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Japanese author and doctor of alternative medicine, Masaru Emoto claims that water can react to intentions. Talk nice to water and you get nice looking ice crystals from it. Mention Adolf Hitler near water and the ice crystals are all distorted and ugly.

emoto water

Let's not discuss theoretical objections to this. I'm interested in experiments that tried to test this. Do you know any?

Only studies I could find were conducted by the Emoto and his colleagues.

For example, Wikipedia mentions the following experiment as a criticism:

A better-controlled "triple-blind" follow-up study published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration did not yield positive results.[10] More than 1,900 of Mr. Emoto's followers focused gratitude on water bottles in a vault over a period of three days. The water was then frozen and compared to two different sets of controls. Crystals from all three groups were not considered to be particularly beautiful (scoring 1.7 on a scale of 0 to 6, where 6 was very beautiful). An objective comparison of contrast did not reveal any significant differences among the samples.

Here is a beauty rating graph of 3 sets of water: enter image description here

In the paper they reduce the result set (use beauty > 1 ratings) to prove them right.

But even if results do not really support Emoto claims, why is there a difference in beauty ratings of different sets of water at all? Shouldn't the ratings be about equal?

  • 2
    I am not clear on what your question is. "An objective comparison of contrast did not reveal any significant differences among the samples." That statement says that the ratings are about equal, given the experimental variation and the sample size. Are you asking for help with the statistics? – Oddthinking Jun 28 '13 at 12:22
  • I would be happy if you could provide me with additional experiments and explain me why is there some difference between the rating sets (proximal ratings and others). This looks statistically significant, no? – undsoft Jun 28 '13 at 12:33
  • @Oddthinking I am not entirely happy with what you changed the title to. It's neither overly clear, or short and concise. – Wertilq Jun 28 '13 at 12:42
  • @Wertliq: Happy to hear a counter-suggestion. The original asked a question that wasn't the notable one. – Oddthinking Jun 28 '13 at 12:48
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Zoom in on water molecules and you will necessarily see many different things. But judging the "beauty" of these things is qualitative, not quantitative. Analyses of Emoto need to avoid simply calling him a goofball -- scientists are often goofy -- and focus in on that key point.

It's important to understand that non-repeatable, subjective judgments depart from science, because this mistake is frequent in fringe experiments. Most notably, parapsychology can have very interesting-looking "hits" when you try to convey pictures, images, or poems through telepathy. But your judgment of these cool-looking results is not scientific. I presume Emoto honestly did say the name "Adolf Hitler" to a puddle, but his initial publication's methodology was very poorly described and he is undoubtedly showing us his "hits". The "hits" might be convincing to us, but they cannot be scientific. Subjective judgments lead to subjective conclusions.

You can apparently get a large number of people to quantify beauty and average out their votes, but the results of this are not nearly as impressive as the photos in Emoto's book. In the graph you show, the result of 2,800 votes averaged out, it doesn't matter that the right hand side has lower numbers, because both the left and right hand side are controls -- meaning that there was little difference between the left-hand controls and the water that was supposedly treated by positive thoughts from thousands of distant people. According to the paper, the two controls were kept in different conditions for a while, so perhaps the crystals looked different as a result. Furthermore, this graph has been enhanced: the ratings were on a scale of 1 to 6, and all the averages are between 1.6 and 2.0.

Emoto's water experiment shows only that water can produce shapes that look pretty or ugly to us. It is interesting looking only at the anecdotal, qualitative level, and it had no results when quantified. His other experiment, involving rotting rice, has not yet had a scientific test, and has had varying results when repeated on an anecdotal level.

In short, "water consciousness" has similar issues as parapsychology in the inherent difficulty of producing consistent results.

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