I think I’m late to this party, but am putting it here for the record.
I’ve kvetched a lot about National Geographic and its recent penchant for publishing articles on religion—especially articles on Christianity that take for granted that Jesus is real. This trend seems to have worsened since they were bought by Murdoch.
Now they’re purveying woo as well as faith, as reported in a Gizmodo article by Ryan F. Mandelbaum: “National Geographic just sent me a crystal healing water bottle.”
The story: on March 26, the National Geographic Channel will show the new program “One Strange Rock,” produced by Darren Aronofsky and narrated by Will Smith. It’s apparently the “story of Earth,” featuring a lot of shots taken from space. Here’s the trailer:
As often happens, the announcement of the movie came with a bunch of goodies, or “press kit”, sent to journalists. Mandelbaum reports that his press kit contained an unusual item (my emphasis):
The huge box Nat Geo sent me contained a book, some press material, and this glass water bottle with their name printed on the side. The >$70 bottle’s package advertises that it contains “carefully selected and ethically sourced gemstones representing the building blocks of earth,” including “wood,” “water,” “earth,” “metal” and “fire.” It came with an instruction and information manual.
Why does my water bottle have an instruction manual? It reads: “For the most precious moments in life! Gems raise the energy level of water. That’s been known for hundreds of years and scientifically proven. VitaJuwel Gemwater Accessories are not only Jewelry for Water, they’re a great tool to prepare heavenly gemwater like fresh from the spring.” The instructions are: screw in the gemstone vial, fill with water, and then wait 7 minutes.
Here’s the thing—this is a water bottle containing a sealed jar of gemstones. At no point will the water even come into contact with any of said gemstones. A warning tells you to discard the bottle if there is any way for water to seep into the vial of gems. All of the “science” cited in the brochure comes from widely debunked research from the likes of Japanese author Masaru Emoto—you know, the researcher who claimed humans could impact the chemical structure of water with their thoughts—or unnamed “German scientists.”
Some of the claims are really wild. At one point, the pamphlet says: “Everything in nature vibrates. Gems naturally act like a source of subtle vibrations. These vibrations inspirit water, making it more lively and enjoyable.” This is nonsense, and any reference to electricity in crystals (like piezoelectricity, when charge accumulates on some structures in response to physical stress) is neither exclusive to crystals nor relevant to healing or enlivening drinking water. (“Ha! Yeah. Nah,” astrophysicist Katie Mack told me in a DM.)
Why 7 minutes instead of 5? How are the Magic Gemstones going to convey their healing vibrations to the water if they don’t touch it? I’m worried!
Here’s the bottle and the associated pamphlet as photographed by Mandelbaum:
Well, this is bullshit, of course, but bullshit purveyed by National Geographic, which has apparently given up on truth. When it’s not touting Jesus, it’s touting Magic Vibration Crystals. Unlike religion, they may not poison everything, or even the water, but what lamebrain thought that sending out a Wooter Bottle would appeal to science journalists, or that someone wouldn’t call them out on it? The magazine is still pushing superstition, but this time in the guise of spirituality rather than religion.
But look on the bright side: unlike Gwyneth Paltrow’s jade egg, at least you don’t have to insert the gems into your vagina.