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.