The Amazing Meeting 2014

Like it? Share it!

Sign up for news and updates!






Enter word seen below
Visually impaired? Click here to have an audio challenge played.  You will then need to enter the code that is spelled out.
Change image

CAPTCHA image
Please leave this field empty

Login Form



Magic Water PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Steven Novella   

Water has a certain psychological appeal - it represents purity, wholesomeness, and life. It is no surprise, therefore, that water is the focus of many snake oil scams, variations on the basic theme of "magic" or special water that has healthful or even healing properties.  

Of course, water is just water. H2O. It is vital to life, and access to adequate supplies of clean water is important to health. The body has many mechanisms for regulating the amount and location of water inside the body, as well as the concentration of many things that are present in the body's water.  

But despite the delusions of homeopaths, water itself cannot have magical healing properties. Yet water remains the snake oil salesman's favorite product, both for its psychological appeal and the massive markup. What's better than selling plain old water at ridiculous prices?  

I am frequently asked to investigate one water-based snake oil product or another. Most recently I was asked to look at a product called Starfire Water. The website presents a trifecta of magic water pseudoscience:  

"Structured Water - Water is naturally structured, but water from the tap is not and neither is most water sold in the store. Unstructured water goes right through you, while structured water removes toxins from your body.

Energized Water - Even structured water on the market, isn’t energized. When you taste our water, you’ll feel a tingle on the roof of the mouth. That’s the energized water. It gives you energy for life.

Infused Water - Most water is just water. But we infuse our water with Etherium, a trace form of liquid gold, known to facilitate higher awareness.  

Wow - structured, energized, and infused water. Water can be legitimately infused, but the question is, with what? They claim the Starfire water is infused with trace gold. "Trace" could mean a few atoms here and there. As far I as I can tell, "etherium" is a complete fiction. The only references I can find to it are either in fiction, or to products making the same claim, that etherium enhances spiritual awakening.  

What about "structured" water? Pseudoscientists and charlatans love to use sciencey-sounding words that have not actual or precise meaning. Liquid water has no enduring structure, nothing that can persist and have any chemical or biological properties. Water "structure" or clusters are extremely transient, to the point that they don't really have a physical existence. As chemist Stephen Lower writes:  

"Chemists have long recognized water as a substance having unusual and unique properties that one would not at first sight expect from a small molecule having the formula H2O. It is generally agreed that the special properties of water stem from the tendency of its molecules to associate, forming short-lived and ever-changing polymeric units that are sometimes described as "clusters". These clusters are more conceptual than physical in nature; they have no directly observable properties, and their transient existence (on the order of picoseconds) does not support an earlier view that water is a mixture of polymers (H2O)n  in which n  can have a variety of values. Instead, the currently favored model of water is one of a loosely-connected network that might best be described as one huge "cluster" whose internal connections are continually undergoing rearrangement."  

How does Starfire structure the water? I'm glad you asked.  

"This reorganizes the molecular order into a receptive state to receive high frequency vibration. The water is then passed through a chamber where magnetic resonance imprints a series of frequencies in an infinitely modulating sequence. Molecular order and frequency loading mutually reinforce each other to maintain the transformation of the water."  

That is almost poetry - pseudoscientific poetry, and utterly meaningless gibberish.  

The claims for "energized" water are just as fake. Sometimes this takes the form of ionized water, but at other times the maximally nonspecific term "energy" is used. We're never told what form that energy takes or how it is measured. The term is used in such a way that it might as well be magic.  

It is amazing that a company can sell a product based entirely on made-up nonsense. And this is just one example. Magic water is an old scam, one that is constantly being repackaged with modern language.

 

Steven Novella, M.D. is the JREF's Senior Fellow and Director of the JREF’s new Science-Based Medicine project.

Dr. Novella is an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine. He is the president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society and the host and producer of the popular weekly science show, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe. He also authors the NeuroLogica Blog.

Trackback(0)
Comments (12)Add Comment
Structured water
written by EarlyOut, March 10, 2012
Of course water can be structured. It's called ice. smilies/wink.gif

And surely you've had energized water, water that makes the roof of your mouth tingle. It's called seltzer.

It's truly galling that people make vast amounts of money with this kind of nonsense, that the government rarely gets them shut down, and that when they do get shut down, they just reincorporate somewhere else and continue bilking the rubes.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +13
...
written by Willy K, March 10, 2012
/sarcasm on Well... aren't all of us here such clever skeptics aren't we? Because we all know about these scams, correct? /sarcasm off smilies/wink.gif

Seriously though, I'd like to figure out how get my gullible friends, neighbors, co-workers and even strangers to quickly realize these kinds of products only separate them from their hard earned cash. I've said things to them such as "That stuff does not work at all and you're wasting your money!" and the usual response is "I just know it works and who do you think you are telling me what to do?"

I like EarlyOut's comments about ice and seltzer. It would be nice to get the gullible folks to laugh and say "Oh yeah, come to think of it, this stuff is nonsense!"
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +4
...
written by jsowers, March 10, 2012
it's a nice touch where they use woo-woo to 'prove' their woo-woo. From their website, "The amount of energy increase emanating from the body after drinking structured water has been documented and recorded using Kirlian photography."

This uses up 2 of my 6 impossible things before breakfast.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +10
...
written by garyg, March 11, 2012
>"The amount of energy increase emanating from the body after drinking structured water has been documented and recorded using Kirlian photography."

16 years ago I sent a friend who was having her "aura" read an article about Kirlian photography, explaining that even INanimate objects have an "aura".
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
The Essence of a Good Scam!
written by Ricsuth, March 11, 2012
At the very heart of the water scam, in whatever form it takes (kabalah blah blah was one here in UK a while back), the raw material is so cheap that whatever nonsense 'processes' the fraudsters put the water through, it still has that magic property of massive margins. Simple eh! That old low cost/high price/must be marvellous formula.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +4
Etherium Gold
written by FrankH, March 11, 2012
I was intrigued by Etherium Gold so I followed the link on the starfire water website to find this:
"Because gold is one of the minerals know for its anti-inflammatory properties. Gold has long been know as money. But the truth is, it has a lot of other health benefits other than being rich..." and a lot more wonderfully scientific sounding descriptions that tell me nothing. Then it makes a reference to "Angstrom gold". I've never heard of Angstrom gold but that's OK. I have a friend that knows everything. smilies/smiley.gif

My friend Google pointed me to http://www.angstrom-mineral.co...-gold.html which tells me "Gold is one of the minerals know for its anti-inflammatory properties. Gold has long been know as money. But the truth is, it has a lot of other health benefits other than being rich..." and continues pretty much word for word the same as Starfire water's website.

Are Starfire water and Angstrom Minerals the same company or did one woo monger copy the other? I guess we'll never know.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +6
Magnetic Water & ND "Hydrotherapy"
written by LindaRosaRN, March 11, 2012
For a science fair one year, my daughter tested a number of claims for "healing magnets" on various slabs of pork. While she had a gauss meter, she also tested the claim that spring water is magnetic and remains magnetic for 24 hours after it is taken out of the earth. She got some fresh spring water from a business in the Colorado mountains, and of course, it registered nothing, and nothing different than tap water or "old" spring water.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +3
Late news: Boiron settles class action suit
written by garyg, March 12, 2012
http://www.quackometer.net/blo...suits.html
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
Etherium
written by Anaglyph, March 12, 2012
Etherium could conceivably have its roots in MTG (Magic The Gathering): http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com/article/Etherium

It would not surprise me at all.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +2
...
written by lytrigian, March 14, 2012
Amazing they've actually gone Penta not one, but TWO better. I wonder if they charge 3 times as much for it too.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
Water and Crystals!
written by willradik, March 18, 2012
My favorite was the guy from the Homeopathy: Quackery or the Future of Medicine debate who went after Dr. Novella and said that water could be in different structures just like crystal or diamond! Except... both of those are solids and water molecules are constantly bouncing around. The only thing special about the structure of water is that it doesn't fly up and become a gas instantly due to the cohesion attraction of its polar structure. Of course, it does become a gas slowly over time at room temperature...
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
more wet water
written by malcolmsargeant, March 19, 2012
http://www.independent.co.uk/l...76625.html

The wheels coming off the homoeopathy wagon?
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0

Write comment
This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comment.
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy