Water Torture

May 22nd, 2003 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, bad science, MMR, water | 5 Comments »

Water torture

Ben Goldacre
Thursday May 22, 2003
The Guardian

Talk about bad science

· The orgy of pseudoscience continues unabated. Paul Nagle writes in to tell us about www.finewaters.com, “for water connoisseurs and their accompanying lifestyle”. It’s an epic work that includes reviews of over 250 different types of water, and instructions on how to do a tasting: “Is it dry?” (no). “Is it moist?” (yes). Best of all is the page of interesting facts about water, where you can read that the sky is blue because it is reflecting the oceans below it. Those of you who really want to know why the sky is blue (blue light gets scattered by our atmosphere more than the other wavelengths from the sun) can go to www.why-is-the-sky-blue.org (honestly).

· My favourite water (and Cameron Diaz’s too) is Penta H< ->2O. It’s only £1.50 for a 500ml bottle, and according to their marketing director David Cheatham, Penta is “the only molecularly restructured water on the market,” containing smaller clusters of water molecules than other bottled waters. “Since our cells hydrate only one molecule at a time, if you start with smaller cluster water you’re going to get both more and faster hydration to the cell.” But there’s more. Penta contains no minerals, because “research shows human beings don’t absorb minerals through water.” Despite the fact that your gut is full of it, presumably. Dr Wendy Doyle of the British Dietetic Association says: “I’m not aware that we have any problem with the absorption of water.” Professor Bob Williams, emeritus Royal Society research professor in inorganic biological chemistry, goes further: “It’s high grade waffle.”

· Now I know that I have an unhealthy obsession with MMR, but I have my reasons: this week the Economic and Social Research Council published a survey showing that more than half of the public still believe that medical science is evenly divided about the safety of the MMR vaccine. We’re not. Again (sighs wearily): MMR has reduced congenital rubella syndrome by 91%, and rubella terminations by 99%, and there is a study of 500,000 children showing it is not harmful. Enough.


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