Saturday, January 21, 2006

Mr. Structured Water fizzes

As those of you who've been regularly tuning in to my blog may remember (nah, there can't be any), I wrote last year about how a certain Sandy Tabar is marketing "structured water" in Quezon City (April 11, April 25, April 27). On June 18, while googling, I stumbled upon Atty. Adrian Sison's blog in which he endorses Tabar's structured water and provides contact information. As you can see I left a comment on his blog, alerting him to the nature of the product and sharing water-related pseudoscience and quackery resources from chemistry professor Steve Lower and skeptic James Randi. I then contacted Tabar via email to inquire about his structured water.

A week later I received a reply. In that lengthy missive Tabar explains that his "structured water" is produced using "advanced nanotechnology." His process supposedly creates "energized clusters" which can "penetrate cell membranes easily" thus "maintaining maximum hydration," "something that other types of water cannot do." Moreover, he claims his water is a "natural antacid," has "anti-aging" properties, has benefited people with asthma, arthritis and cancer, while "its highly energized state recharges your vitality." For the complete litany of his audacious claims read his reply.

I recall visiting Sison's blog several times last year after I had posted my comment. The other day I checked it again and was surprised to find messages from both Sison and Tabar. When exactly these were posted I can't tell since I don't see any date stamp on them. My gut reaction to Sison's remark that "it is healthy water that doctors prescribe" was, You've got to be kidding; who exactly are these doctors, what are their names and their qualifications, and what did they base their evaluations and endorsements on? Could Sison have unthinkingly bought into Tabar's adverts?

As for Tabar's rant and crash course in the history of scientific revolutions, it's textbook woo that bears quoting in full (all-caps Tabar's):

Mr Edwardson Tan, thank you for your comment.

We have read and visited the sites you have mentioned in your comment some time ago. Yes indeed there are some quacks out there, but there are other types of quacks. Those that cannot and will not stop QUACKING and QUACKING - We hope and pray that you are NOT one of them.

But lest we fall into the trap of thinking like automatons without really thinking for ourselves, allow me to elucidate on the matter.

You see to think that water is simply water is akin to existing in the 6th century when the then Bishop of Antioch - Constantine, created a "Christian topography" depicting the Earth as a FLAT disk. Not only was it considered scientifically wrong to think that the earth was round, it was also HERETIC to say so.

It took more than 9 centuries before brave souls in Sept 1522, proved through the first circumnavigation of the world started by Ferdinand Magellan and completed by Juan Sebastian de Elcano that the earth is indeed ROUND and NOT FLAT.

Of course, today any 5-year old child will tell you that the earth is round matter-of-factly. And we take that fact today as common knowledge. My point here, my dear friend, is that one should think with an OPEN mind for OURSELVES and not take the opinion of others for FACT.

To find out if the food that one prepared is delicious or not NECESSITATES that one taste it. How will you know if you dont taste it? Thus we invite you to try STRUCTURED WATER first before you judge it. Please visit us at 96 Xavierville Ave., Loyola Hts. QC. Please call before coming at 4332222 or text 09228921256 - Who knows you may join countless others, who have dismissed structured water before as pseudo science but today are not only drinking it but introducing it to other people as well - because of the multitude of health benefits that they have experienced from simply drinking it.

I hope and pray that you accept our invitation and start to FREE yourself, and begin to take the first steps out of ignorance, to start to progress beyond the 6th century way of thinking.

Countless minds have done so. Imagine if COPERNICUS had not gone against the long held belief since the 2nd century that the earth was the center of the universe and not published his theories that formulated that the Earth and other planets moved around the Sun, where would interplanetary navigation be today?

In fact, Galileo Galilei's advocacy & support of this heliocentric system resulted in his famous trial before the Spanish Inquisition in 1633. There Inquisition consultants pronounced the Copernican theory heretical and admonished Galileo “not to hold, teach, or defend” the Copernican theory “in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.”

Imagine if the WRIGHT brothers simply accepted the common notion that man was not meant to fly; if THOMAS EDISON simply gave up after 999 failures before he could get the electric powered light bulb to work; if ALBERT EINSTEIN simply accepted the theorems of physics then and not come out with his theory of RELATIVITY - where would mankind be now?

Men should set their MINDS FREE , it will make ALL of us better people and help make a better world.

Galileo? Copernicus? Einstein? Edison? Wright brothers? What do any of these dudes have to do with structured water? Nowhere in his reply do I see scientific evidence that lends credence to his claims about his product, which is what really matters of course. In lieu of evidence I get a red herring, unsolicited history primer, which is suppose to send the message that I ought keep an open mind. Perhaps what Tabar means is that I should stop rocking his boat and doubting the veracity of his claims, that I should stop "quacking." Tabar is pissed. I've "quacked" too much, and have spilled the beans on the claptrap he's peddling.

As for Galileo, Copernicus, Einstein, well, I have news for you Mr. Tabar. Their proposals have been scrutinized and tested over and over and they've passed with flying colors. How about yours? Have you put your product to the test? What is this "structuredness" you're raving about? Has it been observed and measured in your product as you describe it? Given two groups of samples of your water--one group which has yet to be structured and another which has gone through your processing and is already structured--have chemists/technicians distinguished, with statistically significant success, between the samples in a randomized, doubly-blinded test? Are the extravagant therapeutic claims you make--such as anti-aging--in fact true? Can you please provide the clinical trials that have shown this? And while you're writing your next history lesson, how about including the names and proposals of the innumerable Tom, Dick and Harrys who've come up with more ideas than Einstein et al. combined but whose claims have proved to be dead wrong.

Tabar gives good advice though: "one should think with an OPEN mind for OURSELVES and not take the opinion of others for FACT." Indeed. And that's why I think for myself and don't take Tabar's fantastic medical claims as fact. That's why I don't listen to the wild claims of this biased source--a businessman whose life depends on selling this product and whose credibility depends on structured water's being accepted as scientifically and medically legit. Given the circumnavigation bit it seems Tabar at least has some (latent) understanding that empirical evidence is necessary to vindicate an idea. So why is it that he doesn't take his cue from his hero Magellan and "prove" that his product really has all the properties it possesses? Could it be--Zeus forbid--that it doesn't?

The irony is that he accuses me of having intellectually stagnated in the 6th century. I gather he pats himself on the back for subscribing to alternative medicine (and perhaps even New Age). I'm sorry Mr. Tabar but your brain is screwed. Scientists and medical researchers for more than a century have been using the scientific method and controlled studies to arrive at reliable knowledge of the empirical world. They certainly don't abide by your manifesto.

When I came to the line "I hope and pray that you accept our invitation and start to FREE yourself ... " the word FREE jumped out before I could read the sentence and thought he was offering me free bottles of his product. Well, I'm sorry to decline your invitation, Mr. Tabar. At PhP 10.00/liter your water costs nearly 400% more than the bottled water that gets delivered to my doorstep. You're certainly making a killing selling filtered water, while your buyers don't get anything more out of it except jugfuls of placebo, thanks to your pseudoscientific and snakeoil hokum.


While heliocentricity is the more parsimonious model compared with Ptolemy's geocentricity, the Copernican model still assumed circular orbits for the planets. But "any 5-year old child will tell you" the planets in our solar system follow elliptical paths. This assumption is the reason why Copernicus had to, just as Ptolemy did, posit epicycles, albeit fewer. That ad hoc explanation was still necessary to account for the prediction errors that a circular heliocentricity model makes. 1, 2

1 comment:

Heathen Dan said...

Be fair to the hucksters. I'm sure their structured water is just as beneficial as regular water. I bet you wouldn't mind taking a drink of their revolutionary product if you're dying of thirst in a desert island.

(Of course, the pseudoscience bit is pretty crafty, bordering on fraud.)