Science, News & Critical Thinking.

Water, The Miracle Liquid!

Well now, isn’t this interesting? It seems like people can get funding for anything these days. I know this video is a couple of years old, but I’m amazed that people are still willing to believe in this type of mystical ‘science’.

I first got wind of this “miracle of water” experiment, after seeing a small segment on “What The Bleep Do We Know?“. A movie released in 2004. I actually bought into the hype at the time. But there was always something unbelievable, and ultimately untrue about a lot of the ‘science’ presented in this film. Let me just say this to all you people NEW to the skeptical community. Don’t believe everything branded as science and “edutainment” on TV.

Even though this is a thinly veiled piece of new-age fiction sold as fact. You have to admit, the cinematography and post production are pretty tight. That being said, let’s try to point out some of the inaccuracies in this short promotional video, shall we? 😉

Time code: 2:03
Water is referred to as a “secretive, amazing element”. What do we truly know about this “element”?

Well for starters, water is a molecule, composed of 2 elements, Hydrogen and Oxygen not an element unto itself. Between 0ºC and 100ºC it’s liquid, below that, a crystal solid and above that a gas. (at 1 atmosphere). It can’t be compressed in it’s liquid form, and is a solvent for many gasses and other molecules. When it freezes it creates hexagonal crystals. That’s about all I know about water… there’s probably a lot I don’t know regarding it’s special fluid dynamics, surface tension properties and such… but to say that it’s somehow mysterious, magical and possesses some unexplainable spiritual properties is ludicrous.

Time code: 2:05
Introducing Rustum Roy! He brings to the table an impressive array of books and degrees, revolving around material sciences and an unwavering, self proclaimed understanding of “water memory” or Homeopathy. He often refers to the scientists who routinely debunk his claims as “homeophobes” (some of the comments on this article are enlightening).  He speaks with authority, but that doesn’t make his claims accurate or true.

Time code: 2:26
Some religeous guy named Kirill. Patriarch Kirill I to be exact. He’s the big cheese in the Russian Orthodox church. I’m not sure why he’s in here, I guess just to bridge the gap between pseudoscience and religion… Not much of a gap there. He is a respected authoritative figure with a lot of connections which is supposed to lend some credibility to this film.

Time code: 2:36
Kurt Wuthrich… well, he didn’t say anything inaccurate… come to think of it, he didn’t really say anything of substance at all. His resume is extensive though. Kurt is a Nobel Prize winner! I wonder what he’s doing in this film? It should be noted that a lot of the true scientists that appear in pieces like this are there under the premise of lending a hand in the scientific approach to the film… However a lot of them are shocked at the final piece when they see their own words, edited, distorted and messed-with, in order to give them the appearance of blindly agreeing with the very flawed argument into which they were originally trying to inject reason.

Time code: 3:05
Konstantin Korotkov, Mr. BioElectrography himself. This dude is a throw back to the good ol’ days of Kirlian photography. Since mainstream science has identified the existence of Aura photography or Kirlian photography as a well known phenomenon called coronal discharge back in the 70’s and debunked it’s spiritual claims, it needed a new name so it could be sold to a whole new generation of new-age believers. He’s all about life energy. In this short clip he claims that the strongest element of influence for water is the presence of human emotion. Although even in the actual video he’s really unclear precisely how the water is affected. (I thought that heat or air pressure are pretty effectual on water, but what do I know?)

Time code: 4:13
Ah, the star of the show, Emoto Masaru. “I hope to show people, through my research, that water has a memory of it’s own.” Born in Yokohama, Japan, Emoto graduated from Yokohama Municipal University with courses in International Relations, and in 1992 he received certification as a Doctor of Alternative Medicine from the Open International University for Alternative Medicine in India, an unaccredited institute with minimal academic requirements. With a resume like that… well whatever. At least he’s a doctor… of sorts.

Okay folks, strap into your skeptic pants, we’re going for a ride!

Movie claim: Emotions, projected from a group of people onto a flask of water, can drastically change the properties of that water.
Real life: How would you shield the water from the influence of additional emotions during the experiment. Also, what properties changed? Was it still wet? Did it still make waves? Could it still dilute things? Was the freezing point the same? Wiggly bar graphs aren’t evidence of anything if they aren’t explained.

Movie claim: Love increases the energy level of the water and stabilizes it.
Real life: The definition of the phrase ‘Energy Level’ is “the fixed amount of energy that a system, such as a molecule, atom, electron, or nucleus, can have.” Fixed amount of energy! Which means you can test for it. Love can’t increase energy and hate can’t remove it. It’s thermal dynamics, a process in physics that is very well understood and has been shown time and again to balance out.

How is the water “stabilized”, exactly? Does it change any measurable property of the water, or does it just make the wiggly graph go up rather than down? They keep referring to “radical changes in the water” without specifying what these radical changes are. We are presented with some crystallized water drops that look like snow flakes that have been allegedly “charged” with different human emotions.

In Emoto’s experiments, Happy emotions look like perfectly symmetrical crystals, whereas Sad emotions are half-melted, crappy looking crystals. But you only see one example of each. It would have been more compelling evidence to see more than one case of this working. Like a whole series of beautiful Happy snowflakes, and a whole series of crappy Sad snowflakes. But we’re instead presented with a very cherry-picked data set of one, which statistically proves nothing. What about all the Happy snowflakes that looked crappy? Were there any? You never get super clear results like that in any scientific endeavor, if they were following a scientific process you would expect to see some anomalies. But nope, instead you get an extremely clear picture that conveniently supports their initial hypothesis, no flaws and no exceptions presented.

What’s with all the secrecy, Emoto?
After doing a little poking around online I’ve found out that the bulk of controversy over Emoto’s claims aren’t the claims themselves, but rather, his lab refuses to release detailed experimental information showing how to recreate these findings independently in any other lab. This is a problem when claiming something as huge as finding the source of “Life itself”. You can’t just say, ‘Trust me, I found it”. You actually have to show people how you found it. Where you found it. What apparatus you used to find it. What conditions were present when you found it. What materials you used. etc.

Also, it’s a little telling that you aren’t presented with a bunch of “love” snowflakes, and a bunch of “hate” melty blobs. Instead you’re presented with a test bed of one each. Everyone knows you need more than one of any test result to confirm a claim, to ensure your test results aren’t just random. Not to mention that measuring the aesthetics of water crystals is a very subjective and one sided way to interpret data in an experiment. Leaving your findings completely open to the personal tastes of your lab assistants is completely pointless and worthless.

Instead of making multi-hundred thousand dollar promotional videos showing some of his work, it would be a lot more fascinating to see his full data-sets to see once-and-for-all that we are on the cusp of a new spiritual and scientific understanding of nature and life itself. Without a common understanding of the brief and physically unreproducible experiments he’s presented in this video, we will never know if Mr. Emoto was on to something, or if he was just drumming up business for his own coffers and fame.


  1. I was looking for controversy on Emoto’s “theories”, and, frankly, hoped to get a bit more than what I found here. Although several considerations of yours are useful and reasonable, there is a self-indulgence in them which perfectly mirrors the self-indulgence and the narcissism of pseudoscience. I will keep looking for scientists with an open mind who can accept the challenge and not just close in with easy sarcasm. The research, wherever it may lead, must include other fields and go ahead of the science vs pseudoscience feud. Religions and traditions do exist, systemic psychology does exist, poetry is an important activity as science is, physics have gone into new territories, over the last decades, and strangely enough science itself, in different forms, did exist before the neo-positive era. I am not an advocate of the New Age thing,otherwise I wouldn’t have looked for the “controversy”, I am only honestly trying to understand if epystemology and a phenomenologic approach can bridge the gap between separate research fields, overcoming slogans, petty defensive statements and a banal and mediocre “war”.Please, Mr scientist. Thank you very much.

    • Paolo, To be honest. Without access to Mr. Emoto’s processes, and proper peer review of his techniques and findings, nothing can be said for his research. I was merely trying to make a point, that things that seem scientific and have the ever present media shine and special effects applied to it, should still be able to stand up under the scrutiny of those viewing it. In this case Mr. Emoto’s video did not.

      That being said, this was not intended to be a scientific article, with facts, figures and charts to wow and amaze you with my scientific prowess, it was meant as a rant. The kind of self indulgent finger-pointing fest that brings me comfort when I’m faced with something I have a hard time swallowing.

      If you enjoyed parts of it, great! If you disagree with most of it, that’s great too! At least you took the time to read it and form an opinion. Either way, I do appreciate your candor and I am willing to concede that, at some points, the tone of the article seems to get a little arrogant. This was not intended, nor have I ever claimed to be an actual scientist. I’m a web developer with a bunch of interests including technology, science, the pursuit of facts and an evidence based understanding of reality.