Some days web searches are just too weird and compelling. I started out this morning (after the usual Brad DeLong and Science and Politics) at The Literary Saloon. From there I clicked on this link to a Prospect article on "the world's top 100 public intellectuals." Checking out the Prospect's main page I found this Richard Dawkins article: Opiate of the masses. Who could resist?
You have to read it to appreciate it. But in case you don't have time, the gist is this: Gerin Oil (or Geriniol) is a powerful, addictive, widely used drug which induces delusions leading to things like the 9/11 hijackings and the Salem witch trials and most of Europe's wars in the Middle Ages. Do I have your attention yet? Are you wondering, as I did, why you've never heard of it?
My Google search for Geriniol led only to quotes from Dawkins article but Google suggested I might have meant Geraniol. It's hard to imagine Dawkins making that kind of spelling error, but I took the bait and read several interesting articles about Geraniol, a natural essential oil found in thyme, hops, beebalm and other herbs and widely used in perfume and aromatherapy. Incidentally, did you know there a section of SciWeb where you can find abstracts of chemical and medical patent applications?
However, I was on the wrong track. I switched to searching for Gerin Oil. Check it for yourself if you've got time for a laugh. But it turns out that Gerin Oil and Geriniol are anagrams for religion. Now go back and read the Dawkins article, "Opiate of the Masses."