Saturday 19 April 2008

More water-related nonsense from Rustum Roy

Regular readers will remember a recent paper involving Rustum Roy, a materials science professor at Penn State, that purported to show that you could use UV-VIS and Raman spectroscopy to distinguish different homeopathic remedies. Given that the homeopathic remedies were at a 30c 'potency' (that is, a dilution factor of 1x10^60, a one followed by sixty zeroes), the chance of any molecules of the active ingredient remaining are vanishingly small, and this seemed an extremely unlikely claim. Sure enough, on looking at the paper, it's riddled with basic errors, including duplicated graphs, and doesn't support the conclusions of the authors. A group of sceptical scientists, including me, wrote a letter to the journal's editor about the paper. The authors offered a totally inadequate response that failed to address any of the serious problems with the paper.

Fortunately, Roy has not been discouraged by this setback. He is now involved in an experiment that attempts to show that we can change the structure of water with our minds. There are some truly astounding statements by Roy here.

Structured water is found in the cytoplasm of healthy tissues and it is characterized by having a high solubility for body minerals. It is also found in healing waters. This appears to be the structure shared by very different healing waters from some healing spas to silver aquasols used worldwide.

Structured waters have been produced using various forms of energy, such as light, sound, heat, pressure and radiation.

In our proposed experiment, we aim to examine whether we can structure water with intention alone. We’ll be monitoring any change against control using analytical tools such as spectroscopy.

As far as I can tell, there is no evidence that 'healing waters' actually do any healing, and there is no evidence that different structures of water have different biological effects. But why worry about that? Why not set up a badly designed experiment anyway?

What Roy is proposing to do is get a beaker of water, and collect a Raman spectrum of it. Raman spectroscopy is a technique that can identify vibrational and rotational modes in a system. It can be used to detect changes in chemical bonding, which is what Roy will be looking for. Then people all over the world are going to concentrate on changing the Raman spectrum of the beaker of water. Roy will then collect a new Raman spectrum, and compare it to the old one. This is going to happen on April 26th.

The main problem I can see with this is that the experiment is totally uncontrolled. A beaker of water sitting around is going to dissolve gases and incorporate dust, particulates, skin cells and so on from the atmosphere surrounding it. It might also lose some of the dissolved gases in it to the atmosphere through time. Roy is apparently making no attempt to control for this at all.

Roy's previous work doesn't exactly give cause for confidence. The paper in Homeopathy claims to show differences in Raman spectra between homeopathic remedies. Essentially, all the paper does is present graphs, state that they look different, and leave it at that. There is no attempt to understand why the graphs might be different, or assign peaks to distinct vibrational/rotational modes, or show that the differences between the spectra are statistically significant, or anything.

I think I can confidently predict that the second spectrum will look subtly different from the first, and Roy will declare that we can change water structure with the power of our minds alone. The experiment will be totally worthless, but that won't stop people citing it for years to come as cast-iron evidence for telekinesis.


Le Canard Noir said...

I think this is excellent news. From now on Roy will be the man who 'thinks' water can change structure. Let's see is people like Dr Peter Fisher continue to support their water memory theories after this.

BASIC Investment Club said...

Shouldn't we sceptics all try, on April 26th, to set up thought patterns which will interfere with those of Rustum's supporters?


Anonymous said...

People talk about humour being the best weapon but you seriously can not parody this stuff. It is impossible to even approach the reality or what passes for such.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm - plus ca change, except for the new element of collective delusion simultaneously on several continents. I am eerily reminded of the late Jacques Benveniste claiming he could transmit homeopathic "water encoding" over the internet.

A look at Rustum Roy's bio on Wikipedia suggests that he has always been somewhat bonkers (read the titles of his books), although I guess he must have been a decent materials scientist at some stage. But on the properties of water he is off his turf. He is also in his 80s and must be long since retired from his Penn State job. His "visiting Professorship" at the Univ of Arizona, BTW, is in connection with his association with legendary Alt-med Snake-Oil guru Andrew Weil.

What I find most fascinating about these scientist-turned-nutjob types , and Lionel Milgrom also springs to mind here, is what caused them to "turn". Benveniste was lured into it by his own vanity, but for most of them it seems to involve a personal quasi-religious "conversion" experience with AltMed . Hooking up with a younger partner of Altie inclinations also sometimes features.

Back to Roy, I can't believe anyone has really taken the guy even remotely seriously for years, but this is truly the icing on the cake, barking loony-ness-wise.

Anonymous said...

Water is essentially inactive to standard Raman spectroscopy, so *all* Roy will see is the impurities - dramatically different spectra are virtually assured!

This experiment is comically easy to falsify (well duh) - on 26th April, take a beaker of water and record its Raman spectrum, then studiously ignore it while it sits on the open bench for a while, then record it again. Different? Hmmm...

>Hooking up with a younger partner of Altie inclinations also sometimes features.

This has never occurred to me before and opens a whole new territory of scientific criticism. "Jones (2007) argued that this effect could be explained by hyperfine splitting, but he only said that to get a shag, innit." Maybe the untold story of Linus Pauling and the hot babe with the Vitamin C enthusiasm needs to be told?

Unknown said...

Dear all,

its just sad to read crap when we are are thinking like crabs, walking sideways in our assumptions and reasonings.

I am no inventor even i hold several patents myself.

unfortunately, for you folks out there, i can safely confirm that what Rustum roy did was correct and my experiments also confirmed more than his findings.

Beileve it or not, i can 'instruct' water to remove comtanminants, heal or revitalise some sickness, cultivate chemical free agricuture and aquaculture and many more.

there's more, i will announce it by mid 2010 how this new technology will change our lives, thanks to people like Rustum Roy

Paul Wilson said...

"Beileve it or not, i can 'instruct' water to remove comtanminants, heal or revitalise some sickness, cultivate chemical free agricuture and aquaculture and many more".

I don't believe it, it sounds like total bullshit to me, but I look forward to your announcement nonetheless.