it works...

It’s a science thing and it’s utterly ridiculous that Blumenthal is blaming TikTok for that — and that the media is aiding him in this stupid, stupid moral panic.

I believe you mean ‘wildly effective’, because as that very paragraph notes in it’s intro…

This kind of grandstanding seems to get Blumenthal headlines, which is what he seems to care about most. And the media seems to be eating up the false claim that the Whoosh Bottle Experiment is somehow "a TikTok thing." But it’s not.

Sure he comes out looking like a fool to anyone willing to do the barest amount of research into where the experiment actually comes from but not only is that not the target audience what he’s doing plays extremely well for the gullible who’ve been conditioned to blame any and all problems on social media, and whether he’s right or not it’s still getting him lots of positive tv coverage from stations eager to jump on the ‘let’s blame [insert tech platform here] for society’s problems’ train with him.

What he’s doing is grossly dishonest but ridiculous it is not, as it’s giving him oodles of soundbites of him Doing Something and chances to play to the gullible at no cost to him but some of his time.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: If it's stupid and dishonest but it works...

I know what you’re trying to say, but "we used to allow kids to play with actively harmful radioactive material" isn’t the flex you think it is.

Also, if you want to paint this famous kit not being available today as being some affront to your glorious past growing up, your own link disproves you:

"Alas, fewer than 5,000 of the Gilbert kits were sold, and it remained on the market only until 1951. The lackluster sales may have been due to the eye-popping price: US $49.50, or about $500 today."

Either you grew up rich, or this is just another example of someone telling people how much better it was in the old days because of something they didn’t even experience themselves.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: If it's stupid and dishonest but it works...

key word.

QUALIFIED.
I had the 24 chemical set and followed all the intstructions then ran out of chemicals or Wondered what would happen IF’.

Its Better to know and SHARE the info when they are young then to let them find out the hard way.
Mix almost anything with Bleach, and you WILL HAVE A PROBLEM.
But how many Current parents KNOW any of this stuff?
We learned in school how to use Either(sp) to dose butterflies and insects.
And dont even start with mothballs and what they can do.

Raymondjoype (user link) says:

Топ ЖЖ рейтинг постов блогеров

Sensitive touch rasprekrasnoy girls will flow through your body, dipping in depth boundless the ocean pleasure. In the quiet slip, donating your skin kisses, prelestress envelops the warmth of one's body. You will be surprised at, which sea bliss today it is possible to feel fromnude massage in Midtown.
Systematically visiting the four hands massage for clients, you guarantee himself excellent sexual relaxation.
The energy massage inSoho it today skill give away bliss. The Soapy massage – on the influence on clients is meant practically unlimited available opportunities actions on bodily, and consequently, and psychoemotional state of health friends.
Dear gentlemen!
In school sensual massage women will hold erotic 4hands massage. Similar swedish massage, as in principle, and relaxation, influences on some area human body, this give a chance male gain strength.

[url=https://massage3.doodlekit.com]Как проверить Инстаграм блогера перед сотрудничеством[/url]
[—-]

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...