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Monday, 24 August 2009


Masaru Emoto and Quantum Hogwash

Catherine over on What Now has drawn my attention to someone who has posted a link to the claims of Masaru Emoto, a Japanese author who some wrongly believe to have scientific qualifications.

No doubt it will be deleted, but it's so delicious, I'll reproduce it here:

"I thought this might be of interest to someone out there, I am not saying is works or it doesnt. But it might help someone, so thought I would share it......just in case. At a molecular level we are all basically the same, the theory that everything in the Universe is affected by vibrations, positive and negative, even down to our thoughts and music is not an old one. A guy by the name of Dr. Masaru Emoto has been researching the effects that words and vibrations can have on water. As people are made of roughly 70% water, following that train of thought, it stands to reason that we as people might be effected too, at some point along the chain.

Here is the website if its of any interest anyone. I got interested after researching Quantum Mechanics. Now I find myself writing things like 'Love, happiness and healthy' on my arm to create a positive vibration on the water particals circulation my body. I find it an interesting idea. My hope is that this little note might do some good to someone. I dont want to offend anybody and that is not my intention. Love, Happiness & Healing to everyone and anyone reading this."

Far Out! Mr Emoto is one of my favorite nutjobs. He claims that he can photograph the effect on water of human thoughts and emotions. He was featured in the sneaky film "What The Bleep Do We Know" which attempts to show that science supports alternative medicine and all other things spacecadet by mixing a tiny bit of science with a truckload of flapdoodle, because essentially "like, what the **** do we know maaan, it's all like..quantum. Like, wow!"

This film (which is officially classified as a work of fiction and was produced by people from a number of Indian based religious cults) appears to be the source of the post author's research into Quantum Mechanics. It has been suggested that he needs 'sucker' tattooed on his arm, rather than 'inspirational' words, and who am I to disagree?

"What the Bleep" is a religious recruiting film, and nothing whatever to do with science, but like the X-files, hippies seem to think it is a science documentary.

A number of supposed scientists are featured in the film, some of whom like "Dr" Emoto are quite clear about the fact that they are not scientists in answer to a straight question. Of course in this film no one asks him that question.

Some of them like Richard Alpert are not so clear that they used to be sort of scientists before they took many large doses of hallucinogenic drugs, were fired from academia for giving their students magic mushrooms, and now plug Hinduism under the name of Baba Ram Dass.

And the overwhelming majority of the rest of them are a bit quiet about the fact that they are proselytising for the religious cults who employ them.

But let's look at Emoto's claims before we move onto the more general world of quantum hogwash.

Has Mr Emoto published a single paper in any scientific journal? Why yes, he has. A single paper.
Published in a journal of which his co-author was editor in chief.

It claims that focussed positive intentions in Japan led to measurable differences in the pleasingness of crystal structures in America.

As the results of this experiment would seem to show a clearly measurable psychic effect, they were invited to claim James Randi's million dollar prize for such a demonstration by repeating the experiment with real scientists watching.

Looks like they don't need a million dollars, as they seem uninterested in claiming the prize. Or their experiment will not stand up to detailed scrutiny.

But what other claims does he make, for which he has produced no scientific evidence whatever? That's right, water can read, in both English and Japanese.

So, there is no verifiable scientific evidence to back this, and Mr. Emoto is not a scientist. He is a muddle-headed fantasist. Bless!

The energised/clustered/activated/otherwise special water nonsense which Emoto says he is photographing is however the basis for more serious sorts of quackery. I've seen curative claims for all sorts of magic water on cancer boards, often with what look to the general public like sciency stuff as backing.

And of course, clustered water is used by homoeopaths to explain the mechanism behind homoeopathy, but of course before we look for an explanation of an effect, we'd need to see an effect. Homoeopathy has no effect above placebo. Fact.

The idea of "quantum vibrations" being a scientific explanation for the healing power of prayer, reiki, and other forms of quackery has the same problem. In the absence of an effect, no explanation is required.

Quantum mechanics explains some of the very weird effects we get at very small scales. It does not explain them all, and physics is presently reaching for an explanation for everything we see in experiments which operate on very large and a very small scales.

At these very large and very small scales, things do not act as they do in everyday life, and a great mass of speculative theories are produced. Some of these are known in scientific circles as "physics porn". They are speculative, and without any experimental backing. None of them support anything. They do not even support themselves yet.

Quantum mechanics applies at a particular, incredibly tiny scale. It has no more relevance to the human scale of operation (and consequently medicine) than Einstein's theory of relativity, but it has been constructively misunderstood to seem to back religious ideas.

Sorry, hippies, go a bit steadier on the magic mushrooms in the next life. Peace out!

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