Dark Waters, The True Story of DuPont and Zero

imageIf you want to learn about the meaninglessness of zero harm and the Bradley Curve watch Dark Waters (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-06/dark-waters-review-mark-ruffalo-todd-haynes-dupont/12028034). The movie gives a dramatic account of how DuPont knowingly over 50 years intentionally harmed people, communities and the environment. Zero harm indeed!

The movie is based on the life work of Rob Bilott (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/magazine/the-lawyer-who-became-duponts-worst-nightmare.html) who exposed DuPont’s intentional causing of harm to the community, people and environment, all the time extoling the virtues of the Bradley Curve and the meaningless mantra and ideology of zero harm.

The numbers of people directly harmed by DuPont is at least 70,000 but more likely over 5 million (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/magazine/the-lawyer-who-became-duponts-worst-nightmare.html). DuPont knew for decades that people were drinking poisoned water from their factories. From DuPont’s perspective this is the price one pays for the profits from Teflon. You can read Bilott’s own account in his book Exposure (https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Exposure/Robert-Bilott/9781501172816).

There is nothing quite like propaganda to cover the tracks of secret hypocrisy, holding up oneself as the bastion of safety when in fact, the opposite is the truth. Harm in the name of good always makes for effective propaganda (https://monoskop.org/images/4/44/Ellul_Jacques_Propaganda_The_Formation_of_Mens_Attitudes.pdf  ). Projecting the safety-hero through the nonsense Bradley Curve (https://safetyrisk.net/nonsense-curves-and-pyramids/) and shouting zero from the roof tops whilst harming tens of thousands if not millions of people (https://time.com/5737451/dark-waters-true-story-rob-bilott/) is the DuPont truth. But first a brief excursion into the nature of zero harm, the bastion of DuPont’s delusion.

When I first entered the safety industry 20 years ago I couldn’t believe this psychosis with zero. Hence, I wrote For the Love of Zero, Human Fallibility and Risk in 2012 (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/for-the-love-of-zero-free-download/). I followed this up in 2018 with the book Fallibility and Risk, Living With Uncertainty (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/). Both books are available for free download.

Since the publication of my first book against zero nothing has changed in the safety industry with zero indeed, it has simply got worse. It doesn’t matter where one goes in this safety industry zero is everywhere. Companies even replace the word ‘safety’ with ‘zero’ and have ‘zero harm meetings’, ‘zero harm advisors’ and ‘zero harm managers’! If you want a zero harm job look here: https://www.seek.com.au/zero-harm-jobs

Of course, zero harm is a symbol for how immature the safety industry is. Zero harm is the myth that binds safety crusaders together in the absence of critical thinking. Zero harm is the global mantra (http://visionzero.global/node/6) for an industry deluded by the myth of injury rates as a measure of safety. But apparently I am ‘baying at the moon’ and I am ‘behind the times’ (https://safetyrisk.net/the-aihs-bok-and-ethics-check-your-gut/). The best pathway to being unethical and unprofessional is through the discourse and ideology of zero.

Many in safety have no idea how to counter the arguments of zero harm binary logic and so it now dominates the discourse in government, regulators and most tier one companies. Without any training in critical thinking, most safety people are exposed to the delusions of the zero harm binary logic and don’t know what to do. But zero doesn’t mind passive agreement. DuPont were the creators of this delusion.

Of course any foundation in the denial of fallibility can only ever be unethical. This is why the AIHS BoK on Ethics makes no mention of the zero despite the fact that this unethical mantra is the most dominant religious myth in the safety industry. If you want to rev up the emotions and spark irrational debate just criticize zero or the AIHS BoK on Ethics (https://safetyrisk.net/it-was-the-sia-until-someone-wanted-to-swing-from-the-chandelier/).

Indeed, what the ideology of zero creates is an industry that cannot cope with any criticism. Zero is the ideology of intolerance. Demonizing the enemy who criticizes zero is the best way not to listen and learn anything. The cycle in safety is profound, now the bastion of compulsory mis-education. There’s no safety curriculum anywhere that teaches the unethical nature of zero ideology.

You can countdown to your next dose of zero from the AIHS here: https://www.safetyinaction.com/event/b65e0c62-6fba-4235-819a-4b7c7c249fbb/summary or maybe you missed the January dose of zero here: https://myosh.com/blog/tag/zero-harm/. Of course, wherever one finds zero there can be no leadership or understanding of culture. You will will often find the word ‘leadership’ attached to zero (https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/construction/articles/zero-harm-at-work-leadership-program) but the opposite is the case. There can be no leadership in zero ideology but the language of leadership and culture attached to zero has the same meaning and worth as a DuPont brochure on safety.

When DuPont were finally found out for being a harming company, just like BP were found out to be a harming company (https://www.nrt.org/sites/2/files/GPO-OILCOMMISSION.pdf) did anything change? Of course not, ideology has the same power as religion. Indeed, ideologies and religions share much in common. No, DuPont spent extra money and energy trying to obfuscate and cover up their crimes (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/magazine/the-lawyer-who-became-duponts-worst-nightmare.html ).

So, watch the movie if you can (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvAOuhyunhY) now in theatres or read the NY Times report (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/magazine/the-lawyer-who-became-duponts-worst-nightmare.html) but most of all learn how to pull apart the nonsense arguments of zero harm. Nothing demonstrates dumb better than the question: ‘how many people do you want harmed today?’

You will find out how to challenge zero more than anywhere in the blogs on this site (https://safetyrisk.net/?s=zero). Don’t be fooled, zero ideology is as toxic to humans as DuPont sludge floating down a river. In the end it will be more costly than just money, its toxicity will destroy peoples lives in the name of good. How evil is that? How unethical is it to mask evil in the name of good? AIHS BoK on Ethics indeed! Just obey and use your gut!

You can see a good video against zero here: https://vimeo.com/230093823 or contact rob@cllr.com.au if you would like Dr Long to do a presentation case study on DuPont and the toxicity of zero harm and the Bradley Curve. Moreso, Dr Long can demonstrate (through longitudinal practical case studies) what happens in organisations who revoke zero and embrace constructive, positive and effective safety management systems without it.

Zero, The Maintenance of a Dangerous Idea from Human Dymensions on Vimeo.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

7 Replies to “Dark Waters, The True Story of DuPont and Zero”

  1. It is quite interesting to look at our federal government’s recent language which has seen the Department of Social Services change to the Department of Human Services and most recently Services Australia. The human factor or element is reduced to a subcomponent in a vast mechanistic Taylorist network. The sinister trajectory of scientism and positivism prevails, which includes eugenics………O Brave New World.

    1. I’m getting more and more convinced that the mantra of ZH is an indicator of deception, delusion and deceit. It’s no coincidence that wherever you find corporate greed and corruption zero is in the middle of it.

  2. Out of interest I looked up the DuPont website and I have never read such utter lies, miss-information and conflicting behaviour with their so-called policies. Disgusting organisation, putting themselves forward as safety and environment champions. No different to Hardies with asbestos.

    1. Zero is a mask for a psychosis of fraud, corruption and deceit. The final laugh is on the safety industry conned by these fraudsters fir so long. Scratch at zero and you’ll find unethical practice underneath.

  3. Have a look at McKinsey and Company, who were behind the Enron scandal and the Pardue Pharmaceutical opioid addiction crisis, which has swept through the US.:


    They make Al Capone look ethical and several recent Australian acolytes include:

    Diane Smith Gander – Chair of SWA
    Greg Hunt – Minister for Disease

    McKinsey’s fingerprints can be found at the scene of some of the most spectacular corporate and financial debacles of recent decades –  Ben Chu, The Independent

    Defenders of McKinsey claim that the firm merely advises, and is not a decision-maker

    Nevertheless, since the end of the 20th century, McKinsey has been either directly involved in, or closely associated with, a number of notable scandals. Reuters describes these incidents as indicating “not bad apples but a culture of corruption”

  4. Here in The Netherlands, DuPont also made the headlines. While driving home from work I listened to a report about DuPont and how they for years willingly exposed employees to C8 and caused an enormous environmental disaster while local and national government knew about it. One former female employee, working in the teflon department talked about how colleagues, after years of exposure, lost the possibility of reproduction. And guess what DuPont’s did? They hid behind their lawyers hoping that it all goes away.

    1. and any denial of reality can only lead to denial and hiding, both disorders associated with the psychosis of perfectionism.

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