Last night, seeking to expand the name of Orac rather than his waistline, I did a skeptical meetup with a local skeptics’ group to discuss the topic of quackademic medicine. A fine time was had by all (at least as far as I can tell). What that means, unfortunately, is that I got back too late last night to have time to prepare a helping of new insolence that you all crave. (And you know you do crave it so.) Fortunately, the archives are here and chock full of excellent woo to republish from time to time, perfect for this situation, and I’m taking advantage of them now. The installation from Your Friday Dose of Woo that I’m about to repost dates back almost three years. If you haven’t been reading at least since early 2008, it’s new to you, and if you have been reading that long, thanks and I hope you enjoy seeing this gem again. If not, well, nobody’s perfect, not even Orac. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe, but it is true nonetheless. I’ll be back with new material soon.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about woo in the more than a year and a half that I’ve been doing this regular Friday feature, it’s that there’s definitely a religious element to virtually all woo. In essence, it requires believing in something that cannot be demonstrated scientifically, often despite science outright refuting it. For example, there have been several “victims” (I mean subjects) for this Friday feature that have been explicitly fundamentalist Christian in nature1, 2, 3, 4, even a parody of such beliefs. Of course, if you’re a New Age-type woo, you wouldn’t call it “religious,” at least not in the same way that Christians, Jews, Muslims, or other mainstream religions are religious. Instead, they’d call it “spiritual,” which is how we end up with concepts like the “global orgasm,” “sacred science,” and “spiritual sound healing.” Heck, the ultimate in woo, namely homeopathy, can best be described as a quasireligious belief system, in which water has remarkable power to “remember” the essence of whatever it has been “succussed” with in what can only be described as a magical or religious ritual that homeopaths do to “potentize” their remedies. Although I’ve seen a lot of Christian woo and New Age-type woo, though, there are types of religious woo that I have never encountered. And this week’s target (I mean subject) appeared in a place that I would never have expected, namely the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a group dedicated to translating and documenting media reports from various Middle Eastern countries to show what is really bing
Are you ready for some serious Koranic water woo? Sure you are.
This woo comes in the form of a translated transcript of a television show that aired on DubaiTV on December 13, 2007. It begins with an Iraqi journalist named Akran Al-Hashemi, who apparently survived an assassination attempt. He began his story thusly:
Akran Al-Hashemi, Iraqi journalist: “I survived an assassination attempt in Iraq. I was hit by bullets – more than 70 bullets. I used oils, lotions, and all sorts of medicine, but unfortunately, nothing helped. I happened to meet Hajja [Samiya], and she said: ‘I can heal you. I will recite Koranic verses over olive oil for you – the Al-Fatiha chapter, the Al-Kursi verse, and the Al-Ma’wiztein.’ From the very first night, I felt a difference, and after one week I started walking normally.”
Now, I know what you’re saying. Did he fire five woos or six? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement of the last week, with the Paulbots and antivaxers showing up I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful woo destroyer in the world, and would blow this woo clean up, you’ve got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?
Sorry. I don’t know what came over me. Too many Clint Eastwood movies, I guess. In any case, you might be thinking, “What’s so special about this woo?” After all, it just sounds like your standard-issue religious miracle healing testimonial common to many religions. Nothing special there. So Hajja blessed the oil and it supposedly healed Akran? Stories like this are a dime a dozen and not a fitting topic for Your Friday Dose of Woo.
Patience, O Skeptical Ones. Have I ever let you down before? Wait, don’t answer that.
Listen to Egyptian Islamic scholar Zaghloul Al-Naggar explain:
Egyptian Islamic scholar Zaghloul Al-Naggar: “We have recently realized the value of the use of amulets. It has been scientifically proven that water is affected by what is recited over it. Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto has had a unique experience. He said that he had read in a book that each snowflake falling from the sky is unique. He said that his scientific instincts told him that this was not true. The geometric shape of the snowflake is determined by its chemical composition. The composition of water is well known – two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. So how come snowflakes that fall from the sky are different from one another? He said: ‘I was determined to prove that this theory was false.’ He built a laboratory, consisting of a deep freezer with a regulator, because no liquid subjected to sudden freezing can assume a geometric shape. The freezing must be slow, so the atoms have the chance to crystallize into the shape decreed by Allah.”
“Zamzam Water Is Not Affected by Witchcraft or Jinns.“
Yes, it’s that Masaru Emoto! All I can say is: Koran + Emoto = Woo! Yes, it’s the same Dr. Emoto who claims that speaking over water with “intent” will impart that intent into the water, with, or so he claims, therapeutic effects. In any case, if speaking or singing with “intent” over water is so powerful, just imagine how much more power one cold impart into water with prayer! Of course, the Catholics thought of that one long ago. Heck, Catholic holy water even burns vampires. It’s potent stuff, as any horror movie aficianado knows. So how potent is the Islamic version? Apparently Dr. Emoto sought to find out, as Al-Naggar continues:
There was a deep freezer with a regulator, a cold room at a temperature of -7Â°C, and several microscopes equipped with cameras, so he could photograph the snowflake before it melted. The scientists working in this room wore warm clothing. He said: ‘I took samples [of water] from two faucets in the laboratory, I froze them, and each sample gave me a different snowflake. The samples came from two different wells, two different rivers, two different lakes. I almost went crazy and thought it was witchcraft.’
“A Saudi student at the University of Tokyo happened to meet him, and asked him what was wrong. Masaru told him his problem. The student said to him: ‘We have blessed water, called Zamzam water. I will give you a sample of this water so you can experiment on it. The Zamzam water is not affected by witchcraft or jinns, so using it can prove or disprove the whole theory.’
“Emoto took a sample of Zamzam water, and said: ‘I couldn’t crystallize it, even by diluting the water by 1,000.’ In other words, he turned one cubic centimeter into one liter.
“He said that when he diluted the water by 1,000 and froze it, he got a uniquely-shaped crystal. Two crystals were formed, one on top of the other, but they assumed a unique form. When he asked his Muslim colleague why there were two crystals, he told him it was because ‘Zamzam’ is made up of two words: ‘Zam’ and ‘Zam.'”
Couldn’t “crystallize” it? Is Emoto saying that the Zamzam water won’t freeze at the same temperature that water normally freezes at? Did he actually check the chemical composition of the water? After all, adding a bit of alcohol could decrease the freezing point. It’s something for Dr. Emoto to think about. I could be wrong, but I humbly suggest that perhaps the Zamzam water that he tested was really Bambam water.
Or it could just be a lot of salt in the water.
Of course, this idea naturally lead Al-Naggar to wonder: “If A Glass of Water is Affected By the Koran, Wouldn’t the Human Body Be Affected?”
Here’s where we find out that Zamzam water is even better than homeopathy. After all, there’s none of that difficult and annoying succussion or that pain-in-the-rear task of serial dilutions. All there is is prayer over the water, and it does amazing things, as Al-Naggar explains:
“Emoto said: ‘My Muslim colleague offered to recite Koranic verses over the water. He brought a tape recorder and played some Koranic verses, and we got the most perfectly shaped crystals. Then he played the 99 names of Allah. Each name produced a uniquely-shaped crystal. Then he began cursing the water. We said: Water, you are impure. You are not suited for consumption. The water, in this case, did not freeze, or produced an extremely ugly crystal.’ When they uttered bad words like ‘war’ or ‘fighting,’ the water did not freeze, or else produced an ugly shape. When the man completed these experiments, which lasted 15 years, he published a five-volume book called Messages from Water. He wrote: ‘I have proven that water, that peculiar liquid, is capable of thinking, fathoming, feeling, becoming excited, and expressing itself.’ Okay, the human body is composed mainly of water. If a glass of water is affected by the Koran, wouldn’t the human body be affected?”
I’m convinced. How about you? Of course, the real question is how this Koranic holy water imbued with the “intent” of the Muslim praying over it affects the human body. Is it better at quenching your thirst than Satanic water? Does it heal you of every ill? Does it give you wings like Red Bull? Inquiring minds want to know!
Before we can find this out, we have to know that an engineer named Sharif Shukran invented a device that contains water. He records Koranic verses in it, and the voice turns into electromagnetic waves that pass through the water, giving it healing powers. I have to ask right here how the “intent” of the person praying is put in the water if that person is not there Shukran is apparently just using an MP3 player or similar playback device to run a current through the water rather than through speakers, but perhaps I’m overthinking this. After all, as Sharif Shukran says:
Sharif Shukran: “I was trying to deal with a problem that has not been discussed so far – Satan uses humans to record negative thoughts in water.
“For 14 centuries, we’ve known for certain that Koran verses are recorded in water, but we never imagined that everything that is said is recorded in water. I found out that one of the methods employed by Satan is to make human beings think certain thoughts, while cooking, for example. When a human being is near any type of liquid, he might pass his negative thoughts on to the water.
So watch out around swimming pools. Your negative thoughts may cause someone to drown. But I digress. Let Shukran continue:
“When a mother cooks… I’ve asked many mothers what they think about when they are cooking, and they said they were thinking about problems. Without realizing it, they insert all the problems into the food.
“What does this device do? It supplies enough water to offset the water in the body that carries negative words. A person cannot go every day to someone who would read the Koran over him, nor can he recite it himself all day long.”
I’ll admit that this is a problem. Imagine how many problems it would cause if everyone had to have someone following them around reciting Koranic verses over him or her all day. And who would recite the Koranic verses over the reciters? Or are they protected by their own recitations? What languages does water understand? Do the prayers have to be in the original Arabic, or would a translation of the Koran work? After all, According to Dr. Emoto, apparently “intent” is more important than language, but my understanding is that, to Muslims, the only true Koran is the Koran in the original Arabic.
I know, I know, I’ll stop.
I can’t stop. I can’t stop mainly because I think I have found an early candidate for the absolute best woo-quote of 2008:
If a Person Replaces Most of the Water in His Body With Koranic Water, His Body Begins to Emit Steam Which Contains the Koran.
Because there’s nothing more powerful than millions of steaming Muslims emitting the Koran. I imagine they could convert the world to Islam. Against such awesome might, even Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, or P.Z. Myers might struggle in vain to remain atheists. Expect mass conversions to Islam soon, if this report is true.
But wait! Just when you thought that millions of steaming Muslims emitting the Koran aren’t powerful enough, it turns out that Zamzam water has an even more useful property to Muslim men:
A couple on the verge of divorce began using the water. The wife used to complain all the time. After a month and a half, she stopped entirely. Things that she used to make a fuss over seemed simple all of the sudden. I asked myself how this could be, and I realized something – or at least, this makes sense to me. If a person replaces most of the water in his body with Koranic water, his body begins to emit steam which contains the Koran. This creates a halo of steam around him, containing the Koran, which fends off Satan.
That’s right. The Koranic holy water fends off Satan. That’s to be expected, though. What holy water worth its salt, be it Christian or Koranic, can’t fend off Satan? After all, isn’t that a minimum expectation of holy water of any kind? No, fending off Satan isn’t enough. The water makes uppity women who complain too much become docile. Sadly, to some that’s a far more useful property than merely curing disease and fending off Satan.
Lest you think, though, that the whole holy water thing is limited to just Catholics and Muslims, I just learned that Madonna is spending $10,000 a month to supply herself and her family with Kabbalah Water. Of course, it’s “scientific” too:
Just as it did at the first moment of Creation, the growth of every living organism should follow this blueprint. All the metabolic and regulatory processes of life require information — and because of its unique crystalline structure and fractal design, Kabbalah water is an excellent information transmitter. Positive, health-giving information is defined by symmetry and high energy, while low energy and entropy — like static in TV or radio reception — characterize muddled information. Therefore, the condition of the water we take into our bodies determines the quality of the information being transmitted to our immune system, digestive system, circulatory system, and even to every atom of our bodies.
The scientific findings regarding Kabbalah Water are fascinating and important. But the essence and foundation of Kabbalah Water is the consciousness of sharing which infuses it. Once, all the waters of the world were imbued with this consciousness. The Kabbalistic blessings and meditations that are used to create Kabbalah Water, for example, bring about elegant and balanced crystalline structures in water, while negative consciousness has an opposite effect. This is hugely important. In a very literal way, Kabbalah Water is life’s original blueprint information brought into the modern world.
Shades of Masuru Emoto! It makes me pine for the straightforward honesty of the Catholic Church when it comes to holy water. It doesn’t make any claims for “intent” or “consciousness.” It just says that the water is blessed by God through the bishop who blesses it. In any case, I guess it’s a good thing that Emoto apparently shows no inclination one way or the other to favor one religion over another. To him, it’s all good.
Good woo, that is.