A REVIEW OF MASARU EMOTO'S FUNCTIONAL WATER WRITINGS. . .
FACT, FICTION OR SYMPATHATIC MAGIC?
NOTE: FOR A COMPLETE, FORMAL REFUTATION OF EMOTO'S PSEUDO-SCIENCE BY WIKIPEDIA, GO HERE.
Somewhere in the past a wise man reportedly said:"...a picture is worth a thousand words"
Another, but wiser man who followed him added:
"...both the picture and the thousand words are not worth a hundred pounds of horse puckey if they do not represent the truth."
Regularly, we receive comments on this topic(and this posting) from readers who share our concerns regarding this attempted transformation of various metaphysical phenomena into the physical sciences. Because reading material on this subject makes the New York Times Best Seller list does not ensure that it is truthful or worthy of integration into one's beliefs. We will post some of these comments so you, the new reader, can realize that this topic is not some "off the wall" discussion but a real and growing concern amongst both the Christian and secular communities.
"...Warm Greetings Mr. Purewater Guy:
Just a big thanks for some of the common sense and intelligence you exhibit in your emoto article, both of which are becoming a lost attribute in a lost culture.
After receiving the emoto water fantasy junk from her Mother (a born again christian, ouch) my wife showed me her Mother's mail with the water and the words and the science and then showed me your response which she had previously looked up in prep to respond to her confused mom.
There of course are bigger issues here that are ultimately terribly disturbing. Whatever your personal religious leanings may be I wholeheartedly agree with your take on the moral compass of judeo christian easy believism pop theology.
But more disturbing is that this judeo christian belief system that is the foundation of the North American culture down to the constitution and its laws is now being replaced by crystals and science and ipods and new age madness. Instead of sober minded wisdom we have largely replaced it with this kind of stupidity that has crept into virtually every major church and denomination in the Western world, (my poor mother in law is testimony to this, a lifetime and family grown up in the church and this is what it has come to)
If you don't stand up for something you will fall for anything and if you don't even know why you are standing up then it is a short step to beginning to march and shout slogans .
These are dangerous times and apparently the those who should be wise have become fools, and this I say with Love."
Lloyd - Canada
Many times we see things that initially appear to be not only unusually attractive but also intriguing in that they allow our imagination to run wild. Many of these situations may occur in nature, such as a telescopic view of a distant galaxy, or a microscopic view of a leaf.
In these cases what we THINK we see is in fact what our optic nerves and brain ACTUALLY see.
At other times our optic nerves pick up an object or image and our brain then attempts to extrapolate that image into a preconceived object or picture that we may have seen elsewhere. This is called "pareidolia".
Pareidolia is a type of illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus being perceived as something clear and distinct. For example, in the discolorations of a burnt tortilla one sees the face of Jesus Christ. Or one sees the image of Mother Teresa, the Virgin Mary or Ronald Reagan in a cinnamon bun, a window reflection, a shadow or even a face of a man on the moon.
Under ordinary circumstances, pareidolia provides a psychological explanation for many delusions based upon sense perception. For example, it explains UFO sightings, as well as the hearing of sinister messages on records played backwards.
Pareidolia explains Elvis, Bigfoot, and Loch Ness Monster sightings. It explains numerous religious apparitions and visions as noted above. And it explains why some people see a face or a building in a photograph of the Cydonia region of Mars.In this case, the mind desperately desires to see what it really cannot with all clarity prove is an actual image(of the Virgin Mary, for example), but the individual's desire to imagine it is really a bonafide image overrides the brain's ability to reasonably ascertain that it is only an artifact of some type rather than an image.
Finally, there is another type of image that is digested by the brain. It originates in the spiritual realm, sometimes as a dream or vision or even at times an object or image that may have a body with physical mass, a perceptible shape, and perhaps a color or intensity of light associated with it.
Individuals who have had supposed encounters with UFO's, poldergeist or other supernatural phenomena describe these experiences as real as can be.
We say all of the above in order to introduce an analysis of Masaru Emoto's recent photographic exposures of water molecules in their natural state and their conditions when exposed to various external sounds(voice and music) and even handwritten statements on the outside of a water container.
Several books have been written by Emoto and have gained considerable traction in the marketplace as a result of their promotion by organizations such as the New York Times, Amazon.com, various New Age and occult groups as well as religious orders such as Religious Science and Unity.
To start with, let us read what booksellers say about two of these recent works by Emoto. I have highlighted(in blue) some of the more striking comments.
Bookseller Synopsis of "Hidden Messages in Water":
"The unique book presents a new and very alchemical theory showing how water is deeply connected to people's individual and collective consciousness. Drawing from his own research, scientific researcher and “metaphysical ecologist” Dr. Masaru Emoto describes the ability of water to absorb, hold, and even retransmit human feelings and emotions.
Using high-speed photography, he found that minute crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward it. Music, visual images, words written on paper, and photographs also have an impact on the crystal structure.
He found that water from clear springs and water exposed to loving words shows brilliant, complex, and colorful snowflake patterns, while polluted water and water exposed to negative thoughts forms incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors.Dr. Emoto shares his conclusions from years of research and explains the profound connections shared by water, mankind, and earth. He offers proof that water is alive and responsive to our every emotion. He is now licensing his methodology and the experiment is being repeated around the world. Contains over 120 stunning four-color photographs. 156 pages. 5x7 glossy paper. ISBN: 1-58270-114-8. 2004. Item # HIDMES. $16.95"
Bookseller Synopsis of "The True Power of Water":
"Following the release of Dr Emoto's best selling book The Hidden Messages in Water, The True Power Of Water takes an in-depth look at how water can be used to improve our health and everyday lives. After Dr. Emoto's discovery that molecules of water are affected by thoughts, words, and feelings, his extensive research has yielded ground breaking discoveries.
Dr Emoto discusses how water has the capability to transcribe the information of illness, and how people's names and pictures even carry the information of their illness. Dr Emoto also explaines the limitations of Western medicine, and that many conditions that are thought of as hereditary, may not be necessarily be so.
He also outlines the power of words on illness, and that certain words can enhance our immunity."
Our research on Emoto's publications took us to a variety of booksellers. Invariably, his books were found together with a wide variety of occult, witchcraft, water dowsing and divination reading resources.
This correlation was consistent and in order to place Emoto's materials in the proper perspective from a reader and utility standpoint, we list below some of those books which are merchandised side by side with Emoto's writings.
How to Meet and Work with Spirit Guides
The Royal Road to Card Magic
Witches' Datebook 2006
How to See and Read the Aura
Psychic Development for Beginners: An Easy Guide to Releasing and Developing Your Psychic Abilities
The Real Witches' Garden: Spells, Herbs, Plants and Magical Spaces Outdoors
Real Witches' Year: Spells, Rituals and Meditations for Every Day of the Year
Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind
The Real Witches' Craft: Magical Techniques and Guidance for a Full Year of Practising the Craft
Phenomenon : Everything You Need to Know About The Paranormal
by Sylvia Browne
Psychics and Mediums in Canada
By Jean Porche And Deborah Vaughan
Spirit Babies: How to Communicate With the Child You're Meant to Have
By Walter Makichen
The Druid Craft Tarot: Use the Magic of Wicca and Druidry to Guide Your Life with Cards By Philip Carr-gomm; Stephanie Carr-gomm; William WorthingtonPositive Magic: Occult Self-Help by Marion Weinstein
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
by Scott Cunningham
The Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells: The Ultimate Reference Book for the Magical Arts
by Judika Illes
The natural questions then arise:
(1) Who is this Dr. Emoto;
(2) What if any review and/or validation within the scientific community has been obtained for these various claims;
(3) Is this science, pseudo-science, something from an unseen "spiritual realm" or simply unadulterated deception by a deluded author;
(4) And, why are so many people attending seminars, purchasing his books and listening with rapt attention as he presents?
Why is Emoto's Presentation Successful(or, Why are People Listening)
The key to understanding what is happening here is called "magical thinking".
According to anthropologist Dr. Phillips Stevens Jr., "magical thinking" involves several elements, including a belief in the interconnectedness of all things through forces and powers that transcend both physical and spiritual connections.
Magical thinking thus invests special powers and forces in many things that are seen simply as symbols.
The terms magic, magical and magical thinking have a wide range of meanings, both among scholars and the general public. In no significant order, the terms can mean:
(1) The tricks and illusions of a stage magician;
(2) The ability to change form, visibility, or location of something, or the creation of something from nothing;
(3) A spirit invocation and command; having romantic, awe-inspiring, or wondrous quality;
(4) The "high" or "Hermetic" magic of late medieval and Renaissance times, including astrology, alchemy, Kabbalah, and other systems involving complex calculations and/or written notations and formulas;
(5) Anything "mystical," "psychic," "paranormal," "occult," or "New Age";
(6) Some of the beliefs and practices of Wicca and other neo-pagan religions, often spelled "magick";
(7) Any of the many meanings of "sorcery" or "witchcraft," or other referents of "black magic";
(8) Anything seeming mysterious or miraculous; and the terms can be used as a general reference to supernatural power.
According to Stevens,
"the vast majority of the world's peoples ...(obviously including Emoto and his enraptured listeners and readers) believe that there are real connections between the symbol(music, sound, writing) and its referent(water), and that some real and potentially measurable power flows between them." (my comments in parenthesis)
Stevens believes there is a neurobiological basis for this, though the specific content of any symbol is culturally determined.
Emoto's culture is rich with symbology that reaches deeply into everyday life and especially ethics, family and business relationships as well as whatever spiritual structure is being observed by the individual or culture.
One of the driving principles of magical thinking is the notion that things that resemble each other are causally connected in some way that defies scientific testing (the law of similarity).
Another driving principle is the belief that "things that have been either in physical contact or in spatial or temporal association with other things retain a connection after they are separated" (the law of contagion) (Frazer; Stevens).
Think of psychic detectives claiming that they can get information about a missing person by touching an object that belongs to the person (psychometry). Or think of the pet psychic who claims she can read your dog's mind by looking at a photo of the dog. Or think of Rupert Sheldrake's morphic resonance.
Moving closer to Emoto's situation, Zusne and Jones (see reference below*) define "magical thinking" or superstition, as the belief that
(a) transfer of energy or information between physical systems may take place solely because of their similarity or contiguity in time and space, or
(b) that one's thought, words, or actions can achieve specific physical effects in a manner not governed by the principles of ordinary transmission of energy or information.
I have highlighted this second definition because it is precisely what is happening in Emoto's case. This proposition forms a significant portion of the basis of the practice of homopathy where contiguity in space is utilized to propagate electromagnetic patterns from a single source to adjacent sources, successively diminishing(but retaining all of the characteristics of the source) until these patterns essentially vanish beyond physical measurement.
This definition above also appears to fit the situtation when Emoto claims that simply writing various words on the exterior of a bottle containing water can change the physical and electrical composition of the water molecules in the jar. (Are you still sitting down in your chair?)
Similarly, exposing the water to various types of music(Mozart versus hard rock)music or selected verbal communication likewise changes the structure of the water. In the books referenced above, Emoto provides "photographic evidence" of this change. (It gets better as we probe deeper!)
Remember, Emoto admits on his website in his books that he is not a scientist but instead a practitioner of "soft sciences", possessing a doctoral degree(earned or perhaps otherwise) in the area of International Relations.
It is quite a leap from International Relations to the world of quantum physics, but the concept of "magical thinking" appears to be forming the bridge for Emoto between these two distant and scientifically unrelated worlds, albeit by intuition or simply guesswork.
So, Who Believes This Stuff?
As we noted before, the prime movers of this information fall into a broad range of New Age beliefs as well as more hard core occult, witchcraft, water dowsing and Religious Science practitioners. This is fascinating stuff to these people since it fits precisely in their backyard so to speak, of parapsychology and related mind sciences.
Quo Vadis Emoto?
Why does Dr. Emoto persist in this work, quite possibly knowing that that there is no scientific or logical explanation for results of his "research"?
There are several possible answers to this question.
(1) The first reason is likely cultural and deals with the Chinese and Asian concept of "feng shui".
Feng Shui (pronounced "phung schwee" and meaning literally "wind water") is part of an ancient Chinese philosophy of nature. Feng shui is mainly concerned with understanding the relationships between nature and ourselves so that the practitioner might live in harmony within their environment.
Emoto continually stresses this feature in creating "happy and harmonious" water patterns by claiming to remove or eliminate anger, pollution and other negative influences from its surroundings.
Feng shui is thus related to the notion that living with rather than against nature(the "Gaia" concept of Al Gore's New Age beliefs)benefits both humans and our environment. It is also related to the equally sensible notion that our lives are deeply affected by our physical and emotional environs. So goes it with Emoto's water.
More specifically, it is claimed that if one surrounds themselves with symbols of death, contempt and indifference toward life and nature, with noise, anger and various forms of ugliness, according to Emoto the water in and around us "hears" this ensemble of negativism and thus corrupts water both inside the body as well as water around ourselves. Emoto claims that negativistic effects on our body's water lead to disease.
On the other hand, if one surrounds themselves with beauty, gentleness, kindness, sympathy, pleasing music and various expressions of the sweetness of life, we ennoble the water in and around ourselves. Emoto claims to have taken photographs of such environmentally-driven water characteristics.
Alleged masters of the practice of feng shui are supposed to be able to detect metaphysical energies and give directions for their optimal flow.
Feng shui has thus become a kind of architectural acupuncture: wizards and magi insert themselves into buildings or landscapes and use their metaphysical sensors to detect the flow of good and bad "energy."
These masters for hire declare where bathrooms should go, which way doorways should face, where mirrors should hang, which room needs green plants and which one needs red flowers, which direction the head of the bed should face, etc.
If you believe this stuff, obviously as Emoto does, only a person with special metaphysical sensors or "intuitive powers" , can tell what really needs to be done.
One can find these practitioners in the Yellow Pages sections containing palmists, tarot card readers, various psychics and other occult practitioners.
Feng shui has also become another New Age "energy" scam with arrays of metaphysical products from paper cutouts of half moons and planets, to octagonal mirrors to wooden flutes, offered for sale to help improve one's health, maximize one's potential and guarantee fulfillment of some fortune cookie philosophy.
So much for the cultural linkage to Emoto's unusual scientific "findings".
(2) Repetitive/Ego Factor. this is probably the most easily understood phenomena. It has been reiterated perhaps millions of times since WWII when Nazi leaders uttered the infamous words:
"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." Joseph Goebbels - Nazi Party
When Emoto and his followers keep repeating this pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo, additional deluded individuals from both the New Age and conventional academia will begin to believe it.
The Fein Shui Eastern philosophy has drifted to the West to fill a void left by the abandonment of Judeo/Christian beliefs by millions of individuals whose spiritual compass is inoperative. Those who have swallowed the programs of Eastern beliefs are now cannon fodder for what Emoto is dishing out.
From the writer's standpoint, it would be anethema to admit that any or all of this information is bogus. It would be worse than an embarassment, particularly in Asia, where "bushido" would be the accepted alternative to losing face for admitting such a monstrous error.
(3) Subjective Validation - Cleverly Deceiving the Reader or Listener: - Subjective validation(as opposed to scientific validation) is the process of validating words, initials, statements or signs as accurate because the reader or listener is able to find them personally meaningful and significant.
Subjective validation is also an essential element of any successful "cold reading" done by astrologers, palm readers, mediums, and the like. The listener or "sitter" in such situations must be cooperative.
Fortunately for Mr. Emoto, most of his audience is fully cooperative and willing to work hard to find personal meaning in whatever the speaker or writer throws their way.
In this subjective validation activity, the listener or reader will be convinced that the veracity or honesty of the speaker or writer was not due to the reader or listener's ability and willingness to intellectually or scientifically corroborate the data but rather a reliance on familiar "unseen powers", "intuition" or other parapsychology trappings.
A pliable, highly cooperative and non-combative audience of readers or listeners encourages the writer or speaker to
"push the envelope" and move the subject beyond normal, intellectually validated limits"
and tickle thereader's ears with messages which are similar to those which the audience is familiar with reading or hearing from other New Age, occult or paranormal sources.
The situation essentially "..the blind leading the blind".
So...where does this leave us?
Emoto is not a scientist...he openly admits that. He knows so little about the mechanics of the science that he had to farm out the testing to a young technician who apparently couldn't "...get it right" for months at a time.
He has never subjected his testing protocols or results to independent, third party evaluation and review so that it can be considered validated science.
The only published journal where he has submitted his work considered his paper a "photographic essay". Essay?
He seems to make it up as he goes along...conjecturing that all of earth's water comes from outer space; that a group of oriental priests, standing at the edge of a highly contaminated lake, can remove all of these contaminants by repetitive chanting. It gets even more unbelievable as one moves through the chapters of each of his books.
He admits on his website that the results he has obtained may well come from the spirit world(much like water dowsers openly acknowledge "assistance" from such paranormal sources).
He claims that writing happy or damning words on the side of a jar containing water can change the physical format of the molecules.
He readily admits that there is no guarantee that successive tests of the same water sample will yield results similar to the original test...this is similar to "selective sampling", something that goes on in virtually every science lab where the analyst looks for a result that validates his assumptions or pre-conceived test results. We also see this "sampling" process regularly being applied to skew public polls.
Is this science or simply crass data manipulation?
And this list could go on for some time.
Emoto belongs with the New Age crowd; he belongs precisely where his books are selling like mad; talking about crop circles, UFO's, out of body experiences, witchcraft practices and such.
Emoto's work is not science, and it does not in any way deserve a stature which would intimate that it is science.
If Emoto's process works, the following experiment should validate the process. Take a magnifying glass and look at a snowflake or ice crystal which has formed on the outside of the window on a freezing day. The crystal is hexagonal in shape, beautiful to observe.
Now, take a magic marker and write the word "devil" or some other bad word on the inside of the window. Look again at the water crystal to see if it distorts into an obtuse and discolored array. Other crystals around the one you initially observed should also be distorted and discolored if Emoto's hypothesis is correct. Let us know what you find.
Oops...I forgot...Emoto says that this experiment will only work if the words are written in Japanese!
Occasionally I am asked why I do not experimentally disprove Emoto's findings. I usually refer them to Emoto's website where he states:
We are actually the descendants of exiles from space. When I expand this idea, I think we might be descendants of exiles who committed crimes on a planet in a far universe.
Our ancestors who committed crime on that Utopian planet because of self-greed, were exiled according to the law of that planet. Maybe the destination was determined according to the crime's degree.
I have no idea how Earth is ranked but once you are sent to Earth bound by devil-like gravity, there is very little possibility that you can come back again. So maybe our ancestors committed quite a horrible crime.
Our ancestors were transformed into ice and emitted towards the Earth. After a long, long journey, they became like comets eventually arriving on Earth and playing into the atmosphere.
Because of the heat at that moment, our “ice” ancestors evaporated and became vapor, became clouds and then rain, and finally fell to the Earth for the first time.
After many many centuries human beings were born and as their past memories were vanished, they started to build civilization all over again.
Emoto's ice crystal pictures came from the same mind as this above theory - a bunch of off the wall visualizations thrown into a mental mixmaster which is set at "frappe". This sort of nonsense usually comes about from standing in the sun too long or by sniffing glue in a closed closet.
The benefit of trying to "prove" or disprove Emoto's ice crystal pictures would make as much as sense as trying to prove or disprove his other "theories" as he described above in his website. If you believe what Emoto wrote in the blue text above, you probably will believe what he illustrates and describes in his water crystal picture books as well.
STILL NOT ENOUGH?
More from Emoto's website:
"The concept of imaginary nature is the basis of Hado(the water crystal) science.
If the ocean is the mother of life, then imaginary nature is the parent of the universe.
Without the understanding of imaginary nature, there is no Hado science.
This imaginary nature may seem a jump from physical science, but one cannot solve the mystery of the universe without assuming imaginary nature.
If you adhere too much to physical science, it will be difficult to understand imaginary nature.
If you accept this concept free of prejudice, it is easy to understand this with the help of analogous phenomena.
Once you understand, you will understand that all the phenomena in this universe are based on this imaginary nature, and you will feel that your eyes are at last open.”
On page 126 of his book "The Secret Life of Water", Emoto says:
"...sometimes fantasy is the best way to get a clear picture of reality."
He also says of his "scientific" process:
"...the whim of the person doing the selecting(of the water crystal pictures) certainly comes into play, ...and I (Emoto) admit that the selection process is not strictly in accordance with the scientific method".
Now, if you believe any of this, I've got a good sized bridge in New York harbor I want to sell to you. A free tube of glue comes with the bridge...
*Zusne, Leonard and Warren Jones. 2nd ed. Anomalistic Psychology: A Study of Magical Thinking 2nd edition. (Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc. 1989).