Saturday, December 27, 2008

DRUNKEN DOWSING


Well, I found myself at yet another party, with too much wine in me. There I was with five others arguing about the paranormal. As is generally the case, I alone was defending Science and Skepticism against assaults from all sides. I wasn’t doing very well. My losses were completely due to the amount of alcohol that I had consumed and in no way related to my position, which I assure you was rock solid. Or at least that’s how I remember it. Although the next morning I woke up with a terrible headache and my socks were missing.
Sensing vulnerability, one of my friends decided to attack on another front by reminding me that he is an accomplished dowser. They all know exactly where my buttons are and have no qualms in pushing them liberally.
The long and short of it is I have a challenge. I must come up with an experiment to test my friend’s abilities. I will try to document this experiment and keep you posted as to how it is progressing. The following is the first email exchange:

(ME)So I’ve been thinking about our dowsing experiment. I need to ask you some questions to help me come up with a protocol we can both agree on. Can I email you? This is going to be fun. I’m going to make believe I’m a scientist. Maybe I’ll buy a lab coat.

(DOWSER – LETS CALL HIM TOM)
Any time, any place, dude! Email me, or call. You can dress like a scientist, I'll dress like a guinea pig!

To be continued.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

MESSAGES FROM WATER


Last week at a party a friend of mine started talking about the experiments of Masaru Emoto. The following is an entry from Wikipedia:

Masaru Emoto , is a Japanese author known for his controversial claim that if human speech or thoughts are directed at water droplets before they are frozen, images of the resulting water crystals will be beautiful or ugly depending upon whether the words or thoughts were positive or negative. Emoto claims this can be achieved through prayer, music or by attaching written words to a container of water.

Two things came to mind when I heard this claim. Don’t you think it is an amazing coincidence that nice thoughts produced white orderly crystals, while angry thoughts produced black splotchy disorderly crystals? I understand that the bad guys are supposed to wear black hats and the good guys are supposed to wear white, but, come on. What are the chances that a chemical reaction would somehow correlate to old Hollywood western stereotypes? Couldn’t it have been just as likely for the crystals in the nice water to be disorderly or green in color, or shaped like ovals or spikes? Why were the angry water crystals black? Why not silver or gold? Why weren’t the bad water crystals blue diamonds, or yellow stars or green clovers? The mathematical chances that these results would correlate with some preconceived notions of what is “beautiful” has to be astronomical.
The second thing about memory water that bothered me is its implications outside of science. I am one of those strange combinations - skeptic and artist. If this “research” is correct, it would not only turn the world of physics on its head, it would do the same for the world of aesthetics.
I understand that the next statement is an argument from consequence but I’ll proceed anyway. There has always been a question in the art community as to whether beauty was really in the eye of the beholder. Is it truly all a matter of taste or lack thereof? Or do particular works of art possess an inherent beauty completely independent of the person viewing them? It seems Dr. Emoto has cleared this up for us. Since crystals that are black, uneven and misshapen are connected to “ugly thoughts” and white orderly crystals are the result of “Nice thoughts” then the implication is clear. Nature itself has made up its mind as to what constitutes good art and what constitutes bad art. If you take this idea to its logical conclusion (twisted uneven black things are connected to “bad” and straight orderly white things are connected to “good”) then beautiful paintings are the ones with the most order and the most white pigment. So I say out with all those Salvador Dali paintings, with their twisted images and dark landscapes. We should throw away all our Norman Rockwell’s with their splotchy, oddly proportioned teenagers and children with dirty faces. And don’t get me started on Jackson Pollock. Give me a painting of a white puppy dog, (purebred only of course), on a white background, facing forward and positioned evenly in the exact center of the canvas. Now that’s “nice” art.