Sunday, 8 November 2009

Emoto the Miracle Man- turning water into fine wine dining...

So, Dr. Emoto is coming to Glastonbury on the 18th of November, bringing water revelations with him to share with eager Glastafarians. And revealings of such truths never come cheap. For £20, he will show you slides of pretty, love influenced snowfakes, sorry, my bad... snowflakes and sell you books, CDs, DVDs and bottles of magic water*. This is the man who has gained a wonderfully official sounding 'Dr.' title from the Open International University of Alternative Medicine in India. I kid you not. The man who believes that the ice crystals he photographs are actually spirits and that we came to this world in giant spheres of ice. That taking many photographs of crystals then choosing the one that most agrees with his idea, (that ice crystals, and by extension, water, can be affected on a molecular level by intent) is scientific. It's really, really not. Emoto is indeed a fascinating character.

*He was, on his website, until recently, selling something he calls Indigo water- a small bottle of 'highly charged hexagonally structured water' for $35 a pop. Which is water, charged with happy thoughts and which can 'super-hydrate someone better than normal water' because it's hexagonally structured. Um, yes... no surprise there then. I was going to remove a description of him as a consummate fraud and a fool as I felt I was being unduly harsh and he's probably a nice bloke but I think after seeing this sales pitch, I'll let it stand.

Here's an interesting yet scary link... "Conscious Water Crystals: The Power of Prayer Made Visible"  

The shape and complexity of ice crystals are directly linked to temperature and humidity as water vapour freezes. Also, water with a high particulate content will form crystals more readily than distilled water as the forming crystals are essentially seeded by the little bits of dust and matter. 
High humidity gives a complex six spiked star shape, low humidity, a simple hexagon. The same goes for temperature, as, according to the Caltech website, ice crystals form stars and plates at -2 C , giving way to columns and needles at around -5 C. These in turn give way to the hexagonal stars and plates again at around -15 C, then by -30 C we have a combination of columns and plates. That's the science but way back at Woo Central, Dr. Emoto is still immune to sense, logic or reasoning ability. 

And, existentially, just how are we supposed to measure or define 'Anger' or 'Love', as it hurtles its way towards the jar of unsuspecting water? These are anything but objective feelings and so can't be quantified. Emoto manages it though. Curiously, he can't replicate the shape of any ice crystal even though he might direct 'Ennui' three times at different water vessels. Aren't snowflakes supposed to be renowned for all being unique? Hmmm? Eh? (I'm trying to get his attention by poking him with an icicle.)
And he's discovered that writing words on a piece of paper and sticking it to the outside of the glass works too. When the water evaporates, the evil intent behind the phrase, 'I hate you,' makes the ice form into columns, needles and irregular shapes, while the loving intent of 'I love you,' makes the regular, aesthetically pleasing shapes that the esteemed doctor has decided are therefore good. 
The trouble is, as the water vapour cools down through the temperatures, guess what happens? Any vapour forming solidly below -4 C on the inside of each maligned glass jar doesn't become a beautiful star, but an ugly, evil intent filled columnar ice crystal mass and so on down the range. This can lead to difficulties if you're aiming for a beautiful rainbow crystal of care, joy or peace. 
In reality, any photographs taken can easily show a full range of ice formations. One can find the irregular shapes and the star shapes and everything in between and its only when that old daftie Emoto chooses his favourite one that books can be written, sales can be rung through and gullibility proved to be ever increasingly popular. 

So, on the 18th of November, I'll hopefully be there, pouring my negatively charged water of disbelief onto the credulous fire of righteous New Agers. Or maybe I'll just charge their drinking water with a healthy dose of incredulity and sit back and enjoy the show. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

For those interested, here's another interesting article from a retired chemistry professor


  1. Hi Loki, I'm Glad you have the intention to come to the Town Hall in Glastonbury on the 18th November (doors open at 6.30 pm) to see the first showing of a photograph of a 'Bath Water' crystal. Seeing is believing don't they say? and for one who knows so much about Dr Emoto's work you pour hot water on his research (a good pun eh?) To get tickets please see before they sell out.....Anyway, thanks for the advert as I am the one organising the event! - Jenny, kvic

  2. My, you do work quickly! Well, seeing isnt believing for me, as you might have guessed. I think that if Emoto has discovered things that go against the basics of science then the replication of these experiments should be of major importance to all fields of chemistry, physics, oceanography, meteorology and so on. Yet no-one else using any sort of vaguely rigorous experimental procedures has managed to find any evidence of the kind Emoto makes a living from. Not a sausage. Which is kind of annoying for that multi-million pound industry of sugar pill homeopathy too!
    He doesnt attempt to prevent experimental bias by the observer through a double blind, so instead, results can far too easily be cherry picked for the nicest image. He doesnt publish any errors that would argue against his claims, though there must be some. He photographs 100 petri dishes yet only publishes one picture from each batch, as far as I can see. This isnt scientific in any sense. I do love the photos though. Aesthetically theyre rather lovely. And he looks like a genuinely nice man too. But I think the correct response to it is to be sceptical until theres more to go on than just having faith (because it fits into a certain alternative world view) and Emoto telling us its true. Personally, I would love it to be true, but until he and others can replicate his findings in a real scientific setting... no, Im not quite there. Thanks for your comment though Jenny. Youre my first commentor. Is that a correct word? Should be! Andy