Having watched What the Bleep Do We Know? a few weeks ago, I became curious about Masaru Emoto’s The Hidden Messages in Water. The book is highlighted in the film, and in a world where money decides truth, the fact that it was a New York Times bestseller must count for something, right? I am of a skeptical bent, but I like to keep an open mind. This itself is a delicate waltz at times since just about anybody can make truth claims and find a following. Curiosity, as they say… So instead of critiquing Emoto’s obviously slipshod methodology, I want to reflect on whether he really might have been onto something. Many people around the world thought so, after all.
What it comes down to is water. If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, I owe you a brief explanation. Emoto suggests that water crystals reflect the influences to which they’re subjected. For example, water frozen as classical music plays forms beautiful crystals. If heavy metal is played, it doesn’t. Water frozen in beautiful surroundings forms beautiful crystals. If that’s not controversial enough, Emoto suggested that emotionally freighted words typed on paper wrapped around the water bottle as it was frozen would reflect the emotions on the paper. There are lots of problems here, but what I wonder is if water might not somehow be related to consciousness. Emoto makes that claim, but since science can’t yet explain consciousness there’s no way to test it. Could it be that water is a recording medium in some way? Without raising the woo factor too far, some ghost hunters (it is October, after all) suggest moving water has something to do with “recording” spirits.
Like most critical readers, I left Emoto’s book not at all convinced. I also left thinking that we shouldn’t throw the bath water out with the baby. There are crazy ideas in the book, for sure. But there may also be just a hint of insight as well. That insight comes in the recognition of spirituality as an important aspect of human life. The book was a bestseller. Not all people are credulous. We are, however, spiritual. Many deny it. Some violently rail against it but still have feelings along with their rationality. Water can lift spirits. The negative ions of breaking water tend to make people feel at ease. We visit the coast where waves break against beach or rocks. We visit waterfalls where cascades scatter water particles. Even a fast-flowing stream will do. Emoto clearly went too far with his ideas, but I think, deep down, he might’ve been onto something.