Several months back a youtube video popped up in my Facebook feed in which someone tried to reproduce the rice experiment. For those of you who don’t know about it, the rice experiment is based on the work of Masaru Emoto (1943 – 2014) who is best know for his research suggesting that the molecular structure of water can be affected by human consciousness. (Read his book, The Hidden Messages in Water, if you want to learn more.) Emoto also conducted experiments on cooked rice – rice that he insulted rotted/molded/went bad at a significantly faster rate than the rice to which he sent thanks. Emoto’s conclusion was that human emotions and/or consciousness affect the physical world. (Something that quantum physicists are beginning to prove is true with the famous double-slit experiment.)
Since few individuals have access to the high-tech, microscopic photographic equipment that Emoto used to conduct his work with water molecules, average people who were curious to find out whether this actually worked set about reproducing his rice experiments. At it’s most basic the experiment goes like this: An equal amount of cooked rice is placed in different jars. The person conducting the experiment will “send hate” to the rice in one jar and “send love” to the rice in the other. Should Emoto’s premise prove correct, the rice in the hate jar will rot/mold/go bad at a significantly faster rate than the rice in the love jar. If you want to get fancy, you can use more jars and more types of energy (disappointment, joy, excitement, boredom, etc), but then it begins to get difficult to clearly differentiate one feeling from another.
What struck me about the youtube video I watched (the author carried out the rice experiment and published his results – they tallied with those of Emoto) were all the negative comments. Without attempting to reproduce the experiment themselves, commenters accused the author of cheating, rigging the experiment, and drilling holes in the top of one jar causing it to go bad faster, etc. Others criticized the author’s lack of a scientific background. WTF?
I decided to try to conduct the experiment myself. One cup of rice (whole basmati rice cooked in water, chicken stock and salt) was place in each of two identical jars, which I then sealed. I decided to make the experiment more difficult by not covering the rice with water, as was done by Emoto and others; instead, the I left the rice as it was. I sent hate to the rice in one jar, love to the rice in the other.
This was when I discovered that I find it very difficult to hate something. After a couple of days I realized that, at best, I was only feeling deeply disappointed in the jar of rice, and was even beginning to give it pep talks about needing to do better. (My teenage daughter found this hilarious.) So I changed tactics and sent one jar generic negative energy, and the other jar positive energy.
Note: In hindsight I should have done things differently. I should have had at least three jars – one for negative energy, one for positive energy and a third control jar which would have been ignored. And if I had wanted to be super meticulous about it, at the same time I should have had yet three more jars with which I would also have added water as in Emoto’s experiments. However, I only have so much space on my dining room table. I also didn’t have six identical jars.
Although it took a long time (seven weeks!), my results tallied with those of Masaru Emoto. The jar to which I sent negative energy grew mold; the jar to which I sent positive energy did not. The negative energy rice smelled vile; the positive energy rice still smelled like rice, albeit old rice (if I had taken it out of my refrigerator, I probably would have tossed it …but maybe not if I was just going to use it to thicken a stew and didn’t have anything else to do it with.)
Many individuals have posted their own attempts to replicate the rice experiment, the majority successful, some unsuccessful. The number of people who obtain positive results over those who obtain negative results, however, appears to be statistically significant. (I am not ruling out that that the greater number of positive results could well be the result of selective reporting – this is still up for grabs.) But something that struck me was how many of the debunkers went out of their way to discredit Masaru Emoto on the basis that he held no scientific degree (he was a writer) – “a peddler of pseudoscience” is how he is often described.
Discrediting Emoto’s work by dismissing his background bothers me because it, in effect, implies that individuals need to have a higher education degree in a specific field in order to have the authority to make sense of their own reality. Following this line of thought, we should then dismiss the work of Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers, Michael Faraday (revolutionized our idea of electricity), William Herschel (astronomer), Mary Anning (the founder of modern day geology) and Gregor Mendel (pioneered the science of genetics), among others.
This is especially worrying because the science that does make the cut is so often either misinterpreted or flat out wrong. In a July 2011 TED talk, doctor and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre showed how dodgy science, the withholding of negative data, and the deliberate manipulation of evidence distorts the science we are allowed to see. Political pundit John Oliver recently posted a segment on how scientific studies are often untrue.
The authorities in control of the science establishment also decide what type of studies get funding or should be shunned, effectively closing the door to the exploration into areas they consider to be unseemly (which is nearly everything I’m interested in).
I’m not against science or scientists (I am in support of both!), and I respect the learning that goes on in obtaining a specialized degree. That said, I am uncomfortable with how the work of an average person (someone without letters following his/her name) is often dismissed as being not good enough just because that person does not have the right background. This notion that we should look to authorities or specialists to tell us what to think before checking in with ourselves is unsettling. When we allow ourselves to become convinced that we are unqualified to understand what is going on, we are relinquishing our power, our experience of reality and our experience of self.
I guess that’s one of the main reasons I created this website – to explore the truth and extent of reality. While I haven’t any definite paradigm to offer, I have found that the universe appears to be more astonishing and wondrous than those in power concede. While I hope you would also come to this same conclusion, maybe you won’t. The only way to find out is to do the work and think for yourself.