Monday, 16 November 2009

Emoto the Snowman

So I was wondering. If Emoto goes out and fancies a 99 ice cream cone can he make the flake become more shapely and delicious just by using positive intent?

This idle and essentially pointless thought discussion was in mid flow while I was hunting for any evidence of double blind experiments existing for his not weird, not outlandish, not at all freakishly unlikely in any way idea that water can be manipulated by thought and intent. Dogs are rubbish at this by the way, as are elk, fairy shrimp, moo cows, pygmy elephants, the star-nosed mole and in fact everything in creation except one insect. This single exception is the pond skater (Gerris lacustris), that can focus its intent to such an extent that it can stand like Jesus, defying science, pulling the water clusters to its feet to float freely above the unknown depths. 

It's frankly quite amazing, and the first tangible, solid evidence of the only being, other than man, capable of mentally manipulating water to its own ends.

But I digress.

Back to the elusive search for evidence. After much searching I found some, in the same way one might find evidence of a dog by looking on the sole of your shoe. Two experiments in fact, the second not even double-blinded, but triple-blinded! Well, I almost felt like I'd died and gone to heaven, which as an unbeliever was a deeply curious and mind-twisting experience. 
But sadly, the experiments conducted by Drs. Dean Radin, Gail Hayssen and Masaru Emoto B.A. failed overall to demonstrate much of anything.

Ok. Follow carefully. It's a bit like science because they use the words double blind. 

The first 'double blind' experiment involved four bottles of water. The two hero bottles were charged remotely with intent, three thousand miles away by two thousand of Emoto's followers in Japan by looking at a photo of the bottles in America. The other two were held separately in another room. Then all four bottles were dispatched to Japan where the great man's people froze and photographed fifty samples from each bottle, not knowing which was which. All in all, a selection of forty samples made their way back to America where Dr. Radin, a fan of Emoto's, showed the anonymous samples to a further two thousand people on the internet to be judged for their individual aesthetic appeal.

The result was deemed to be 'statistically significant' in favour of intent although how one experiment using just forty samples and loads of potential for bias, contamination, mistakes and luck can be deemed statistically significant in any way is a tad questionable. But we'll let that drift on by under the bridge of tries again.

So we come the second, a blinding attempt at a triple blind experiment, with just more criteria in place and pretty much the same technique. Both experiments still relied on doing everything 'in house' with Emoto running through every part of the process, safely enthroned in his Japanese ice palace. With the results published last year in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, they make less than impressive reading. Statistically the findings show no more than chance in all her glory, as the rough triple blind did take away a lot of the bias, hence the lack of any significance in the data. 

The treated samples scored a tiny bit higher in the beauty quotient than one set of controls, but then, the other control set marked highest of all. And none of the samples were felt to be particularly attractive anyway, scoring an average of 1.7 on a scale of an ugly 1 to the perfect loveliness of 6. And that's with three days of concentrated remote 'gratitude' focusing from around two thousand people at another bottle photograph. To reiterate- that's three days of two thousand intensely positive intent-pulsing believers, producing a statistical non-event. 

All this means is that chance had as ever, a large part to play, freezing any statistical benefit in its tracks before cheekily making an Emoto snowman. Dr. Radin still saw significance everywhere, against all the odds, who'd have guessed. Though at least, to his credit, he honestly tried to put in place a reasonable set of practices to compensate for Emoto's crazy ways. But as previously mentioned, the more bias was removed, the closer to chance the results become, as is often the way when pseudo-science is closely inspected. Often? I'm being kind. 

If gratitude, love, or writing 'I hug you' really could make water form prettier snowflakes than intent-free water, then I guarantee it wouldn't need a photo-finish and a steward's inquiry. But don't despair. The sky's full of millions of tumbling hexagonal crystals every winter and they're ever beautiful, all by themselves, no intent required. For that, we should be eternally grateful.



  1. ...the results were actually published? what is the standing of this 'scientific exploration' journal?

  2. Well, its peer reviewed... so that's something I guess, but no real standing when it comes down to it. A fair few official sounding boffins.

    lt reads like the best of Fortean Times- interesting and bizarre things covered but really just an excuse to say yes to Nessie, ghosts, psychics and telekinesis. I suppose there's a vague chance that it might throw up some properly interesting results, but all I've gleaned so far are some professors and doctors with an interest in the paranormal trying to prove their beliefs.