Is Masaru Emoto For Real?!! | Open minded critical analysis of Masaru Emoto
When I first heard of Dr. Emoto’s amazing work with water crystals through his book “The Hidden Messages in Water” I was absolutely stunned. I then saw the movie “What the Bleep do we Know” and became thoroughly intrigued. I set off to conduct a research project in the chemistry department of Castleton College in Vermont to see if I could find sufficient evidence and support for Dr. Emoto’s claims to merit conducting a deeper research project to try to reproduce his work. The idea was to uncover as much information about his methods and procedures as possible to determine if is would actually be feasible to study the effect of energy healing, such as Reiki, on the formation of water crystals. I was so excited to think that I might be the first person in the world to verify his work!
So what follows is my official research paper that contains all of my findings and determinations after months of exhaustive review of Dr. Emoto’s published works. I hope that it will give you a deeper understanding and appreciation for the truth.
Kristopher Setchfield, BA, Health Science
Natural Science Department
Castleton State College, Vermont
20 December, 2005
Review and analysis of Dr. Masaru Emoto’s
published work on the effects of external stimuli
on the structural formation of ice crystals.
This paper surveys the wealth of information that was uncovered during investigation of Dr. Masaru Emoto’s claim that human thought has a direct observable effect on the structural formation of ice crystals. Upon initial review of Dr. Emoto’s published findings, I became very interested in the implications of his research and developed the initial concept for this research project, which was to review Mr. Emoto’s laboratory methodology to learn if it would be possible to test his hypothesis and reproduce his results at Castleton State College. Since the human body is composed of between 50% and 80% water, I could not help but wonder, “If thought affects the molecular structure of water, then what effect might thought have on the human bodies?”
However, after many hours of investigation it became increasingly clear that a superior purpose for this project was to review Mr. Emoto’s procedures and results for scientific validity. This revision in the original intent for this project has been very eye-opening and the findings have grounded my opinion of Dr. Emoto’s work in a concrete of scientific rigor and skepticism.
Dr. Emoto became a Doctor of Alternative Medicine at the Open International University for Alternative Medicine in India in 1992, and he has become famous throughout the world in the alternative medicine realm for his 1999 self-published book, The messages of water. Since that time, his narrative and collection of photos of ice crystals has been picked up by independent publishing companies and has grown into subsequent works, such as The hidden messages in water (HMW). Recently his work was featured in a highly controversial movie titled What the bleep do we know!? (Bleep) and published in an essay in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM). These thrust his work into the international spotlight and portrayed his work as proven scientific research. It was because of the notoriety gained by his books and the Bleep movie that I first learned of Emoto’s fantastic claim that he has found evidence that human thought affects ice crystal formation and that the structure and level of detail of an ice crystal is an indicator of water quality.
An ice crystal is a crystal lattice of solid water molecules that is often visible to the naked eye and commonly experienced as a snowflake. The crystal exhibits the hexagonal lattice structure that is characteristic of solid water, as illustrated in the picture on the left where two views are shown of the same ice crystal molecule–where the red balls represent the oxygen atoms, and the grey spokes represent the hydrogen atoms.
Fig. 1. Ice crystal lattice scructure (Libbrecht)
Fig. 2. Ice crystal faces
According to Kenneth Lebbrecht, chairman of the department of physics at Caltech and a leading ice crystal researcher, ice crystals form arms on the crystal faces (shown in the picture above on the right). The two hexagonal faces are known as basal faces, and the six rectangular faces are known as prism faces, and the overall shape of a crystal is determined by which faces grow arms. If the basal faces grow, a columnar crystal develops, and if the basal faces grow a plate shape will develop.
Lebbrecht’s morphology diagram below illustrates that ice crystal shape is a factor of both humidity and temperature. Temperature is the most important factor, and plates tend to form in the 0°C to -3°C and -10°C to -22°C ranges (red), while columns tend to form from -3°C to -10°C and below -22°C (green). Lower humidity tends to form simpler crystal shapes, while higher humidity tends to form more intricate crystals. It is currently not known why ice crystals form different shapes at different temperatures, as the physics of how the water molecules bond to a growing ice crystal are very complex and not well understood (Libbrecht).
Fig.3. Morphology Diagram of Ice Crystal Formation (Libbrecht)
Emoto’s hypothesis has evolved over the years of his research. Initially Dr. Emoto claimed that high-quality water forms beautiful and intricate crystals, while low-quality water has difficulty forming crystals. According to Dr. Emoto, an ice crystal of distilled water exhibits a basic hexagonal structure with no intricate branching, as shown in the photo below, taken from Dr. Emoto’s website http://www.hado.net (Hado). This basic hexagonal crystal is the simplest form of an ice crystal.
Fig. 4. Photo of Distilled Water Crystal (Emoto, Messages)
The following images (Emoto, Messages 119) show Emoto’s selected photos of ice crystal formation from tap water sources from Paris, London, and Tokyo, respectively in figure 5 and two spring water sources from Japan on the right.
Fig.5. Photos of Tap Water Crystals (Emoto, Messages)
Fig. 6. Photos of Spring Water Crystals (Emoto, Messages)
While these first claims of Dr. Emoto may seem to make common sense, his subsequent claims are ever-increasingly more controversial. After studying the variation in water crystals from samples taken from different locations around the world, Emoto decided to study what would happen to the formation of ice crystals from distilled water after the liquid was exposed to music.
Dr. Emoto reports that he found stunning correlations between the types of music played and the quality and beauty of the ice crystals that would form upon freezing. For instance, the crystal below on the left was observed in a sample of distilled water that had been played Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, and the crystal on the right was observed in a sample of distilled water that had been played so-called “heavy metal” music (Emoto, Messages 17). It is interesting to note that this claim closely mirrors the well-known pseudoscientific and so-far unsubstantiated claim that classical music has a beneficial effect on plant growth, and rock music hinders plant growth.
Fig.7. Distilled Water Crystals after Music (Emoto, Messages)
Following his study of the effects of music on ice crystal formation in distilled water, Dr. Emoto wondered if water crystal structure might be affected by other seemingly illogical external things, such as words written on paper. In the HMW prologue, Dr. Emoto states, “It didn’t seem logical for water to ‘read’ the writing, understand the meaning, and change form accordingly. But I knew from the experiments with music that strange things could happen.”
He began by writing phrases like “thank you” and “you fool” in various languages on paper and placing the paper under the distilled water samples, and his published photos below (Emoto, Messages 7) show a surprising result. Samples that had been exposed to the words “thank you” exhibited beautiful crystals, while samples that had been exposed to the words “you fool” would not form crystals at all.
Fig. 8. Distilled Water Crystals after Written Words (Emoto, Messages)
Encouraged by his findings, Emoto began studying the effects of prayer, blessings, and spoken words. Not surprisingly, his results indicated that water crystal formation was also sensitive to these things–yielding his current hypothesis; “Molecules of water are affected by our thoughts, words, and feelings.” (Emoto, Messages cover)
Dr. Emoto’s published method of obtaining photographs of crystals involves a relatively simple and inexpensive process. 0.5 mL samples of liquid water from a specific sample are placed on 100 petri dishes that are then frozen and stored at a temperature of -25°C for three hours in a freezer. A sample is removed from the freezer for observation under a microscope with a camera in a room with a constant temperature of -5°C. As the microscope’s light melts the top of the sample, crystals are observed and photos are taken (Emoto, Healing 2).
As quoted in an interview with Jon Woodhouse published in the Maui News, Emoto stated, “I did not start out with any modern scientific background. I did not even know the limit of science to stop me from giving this research a chance.” Not having been educated in the scientific community, Emoto has been happy to do his “research” without accurately employing the scientific method. While he does employ the spirit of the scientific method in his research design, he makes critical mistakes in its rigor. For example, Emoto’s research does employ observation of a physical phenomenon, formulation of a hypothesis to explain the phenomenon, and testing and revising the hypothesis, but he makes the critical mistake of failing to minimize the influence of the experimenter’s bias on the outcome of the research.