More money than sense


Sure indicators that you’re dealing with a quack: the magic words “detox” and “cleanse”. I’ve heard so many people babble about drinking algae or having wheatgrass squirted up their butt to somehow scour poisons out of their bloodstream and colon. Yvette D’Entremont is here to tell you that none of it works.

Let me point out: In order to be detoxed, you first have to be, well, “toxed.” And you’re probably not. If you actually had a build-up of heavy metals or pesticides in your body, you’d be crazy sick. There are specific symptoms to having both of these “toxins” inside of you. In fact, different metals and pesticides have specific symptoms, like muscle spasms and breathing difficulties. Bottom line? Breakouts and feeling a little rundown aren’t symptoms of any of them, and you need REAL MEDICINE — dimercaprol chelation and atropine, respectively — for treatment. Not juice.

Meanwhile, at the same time and often involving the same detox fanatics, people are paying premium prices for “raw water”.

In San Francisco, “unfiltered, untreated, un-sterilized spring water” from Live Water is selling for $60.99 for a 2.5 gallon jug — and it’s flying off the shelves, the New York Times reported. Startups dedicated to untreated water are gaining steam. Zero Mass Water, which allows people to collect water from the atmosphere near their homes, has already raised $24 million in venture capital.

People — including failed startup Juicero’s cofounder Doug Evans — are gathering gallons of untreated water from natural springs, venturing out onto private property by night to get the water. Evans told The Times that he and his friends brought 50 gallons of raw water to Burning Man.

You know, fish poop in that stuff. Have you ever heard of Giardia? How about amebic meningoencephalitis?

On the bright side, though, I’m thinking of shipping raw Lake Crystal Water from Minnesota to Silicon Valley and making a good profit. The name sounds like a marketing dream, but those of us who live here know it is actually a large shallow pond, one step up from a swamp, with dairy farm runoff trickling in on one side, and a nice squishy layer of duckshit on the bottom. It’s incredibly raw. I ought to be able to charge double for the magnitude of its rawness.

One sip, though, and you’ll probably need a detox/cleanse. If I sell those, too, I’ll be making money off them coming and going! I’m gonna be so rich I’ll be morally obligated to vote Republican.

Comments

  1. madtom1999 says

    Just a question inspired by PZ cynicism of colonic irrigations ability to cleanse the blood. Emulgels – creams containing painkillers (or other ‘real’ medicine) rubbed into the skin to ‘cure’ deep joint pain or muscle strains. Complete bullshit to my mind – ones circulation would need to be seriously fucked up for them to work – and yet some claim they are clinically proven.
    How do they get away with this shit?

  2. says

    You missed one PZ – a lot of springs are not used, at all, ever, for water sources because they, “contain toxic levels of poisons and/or heavy metals.” But, I suppose, since its “natural”, it can’t be “bad”, right. lol

  3. Owlmirror says

    I think you’re missing a bet.

    In addition to the “raw” water, sell “Artisinal Personal Home Water Purification Systems”. The “raw” water can be treated to within reasonable standards of cleanliness; nobody who drinks it gets sick; everyone is happy, and you get big bucks for getting them to do what the city does anyway.

    Profit!

  4. Owlmirror says

    The name sounds like a marketing dream, but those of us who live here know it is actually a large shallow pond, one step up from a swamp, with dairy farm runoff trickling in on one side, and a nice squishy layer of duckshit on the bottom.

    “Lake Crystal Water has been pre-loved by cows, ducks, and other wholesome creatures. Try it, and you’ll love it too, in the same way!”

  5. says

    I actually do have a nice clean spring im walking distance. Real drinking water. But shipping it to the USA would be expensive.
    If I just packed some of the dirt it flows over and sold it as “water enhancer”, do you believe it would sell?

  6. davidc1 says

    Don’t know if you Americans have heard of a British sitcom called “Only Fools and Horses”?
    In one episode named Mothers Nature’s Son ,the Trotter brothers pass tap water off as fancy spring water .

  7. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    Hell, I have 22,000 litres of “raw” water right outside my back door. Sure, it’s rain water, but being collected off the roof I’m sure it’s got the proper level of commercial purity, what with all the bird and possum shit in it. I’m rich!

    Truth is, it’s probably okay to drink. But because we never test it, we filter it for consumption.

  8. Raucous Indignation says

    Who the fuck doesn’t know that boiling your drinking water is way to rid it of most pathogens? Giardia is no joke. It will sicken and incapacitate an individual who has a heavy parasite load. The treatment is not particularly effective nor pleasant. The primary way to avoid Giardia is having access to clean (cooked?) drinking water. When will we reach Peak Woo?

  9. Onamission5 says

    This might be the stupidest fucking thing I have heard of. They’re calling it Live Water? Like, there’s microbes that have been killing us for millennia living in this water, this water is the reason treatment and filters were invented in the first place, yay, it’s alive?

    We used to drink “raw” water when I was a kid. Came straight outta the mountainside, it did, loaded with way more ppm of arsenic than recommended for adults, let alone children. I solidly do not recommend sourcing your drinking water from a spring bubbling out the side of mountain laced with serpentine rocks and riddled with old nickel mines. Just saying.

    The hilarious thing is doubtless many of these “raw” water consumers are afeared of fluoride in their municipal fluids, but are fine with naturally occurring heavy metal poisoning and shit like this

    “If it sits around too long, it’ll turn green. People don’t even realize that because all their water’s dead, so they never see it turn green.”

    That’s likely bluegreen algae, and the very real toxins it produces can kill you, you fucking dolt.

  10. kemble says

    “Zero Mass Water, which allows people to collect water from the atmosphere near their homes, has already raised $24 million in venture capital.”
    Isn’t that just an inside-out fridge?

  11. robro says

    There’s a lot of money to be made in water that’s for sure. Starbucks basically sells tap water with a little bit of flavoring in it. In 2017 Starbuck’s revenues were $22 billion.

  12. weylguy says

    I’ll be making money off them coming and going! I’m gonna be so rich I’ll be morally obligated to vote Republican.

    That’s the way to think, Dr. Myers! Whatever the market will bear in a country filled with total idiots with more money than brains.

    But I’ll go you one better, Myers. Get a tiny strand of Elvis’s hair, use PCR to clone clumps of the guy’s DNA, place it in amulets and sell them to the worshipful suckers at Graceland as holy relics. It would also work for Ronald Reagan, Ayn Rand and Andrew Breitbart.

  13. kestrel says

    OK. “Raw” water. Well… this might be a great way for the rich to wipe themselves out. Or at least incapacitate themselves for a while. Or at least get themselves in a position to wipe a lot. Holy shit, so to speak.

  14. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    I’ve heard that even “pure white snow” is dangerous to eat. Drinking rainwater would be equally toxic. The toxins are already in the atmosphere around which the water vapor condenses to precipitate. Even in far north Canadian forests the snow shows signs of toxins as the base of the crystals.
    I remember dr Strangelove whose wacky trigger general would only drink rainwater or vodka to maintain “pure bodily fluids”, appears he was mistaken about the purity of rainwater as well.
    *sigh*

  15. says

    True confession: the best tasting water I ever had was straight from a stream on the flank of Mt Rainier, 50 years ago. I still remember how cold and crisp it was.

    I’d never drink from a mountain stream anymore, though. They’ve all been contaminated with Giardia. Even just 10 years after that sip from Rainier, there were signs posted in the national parks warning against drinking straight from the high mountain waters anymore, and insisting that you boil it before drinking it.

  16. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    PZed:

    I have fond memories of, at the age of about 5 (so about 47 years ago), sipping ice cold water from a stream on the east face of the Sierra Nevada below Kearsarge Pass while admiring a clump of about 40 Tiger Lilies (or whatever the species is in that area) and the purple and black butterflies flitting about them and catching the occasional glimpse of pikas collecting straw for their nests. This was, maybe, a thousand feet above the tree line. Pikas are going to be extinct soon (or at least so rare and in such isolated areas that they might as well be extinct). The streams are polluted with human waste. I hope the lilies and flutterbyes are still there.

    I’ve been involved with enough farming to be really worried about water from a random spring. And water from a mountainside? Heavy metals are a real concern. I’ll stick with my filtered tap water.

    Cheaper, too.

  17. says

    Oh, you scoff, but raw water is an important part of the Giardia Weightloss program. “Hi, I lost 15 pounds in one week. Ask me how!”

  18. says

    In the 60’s, I remember people driving from Portland out to our farm near McMinnville to bottle the spring water piped from up the hill down to the house. I also remember uncovering the cistern and fishing out the dead squirrels that seemed to always fall in. I’ve returned to live here, but I’ve had a well drilled.

  19. jbhodges7 says

    Larry Niven wrote some short stories about a time traveler from a far-future society, a series of comedic stories in which the traveler, ill-informed and naive, would travel inaccurately sideways-in-time a bit into timelines with werewolves, unicorns, etc… the traveler came from a society in which it was common knowledge that drinking from “open water” (streams, ponds, etc.) would be quickly poisonous.

  20. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    I’ll take amoebas over giardia or bacillic dysentery any day. (Why, yes, I was in the Peace Corps. Why do you ask?). I’ve travelled through Africa, Asia and South America, and gotten deathly ill in each, but the sickest I’ve ever been was from giardia I got from a glacial fed Rocky Mountain stream above timberline.

    Commuting hint: Next time you want a seat by yourself on the bus, try projectile vomiting!

  21. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    Oh, you scoff, but raw water is an important part of the Giardia Weightloss program. “Hi, I lost 15 pounds in one week. Ask me how!”

    Since New Years Eve, I’ve lost about ten pounds to a stomach bug. So, yeah, it does work.

  22. davidc1 says

    I always thought Giardia was the Irish Police force .
    Just to prove that health wackiness is not confined to America ,there is a piece in today’s Guardian about a product to help with
    anaemia .
    It’s a small iron fish ,you place it in water you are planning to cook with ,and it suffuses iron into the water .
    Yours for only £29.95

  23. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    Wait. Isn’t Giardia that really good chocolate from San Francisco?

  24. says

    This seems a bit off topic, but I hope PZ will not mind.
    @madtom1999

    Emulgels – creams containing painkillers (or other ‘real’ medicine) rubbed into the skin to ‘cure’ deep joint pain or muscle strains. Complete bullshit to my mind – ones circulation would need to be seriously fucked up for them to work – and yet some claim they are clinically proven.

    Unless you are an expert in the field sitting on a breakthrough discovery, your opinion is just as good as mine, so here we go.

    The peer reviewed literature says this on cursory glance:

    NSAIDs, mentioned above, locally administered as cream, gel or spray, quickly penetrate through the corneal layer of the skin and the site of application, reach highly effective concentrations in subcutis, fascias, tendons, ligaments and muscles, less in joint-capsule and -fluid indicating direct penetration.

    -click-

    The efficacy and safety of ibuprofen cream in treatment of primary knee OA were statistically significant and clinically relevant compared to placebo.

    -click-

    Neither salicylates nor capsaicin have shown significant efficacy in the treatment of OA…Topical diclofenac sodium 1% gel delivers effective diclofenac concentrations in the affected joint…

    -click-

    There is good evidence that some formulations of topical diclofenac and ketoprofen are useful in acute pain conditions such as sprains or strains, with low (good) NNT values

    -click-

    So to my mind it seems that whilst there are some gels on the market that are pure snake oil, there are some that really work and one does not have to have “circulation seriously fucked up” for them to work. Chemicals do not spread through body purely via the circulatory system, and absorption of chemicals through skin is not hokum.

  25. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    How about amebic meningoencephalitis

    The poor little things will starve. :(

  26. Onamission5 says

    I continue to be boggled that this is a demographic which, IME, is very concerned with things like toxins, parasites, and nefarious chemicals lurking in their human made environment, yet they will happily spend $20/gallon to drink untested water from an unknown source that could be contaminated with any and all of the above just because a defunct juicing charlatan said it was awesome and natural.

  27. Rich Woods says

    Zero Mass Water, which allows people to collect water from the atmosphere near their homes, has already raised $24 million in venture capital.

    For doing what? Telling the gullible to lick dew off their lawn each morning?

    @davidc1 #25:

    It’s a small iron fish ,you place it in water you are planning to cook with ,and it suffuses iron into the water .

    Or they could just do what I did earlier today: place cabbage in the water I was cooking with.

  28. JustaTech says

    @davidc1: That’s a real public health intervention in places where anemia is common and dietary sources are hard to come by. If you cook acidic foods with the cast-iron fish iron will leach out of the fish and into the food (which is why you shouldn’t cook tomatoes in a cast-iron pot; it’s hard on the pot). It’s probably not necessary in the developed world where iron and iron supplements are easy to come by (and they sure as heck don’t charge $30 for them in South East Asia!), but there’s nothing wrong with it.

  29. lucifersbike says

    The Coca-Cola company sold “purified” water under the Dasani label in the UK in the early noughties. It was purified tap water which was “passed through three separate filters” before being bottled. In other words it was the same water you could drink from the tap with added bullshit in a plastic bottle. Mains water in the UK has to be potable by law, so the water company concerned was pissed off and threatened legal action as Coke’s hype implied their water wasn’t fit for purpose. The press and the public were unimpressed. Coke withdrew Dasani shortly afterwards. However, human nature and marketing bullshit being incorrigible, sales of bottled water continue to rise in the UK. I don’t care if gullible people want to waste their money; but the millions of single use plastic bottles, and the carbon used to truck water from one part of Europe to another, cause serious damage to the environment.

  30. jrkrideau says

    @ 31 JustaTech
    Thanks, I was going to reply to the “Iron Fish” post but yours was a lot better than mine would have been.

  31. Brain Hertz says

    “It stays most fresh within one lunar cycle of delivery,” Singh said.

    So… a month. Only more mysterious.

  32. says

    I have to admit, the Raw Water idiots are up there with the Breatharians and the anti-vaxxers on my list of “let them deal with the logical consequences of their belief systems” types. I’d certainly argue that if you’re busy rejecting the entire fscking germ theory of disease on a personal basis, you deserve to be turned away from any modern emergency room and left to the mercies of the Christian Scientists. Some of them will, no doubt, survive.

    I have to love “Zero Mass Water” who are claiming to sell something which “allows people to collect water from the atmosphere near their homes” – I’m willing to bet it’s either a re-branded rainwater tank or a re-branded old-style refrigerated air-conditioner. Truly there is a sucker born every minute, and nobody is likely to go broke under-estimating the intelligence of the “Raw Foods” crowd. May they enjoy their giardia, cholera, typhus and typhoid – preferably far away from the rest of us.

  33. says

    lucifersbike
    In Germany, most tap water is of better quality than most bottled water, though I admit that in some places it does not taste particularly nice (but hey, filters exist). My family prefers sparkling water and I was so grateful that our new place has enough space that we can put up a Soda Stream with glass bottles (can be hygienically cleaned) to get rid of the damn plastic bottles. Ironically, now the only person producing them is me who likes an occasional coke.

  34. Dunc says

    lucufersbike, @ #32: It’s not just that they were basically selling tap-water – it turned out that their “purification” process actually ended up creating bromate (a known carcinogen, levels of which are strictly monitored in public water supplies) in otherwise perfectly good water, at level in excess of the legal limit… See, for example: Things get worse with Coke.

  35. Brain Hertz says

    I have to love “Zero Mass Water” who are claiming to sell something which “allows people to collect water from the atmosphere near their homes”

    We have those here in Oregon. We call them “buckets”.

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