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Magic Irish electro-water for sale

Tell me, do you think this announcement is at all credible?

A GROUNDBREAKING new Irish technology which could be the greatest breakthrough in agriculture since the plough is set to change the face of modern farming forever.

That’s a rather…extravagant…claim. And published in the Irish Independent — I looked quite closely for a disclaimer that it was a paid ad, because I didn’t believe it from the first sentence, even before learning what it is.

Then they said what it is.

The technology – radio wave energised water – massively increases the output of vegetables and fruits by up to 30 per cent.

BULLSHIT. I saw “radio wave energised water” and knew immediately that this was nonsense.

Extensively tested in Ireland and several other countries, the inexpensive water treatment technology is now being rolled out across the world. The technology makes GM obsolete and also addresses the whole global warming fear that there is too much carbon dioxide in the air, by simply converting excess CO2 into edible plant mass.

If it’s been “extensively tested”, where are the papers? Show me something that’s been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The most common GM treatments are for pesticide/herbicide resistance. How can water, no matter how energised, make that obsolete? And no, enhanced crop technology does not address global warming. If this scheme actually worked, it would be carbon-neutral, which is the best you could say about it.

Then I looked at the actual method.

The compact biscuit-tin-sized technology, which is called Vi-Aqua – meaning ‘life water’ – converts 24 volts of electricity into a radio signal, which charges up the water via an antennae. Once the device is attached to a hose, thousands of gallons of water can be charged up in less than 10 minutes at a cost of pennies.

Read the Vi-Aqua web page. Yep, it’s a little magic box with some LEDs that you attach to your hose or your water mains. Plug it in or use batteries and it…what? There’s lots of gobbledygook and big claims, but again no data and no papers.

There are testimonials, though. And the most discouraging thing there is that the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, an entirely respectable institution, has endorsed this crap. Prince Charles, have you been dicking around again? It’s also endorsed by a J.J. Leahy, a real lecturer in Chemical & Environmental Science at the University of Limerick, although it says nothing about magic water on his professional page. He studies biofuels.

People have written to Kew; I found one report that Kew replied and confirmed that they endorse it.

One chemist maintains a catalog of these ridiculous water treatment schemes. It seems to be a very common kind of scam.

Vi-Aqua is obvious nonsense. The saddest thing about it is that the Independent is so willing to throw their reputation away with a totally uncritical puff piece about a too-good-to-believe claim, and that Kew is also backing it. The US is supposed to be the central station for wacky pseudoscience, why are the UK and Ireland horning in on our turf? You’ll rue the day, Ireland!

Comments

  1. ethicsgradient says

    I think the whole thing is a spoof. The claims get more and more unbelievable as you go on, ending with “Intriguingly, chickens and sheep fed the energised water turned into giants. . . but that’s another story!” It reads like an April Fool’s joke. Though it would be a long-running one, if the 2010 date on the forum for “Kew told me they did use it” is accurate.

  2. brucemartin says

    According to the limerick university web site, Darragh is now just an adjunct professor, who hasn’t had more than one publication in the last 23 years – since 1990, with maybe one in 1996.
    His colleague JJ Leahy of Limerick University is a lecturer who hasn’t had a paper since 1995.
    They’re apparently a couple of semi-retired old coots, who have used their affiliations to indulge in their delusions.
    It’s true that nitrates can be useful fertilizer. But it cannot be energy-efficient to use electricity to oxidize nitrogen from the air, to make them. This is the equivalent of cold fusion. In other words, the Independent and the Kew have been tricked by people who may be sincere, and may have fertilizer-enriched water, but who cannot have the effective system they think they have.
    They don’t have any publications in these areas, or any connection with anyone with any publications in the last 17 years.
    Probably the waste water from PZ’s aquariums would be better fertilizer.

  3. says

    I’m an Irish academic who works in the UK, and my colleagues have been ribbing me mercilessly over the bloody thing all week – It’s pretty embarrassing but a few things to note though:

    (1) The indo is pretty dodgy at best of times – though full disclaimer, I am biased as I write for their competition The Irish Times. Still, there’s a reason for that choice and the Indo could charitably be described as a tad sensationalist.

    (2) The whole premise is worryingly close to the concept of water memory and we all know where that leads – in fact it just plain bugs me as it is bad physics if nothing else (I’ve ranted about this at length in journals before so I’ll refrain from going into a flustering ball of nerd rage but if anyone is interested – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2042-7166.2012.01162.x/abstract ) and the fact it’s spewed out so uncritically riles me. But I suppose that is why point (1) is relevant..

    (3) Please for the love of the virgin-Mary-in-a-Batmobile-blaring-Slayer-at-top-volume do not presume that this is indicative of Irish research as a whole – I can assure you the vast majority of Irish scientists are finding this as embarrassing as hell and not at all representative of the vibrant research community both there and abroad.

    Rant over :)

    *blood pressure returns to normal-ish levels, returns to whiskey, completes national sterotype*

  4. maddogdelta says

    BAH! That’s nothing!

    I have magically energized the POWERFUL aquifer known as dihydrogen monoxide, which has been proven to be an important tool in curing dehydration, which kills millions of people every day!

    BLECH…. I can’t do this stuff even as a joke…

  5. lesherb says

    Is it possible that THE ONION purchased the IRISH INDEPENDENT?

    I’m so glad I was born with BS radar.

  6. says

    david robertgrimes:

    Please for the love of the virgin-Mary-in-a-Batmobile-blaring-Slayer-at-top-volume

    You have a magical way with words. I like you, please post more.

  7. eigenperson says

    So, there’s this (JREF forums), which basically refutes the claim that Kew endorses it — but makes it seem like they may have actually endorsed it in the past!

  8. crocodoc says

    Did you read the whole article, PZ?

    “Intriguingly, chickens and sheep fed the energised water turned into giants. . . but that’s another story!”

  9. Sorbus says

    The Kew spokesperson quoted is a genuine employee but not, to my knowledge, a plant scientist. All I can think of is that it’s common practice with orchids to use rainwater (or some kind of reverse osmosis machine on mains water) to minimise the conductivity of irrigation water. Kew does both for their orchid and carnivorous plant collections. Their epiphytic orchids are irrigated with water with less than 150μS conductivity. From memory, high conductivity affects the uptake of certain nutrients, but this gizmo isn’t claimed to be a replacement for RO treatment systems. I’d like to see how it performs over rainwater!

    The quote about reviving a specimen from the 1940s does sound very far-fetched.

  10. anchor says

    But all the water on Earth (even the water already in the crops) is already and continually, uh, “charged” with lots of radio waves from space as well as artificial sources, so it must already be magicized and their idiotic device is as redundant as pissing into the ocean. Never mind that radio wavelengths can’t ionize water molecules. Its a scam even when its based on their own ‘reasons’.

  11. says

    a few years ago a friends wife gave me a bottle of water she said would cure what ails me.
    just a bottle of “spring” water left in front of a speaker that was playing some sort of healing chant.
    to go on she showed me photos of water crystals from a local falls,before and after shots taken during some sort of healing ceremony and sent to a fellow in Japan for electron microscopy.
    he reported positive changes in the crystals that were the result of the ceremony.
    this water thing is big business.

  12. brucej says

    Never mind the agricultural ramifications I have to ask how their device manages to get ‘thousands’ of gallons of water through an ordinary garden hose in ‘minutes’…

  13. Sorbus says

    Having re-read through the Vi-Aqua site (which my virus checker claims it has a trojan, BTW), they reckon it stops limescale build-up. That would probably be enough of an alleged benefit for Kew to try it out in the first place – not sure why they’d go so far as to endorse it though. Water marked foliage from bad quality water is a major pain for living collections. They also say Kew ‘botanists’ which is incorrect as it’s horticulturists that maintain the living collections.

  14. chigau (違う) says

    brucej

    Never mind the agricultural ramifications I have to ask how their device manages to get ‘thousands’ of gallons of water through an ordinary garden hose in ‘minutes’…

    hhmmm
    My garden asks the same question.

  15. bcwebb says

    A little deeper googling gives this:
    http://unshavedmouse.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/question-has-irelands-biggest-newspaper-lost-its-goddamn-mind/

    Which has in a the comments the statement:
    I wrote to kew gardens and asked if they endorsed the vi-aqua product. i received this reply:

    Dear Morgan

    Thank you for your email dated 29 August. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has not endorsed the Vi-Aqua products since 2009. A recent press article in the Irish Independent that mentioned this endorsement and activities by Kew around it, was inaccurate.

    Kind regards

    Katrina Roche
    Customer Information Supervisor

    Another reference notes that the claim:
    “Extensively tested in Warrenstown Agricultural College (7), the technology is being hailed as a modern day miracle.“
    refers to an institution closed since 2009.

    What we see is a bunch of dead or revoked references. Closed institutions don’t have anyone to police their press presence.

  16. unclefrogy says

    if this “stuff” is so good why are we supposed to be worried about cell-phones their towers and radiation?

    uncle frogy

  17. LewisX says

    J.J. Leahy, a real lecturer in Chemical & Environmental Science

    I don’t know if he really is a real lecturer at the University of Limerick but this sure as hell doesn’t look like the University of Limerick website. Apart from the design differences the clusterfuck of a URL in the indo link (www2?) suggests a spoof site.

  18. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    “Radio-wave energized water” is what you add Folger’s crystals to. >.>

  19. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    Goddamned communist plot to poison our drinking water with radio waves.

  20. intron says

    HOWEVER, his web presence on their website isn’t helped by his poorly scaled picture and other fun bits. In other words, I agree with you that the site looks bad, but the www2 things isn’t necessarily a red flag of being a spoof.

  21. ekwhite says

    All of the hand waving about peroxides and superoxides makes this sound like an ozone generator. Peroxides could disinfect the water, but do little else.

  22. Azuma Hazuki says

    …an Irishman says “vi-aqua” means water of life? Uisgebeatha! For Cernunnos’ sake…!

  23. mykroft says

    Vi-Aqua, now improved with nano-Blarney stones! Each treatment of water now contains trillions of nano-sized particles from the real Blarney stone, making each gallon equal to ten times its volume in high grade bullshit! Your plants will love it!

  24. kittehserf says

    …an Irishman says “vi-aqua” means water of life? Uisgebeatha! For Cernunnos’ sake…!

    Just what I thought – the Irish have had the water of life for ages, and who’d pour the stuff on the garden???

  25. chrislawson says

    I ordered some water from Limerick
    To make my tomatoes grow up real quick.
    But the egghead whose whimsy
    Used data so flimsy,
    I now feel like a right royal thick-as-brick.

  26. bad Jim says

    Is there any way to reconcile this with homeopathy? If water treated with electromagnetic radiation is beneficial, is it deadly once diluted? Would water never exposed to radio waves be effective against a tumor?

    Alternatively, do the radio waves merely do the work of succussion, such that it amplifies the water’s memory? Doubtful, since you don’t know where that water’s been.

  27. robro says

    Kitteh #34 — “Just what I thought – the Irish have had the water of life for ages,”

    Yes, well, among so many others (vodka=water). Per the Ppppfff, while aqua vitae literally means “water of life,” it was used for distilled alcohol. The various Gaelic forms (Irish: uisce beatha and Scottish Gaelic: uisge beatha) were translations from the Latin. Those monks, you know, carried the art of distillation far and wide.

    “…and who’d pour the stuff on the garden???”

    A drunk man, of course, but indirectly you understand. Drink first, then piss…mmm…that would be good for the plants.

    and from the song, Finnigan’s Wake:

    Mickey Maloney ducked his head when a bucket of whiskey flew at him
    It missed, and falling on the bed, the liquor scattered over Tim
    Bedad he revives, see how he rises, Timothy rising from the bed
    Saying “Whittle your whiskey around like blazes, t’underin’ Jaysus, do ye think I’m dead?”

    Whack fol the dah now dance to yer partner around the flure yer trotters shake
    Wasn’t it the truth I told you? Lots of fun at Finnegan’s Wake

  28. Joey Maloney says

    I buy my magic Irish water from specially-made faucets which can only be found in certain buildings that have been purpose built, inspected, and licensed to dispense. The magical process renders the water a rich, deep chocolate brown in color, almost black. It must be used relatively soon after decanting as the magic begins to bubble out immediately, leaving behind a thick white residue of demagicked liquid.

  29. starblue says

    According to the technical details it uses 27MHz radio waves, so you might as well stick the antenna of a CB radio into your watering can to get the same effect (none).

  30. phere says

    Sadly this reminds me of the snake oil and quackery that was heaped upon a close friend dying of leukemia several years back. From having all her fillings removed, to air purifiers, to that cancer-curing juice diet. The final straw for me was a $10,000 machine that supposedly “equalized the body’s energy waves by attuning them”. Yeah, shame on her for buying into any of the bs, but shame on these snake oil peddlers who prey on the weak by fucking with the strongest emotion there is: hope. Why not try something even if it sounds a bit “out there” if it means you might get a few more months of kissing the tiny fingers of your new grandchild? Or watching a few more sunsets with the love of your life? The obvious and painful truth here is that few of us are scientifically literate. I’m certainly not. I just happen to have a rudimentary understanding of “waves”, “quantum”, “uncertainty”, etc. Enough to call bullshit when I see these oh-so-popular meta tags among the woo-peddler. Until we get our act together, which would require enormous strides in all manner of equality, we will have con persons crouching in the shadows waiting for a crack in the door.

  31. kittehserf says

    A drunk man, of course, but indirectly you understand. Drink first, then piss…mmm…that would be good for the plants.

    ARRRGH thank you for putting that image in my head.

    … I wonder if that drunk pissing on someone’s fence the other night thought he was gonna make it grow?

  32. Rich Woods says

    @starblue 42:

    According to the technical details it uses 27MHz radio waves, so you might as well stick the antenna of a CB radio into your watering can to get the same effect (none).

    Not to mention that the compartively short antennae shown on the various devices are going to be hugely inefficient for the wavelength, or that the boxes look like they can only hold a couple of 3V batteries. Still, at least no-one will get a shock from dipping them in a bucket of water.

    I like all the quotes of people saying it puts energy into water. I do that to water too, but I prefer to use a kettle.

  33. unclefrogy says

    many years ago now when I was in need of money I worked for a company that did industrial maintenance on job I had was washing out some kind of water conditioner in a refinery that used huge electrodes to I think remove some of the minerals there were 4 of them inside vessel the “wire” connecting them was 1 1/2 ” thick
    this little thing sounds like it is about as good as that bomb finding “divining rod” that was in the news a while back.
    uncle frogy

  34. Bob Dowling says

    I’m looking forward to the FOIA response. Half of me is expecting the “it was really embarrassing in 2009 but a member of staff got tricked into being quoted out of context and we dealt with it quietly” vs the other half of me expecting the “IT’S A BLOODY SPOOF, YOU IDIOTS!” response, dressed up in the formal language of the FOIA.

    (The third half of me wants the FOIA response to be deeply, deeply “informal”.)

  35. Compuholic says

    [...] addresses the whole global warming fear that there is too much carbon dioxide in the air, by simply converting excess CO2 into edible plant mass.

    [...] converts 24 volts of electricity into a radio signal [...]

    Usually I am not a fan of overly technical language. But it helps to spot people that have no clue what they are talking about. Reminds me of an XKCD-Comic

  36. starblue says

    @Rich Woods 46

    Not to mention that the compartively short antennae shown on the various devices are going to be hugely inefficient for the wavelength,

    To me they look like cheap antennas for digital TV, which operates at much higher frequencies (hundreds of MHz).

    Basically it looks like electronics stuff cobbled together without regard to its function, its only real function being to impress the gullible.

  37. rogerfirth says

    This is just a variation on the old fuel line magnets scam for automotive fuel economy. (Strap a couple “special” magnets to the fuel line ahead of your carburetor or fuel injectors and you’ll increase your fuel mileage.) One company in the UK was saying that theirs could be used on the heating fuel line (natural gas) into a building, and they had a testimonial from some bakery that said when they installed one on the gas line to their ovens they started burning their bread and had to turn the temperature in their ovens down. Think about that claim.

    I used to live in a city with *very* hard water. The toilets would get caked with lime, the inside of the dishwasher would get caked with lime, the water heater would get caked with lime and slowly fill up with solid material. When I built a house there I had it plumbed for soft water (hard water to the cold faucets, soft water to the water heater, bath, laundry, dishwasher, and toilets) and installed a water softener. I never had problems. My friend built a house in the same subdivision about the same time, and instead he got a whole house water treatment system that was much cheaper than a water softener and didn’t require being filled with salt pellets. It was nothing more than a box you strap to the incoming water line (zip ties were included!) and plug into the wall socket. I gave him a hard time about it, trying to get him to understand it was a scam. But he would have none of that and swore that it worked. After a couple years it was excruciatingly obvious it wasn’t doing anything and he broke down and bought a water softener.

  38. mudpuddles says

    (1) The indo is pretty dodgy at best of times – though full disclaimer, I am biased as I write for their competition The Irish Times. Still, there’s a reason for that choice and the Indo could charitably be described as a tad sensationalist.

    david robertgrimes is being overly generous. The Indo is a rag, tabloid muck dressed up as a broadsheet, regularly full of bad science, frequently entertaining climate denialism, takes joy at throwing mud at nature conservation efforts and rife with psuedo-intellectual bullplop that doesn’t shy away from openly racist nonsense (one columnist not so long ago blamed Africans for colonialism – they had it coming to them, don’t you know – and for the poverty that has resulted). Proud to be anti-feminist and Islamophobic. It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that they printed this latest story – its par for the course.

  39. says

    In reply to mudpuddles (#52) – I am perhaps being just a modicum over-generous but *may* have to do with a potential legal issue with a columnist. I of course wouldn’t know anything about that butttt I’ll just leave this link here for background [given you're savvy w/ Irish media, you've probably heard of the Iona institute and are happy to connect the dots :)] http://3menmakeatiger.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/fun-and-frolics-with-iona-institute.html

  40. stwriley says

    The whole thing is just silly, beginning to end. Irradiated water, for goodness sake? This sells to people who, what…fertilize with depleted uranium? Why not just sell bottled water from a nuke plant output; we all know what the mark-up on bottled water is, then you add the radioactive woo and…product. These guys are pikers, one sale and done, no idea how to milk the marks serve their customers.

    /snark

    Seriously, how do these guys manage to operate? It confounds me sometimes that people can be that credulous, to just accept some radical claim at face value without asking for credible proof. The whole water thing in this little woo-device is pretty funny to me, since I’m a long-distance hiker (recreationally) and have use a number of small water filters and purifiers. For the size of the device that Kew is pimping for these folks, you could carry around a hollow-fiber ceramic purifier with a .02 micron porosity that can filter out disease vectors right down to viruses. It wouldn’t need any batteries to use either, just gravity, hose, and a couple of buckets. This is a real and (in emergency conditions or developing countries) critical piece of lifesaving equipment, based on simple and solid science (i.e., ‘how fine a physical filter is it?’) that anyone can understand. We should be passing these things out by the caseload in any area where water-borne disease is a problem. Instead we get institutions like Kew endorsing magic water irradiation LEDs that don’t even do a proper sterilization job (which can be done with actual, small UV devices, but not nearly so fast), much less impart the magical nuclear-growth-whammy on the old vegetable patch.

    /rant

  41. george gonzalez says

    Oh, there is so much ignorance out there. Millions of folks seem to get snookered by this same basic line, if you see all the water softeners that are advertised and probably sold.

    Reminds me of the modern legend that relates that Hedy Lamarr invented spread-spectrum radio technology with her radio-guided torpedo. She was such a great engineer that she did not know that radio waves make it only millimeters through water. Nor did she ponder the impossible logistical, operational, and stability requirements.

    Anyway, radio waves can heat up water, but that’s about it. Radio wave quanta are about a hundred million times too weak, per photon, to flip any chemical bond. If you could could show any effect, you’re on an automatic and guaranteed trip to Sweden to get a Nobel Prize.

  42. Trebuchet says

    See also http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Water_woo

    There’s a whole store in our second home of Port Townsend, WA devoted to “Kangen Water”. It’s “Restructured!” and “Alkaline!”. They’ll actually give you the water, what they really want is to sell you the magic machine to make it. I found a negative review online from Andrew Weil, of all people.

  43. timanthony says

    About 6 years ago a friend who was a dedicated activist, writing articles for local magazines and such, saw a video of a reporter from a Japanese TV station interviewing a man who claimed he had developed an electric car that ran on water. Water was the fuel, was the claim, the claim, and he had invented a method for turning it into electricity. The water got poured into this big black box that had taken over the back seat of the car, and had wires coming out of it. No one was allowed to know what was in the box. [Batteries were in the box. Big ones! CAR batteries! DUH!]

    For reasons not fathomable, my well-meaning friend bought the whole thing, hook, line and sinker. He had no physics degree, but he’d graduated grade 12 less than 10 years earlier.

    I TRIED, so HARD, to explain to him that the very very very well-established universality of the First Law of Thermodynamics applies in Japan as much as it does in the rest of this particular universe. And that just because some un-science-educated foreign journo who was paid to take her interviewees seriously (during interviews, anyway), did her job, did not amount to a strong indication that something interesting was up.

    But my best efforts (sent via email so they could be examined at leisure) failed. And my point is: good intentions won’t save you from ignorance. Only education does THAT. Unfortunately I have so little patience for people who cannot think logically even when they’re being helped by a well-meaning friend that we’re not friends now. His loss, but unfortunately mine too. His take on the whole thing was that “THEY” (he couldn’t identify them, beyond the fact that they probably took their marching orders from G.W.Bush) had successfully suppressed the entire story (except for that one TV REPORT still fully available on the interwebs!). Nothing, not even heavy sarcasm combined with cold logic, could sway him. We lost a fighter that day. Maybe just as well?

  44. Stardrake says

    If this worked, every radio ham in the world would be surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of whatever grew in their area–which could really screw up their DXing!

  45. george gonzalez says

    Hmm, he’s going to have some trouble explaining why KSTP’s AM antennas, which are sitting in a swamp, pumping out 50,000 watts 24/7, are not surrounded by 20 foot tall cattails.

  46. mykroft says

    Believe it or not, but back when radioactivity was still a recent discovery people paid money to buy water laced with radium. People understood that energy was being produced, and hucksters claimed that drinking this energy bearing material therefore give people more energy. The consequences of this are, based on our current understanding of radiation, fairly obvious.

    The market based on customer ignorance is still going strong. We have commercials with detergents or hair/skin products that make use of “molecular technology” (i.e. chemistry). Many, many commercials make similar use of big words to make their products sound more impressive. We also have cancer centers selling cures based on unproven or disproven medical principals, where desperate people pay lots of money for that “miracle cure”. Religion is an industry firmly grounded in institutionalized ignorance, not only taking advantage of the uneducated but actively fighting the educational processes that might lead people away from the faith.

    It seems to me that there are two facets to managing this kind of problem, at least on a personal level. The first is to provide yourself with some minimum level of understanding about how the world works, based on knowing the basics regarding science. You can always build on this foundation as needs arise, but you really need to understand how science works, plus the equivalent of a decent high school science education (physics, biology, chemistry). Sadly, our educational system regularly fails in providing this baseline.

    The second and perhaps more important tool to combat this kind of snake-oil is to possess a healthy level of skepticism. Not hyper-skepticism (as applied by some MRAs when debating on issues like feminism), but a “show me the data” or “show me the references” viewpoint that makes those with extraordinary claims have to produce extraordinary proof.

    We live in a world where the consequences of people not being thus mentally armed is painfully obvious. Huge swaths of the population are easy prey to hucksters, politicians and organized religion. This advertisement is only a reminder of the much larger problem, endemic ignorance paradoxically existing in the most advanced nations of the world.

  47. phere says

    Going off of Mykroft’s post #62 (and sorry for being off topic but the mention of hair/skin products really got me going as I’ve been more and more irritated lately by the cosmetic industry) –
    Don’t even get me started on the pseudoscience of cosmetics. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that preys on the insecurity of women. It also preys on the gullible by using Big Words. Don’t tell me this shampoo is going to “repair the follicle DNA” or that this cream is going to rid your body of prenatal stretch marks. (Nothing gets rid of or prevents stretch marks – they can be lightened but whether you get them or not is largely genetic.) Gasp! We grew a watermelon sized human in our abdomen but we should be ashamed of the battle scars! This mascara will condition and lengthen your lashes (lashes don’t continue to grow nor do they need conditioning.) This eye cream works at the molecular level to repair the damage from free radicals. So on and so forth. Not only that, but highly deceptive packaging is rampant and should be addressed. I bought a concealer that was about sharpie-sized and when I got home I realized 3/4 of the container was EMPTY tubing, it was just colored to look like there was 75% more product in it. Sure, the label said “.03/oz” but who the hell knows what that is supposed to look/feel like?
    I’m no hippie chick and generally detest outlandish home remedy claims, but you can do a LOT of beauty care with the ingredients laying around your house. Want to look like you just spent $300 at a fancy spa on a facial? Mix baking soda, honey, and milk for a mask and your skin will be dewy and incredibly soft. In fact, you can use baking soda as a daily exfoliant (guys should try this too!) – no need to spend big money on exfoliants that actually damage your skin. I keep a giant box of it near the shower and mix it in with my body wash. (It also keeps the shower floor super clean as a bonus lol). A listerine (or generic equivalent) foot soak followed by a baking soda scrub will make your feet baby soft (and the listerine is incredibly soothing and refreshing). Anyway – I’m kind of off topic, but I am assaulted by bad science and shaming attempts by cosmetic companies on a daily basis. I daydream of creating a brutally honest cosmetic line. “No, this won’t reverse aging and make you look like an airbrushed freak of nature but it might just smooth out your skin tone a bit if you think you need it.” I think we deserve that much.

  48. stevem says

    Not related to the “Irish Water” scam, this inspires me to ask about this other water ad. E5 Water,
    an ad, in Popular Mechanix titled:The Cancer Virus Cure?, claims to have treated
    water, with Intense UV and Heat (100’s of times per gallon), and claims it kills all Viruses in ordinary Water. (and cures
    ANYTHING (http://www.WaterCuresAnything.com) It says that it changes the Hydrogen
    ‘bond angle’ from 110 deg. (distilled water) to the (astounding) 114 deg. (steam is at 120 deg). The
    ad goes on and on about how the inventor has no degrees in chemistry but invented this device to
    change the bond angle (that can be measured!) and you can’t debunk FACTS! The water no only
    kills disease causing viruses but also makes it easier to electrolyze the water into Hydrogen and
    Oxygen gas. And this makes it the

    KEY to COLD FUSION and ABUNDANT
    ENERGY.

    And just adding 20 drops of this “new” water to “ordinary water” (no
    mention of how much ordinary water” to use) will make all the difference.

    Not being a chemist, I wonder how possible all this is. Even accepting the bond angle claim (it’s a
    FACT, and measured as such), can such a bond angle kill viruses, are viruses the cause of
    cancer (don’t mention HPV as a virus causing a particular cancer). I question all these claims, is
    it even possible? I also ask, “Why am I even asking?”, Popular Mechanix is a magazine I
    respect. Why would they publish a scam?

  49. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Why would they publish a scam?

    They’ve been publishing bullshit like that for years, probably as paid advertisements, just not listed that way. Just becoming more obvious over the years.

    The bond angle in molecules depends on the hybridization of the orbitals, and the bond versus the non-bonding electron pair(s), which take up more space. Which is why, methane, which is tetrahedral, is 109.5º; ammonia, which has one non-bonding electron pair, is 107.8º; and water with two non-bonding electron pairs is 104.5º.

    It would be impossible for the bond angle to be 120º. That would required a hybridization of orbitals not available to oxygen.

  50. Nick Gotts says

    the most discouraging thing there is that the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, an entirely respectable institution, has endorsed this crap.

    Pedantic point: it’s the Royal Botanic Gardens. But that seems to be a simple error on the part of the scammers. I’ll be interested to see the result of the FOIA request.

  51. Azuma Hazuki says

    I’m curious: how would stretching the bond angles of water work? I know some compounds are sterically stressed, but how would one go about causing and maintaining a stretched bond angle in an H2O molecule? Seems hard to do without a trans- double bond of some sort and that, er, doesn’t show up in water…

  52. Useless says

    You neglected to mention that Vi-Aqua is totally organic! How can you doubt its effectiveness knowing that?

  53. David Marjanović says

    Comment 33 wins the thread.

    One chemist maintains a catalog of these ridiculous water treatment schemes. It seems to be a very common kind of scam.

    Coming from the benighted country of Grander water, I’ll just confirm that.

    some un-science-educated foreign journo who was paid to take her interviewees seriously (during interviews, anyway), did her job

    The fuck she did. Her job as an interviewer was to ask the scammer how he thought he was getting around thermodynamics.

    And her bosses’ job was to have someone do the interview who actually understood the topic. They failed – as usual.