Today in Tangential Learning: the smell of chloroform

As part of following PZ Myer’s account of a campaign against him on campus from the editor(s) of a right-wing student newspaper, I have learnt what chloroform smells like, and it smells like something present in every office and classroom and most private homes.  One just takes the top off a bottle of liquid paper aka whiteout and (carefully) sniffs the contents – so long as it’s still liquid, then what one smells is apparently chloroform.

This small fact was on-topic because part of the purported “evidence” that PZ is supposedly involved in a particular incident is that the area “smelled like chloroform and other sciency things”(!), and people in comments then wondered what chloroform actually smells like. So there you go.

I googled for more information about the smell of chloroform, and on this is what I found in the sidebar
[content note: rape culture, overpowering/incapacitation via drugs]

Top Related Searches
Chloroformed Superheroines
Chloroformed and Drugged Girls
Chloroformed and Drugged Woman
Chloroformed Helpless Women
Actress Chloroformed Video
Chloroformed Carried
Grabbed and Chloroformed
Chloroformed Nurses
Knockout Drug Recipes
Make Sleeping Gas

The Google image search for “the smell of chloroform” is even more disturbing.

This is part of what it means to go through life as a woman – even looking for objective science information online ends up providing one with overt reminders that women are still the sex class and that narratives of physical and sexual subjugation of women by men are simultaneously a fetish, a punchline, and part of coercive femininity in the expectation that women must look subjugable: taking pains (or being compelled) to look more vulnerable than men when in the same environments or face criticism/harassment/aggression for breaching gender expectations.

I’m off to look at kitten pictures for a while.

Categories: culture wars, education, ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, media, Politics, Science

Tags: , , ,

6 replies

  1. Well obviously PZ went there with the express purpose of liquid papering all the papers with some sciency thing that he created solely for that purpose but when disturbed was forced to use his hulk like strength (because sciency) to take all the papers and run. It is obvious once you think about it.

  2. The phrase “the smell of chloroform” just makes me think of Agatha Christies.

  3. Liquid paper classic, or the modern formulation? Classic liquid paper used methyl chloroform as the solvent; post-ozone-layer liquid paper apparently (according to the MSDS at contains turps (or a more volatile version thereof). I don’t know if it’s been perfumed to smell like the classic formulation.

    • It was a comment in a US based blog, so maybe over there the corporation hasn’t yet been compelled to change to a more ozone-friendly formulation? Or else their knowledge on this is simply out of date, as happens over the years for most of us.
      * * *
      So am I the only one who was grunched by those search results?

  4. I ignored those search results. *La la la I can’t see them*

  5. So. I read some of those links, and they’re full of rubbish.
    (I once read how to give a chloroform anaesthetic in a 3rd world surgery manual, but I’ve obviously never done it.)
    It does disturb me that the meme is so ingrained in popular culture, though – so much so that it’s still being reported in the news in certain countries.

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