Social critic H. L. Mencken offers a lesson on how to respond to outrageous pseudoscientific claims
Henry Louis Mencken was a stogie-chomping, QWERTY-pounding social commentator in the first half of the 20th century who never met a man or a claim he didn’t like … to disparage, critique or parody with wit that would shame Dennis Miller back to Monday Night Football. Stupidity and quackery were favorite targets for Mencken’s barbs. “Nature abhors a moron,” he once quipped. “No one in this world, so far as I know … has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people,” he famously noted. Some claims are so preposterous, in fact, that there is only one rejoinder: “One horselaugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms.” I call this “Mencken’s maxim,” and I find that it is an appropriate response to preposterous claims made about magic water sold on the Web. I offer as a holotype of Mencken’s maxim the following: Golden ‘C’ Lithium Structured Water.
This “is pure water infused with the energies of the Golden ‘C’ crystal, a very special and extremely rare stone mined near San Diego at the turn of the 20th century.” The stone “contains more lithium than any other stone on the planet” and “emits a signature one-of-a-kind healing energy.” How does the Golden ‘C’ water get these magical qualities? Crystal and water are placed in a ceramic container in a “dark and quiet space” for 24 hours, then the water is poured into “violet glass bottles” that “energize it.” Finally, “each violet bottle is placed precisely within a special copper pyramid, specially designed to have the exact Sacred Geometry to create a Pillar of Light Jacob’s Ladder vortex.”
At only $15 per half-ounce, Golden ‘C’ water is a bargain because it “aligns and balances chakras and meridians; acts as a negative ion generator; clears stressful emotions and negative thought forms; clears all negative energy from crystals, food, rooms, people and pets; eases stress; disperses anger; improves immune system; clears bed of nightmare energy and previous energy of dreams; improves mental concentration; facilitates deeper meditations; hydrates and soothes skin; creates environment for visionary dreams.” And, most important, it “clears and protects from electromagnetic pollution such as kitchen appliances, TV, microwave emissions from ovens and the environment, electrical clocks, stereos, high electrical wire lines, etc.” As evidence we are offered this factoid: “Using an instrument to measure wavelengths of light, Holy Water from Lourdes, France, registered 156,000 angstroms of light. Golden ‘C’ water registered 250,000 angstroms of light!”
Wait! That’s not the best Mencken moment to come. Just below the order button a warning label reads: “Note: no actual lithium is in the water. Only the energetics of lithium and the other minerals is contained in the water.” Maybe that explains another disclaimer, perhaps written with attorneys in mind: “No therapeutic, drug or healing claims related to the physical body are made in the use of Golden ‘C’ Lithium Structured Water.” One is advised, however, to keep it refrigerated.
In case any credulity remains, according to Ray Beiersdorfer, professor of geochemistry at Youngstown State University, “exposing ordinary water to lithium crystals, or any other crystals for that matter, cannot fundamentally alter the molecular structure of the water. The chemical structure within the water molecule, as defined by bond length and orientation, doesn’t change. The claim that the chemical structure of liquid water changes because of exposure to a relatively insoluble crystal is nonsense.”
For another Mencken moment, check out tachyonized superconductor water at www.tachyon-energy-products.com. Its promoter, Gene Latimer, explains its benefits: “I am now living in a radically different electromagnetic field environment that appears to be harmonizing the chaotic impact of electrical Alternating Current on the life forms in our house.” All the lifeforms? Wow! And guess what? Tachyon is not limited to water. You can order tachyonized gel, algae, spirulina, herbs, mattress pads, massage oil and even “star dust.” Sprinkle lightly.
We would all do well to follow another Mencken observation: “I believe it is better to tell the truth than to lie … And I believe that it is better to know than to be ignorant.” Amen to that, brother.