Clarifing Misconceptions/Nitrox (2 of 5)

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Posted by Ken Kurtis on February 13, 2001 at 12:00:07:

If you’d like to see my previously-posted positions on nitrox, read a post I made to Frank Farmer on October 30, 2000, called “Answering Frank’s Questions” ( where I basically outlined our business reasons for not getting involved with nitrox. (Basically, no profit in it given the time and start-up
investment required.)

I also posted on January 13, 2001, more thoughts and views on nitrox. It’s called “Re: Ken Kurtis and the Solo -v- Nitrox discussion/promotion” and can be found at “” Please note that I start out with: “1. You can dive safely on air. 2. You can dive safely on nitrox.” If you REALLY want to understand where I’m coming from, read them both.
Michael Kane (MHK) has repeatedly made the assertion, most recently on 2/12, that I have said time and again (and he quotes me), “Nitrox WILL kill you if you breathe it.”

Attributing this statement to me is absolutely and unconditionally false. I have never said it and I have never posted it.

By the same token, Michael, if you could please direct us to where I actually made this statement (not you or anyone else paraphrasing or reinterpreting my words), then I’ll eat every word of this denial. if, as Michael claims, many regular posters to this board have heard
me parrot this term on Reef Seekers boats, then now’s the time to speak up and cite time and place.

(For the record, I ran the phrase “Nitrox will kill you” through the BBS search engine and came back with 28 responses. 11 were from Michael Kane, 5 were responding to one of Michael’s posts, 11 were from various people not responding to Michael, and ONE was from
me . . . responding to one of Michael’s posts.)

However . . .

I’m not accusing Michael of making this up out of whole cloth. He has taken something I HAVE said, not listened closely to the words or the context and turned it into something that no rational person could possibly believe.

I fully confess to making the following statement: “Everyone who breathes nitrox will die.” Two things. (1) It’s a true - but meaningless - statement. (2) It’s the context that’s important.
(And remember that I’m a student of language and communication. Got a B.S. from Northwestern to prove it.)

I was involved in a nitrox discussion with someone (don’t remember if it was Michael or not but I think he was around) and during the course of the discussion this person made a statement of roughly, “Nitrox is preventing the bends.” I questioned the validity of the statement. The discussion (I’ll call the guy N2) went something like this:

N2: Nitrox is preventing the bends.
KK: How can you say that?
N2: More and more people are diving nitrox and they’re not getting bent.
KK: So . . ?
N2: So nitrox is preventing the bends.
KK; But you can’t come to that conclusion because there are other factors that may come into play.
N2: It’s quite simple. They’re diving nitrox. They’re not getting bent. Nitrox is preventing the bends.
KK: But there may not be any relationship between the nitrox and their lack of bends.
N2: Nitrox is preventing the bends.
KK: Well if that’s what you believe, then try this one on. Everyone who breathes nitrox will die.
N2: What????????
KK: Everyone who breathes nitrox will die.
N2: That’s not true!! How can you say that???
KK: But it IS true. Unless nitrox makes you immortal, everyone who breathes it will, at some point, die. Now I’m not saying that it’s the nitrox that will kill you, but the statement is still true. It’s also true that everyone who breathes air will die, everyone who drives a car will die, everyone who uses toothpaste will die. None of those things may be what kills you, but we’re ALL going to die.
N2: But there’s no connection between nitrox and dying.
KK: Correct. The same way there’s not necessarily a connection between not getting bent and nitrox. You take two true statements (1) people are diving nitrox, and (2) these divers are not getting bent, and marry them into a not-necessarily-true statement (3) nitrox is preventing these people from getting bent.

So THIS has now been transformed into “Nitrox WILL kill you if you breathe it.” Once again, I never said it, I never wrote it, I don’t believe it. And, quite frankly, I can’t remember the last time I uttered “Everyone who breathes nitrox will die.” It’s a specious argument (there are many better ones to make) that in this case was used to try to show someone that there was no rationale in the statement they were making.

As to the righteous indignation that flows from believing I made the statement, since I never said it, the rest of the objections are moot.

Ken Kurtis
NAUI Instr. #5936
Co-owner, Reef Seekers Dive Co.
Beverly Hills, Ca.

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