I rarely do quack posts here. For one thing, this is an area ably covered by my Sciblings, chief among them Orac at Respectful Insolence (who likes to call it "woo"; I don't like the term; whatever you term it, it's quackery). For another, I'm not much interested in it. I do religion once a week on the Freethinker Sermonette, so that pretty much uses up my bullshit quotient. However yesterday I found a story on Boingboing about drinking water being sold at a Manhattan (Columbus Circle) Whole Foods store, and since I am professionally interested in drinking water, I read on. Fortunately I am pretty laid back or I am sure my head would have exploded.
The drinking water in question has been micturated into the stream of commerce by Claire Brightwater. Boingbong quotes from the label:
This water has been programmed with music, crystals & prayers for good health, happiness, creative energy & prosperity. (via Boingboing)
There follows a pull quote from a 2007 NY Times article about upscale "water bars," which I dutifully followed. I'm all about duty. Even if it can make your head explode:
“I think there’s a revolution happening,” said Claire Brightwater, producer of a new spring water that shares her last name. “I really believe that spiritual people like myself want to make a change, with all the suffering in the world now.”
Ms. Brightwater, who calls herself a psychic, healer and medicine woman, and who owns a Native American crafts gallery in Queens, applies the New Age healing techniques she has used on crystals for three decades to transfer what she claims is palpable “good energy” to her water and those who drink it.
It is a complicated process. Once the bottles arrive from their source near Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Ms. Brightwater said, she lays out tumbled stones that she has “programmed for love, health and prosperity” around and on top of each case.
She burns sage and sweet grass, herbs used by the Native Americans, to clarify and purify the energy of the water, and prays for its drinkers to experience good health, good luck and prosperity. She said she then asks “the Great Spirit to help feed the hungry children, keep the waters clean and to protect the two- and four-legged on this planet.”
She plays CDs of Native American and Buddhist healing chants for 12 hours a day, until the cases of water are delivered. (Suzy Allman, New York Times)
If you think you can stand it, here's another one:
Another product, Liquid OM Water, which made its debut in March, is purified suburban Chicago municipal tap water that has been “frequency enhanced” by its creator, Kenny Mazursky. A “certified sound therapist,” Mr. Mazursky said he uses Tibetan singing bowls and a giant earth gong to send vibrations through the water at specific frequencies.
“The guys at the warehouse love it,” said Mr. Mazursky, who said he energizes a truckload of 36,000 bottles at a time in his distribution center near Chicago, before the water makes its way to health food stores, gyms and spas around the country. “They all come down off their forklifts to sit in on it.”
Mr. Mazursky said that the natural frequencies he chooses promote good health and balance, and that his bottles stay “energized” for years after he treats them. “Water holds sound at five times the magnitude of air,” he said. “That’s why dolphins and whales can talk to each other when they’re miles apart.”
I'm sparing you the Christian-themed spiritual waters, because it's Passover time for Jews and they might get offended because they only allow themselves to eat and drink items labeled "Kosher for Passover" after a Rabbi certified it and I wouldn't want them to infer I'm also talking about them instead of the crazy Gentiles.
There's only one way - one really _effective_ way - to respond to this kind of thing. And it's not rational counterargument, though it would be nice if it were.
It's ridicule. Parodying, argumentum ad absurdum, and downright subversion. People with any kind of emotional investment in things like this only ever see the light if they think they've worked it out for themselves. Either they will anyway, or they will _get the joke_ - and humour is a form of enlightenment.
So: we need to flood the market with crap. How about a soft drink imbued with the sacred energy of a server room? It's just great for the old communicating skills! Or a snack bar that contains honey from bees whose hives overlook a painting of a contemplative horse?
It is good your pointing out these treatments are BS and less than, less because you pay more, than useless.
But, this sort of thing reminds me of the more conventional advertising campaigns that seek to take advantage of popular trends.
Back in the 1890s electricity was a novelty to apply electricity to virtually everything. For a price you could buy products that would shock your scalp to help you grow hair. Or shock your testicles to help you stand tall while laying down.
Magnets are a perennial favorite. I remember a company selling water pitchers ans wine carafes that has special magnets that 'energized' the water and kept the wine fresh.
Back in the 50s, when the atom was still our friend, there was a huge market in radioactive glassware that was supposed to fortify food and water with special powers.
Much more commonly packages are still often marked as "New and improved" or with a secret ingredient added. Often with a nonsensical designation like: XP-2000. Usually the 'secret ingredient' is something pretty mundane. Colonel Sander's secret special spices are black and white pepper, paprika, and salt. The 'special sauce' at most fast food places is catchup and mayonnaise, thousand island dressing.
Advertising is always looking for a gimmick and a hook. Poorly understood, mysterious, imaginary powers and forces that promise vague benefits and 'good feelings', vibes, are popular because people are credulous and often desperate for any edge, advantage, hope they can get. These sorts of claims and associations boost sales.
The problem is not the products. The problem is the gullibility of the public. In large part a result of how the brain is wired.
If I was reading a novel, and a marketeer of bottled water quackery in the novel was named 'Claire Brightwater', I'd be laugh at the sheer awfulness of the novel.
I just sing the "Banana Splits" theme to my tap water. Much cheaper.
I've been playing "Dueling Banjos" in order to program my bottle of Knob Creek bourbon. It may not help, but it doesn't seem to hurt.
Each to their own revere. No doubt their waters are much better than the crap water I drank in Olney, Maryland the last five days.
I do those blessings every time I consume food or water, but there is no way I'd pay for it to be done. Whatever my beliefs the real fool is one who pays for something like that when they have the power to do it themselves. Whether it actually works is immaterial. Bless you all.
This is not evidence of quackery, Revere! This stuff really works! In fact, I have it on good authority, from an unimpeachable source, that the fucking Pope is going to recommend that every nun, priest, bishop, archbishop, cardinal, nuncio, etc., be required to use Ms Brightwater's amazing gift to the faithful in a daily ritual of colonic irrigation. The Pope swears by it. He gargles with it every morning...right after he and the alter boy take their daily bath.
Not entirely convinced about the purported efficacy, though. There are known, well documented, uncharacteristic episodes of near catastrophic failure; it is not entirely foolproof, unfortunately. The last Pope, JPII, for example -- who preferred the stuff to sacramental wine, and used it religiously -- fell and broke his hip during one of his morning baths. I heard that the alter boy drowned. Tragic outcome. Probably the result of the bottle having been adulterated in some manner. Word at the Vatican is that some twisted atheist may have urinated in it. Were you, by any chance, in Rome during the time that this unfortunate incident transpired, Revere? Just asking.
I don't really see what you beef is Revere. As far as I can tell Ms Brightwater is not making any claims that her ritual ablutions change the physical nature of the water or result in an pharmacological effects on the consumer. It's a 'spiritual', matter, as she puts it. Like Holy Water. So in the end you are just putting down someone else's religion. Not cool.
Putting down someone else's religion is now not cool? I was not informed. I thought that was what religion was _for_.
Its matter of respect for others. I guess you get it or you don't.
I don't think the original blog was intended to be disrespectful to religous beliefs, and I'm saddened by the turn these comments have taken.
I thought the point of this post was the absurdity of the marketing scheme and the wastefulness of American society. Instead of paying for someone to sing to our water why don't we pay a little extra to invest in future drinking water, a depleting and increasingly contaminated resource. Now that is a marketing scheme I could get behind.
As far as I can tell Ms Brightwater is not making any claims that her ritual ablutions change the physical nature of the water
She claims to be transferring "good energy" to it. Presumably, that involves changing it. Presumably, that change is supposed to be beneficial. Presumably, people are paying more to enjoy that benefit (while ignoring the serious environmental issues relating to the collection, distribution, and sale of bottled water).
I don't see any reason to respect any of that. If she thinks water needs to have better energy -- whatever the fuck that means -- then let her teach people how to bless their own goddamn tap water, preferably for free. If she's unwilling to separate her so-called "religion" from the profit motive, why should I?
Give us a read on this one Revere....
Randy: It's hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg odor), which is toxic in fairly small quantities and very unpleasant of course. I've been watching this one but there hasn't been much info beyond stories like this.
"Kosher for Passover" after a Rabbi certified it
In tropical climate, food safety was important. To avoid poison by contamination in a time without FDA :-) Rabbi perhaps had better scientific knowledge. Food safety has to be done collectively. I am not sure that modern standard is really safe collectively.
"If she's unwilling to separate her so-called "religion" from the profit motive, why should I?"
Thanks for saving the lifestyle from superstition. I hope that people can tell the difference between fish eye and pearl. :-(
Ahh, but where do we stop?
Remember the slogan "Coke adds life!"...?
Could that have been a subtle hint about longevity?
Most advertising & marketing works on the basis of emotional appeals. So long as a manufacturer isn't selling an adulterated product, discloses all ingredients on the label, and doesn't make unsupported medical claims, it's a free country and you own your own body.
If people want to drink something in order to get their RDA of nonsense, fine. Including Coke, Pepsi, and the major brands of alcohol beverages, most of which are sold on the basis that drinking them will get you laid.
The molecular structure of water clusters is susceptable to energy and actually can be reformed by manipulating the amount or kind of energy input into the water. For instance a water ionizer will reduce the number of water molecules found in a particular set of water clusters by charging the water wand breaking the weak hydrogen bonds which form between water molecules. This has lead some to theorize that you can reshape the molecular structure with sound waves of varying intensity as well as using other energy forms.
i am the founder of liquid om water.
put simply, there are some people that connect with our product and others who don't. we're not trying to convince anyone of anything.
what most people don't realize is that our product is:
- delivered in hybrids
- 100 of times cleaner than spring and tap water (this can be tested very easily)
- we plant 7 trees for every case sold
wishing you all the best,
Funny how some people find ridiculous the unknown, at the end the ridiculous one is the ignorant. Before putting something or someone down, do some research first, information is the key my friend. Water is under-rated!