Sign up ×
Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Over the past few months a number of people (who don't know each other) have been telling me that I should try a "power of thoughts" experiment that's also known as "the rice experiment." They're confident, that through this experiment, I'll "see the light" of how thought can affect our physical world despite my skepticism.

In searching YouTube, I found a number of videos about this by searching for "rice experiment," such as this one:

  Rice Hado Experiment Masaru Emoto

The experiment

The idea is to set up two jars containing some cooked rice, and then, every day, say only nice and encouraging things to one jar of rice, and insulting and hateful things to the other jar of rice.

enter image description here

After a certain period of time (which seems to vary from months to years), the jar with the "hated" rice should be the only one that goes bad and rots.

  Positive Thinking Power - The Rice Experiment
  More Evidence From Dr Masaru Emoto On The Power Of Thoughts

Slightly more recent experiment
Day 30
Day 55
Day 147

My question

Are there credible studies that prove or disprove this? Any explanation of what might actually be going on here (e.g., why the "hated" jar of rice goes bad earlier) would also be interesting.

share|improve this question
My initial inclination would be to say that ONLY the people who have the "hated" rice go bad first report it, and all the "loved" rice that goes bad isn't mentioned. But that's just my cynicism. – Larian LeQuella Nov 13 '11 at 4:18
Do you have to open the jar while speaking to the rice? In which language does the rice listen to you? Is this already used by the military? – user unknown Nov 14 '11 at 8:38
How is this a thought experiment? It sounds like a speech experiment. – Flimzy Nov 14 '11 at 15:17
Do you spit at the hated rice before you seal the jar? – Jonas Nov 14 '11 at 16:19
How does one make sure the hate rice doesn't hear messages intended for the love rice? Is rice's sense of hearing better or worse then human's sense of hearing? What about if there is a fight in the room where the rice is stored? – Sam I Am Nov 16 '11 at 19:04

1 Answer 1

This article from The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry attempts to replicate Emoto's experiment in a properly scientifically controlled manner (with some small caveats), reaching an obvious non-replication (none of the rice rotted significantly).

enter image description here

In the end, it appears that Dr. Emoto’s assertion that intention can affect soppy rice doesn’t hold water. I can’t help but wonder if the well-meaning re-creators of this experiment on the internet didn’t help their rice along, exposing the neglected or hated rice to more air, changing the jars around to put them in different temperature or humidity conditions, or performing other tricks in an effort to support a well-intended but ultimately self-evident point: that being ignored or belittled hurts.

The article hypothesises that the reason for the rice turning out the way it did was due to improperly controlled experiments carried out by Emoto.

Apparently, Emoto’s experimental protocols are so lacking as to be unrepeatable, and even the most basic attempts at scientific controls are absent.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.