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Entry 907, on 2008-12-10 at 21:37:35 (Rating 3, Skepticism)
There are pseudosciences based on just about anything you can possibly imagine, from the esoteric to the mundane, and what could be more mundane than water? After being inspired yet again by The Skeptics' Guide to the Galaxy I want to say a few things about pseudosciences built around water.
Homeopathy is a classic example. In this form of nonsensical new-age mysticism the homeopathy practitioner takes a sample of a substance which causes an illness, dilutes it so much that there is absolutely nothing left, and sells the resulting product as a remedy. In liquid form it is just water, in solid form effectively a sugar pill. It doesn't work and its impossible to see how it ever could work.
Of course the followers of this garbage claim the original substance leaves some sort of "imprint", "energy", or "vibration" on the water which explains its effectiveness. In my opinion as soon as you hear those words used in that sort of context you know you're listening to nonsense. It really has no more meaning than a jumble of random words put together by a child.
There is another danger sign which has become common recently: that is any mention of quantum theory. As soon as quantum theory is offered as a mechanism for some new age belief you can be sure its pure nonsense. Quantum theory is a real theory, and one of the best and most accurate in science, but it has nothing to do with ESP, ghosts, magic water, or any other pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo.
The latest example of this phenomenon is water which has been energised with positive thoughts. Its called Aquamantra and its so silly its actually funny. For just US$34 you can buy a whole case of 12 1 litre bottles of this fine product! Compare this to normal bottled water for about US$3 for the same amount or about US$1 for the equivalent amount from the water supply - including the cost of using a filter.
So what do you get for this extra cost? Surely something really worthwhile, right? According to the Aquamantra site: "Aquamantra: Premium Natural Spring Water is simply, water that resonates with the energy and frequency of your well-being. The quality of your thoughts determine the quality of your life and NOW your water. We deliver powerful messages to you through the mantras, I AM GRATEFUL(tm), I AM HEALTHY(tm), I AM LOVED(tm) or I AM LUCKY(tm)."
Yes, that's right. You get filtered water with a label on it which includes a positive message. Notice the classic pseudoscience words: "resonates", "energy", and "frequency". This is great stuff! People report the water tastes good and maybe it does, but testing has shown normal bottled water and tap water (from high quality supplies which most modern cities have) also taste good.
Well I guess it does no harm and it might have a placebo effect making people feel better because they expect that they will. And, unlike many pseudoscientific medicines, its unlikely to be used as a substitute for real medical therapies so it causes no harm that way either. Its just expensive water but if people want to buy expensive water why shouldn't they?
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