Raw like dysentery
January 1, 2018 2:17 PM   Subscribe

He said “real water” should expire after a few months. His does. “It stays most fresh within one lunar cycle of delivery,” he said. “If it sits around too long, it’ll turn green. People don’t even realize that because all their water’s dead, so they never see it turn green.”
Raw water is the latest obsession of the clean living crowd, people like Juicero owner Doug Evans, with a disdain for bottled and especially tap water. If you think drinking unpasteurised milk is a dilettante's sport, this may be for you.
posted by MartinWisse (241 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
My tap water comes directly from Yosemite, so Juicebro can bite me.

The snake-oil industry must be in a downturn.
posted by rhizome at 2:21 PM on January 1 [21 favorites]


Here on the West Coast and in other pockets around the country, many people are looking to get off the water grid.

I ... uh ... this is stupid.
posted by aubilenon at 2:21 PM on January 1 [125 favorites]


Fools pour in.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:23 PM on January 1 [12 favorites]


Mr. Singh believes that public water has been poisoned. “Tap water? You’re drinking toilet water with birth control drugs in them,” he said. “Chloramine, and on top of that they’re putting in fluoride. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it’s a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health.” (There is no scientific evidence that fluoride is a mind-control drug, but plenty to show that it aids dental health.)

Oh my.
posted by rtha at 2:25 PM on January 1 [84 favorites]


You have died of dysentery.
posted by monotreme at 2:25 PM on January 1 [281 favorites]


I am very worked up about this.

Water, clean water- sourcing it, transporting it, storing it, then moving wastewater away and treating it, is the key for civilization. More than electricity. More than oil. More than roads. It is the great significant challenge that every city-building human society has faced and overcome.

And these con-artists want to fucking undo it.
Hot and cold running water is magic. MAGIC! It's what makes, more than anything else, our society possible.

There was a Twitter rant I read a couple days ago about the US Postal Service, and how it provides the backbone, the commons, that undergirds the more visible, flashier package and express services. The commons make our societies possible, and deliberately tearing them down because you swimming in their benefits to the point it's just the way things are is the epitome of short-term thinking.

Nobody who has spent a week shitting their guts out from giardia is buying raw water.
Nobody whose kid died from cholera is buying raw water.

It is because we have existed in a technological, civilizational environment that things like this become attractive- people forget what the alternative is really like.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:27 PM on January 1 [413 favorites]


Never thought I'd find myself rooting for cryptosporidium.

That Zero Mass water thing could be useful for a remote cabin or a boat. Or if you have genuine concerns about municipal infrastructure. I did like the touch where the Silicon Valley moron behind Juicero more or less admits he's trespassing and stealing spring-water. As above so below I guess.

The rest of it is just the typical "We've forgotten what the problem was, so now we're going to start tearing the solutions down" bullshit that seems to be common everywhere these days.
posted by Grimgrin at 2:28 PM on January 1 [81 favorites]


Our city has great tap water and yet people often still prefer the Artesian Well water.

They'll risk stepping on discarded needles or getting into tussles with the angry, homeless people who have taken up residence in the park surrounding the well, partially because its their only real access to clean water.

I....just don't get it.

The only time I rightly questioned water quality was when I was living in a dorm in a college in Louisiana that was condemned the year after I lived in it (seeing the implosion was pretty fun). The water was brown and smelled funny, basically all the time.

A year later, they would propose to actually build a new Water Treatment Plant in Northeast Louisiana for the first time since the 1940's (around the same time the dorm I lived in was built.)
posted by deadaluspark at 2:28 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Mr. Singh believes that public water has been poisoned. “Tap water? You’re drinking toilet water with birth control drugs in them,” he said. “Chloramine, and on top of that they’re putting in fluoride. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it’s a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health.” (There is no scientific evidence that fluoride is a mind-control drug, but plenty to show that it aids dental health.)

You're a conspiracy theorist, and also an idiot, and there's no such thing as "raw" water, jesus christ.
posted by clockzero at 2:30 PM on January 1 [56 favorites]


As a Victorianist, all I can say is: John Snow would like a word.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:30 PM on January 1 [37 favorites]


there must be a way to make money selling grain alcohol to these folks
posted by thelonius at 2:31 PM on January 1 [52 favorites]


Deadaluspark. I was about to comment about how I grew up on Louisiana tap water and now live in different city and thetap water omg. I love it.

yay civilization
posted by AlexiaSky at 2:32 PM on January 1 [6 favorites]


I am all in favour of people drinking as much live water as they want to. We have an overpopulation problem as it is. I'd also like to nominate that conspiracy theorist bloke for an impending Darwin award. What a wanker.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:34 PM on January 1 [7 favorites]


I only drink water from artisanal moisture farms on planets with two suns.
posted by Nelson at 2:34 PM on January 1 [88 favorites]


All water has been pee. Dinosaurs peed out your raw water once. So did Shakespeare.

I work every day with engineers who design water and wastewater plants. They are the people that keep us alive. This guy is a fucking moron.
posted by emjaybee at 2:35 PM on January 1 [113 favorites]


I don't know if he's a conspiracy theorist, but he's definitely a grifter.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 2:36 PM on January 1 [13 favorites]


Rain water and pure-grain alcohol for me, man
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:36 PM on January 1 [8 favorites]




My essence is secure.
posted by rhizome at 2:38 PM on January 1 [16 favorites]


Damn. I'm always too late to make the Doctor Strangelove references.
posted by Start with Dessert at 2:41 PM on January 1 [17 favorites]


My father did a lot of work on wastewater plants. Also I grew up with a bunch of wilderness folk. The only raw water you want to be drinking is water you KNOW is coming straight from the mouth of a spring that hasn't seen daylight since it fell from the sky. If it has touched anything, you Do Not Drink It.

It's like, Causes Of Death In The Oregon Wilderness That You Learn Right Quick:
1. Getting lost without water and thinking you can just drink from anything
2. Getting lost with water, but without a map, running out of water, and thinking you can just drink from anything
3. Climbing down the rim of Crater Lake outside of the designated trail (there's only one) (no really at least one person dies of this every year, often more)

I'll be drinking my city water thankyouverymuch.
posted by fraula at 2:41 PM on January 1 [45 favorites]


Fraula, you made an entire hiking trip up a glacier with my elementary school class come rushing back to memory. I remember they hammered into us kids to make SURE to bring your own water, because you're risking serious danger drinking from a stream coming off the mountain, even if it looks perfectly clear and clean and safe.
posted by deadaluspark at 2:44 PM on January 1 [7 favorites]


Damn. I'm always too late to make the Doctor Strangelove references.

No, it's OK - each man is required to do prodigious...service along these lines
posted by thelonius at 2:48 PM on January 1 [15 favorites]


My parents drink well water (they have a very big lot out in what used to be the country but is starting to be built up some.) It really does taste better than city water. And theirs has been tested and is safe.

BUT

Not every well in our area is so safe anymore. GenX has been found in wells on the other side of the county. Other wells in the area have had other contamination. Some shallower wells near farms have too high a concentration of E. Coli.

If I let my water sit out awhile it tastes better but it tastes fine from the tap. And I will not be puking my guts out or spending all day in the toilet. I have had paratyphoid (can be carried in water and in fact the health department tested ours then altho I got sick at college over an hour away) and waterborne illnesses are no joke, and can be fatal. If I had not been a healthy 19 year old at the time I could have died. It was that bad.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:49 PM on January 1 [12 favorites]


My favorite part (beyond the water) is "Marketing materials show Mr. Singh (né Christopher Sanborn) sitting"

Emphasis mine, btw. Like... c'mon dude? We literally just had a famous Indian-American comic make a whole movie called "The Problem With Apu" and we still end up with ... this?

"I need to sell some fake cure. I'll... pretend to be Indian?"

ffs
posted by raihan_ at 2:50 PM on January 1 [76 favorites]


For the longest time growing up I firmly believed that as a species we would pull though thanks to our ever-increasing knowledge, built upon generations of humans devoting their lives to improving our shared wisdom & insight. The last few years have shaken my faith to the ground & this is only one more aftershock.
posted by kmkrebs at 2:51 PM on January 1 [48 favorites]


Some shallower wells near farms have too high a concentration of E. Coli.

My friend has this problem, and it comes and goes. He had to install a whole water treatment system on his well after he and his girlfriend spent a year coping with the after-effects of an E. Coli infection.

When he moved in, there was no E. Coli in the well. A year later, there was. Tested months after he got E. Coli, it was gone again. Tested months again after that, back. Finally he said screw it and got the water filters installed.
posted by deadaluspark at 2:54 PM on January 1 [6 favorites]


I may be giving the 'raw' and or 'living' water folks too much credence; it could be that they are just as deeply stupid as they sound in this interview. But my suspicion is that Doug Evans and Mukhande Singh are actively looking for dirt cheapest product they can draw a profit from (in this case, water pulled directly from the ground with no safety treatments or filtration) and hoping to charge exorbitant prices for it. $36.99 for 2.5 gallons of Live Water is basically pure profit, if you can convince enough dumbasses to drink it. And they're likely to poison a bunch of people making money for basically nothing of value.

It's fucking evil. If these bastards could charge for air, they would. They're seeking rent on delusions that they are actively fostering. It's Silicon Valley arbitrage all over again.

Zero Mass Water is a bit different, as that is less likely to have giardia in it, but
The system — called Source, which retails for $4,500, including installation — draws moisture from the air (the way rice does in a saltshaker) and filters it, producing about 10 liters of water a day and storing about 60 liters.
10 L a day? That's next to useless unless you live alone and only use it for drinking/cooking.
posted by Existential Dread at 2:54 PM on January 1 [30 favorites]


Oh my god this article is the purest, most unfiltered and unpasteurized New York Times bullshit both-sides coverage. I can't believe how much they're letting these people get away with. It's worse than their Trump coverage, and that's saying something.
What adherents share is a wariness of tap water, particularly the fluoride added to it and the lead pipes that some of it passes through. They contend that the wrong kind of filtration removes beneficial minerals. Even traditional bottled spring water is treated with ultraviolet light or ozone gas and passed through filters to remove algae. That, they say, kills healthful bacteria — “probiotics” in raw-water parlance.
Nothing follows that to say, for example, that fluoride is beneficial and tap water is tested for lead levels and that bacteria in water literally used to be one of the great killers of mankind AND STILL ARE TODAY in places of the world that are not lucky enough to, like San Francisco, have their water treated as described.

No, we have to wait seventeen more paragraphs for an opposing viewpoint, when the Times finally trots out a doctor from the Mayo Clinic to make a couple of reasonable points, then quickly disposes of him to continue uncritically presenting sales pitches from charlatans.

As if an amused tone is all that is needed to signal that the subject shouldn't be taken seriously, and that the Times' educated readers would *never* actually fall for something so foolish as this.

I'm going to send the Times' public editor an email to ask if they really think it was appropriate to publish an article that these raw water quacks would be proud to send to their mothers.
posted by saturday_morning at 2:56 PM on January 1 [163 favorites]


Lesson from the Source device: some people have millions of dollars to invest but never took high school chemistry.

Drinking distilled water exclusively will kill you because your body actually needs the minerals found in freshwater. And it tastes bad too.

They couldn't interview a single biochemist for the article?
posted by miyabo at 2:59 PM on January 1 [21 favorites]


I remember back in the 80s or 90s when an anti-fluoride crank badgered the city council in my home town so often for so long that the council finally agreed to put a ballot measure to the people to ask whether fluoride should be removed from the city's water supply, mostly to shut him up. Something like 97% of voters voted that it stay. He was not deterred, instead claiming that the mind-control properties of fluoride had contaminated everyone so no one could be trusted.

I'm quite cynical enough to believe that Messrs. Singh and Evans don't actually follow the stuff they're spouting. Technology has just made it super easy to peddle even more expensive cures for whatever conspiracy theory is back in vogue.
posted by fireoyster at 3:02 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


Nothing follows that to say, for example, that fluoride is beneficial

they did say that, as quoted above:

Mr. Singh believes that public water has been poisoned. “Tap water? You’re drinking toilet water with birth control drugs in them,” he said. “Chloramine, and on top of that they’re putting in fluoride. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it’s a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health.” (There is no scientific evidence that fluoride is a mind-control drug, but plenty to show that it aids dental health.
posted by thelonius at 3:02 PM on January 1 [6 favorites]


Saturday_morning I have some bad news for you about the New York Times and its public editor.
posted by Nelson at 3:03 PM on January 1 [35 favorites]


The quest for pure water is hardly new; people have been drinking from natural springs and collecting rainwater from time immemorial. The crusade against adding fluoride to public water began in the 1950s among Americans who saw danger in the protective measures that had been adopted over decades to protect the populace from disease and contamination.

There have been attempts in lots of municipalities to remove fluoride where it was being added to drinking water, but this is a notable, uh, success complemented by a follow-up study: a bunch of fucking morons in Calgary, convinced that fluoride was gub'mint mind control (or otherwise undesirable - cost was cited as one of the reasons), convinced a majority of equally moronic city councillors of their cause. Calgary stopped adding it to the municipal water supply in 2011 and voila:

Methods
We examined data from population-based samples of school children (Grade 2) in two similar cities in the province of Alberta, Canada: Calgary, where cessation occurred in May 2011 and Edmonton where fluoridation remains in place. We analysed change over time (2004/2005 to 2013/2014) in summary data for primary (defs) and permanent (DMFS) teeth for Calgary and Edmonton, for all tooth surfaces and smooth surfaces only. We also considered, for 2013/2014 only, the exposed subsample defined as lifelong residents who reported usually drinking tap water.

Results
We observed, across the full sample, an increase in primary tooth decay (mean defs – all surfaces and smooth surfaces) in both cities, but the magnitude of the increase was greater in Calgary (F-cessation) than in Edmonton (F-continued). For permanent tooth decay, when focusing on smooth surfaces among those affected (those with DMFS>0), we observed a non-significant trend towards an increase in Calgary (F-cessation) that was not apparent in Edmonton (F-continued).

Conclusions
Trends observed for primary teeth were consistent with an adverse effect of fluoridation cessation on children's tooth decay, 2.5–3 years post-cessation. Trends for permanent teeth hinted at early indication of an adverse effect. It is important that future data collection efforts in the two cities be undertaken, to permit continued monitoring of these trends.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:03 PM on January 1 [25 favorites]


We specifically moved into town from our place that was on county well water so that we could have fluoridated (and better treated) water. Because my mom had terrible dental issues all her life, and I'm terrified of having the same. Give me fluoride, thanks. My kid too.
posted by emjaybee at 3:06 PM on January 1 [12 favorites]


they did say that, as quoted above:

(There is no scientific evidence that fluoride is a mind-control drug, but plenty to show that it aids dental health.)


Yes, they did, my apologies...but only in a way that underlines my overall point. One snide little parenthetical versus an overwhelming tide of undebunked misinformation.

Again, I get the feeling that the editor/journalist were operating on the assumption that nobody could possibly take this seriously and therefore it was unnecessary to debunk. Which, well, they obviously still haven't learned their lesson from 2016.
posted by saturday_morning at 3:09 PM on January 1 [35 favorites]


The health benefits she reported include better skin and the need to drink less water. “My skin’s plumper,” she said. “And I feel like I’m getting better nutrition from the food I eat.”

Speaking of undebunked misinformation, what the hell constitutes "plumper" skin?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:14 PM on January 1 [8 favorites]


Her head skin sure sounds plumper.
posted by Chitownfats at 3:16 PM on January 1 [10 favorites]


The glass bottles are pretty.
posted by quaking fajita at 3:17 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


I see this business plan ending in one of two ways:
  • someone gets seriously ill or dies from their bacteria-laden product. The company is buried in litigation.
  • nobody ever gets sick from their product, and it comes to light that just like Dasani and pretty much every other "natural water" product, they've just been bottling tap water and calling it natural. The company is buried in ridicule and/or litigation.
Needless to say, I wouldn't invest in it.
posted by jackbishop at 3:17 PM on January 1 [10 favorites]


The fucking worst part about this is that waterborne illness is one of the largest killers in the world, and they live in one of the safest countries in the world in part because we don't have that, mostly, and they're just like "LOL WHO EVEN KNOWS WHAT THINGS ARE" and it is flat out infuriating.
posted by corb at 3:17 PM on January 1 [97 favorites]


what the hell constitutes "plumper" skin?

Twenty dollars, same as in town?
posted by notsnot at 3:17 PM on January 1 [19 favorites]


Not every well in our area is so safe anymore.

Had a friend who grew up in rural Indiana. She, her parents, and several extended family members have all had some form of cancer. I expect if you did a comparison of when the factory outside her town set up shop, and when the local incidents of cancer started to spike, you'd have a nicely dovetailing chart.

Which is to say: we did not drink the well water when we went to her home in the boonies. We always brought it in. And for very good anecdotal reasons.
posted by offalark at 3:18 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


“Just take a breath of air,” said Mr. Friesen, a professor of materials science at Arizona State University. “Take a deep breath. No matter how wealthy or poor you are, you can take a breath and own that air that you breathe. And yet water — the government brings it to you.”

Yes, exactly, the government brings it to you! It’s amazing, and it sounds much more practical than a $4500 water-maker. And you don’t OWN the air, what fever-dream of capitalism is this? Not to mention the fact that yes, the government does indeed regulate air quality, because raw air can be just as poisonous as raw water.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 3:18 PM on January 1 [106 favorites]


If it's genuinely unpasteurised and unfiltered then there's no way their water lasts "a lunar cycle" (aka just less than a month) without things growing in it. As a kid I once tried bringing water back to camp from a mineral spring; three days later it had scum on it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:20 PM on January 1 [6 favorites]


I live on 34 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains, and our house is supplied by a well. Our water is very good, though we are constantly fiddling with the salt/mineral concentrations. Naturally, though, there's no fluoride in our well water, so I use a fluoride mouthwash every day. There's a reason (beyond simple poverty) that hillbillies stereotypically have bad teeth.

I look forward to the day when these grifters lose all their teeth. Serve 'em right.
posted by workerant at 3:20 PM on January 1 [9 favorites]


what the hell constitutes "plumper" skin?

Twenty dollars, same as in town?


Does that include both the lotion and the basket?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:20 PM on January 1 [19 favorites]


*sigh* Humans are dumb.
posted by smallerdemon at 3:20 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


how do humans keep getting more stupid
posted by poffin boffin at 3:20 PM on January 1 [13 favorites]


more importantly though what can i personally sell to these fucking morons
posted by poffin boffin at 3:21 PM on January 1 [46 favorites]


'Raw' water, apparently.
posted by eclectist at 3:21 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


a wicker cleanse guaranteed to remove 100% of skin impurities
posted by corb at 3:22 PM on January 1 [64 favorites]


AH, now it makes sense why the spring up the canyon from my house is always mobbed with people filling 5 gallon water jugs, and I can't catch a break to fill up my water bottle after taking 2 hours to get there.

They're entrepreneurs.

I just now go a few miles up and drink the water that's melting right off the glacier, rather than going through all the old mining town debris.

Anyways, enjoy your water.
posted by alex_skazat at 3:22 PM on January 1


maybe some kind of naturally filtered raw air which is just me coughing into a mason jar and the morons paying 49.99 per oz
posted by poffin boffin at 3:24 PM on January 1 [24 favorites]


Enjoy the Cholera, my dude.
posted by freakazoid at 3:24 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


poffin boffin, I am interested in investing in this wicker cleanse you speak of
posted by potrzebie at 3:25 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


back in my day we had to go find our own cholera, and we liked it
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:26 PM on January 1 [15 favorites]


Water? Like out the toilet?
posted by ftm at 3:26 PM on January 1 [23 favorites]


Okay, so I have "off-grid" water and have had it throughout my childhood and (except for when I was away at higher education) throughout my adult life. My water comes out of the ground on the mountain behind my house, pretty far up the slope. It flows through a pipe to a 5,000 gallon plastic holding tank on the hill, and then runs through more plastic pipe down the hill to my house where it has a lovely amount of water pressure. I am, not to put too fine a point on it, LIVING THE DREAM over here.

Upsides: Water tastes good. Water is not dependent on a power grid or government body. I don't pay $30 for two and a half gallons, either.

Downsides: Water may contain bacteria (has never bothered me) and (in early spring) sometimes has more sediment than one would like. In low-water years occasionally salamanders get into the water pipe (it's just surface water without a screen so this is I assure you a real thing) and then make their way downstream to clog up the junction in my pipes where they neck down from 3/4" pipe to 1/2" pipe, typically where the T is for the connection to the hot water heater. When this happens, the hot water does not run. Shut off the main, disconnect the sharkbite, get a helper to turn the water back on (gently) while you hold a large bucket over the raw end of the pipe. Wait for half-rotted salamander parts to squirt out. This is unavoidably gross but on the plus side probably probiotic or some shit. Run some additional water out to make yourself feel better. (It won't work.) Mop up rotted salamander parts from laundry room. Boil water for the next week to drink.
posted by which_chick at 3:26 PM on January 1 [30 favorites]


May they become well-acquainted with the new denizens of their digestive tracts.

Clean, safe, drinking water is one of the great accomplishments of civilization, and these fools, these absolute fools, think that they and their families (to say nothing of the credulous fools who are their customers) should dice with diarrhea with every glass.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 3:27 PM on January 1 [14 favorites]


(Incidentally, going down the rabbithole of Dasani-related controversy, I learned that it was originally marketed disastrously in the UK variously as "bottled spunk" and "full of spunk". Charming.)
posted by jackbishop at 3:28 PM on January 1 [21 favorites]


Deadaluspark, I could tell from your first comment what city you live in without checking your profile. People drink that pipe water over tap water because it’s fantastic water, and I suspect you might be greatly overestimating the likelihood of being murdered by a hobo junky while procuring said water.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 3:33 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


I invite them my own hydration program, which is "only drink diet coke". Tell you what, as lethal as that probably is, I'll outlive them.

Flouride is a real thing. My dentist was wondering why, when I switched from a toothpaste containing SLS to one without (back before you could get flouride toothpastes without SLS; SLS promotes canker sores in those prone to them) my teeth started to rot again. I live in the sticks and water out here is from a well. Switch to a flouride paste and boom, back to healthy teeth.
posted by maxwelton at 3:33 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


What I'm saying is: Diet coke with flouride would solve everything.
posted by maxwelton at 3:34 PM on January 1 [42 favorites]


What adherents share is a wariness of tap water, particularly the fluoride added to it and the lead pipes that some of it passes through. They contend that the wrong kind of filtration removes beneficial minerals.

This thinking is like some combination of conspiracy theory and orthorexia, a hyper focus on getting rid of impurities and poisons and always ultra-optimizing your life. It seems like a manifestation of underlying anxieties, this hyper-focus and obsessing about something that civilization has actually already figured out pretty well.

It's also interesting to me that the concerns are around these inaccurate beliefs, rather than, say, being worried about fracking or oil pipeline spills into reservoirs. But the solution for those things is more political and more about a community problem, and the "raw water" snake oil offers a solution that is personal and individual and controllable.
posted by aka burlap at 3:36 PM on January 1 [25 favorites]


My grandparents had wells but since the water was very hard they preferred water from the cistern that collected rainwater from the roof. I was always fascinated by the copepods you could see swimming around in the drinking glasses. One day while fetching water from the squeaky old hand-cranked bucket brigade pump I saw a live frog plop right into the bucket.

Not that I'd recommend it, but I remember the water was tasty and I'm not aware of ever getting sick from it. But who knows, it was a long time ago.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:37 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


I feel sad for any innocent children the chucklefucks who buy this might have.
posted by acb at 3:38 PM on January 1 [8 favorites]


So now that we've had our lulz at the rich gullible people it's worth remembering that clean drinking water is not guaranteed for everyone in America. Particularly Flint, Michigan, the health consequences of that will be going on for decades.
posted by Nelson at 3:38 PM on January 1 [62 favorites]


Wow, never in a billion years did I think the well where my parents still get their drinking water would be on StreetView. It's not treated and the big red sign says not for drinking, but it has high enough naturally occurring flouride that we didn't need to swish in school, so yay!

Rich people are stupid.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:42 PM on January 1


like how do people hear a someone say that the government is using something to control people's minds in some unexplained way and be like yeah, this guy def knows what's what, i'm gonna buy his doodoo water. presumably i should be glad that i literally cannot comprehend this level of idiotic conspiracy theorism but like. still. how?
posted by poffin boffin at 3:42 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


Drinking distilled water exclusively will kill you because your body actually needs the minerals found in freshwater. And it tastes bad too.

It's not good for you in the long run, but it won't acutely kill you. See this WHO publication from 2005 for a summary of some studies.
posted by Pyry at 3:43 PM on January 1 [9 favorites]




Why don't the fuckwits who want untreated water just move to the semi-boonies and drink from a well like millions of other Americans do? Or is this like the difference between a "tiny house" and a singlewide?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:46 PM on January 1 [46 favorites]


I live in a part of Canada that has fantastic water and water infrastructure. There is currently a huge outcry in the community because nestle built a huge bottling plant and is buying our tap water much cheaper than we residents can buy it for and is bottling it for sale. I work just outside of town in a place that uses well water and i have to take samples in regularly to get them tested. To cap it off, I've lived in India and Malaysia where the tap water cannot be trusted thanks to corrupt government and shitty infrastructure.

These raw water guys are either idiots, assholes, or both. God damn it makes me mad.
posted by dazed_one at 3:48 PM on January 1 [24 favorites]


> If these bastards could charge for air, they would.

Yo.
posted by ardgedee at 3:49 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


"Water? Never touch the stuff. Fish fuck in it."

originally said by w c fields

the sheer idiocy of the idea of raw water - i live about 45 miles from a place where you can see trillions of gallons of raw water - and not that shitty salted stuff you get from the oceans either

it's disturbing to know that it all goes dead within a lunar cycle - also it freezes and that's got to bruise the molecules a little

can he guarantee that his H2O molecules haven't been bruised by extreme cold?
posted by pyramid termite at 3:50 PM on January 1 [21 favorites]


Or is this like the difference between a "tiny house" and a singlewide?

yeah, they don't want to be mistaken for the icky poors. their doodoo water is expensive and special.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:50 PM on January 1 [7 favorites]


Buried in this article about how dumb rich people are for wanting to drink raw water was a link to a company that's making a device that will allow rich people to no longer be dependent on our fragile, expensive, increasingly difficult to maintain water infrastructure.

Now, if I was a public relations person who was contracted to make it seem less alarming that rich people were getting off the water grid, I know my first go-to would be the old "rich people are idiots" trope that plays so very, very well with America.

I certainly wouldn't go with something like, "The wealthy and powerful are funding projects designed to allow them to survive prolonged water outages."

That'd be bad.
posted by MrVisible at 3:56 PM on January 1 [86 favorites]


I grew up on the Lake Erie coast.

The city's water infrastructure was very good.

Also, unlike the untreated naturally-derived water that filled the lake, the municipal water supply did not smell bad and did not have toxic levels of mercury.
posted by ardgedee at 3:58 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


The people in the article seem ignorant, unwise, anti-science, greedy, and foolish. But, that's not interesting and not my priority to fix or direct my anger at. Rather, I do think what is of value is posing the question of whether fluoridation has negative effects. It's what scientists can study, like, Is systemic conventional water treatment a factor to evolving super bacteria? Or if natural water has "good" bacteria that gets eliminated with the bad, and how that has drawbacks for the human gut biome. These are merely plausible concerns, and science has newer tools than 10, 20, 30 years ago to examine these. Why should it be surprising if one day we discover there are ways to further the state of the art of something as apparently mundane as household water?

Of course going back to the article, it's clear that those people lack the epistemic basis to even approach these questions. They're acting and deciding out of fear, not for knowledge. But I think we can see their actions and salvage a valuable, science-consistent lesson out of it.
posted by polymodus at 4:00 PM on January 1


These are the same arrogant dipshits that refuse vaccination. I'm in Maine. My city water is so clean that it is filtered, tested and delivered with very little intervention other than the addition of fluoride. I can only imagine how much worse my teeth would be without that. It is the best water I've had anywhere, ever. People who have access to it and prefer bottled water have had their tiny brains rotted by advertising.

One of many appalling consequences of the government corruption in Flint, MI, is that people think that sort of corruption is widespread, and therefore buy bottled water. The current administration is slashing regulations and setting an example of corruption, so it could easily become widespread, but there's no evidence that water quality is widely scammed.

I'd like to say that I turn the water on every day and am thankful for clean plentiful water delivered to my home, but I do occasionally remember how fucking awesome it is. On the good side, this is a tax on idiocy that is likely to affect people with too much money.

I've been swearing a lot reading this.
posted by theora55 at 4:02 PM on January 1 [21 favorites]


Here the water is filtered and tested, and not treated at all. There is a school program were kids see a dentist every six months and have a fluoride wash if it makes sense. The public water is much cleaner and safer than bottled water of any brand. Still, people buy bottled water. I don't think you can make sense of this, in any way.
posted by mumimor at 4:08 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Dead water? I'd never considered that tap water could be so metal.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 4:15 PM on January 1 [6 favorites]


I got a Foldscope a couple months ago, and one of my hobbies is to collect water samples from streams and lakes wherever I happen to be and have a gander. That's a pretty good antidote for ever wanting to drink it.

My city has problematic water, caused by (all together now) the privatization of our municipal water authority. We've had our water tested for lead and it's safe, so yeah, I think I'll be sticking with tap water (and supporting the city's efforts to de-privatize the water).
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:29 PM on January 1 [8 favorites]


This is wrapped in ridiculous lifestyle woo that makes it seem sort of funny. But it's actually a deadly serious story about the unraveling of public goods.

Most places in the US, I think, you can drink your tap water. This is actually pretty remarkable. Note in particular that, over wide areas, the same water goes to everyone, rich or poor. The quality and safety of everyone's water is protected by the fact that those with social power rely on it for their own use.

To me, this fluff item is really part of the same story as the Flint water crisis. To the extent that water becomes an affluent consumption item, richer people will be less inclined to lend their voices to protect the public supplies that regular people depend on. Flint happened in Flint because no one in a whole city has or had the political juice to keep the water clean. Flint can happen in other places, too, if the Juicero guy and his ilk can get enough richer people "off the grid" that no one who matters cares when the grid goes into sepsis.

Bottled water is not a new business obviously. But apparently "the off-grid water movement has become more than the fringe phenomenon it once was, with sophisticated marketing, cultural cachet, millions of dollars in funding and influential supporters from Silicon Valley."
The system — called Source, which retails for $4,500, including installation — draws moisture from the air (the way rice does in a saltshaker) and filters it, producing about 10 liters of water a day and storing about 60 liters. The goal, Mr. Friesen said, is to make water “that’s ultra high quality and secure, totally disconnected from all infrastructure.”

“Just take a breath of air,” said Mr. Friesen, a professor of materials science at Arizona State University. “Take a deep breath. No matter how wealthy or poor you are, you can take a breath and own that air that you breathe. And yet water — the government brings it to you.”
Ironic.
posted by grobstein at 4:30 PM on January 1 [58 favorites]


I know my first go-to would be the old "rich people are idiots" trope that plays so very, very well with America... I certainly wouldn't go with something like, "The wealthy and powerful are funding projects designed to allow them to survive prolonged water outages."

There's more of us than there are of them, and we'll have nothing to lose. Like I said, idiots.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:30 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Water rights were all bought up by wealthy interests in the 90s (T Boone Pickens and foreign companies like french corp Suez in the 90s)
Now that Rump has erased all the safe water regs, they're just adapting to the new disregulated marketplace for clean water.
posted by Fupped Duck at 4:32 PM on January 1


Rather, I do think what is of value is posing the question of whether fluoridation has negative effects. It's what scientists can study, like, Is systemic conventional water treatment a factor to evolving super bacteria? Or if natural water has "good" bacteria that gets eliminated with the bad, and how that has drawbacks for the human gut biome. These are merely plausible concerns, and science has newer tools than 10, 20, 30 years ago to examine these. Why should it be surprising if one day we discover there are ways to further the state of the art of something as apparently mundane as household water?

Those questions are already being asked and answered by people trained to do so. That is what environmental engineers do. They are constantly analyzing and improving upon water and wastewater treatment systems.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:35 PM on January 1 [19 favorites]


To the extent that water becomes an affluent consumption item, richer people will be less inclined to lend their voices to protect the public supplies that regular people depend on. Flint happened in Flint because no one in a whole city has or had the political juice to keep the water clean.

Just as a reminder, this wasn't about the "political juice to keep the water clean" - Flint was about a near-criminal decision to switch water sources, followed by an utter failure to control even the most obvious properties of the city's water supply (the pH changed).

Had no one made the decision to switch water sources, there's no reason to believe that Flint would have faced the water crisis that they did.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 4:38 PM on January 1 [11 favorites]


draws moisture from the air (the way rice does in a saltshaker)

Err, but that's not what happens. In the salt shaker, the rice bouncing around breaks the clumps of damp salt. Rice itself doesn't absorb a noticeable amount of water. That's why it can be shipped in cloth bags. With basic fact-checking like this, I'm not compelled.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 4:39 PM on January 1 [11 favorites]


2018 resolution: I need to start a new business. I’m not sure what it’ll be, but it will definitely involve selling stupid things to stupid people, that’s for sure.
posted by rokusan at 4:39 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


anyway when can we drag these fools to our deathstills and render them down for their bodies' water
posted by poffin boffin at 4:46 PM on January 1 [39 favorites]


I'm literally shaking in anger over this. On the one hand, I want to tell these people to sure, go fuck yourselves with cholera and dysentery and many other things. I had a stomach virus once, vomit/diarrhea every hour for 24 hours. Days off of work, and it took weeks to feel normal again. If they want to have that experience with something even nastier, then be my guest.

On the other hand, they're talking about distrust of government-delivered water, and how wrong it is that government charges for water that you can get free from the air (which... is not how it works...). And I realize there are other rich idiots who will see this as a great opportunity to dismantle that system. Look, I pay about $60 a month for water and $100 per year for stormwater, and sure, it was a shock to grow up and become an adult that has to pay bills for things that 8-year-old-me thought were free, BUT. That's NOT a burden given the benefit of, well, CIVILIZATION.

These assholes are going to kill us.
posted by Is It Over Yet? at 4:51 PM on January 1 [36 favorites]


>>more importantly though what can i personally sell to these fucking morons
> 'Raw' water, apparently.


No, someone else has the raw water market cornered. You need to sell them Magnetically Enhanced Spiritual Alignment Air: grab a $10 desk fan , unscrew the case, dip the edges of the blades in glue and add some magnetic filings, then glue a dragon eye cabochon to the middle of each of the four blades. Point out that every Aura Energizing Wind Summoning device is unique, and sell them for $500 each.

For people who cannot afford a personal Breeze Creation Machine, you sell paper bags full of air that has been Inspired, Intrigued and Intensified by passage through such a device .
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:53 PM on January 1 [12 favorites]




"The natural food industry has been in the dark ages when it comes to water," he said. "Now there is a renaissance."

In between the Dark Ages and the Renaissance was the Middle Ages, the historical era with the massive plague that killed 2/3rds of Europe's population.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:18 PM on January 1 [34 favorites]


But, is it cage-free water?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:18 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


Jive Water
posted by porn in the woods at 5:35 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


I grew up in the deep south on well water. I remember rinsing the dead frogs and toads out before drinking. We didn't know to boil the water after the dead things were out. Not very smart of us. I survived, but those diseases would kill me now.

I have terrible teeth that have been mostly recovered via modern dental science and I only live in places with updated water infrastructure.

To actually want to go back to the horrid shit that lived through seems to be so bizarre and backward. To wish it upon others seems to be downright evil to me.
posted by pdoege at 5:41 PM on January 1 [7 favorites]


Ah, as a rejoinder I used to cave dive in Gainesville. The dark deep clean waters of the aquifer were a tremendous joy. It tasted so clean and pure. Of course, you can't bring that to the surface in sufficient quantities to water the nations and it is too clean to be healthy for long exposures.

These people are idiots. And grifters.
posted by pdoege at 5:44 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


Many eons ago, when I was young, I was in a relationship with a young lady whose parents lived on a lake in New Jersey. At one point along the road around the lake was a granite outcropping with a spigot. It had no valve. Water always flowed from it. It was amazing spring water. People would come from miles around to fill up containers. We'd always stop and have a few drinks. Cold enough to freeze your teeth, even on the hottest days. The water in the house nearby was horrid.

I say that to say this.

people like Juicero owner Doug Evans

Fuck him.
posted by Splunge at 5:47 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


So what's the over-under on the chance a teardown of the Zero Mass reveals it to be a household dehumidifier duct-taped to a Brita faucet adapter?
posted by ikea_femme at 5:47 PM on January 1 [28 favorites]


My grift is going to be, I buy a couple thousand acres of land somewhere, and get some organic crops and farm animals and whatnot, and invite all these raw people to come live super-unfiltered natural lives on my Natural Human Preserve and people wearing nylon won't be allowed to enter and electricity will only be available in one corner for all the people blogging about living on the Natural Human Preserve and so on (to keep the nasty electro waves away from people who are allergic to electricity and wifi, duh) and once they are they they don't have to pay any taxes or rent or anything, I'll take care of all of that.

All they have to do is renounce modern medicine and take out a big life insurance policy, with the Natural Human Preserve as the beneficiary.

We'll encourage everyone to log their healthy raw lifestyle, of course, and make that widely available on our website, so everyone can see how drinking unfiltered bacteria water works out and how eating nothing but raw vegetables works out and how skipping fluoride and tetanus shots works out.

It'll definitely be educational about the benefits of the raw lifestyle!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:50 PM on January 1 [51 favorites]


how do humans keep getting more stupid

Just emulating their leaders is all. (see also)
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:52 PM on January 1


Not every well in our area is so safe anymore. GenX has been found in wells on the other side of the county.

Dammit, my generation is becoming the scapegoat for everything..... ;-)

Most of New York City's water comes from the Catskills anyway, and has done so for over a hundred years. Sometimes tap water is "raw water".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:54 PM on January 1 [7 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: Hell, I'm just glad they finally have a decent lab test for us. The previous best practice was to filter a sample through flannel and manually look for particulate mater.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:58 PM on January 1 [11 favorites]


Eh. This is so obviously dumb I have trouble feeling bad for people who fall for it. Probably they just want something to believe in. Anyone who pisses away their money on such crap was going to be parted with it anyway, or otherwise gonna mire themselves in bullshit.

I have a much bigger problem with businesses like GNC, who mislead people in much more systematic, health-compromising ways. Or, yknow, sugary bullshit in every hardware store checkout line. Or the lottery. Or cigarettes. Or, like, zillions of other consumer products that sell you on some expressed or implied transcendence then quietly whittle away your life.

If it turns out to be unsafe in any serious way, it can be regulated or sued out of existence. Of all the harmful things being sold, this is like number 6828423 on my list.
posted by andrewpcone at 6:00 PM on January 1


Live Water’s website

Woof. I see they've taken in all the microbiome quackery out there, although it's hard to see waterborne diseases as part of a beneficial gut bacterial load. Also unironic galaxy brain jpgs, 'probiotics,' and a link to a study (about a single spring in Italy with 'regenerative properties') published in a journal with no reported Impact Factor. Niiiice.
posted by Existential Dread at 6:04 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


No matter how wealthy or poor you are, you can take a breath and own that air that you breathe.

Waiting to exhale?
posted by Splunge at 6:04 PM on January 1


I had a stomach virus once, vomit/diarrhea every hour for 24 hours. Days off of work, and it took weeks to feel normal again. If they want to have that experience with something even nastier, then be my guest.
posted by Is It Over Yet? at 7:51 PM on 1/1
[10 favorites +] [!]


Epony-coli.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:05 PM on January 1 [18 favorites]


My god, that website. A choice nugget:
Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation uses synthetic ultraviolet light, different from our natural environment UV, to kill or inactivate micro-organisms by destroying nucleic acids and disrupting their DNA. A hard fact to swallow, but your drinking water might be considered a genetically modified organism. GMO seeds and GMO water don't have the capacity to reproduce life.
Unfortunately gullible seeds steeped in gullibility water still find ways to make babies.
posted by ptfe at 6:08 PM on January 1 [17 favorites]


I want to laugh, but a bunch of children will die if this takes hold.

My grift is going to be Brawndo. I won’t even think up a different name. It will be flat Mountain Dew with a new label hastily pasted on.
posted by um at 6:10 PM on January 1 [12 favorites]


This is so obviously dumb I have trouble feeling bad for people who fall for it.

I feel concerned for their kids.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:11 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


The righteous outrage in this thread is like /pours brandy haphazardly into face, rubs into skin.
posted by lucidium at 6:12 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


I’m cool with it if people who have a willfully medieval outlook on health and sanitation wind up with medieval health outcomes, but unfortunately they’re foisting this shit on their kids, too.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:15 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


" I see they've taken in all the microbiome quackery out there, although it's hard to see waterborne diseases as part of a beneficial gut bacterial load."

I was at preschool pickup one time, chatting with the other moms, and one was telling us she was no longer cleaning her kitchen counters because "it gets rid of the good bacteria as well as the bad bacteria, you know? And we need the good bacteria to keep us healthy, we're all getting fat because we don't get enough of the good bacteria anymore."

I was screaming on the inside but nobody else said anything (although a couple others looked as wild-eyed as I did), so I just made a mental note that my child was never having playdates there.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:16 PM on January 1 [27 favorites]


The movement against tap water, like the movement against vaccines, has brought together unlikely allies from the far left and the far right.

The movement against tap water, like the movement against vaccines, has brought together morons from the far left and the far right. FTFY
posted by Splunge at 6:16 PM on January 1 [16 favorites]


Jesus didn't turn raw water into wine to get everyone drunk -- "Verily, thou do nor knowest the provenance of that water; do not drink it lest it lay with your stomach like a Sodomite."

Not to worry, though. Raw water can be made safer by sticking a J Jovan Philyaw :CueCat in it overnight.

Mr. Singh (né Christopher Sanborn)...
Pronounced "Throat Warbler-Mangrove"

Silicon Valley wasn't always like this. :-(
posted by zaixfeep at 6:18 PM on January 1


I kind of like the marketing video on the website. It's so charmingly goofy, it reminds me of the Oregon hippy friends I had who earnestly ate raw seeds and used patchouli oil. Good ol' Mukhinde, he's harmless, mostly he just gets so high he can't find the doorknob. Except the worst parasite the Oregon hippies I knew ever shared was scabies. They've got nothing on cholera-bro here.

And then there's this potential FDA-bait claim in the video
I had a neighbor who wasn't able to breastfeed her baby. The doctors told her it was from a mineral deficiency. I shared some raw spring water with her and she was able to breastfeed her child again.
How many water-borne parasites are there that can be communicated from mother to infant?
posted by Nelson at 6:18 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


It's all about trust, isn't it? And some people have decided to put their trust in rich and/or pretty people who tell them that putting silver threads in a dishcloth magically makes it sterile. They trust Gwyneth Paltrow when she tells them that a jade egg in your ladybits is good for you. They trust..these assholes with their water scam.

The people they don't trust are the people with degrees and knowledge about things like germs and disease: doctors, scientists, educators. These people aren't rich, or pretty! What do they know?
posted by emjaybee at 6:23 PM on January 1 [18 favorites]


Years ago, doing summer volunteer work in southern Chile, I was up in the mountains east of Temuco, working with a mapuche community, and we hiked out with one of the local people, about 3 hours hiking up a mountain, to help him figure out what to do with a piece of land he owned.

There I was, a few hours walk from what passed for civilization, on a wooded slope a few hundred meters from the dirt trail we'd been following, there was a rock, and out of the rock water flowed. If I believed in gods I'd think they had made this water flow out of the rock to slake my thirst.

I drank it, it was the purest, coldest, most thirst quenching thing I'd ever tasted. I was the only one to drink of it.
The next day, I got sick, really sick, simultaneous projectile vomiting and projectile diarrhea sick (yes, this is a thing). I had to be taken in a truck to a local medical center, given shots, rehydrated, etc. The only thing I'd put in my body differently than everyone else was this water. This gods given, raw, pure water almost killed me.

So, to sum up, fuck these posers, if I can't taste the chlorine and fluoride, there's no friggin' way I'm drinking it.
posted by signal at 6:23 PM on January 1 [43 favorites]


I’m cool with it if people who have a willfully medieval outlook on health and sanitation wind up with medieval health outcomes

THANK YOU. I drink up to 8 pints of ale a day, and I'm easily on track to live to the ripe old age of 50.

And I've only had the one religious war.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:26 PM on January 1 [39 favorites]


people who tell them that putting silver threads in a dishcloth magically makes it sterile

Well, to be fair, silver does have antibacterial properties. OTOH a dish cloth would have to be pure silver to be useful. It would be like washing dishes with a large coin. Or maybe chain mail.
posted by Splunge at 6:28 PM on January 1 [8 favorites]


God I hate science refusers so much. There's so much human civilization gets wrong and we manage a couple of truly amazing things like vaccines and sanitation and in your arrogance, having never known the costs of living without them, you decide they are contemptible. I wish you every malady you've decided to welcome into your life.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:29 PM on January 1 [37 favorites]


Emjaybee -- Because "if they are so smart, why aren't they rich?"
Which upon rereading, is what you said. oops...
posted by zaixfeep at 6:30 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


The people they don't trust are the people with degrees and knowledge about things like germs and disease: doctors, scientists, educators. These people aren't rich, or pretty! What do they know?

I watched a really well-done Youtube video about the motion of the Earth around the sun, which is actually much more complex than I had considered. So of course the comments were overrun with flat earthers and their one-liner "proofs" that the video was Lies.

It's discouraging. The information in that video took humanity literally thousands of years of effort, from some of the smartest people ever to live, to acquire. And here it is, all wrapped up in fancy computer graphics, so that it is easy to visualize and understand. And people who have gone out of their way to cultivate their ignorance react to it with contempt and derision. It's like they are the immune system for stupidity.
posted by thelonius at 6:31 PM on January 1 [21 favorites]


THANK YOU. I drink up to 8 pints of ale a day, and I'm easily on track to live to the ripe old age of 50.


Good for you, man. I am 58. How did I get here? Prodigious vodka inhalation.
posted by Splunge at 6:31 PM on January 1 [5 favorites]


I feel that if the "techerati" at Burning Man were that invested in health they'd probably snort a lot less cocaine. Cheaper too.

Also- this is why most actual scientists object to being lumped into a "STEM" designation. A lot of engineers and programmers are total fucking kooks. Not like us.

Having said that I am very wary of well water and will test the crap out of it every 6 months if I'm drinking it. And I did live in a house where incorrectly grounded wires had accidentally set up a copper electrolysis system which was kind of poisoning us. But we just fixed the wiring and bought a filter. Like normal people. The lunar cycle was not involved.
posted by fshgrl at 6:32 PM on January 1 [11 favorites]


America 2018: Make Cholera Great Again!
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:42 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Also- this is why most actual scientists object to being lumped into a "STEM" designation. A lot of engineers and programmers are total fucking kooks. Not like us.

James Watson begs to differ.
posted by Splunge at 6:49 PM on January 1 [8 favorites]


Guess these folks have never had giardia, then: weeks to months of urgent foul-smelling squirt-gun butt.
posted by scruss at 7:11 PM on January 1 [5 favorites]


I'll have a pint of raw water. With a chlorine chaser.
posted by Splunge at 7:13 PM on January 1


The splendidly stupid "You’re drinking toilet water" quote elegantly fits the whole Idiocracy vibe.
posted by meehawl at 7:25 PM on January 1 [6 favorites]


Mukhande

this is how everyone will misspell my name when né christopher zuckerburg inevitably becomes powerful and famous for his white mediocrity
posted by yaymukund at 7:25 PM on January 1


Um... cholera, anyone? As in dying of dehydration, because you can't stop going?

Never seen water turn green? How about enjoying my pool, if I stop putting chlorine in it. Algae, frog egg gel, mosquitoes on the surface, duck excrement... num num num, sounds all healthy and natural to me.

Pass.
posted by Armed Only With Hubris at 7:38 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


> It would be like washing dishes with a large coin. Or maybe chain mail.

washing dishes with chain mail
posted by theora55 at 7:59 PM on January 1 [7 favorites]


You win. I give up.
posted by Splunge at 8:02 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


I like this, because it gives the antivaxxers something to do that can kill them without killing me.

They shouldn't be allowed to raise kids like this, though.
posted by medusa at 8:12 PM on January 1 [7 favorites]


My grift is going to be Brawndo. I won’t even think up a different name. It will be flat Mountain Dew with a new label hastily pasted on.

Rawndo. It contains the bacteria that plants crave.
posted by flabdablet at 8:13 PM on January 1 [6 favorites]


An Arizona company, Zero Mass Water, which installs systems allowing people to collect water directly from the atmosphere around their homes, began taking orders in November from across the United States. It has raised $24 million in venture capital.

What would I get from one of these insanely expensive toys that I couldn't get from a collection bottle under the air conditioner's drip tray outlet?
posted by flabdablet at 8:21 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


I am an RN who works with people with significant psychiatric diagnoses and histories of chronic homelesness. In my day to day, I hear a lot of unorthodox theories about the causes of various diseases, indicators of health, and things the US government may or may not be doing to water, food supplies, and infrastructure.

Mukhande Singh talking about how water is freshest within one lunar cycle of delivery and is contaminated with birth control sounds...alarmingly similar to some of those theories I hear. But because he's a white man with venture capital backing and clean clothes the New York Times can present him like a human with valuable ideas and not absolute scum of the earth. (My people are by and large not white.)

I can't draw any conclusions about Mr. Singh' psychiatric diagnoses or lack thereof from this article, but I can say that whiteness is a hell of a tool for peddling snake oil to rich people.
posted by ActionPopulated at 8:26 PM on January 1 [54 favorites]


Clean water has always been the keystone of civilization. It's why ancient cities like Sumer, Rome, Delhi, Edo, and Thebes were built where they were: access to clean water.

The ability to take contaminated water and make it clean, make it fit for human consumption, was one of the biggest technological achievements of the 19th century and was directly responsible for the fact that cities and people could live safely.

Beginning with John Snow's revolutionary work in epidemiology when he proved, years before germ theory existed, that dirty water was causing cholera, there has been a drive to figure out how to get clean, potable, water.

And the kooks here seem ignorant, perhaps deliberately so, of how many places get their water clean. London started with slow sand filters, and a more back to the land in harmony with nature water purification system cannot be imagined.

A slow sand filter, despite what the name might imply, doesn't actually purify the water with sand. The sand is simply a medium for the actual water filtration system, a complex of bacteria, algae, and other plant and animal life that forms what is called a biofilm in the top few centimeters of the sand filter. It's remarkably efficient and while the system has fallen out of favor in many industrialized nations due to the fact that it takes a lot of space to scale well, it's having something of a resurgence in places where the more complex machinery can't be so easily obtained or maintained. The actual process of a slow sand filter is neolithic in that you could literally build one with nothing but clay and stone, though it wasn't invented until fairly recently.

And while yes, most industrialized water supplies use chlorine, that's because it works. And of course, if you're really worried about it you can just let the water sit for 12 or so hours (most of the water I drink does, not because I'm worried about chlorine but because I keep a container in the fridge so it's always nice and cold), the chlorine will filter into the air during that time and you'll have water with no chlorine.

The work pioneering chlorine as a means of purifying water was amazing, and at first fought a bit of an uphill battle as people back then didn't like the sound of chemically treated water. But what changed minds back then was that it worked. People who drank chlorinated water didn't get cholera and all the other waterborne illnesses that were (and still are) so deadly. Result was a near universal acceptance of chlorinated water in very short order.

I think partially this whole mess is related to one of the same things driving the antivaxx movement. We've succeeded in eradicating (or at least keeping in check) the very bad things that lead to vaccines and water purification so well that many of the less educated and thoughful people have reached the conclusion that there's no need to keep doing the thing that keeps them safe.

“Chloramine, and on top of that they’re putting in fluoride. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it’s a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health.” (There is no scientific evidence that fluoride is a mind-control drug, but plenty to show that it aids dental health.)

Ok, the guy is clearly either delusional or trying to find a good market of suckers to exploit, but JFC it's pathetic that the NYT does a better job of fact checking water quackery than it does important stuff like politics.
posted by sotonohito at 8:27 PM on January 1 [35 favorites]


I like Evans’ commentary on the subject matter, and I respect his dissent from traditional thinking.

It is like he combined dissent and commentary into some new hybrid critique: dysentery.
posted by flarbuse at 8:27 PM on January 1 [31 favorites]


I'll have a pint of raw water. With a chlorine chaser.

Best tasting water I ever drank is the tap water at Mount Beauty, where the residents voted to pay a little more in water charges for a treatment plant that uses ozone instead of chlorine. It's really, really good.
posted by flabdablet at 8:30 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Do you ever get the feeling like an article comes out about something like this, and we all laugh or fume, say how stupid they are, and then nothing really happens? I feel like this is dangerous for reasons that go beyond the health risks of boutique untreated water. It's not a coincidence that this is largely a silicon valley thing. The same forces behind this are the forces that pour billions of dollars of venture capital into flimsy proposals and treat entrepreneurs like geniuses. Some people have way too much money.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 8:32 PM on January 1 [10 favorites]


Some people have way too much money.

That would appear to be the nub of many, many things.
posted by flabdablet at 8:55 PM on January 1 [10 favorites]


Best tasting water I ever drank is the tap water at Mount Beauty, where the residents voted to pay a little more in water charges for a treatment plant that uses ozone instead of chlorine.

One of the issues with ozone is that it does not remain active in the water for nearly as long as chlorine. Even more so for UV treatment. It’s all about trade offs.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 9:05 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


Oh look, some bros from Silicon Valley trying to disrupt another industry. That will end well.

Also, f- the NYT for publishing this dreck.
posted by petrilli at 9:24 PM on January 1 [5 favorites]


So, how long until folks get an amoeba?
posted by Toddles at 9:53 PM on January 1


Also, for the dude who gets his water from the atmosphere off his roof - how does the water taste on a Spare the Air Day? Ick!
posted by Toddles at 9:55 PM on January 1


Aura Energizing Wind Summoning device

You used to write ad copy for audiophile products, didn't you?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:05 AM on January 2 [5 favorites]


The system — called Source, which retails for $4,500, including installation — draws moisture from the air (the way rice does in a saltshaker) and filters it, producing about 10 liters of water a day and storing about 60 liters.

So... It’s a dehumidifier?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:07 AM on January 2 [11 favorites]


Meanwhile, in the developing world, about 2,194 children under five die per day (that's 61,446 per lunar cycle, in case Mr Singh prefers that unit of time) because they only have access to raw water.

The young can keep their youth, but please stop wasting money on the wealthy.
posted by stillmoving at 1:20 AM on January 2 [16 favorites]


As a Victorianist, all I can say is: John Snow would like a word.


Oh, hey--this gives me a chance to recommend one of the books I'm reading. It's Steven Johnson's The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How it Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World, and it's all about John Snow and the cholera epidemic. It's a fascinating read so far.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:17 AM on January 2 [19 favorites]


Bermuda has no rivers, lakes, springs, wells, or reservoirs. If you've ever seen the houses with their picturesque whitewashed stepped roofs, they are actually rainwater collection devices. Every house has a cistern underneath the size of a basement. You can buy a tank of water if it runs dry, it might be desalinated sea water or it might be containered over from the US, I forget, but people try to avoid that. Periodically the cisterns need to be pumped out for cleaning and repairs, like when a tree root breaks through one of the walls. I'm not sure what, if any filtration, is used but I most recently experienced one that really really needed some maintenance so I ended up brushing my teeth with Coke.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:39 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Those questions are already being asked and answered by people trained to do so. That is what environmental engineers do. They are constantly analyzing and improving upon water and wastewater treatment systems.

Which is the kind of science-splaining that I bet those people in the article may or may not tolerate. And it's not really fair to lay people either, because you can't have "these questions are already answered by trained scientists" on one hand, and on the other "scientists are constantly analyzing and improving"; either the answer is done, or not done yet or else it's logically contradictory and way oversimplified—and thus condescending to people told in this way.

I'll jump to this in article:

“Just take a breath of air,” said Mr. Friesen, a professor of materials science at Arizona State University. “Take a deep breath. No matter how wealthy or poor you are, you can take a breath and own that air that you breathe. And yet water — the government brings it to you.”

What a weird argument to make. But from the article, this person an academic who's side project as CEO of Zero Mass Water explicitly serves the libertarian ideological interest of his investor who's a board member of LinkedIn, Netflix, OpenTable.

So it's not just explained by science ignorance. I think what's going on is that there are deeper issues having to do with authority, legitimacy, people's mental models of what science is, scientific outreach/ethics/responsibilities, people's active vs passive engagement in the process of inquiry, and all this interacting with societal and political factors and concerns.

I don't know about other people, but until reading this article, I'd not even seriously wondered if one day humans would discover that some form of "probiotic drinking water" could actually be a thing. That doesn't mean I condone these groups' practices and public effects, or have opinions about how to go about doing this, or feel like researching what actual scientists know; I just find pondering the general question rather wonderful and inspiring. For example, it also reminds me how alienated we are from our daily lives, like suddenly now I'm the person in the shoes of someone who doesn't know where baby carrots and cow's milk come from. That's something to think about.
posted by polymodus at 3:25 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


And it's not really fair to lay people either, because you can't have "these questions are already answered by trained scientists" on one hand, and on the other "scientists are constantly analyzing and improving"

Your very weak argument here surely does not depend on intentionally omitting "asked" from "Those questions are already being asked and answered by people trained to do so", does it?
posted by thelonius at 3:39 AM on January 2 [11 favorites]


> So... It’s a dehumidifier?

Ever drink the water from a dehumidifier? It's a great way to appreciate your city water supply.
posted by ardgedee at 3:55 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


And it's not really fair to lay people either, because you can't have "these questions are already answered by trained scientists" on one hand, and on the other "scientists are constantly analyzing and improving"; either the answer is done, or not done yet or else it's logically contradictory

That's not contradictory. "There is a large amount of useful knowledge about X that's been accumulated through observation/research; this knowledge about X suggests that the best course of action vis a vis Y is Z. As always, our understanding is incomplete, and this recommendation may change given future new information. There are ongoing efforts to elucidate X/figure out the implications for Y/optimise Z." isn't just the typical situation for scientific questions and the practical questions they often inform. It's like the baseline template for approaching something unfamiliar reasonably.

There's very little that's as clearly understood as we'd like, but if it seems natural to wonder about a given thing, then the already-aggregated knowledge about that thing most likely exceeds what you know about it, and your first course of action should probably be to understand (the relevant parts of) that already-aggregated knowledge.

If people are that generally uncomfortable with the level of ambiguity inherent in day-to-day rationality, or that generally unfamiliar with the preceding heuristic (which we obviously are, collectively), then we've collectively failed in a way that will take way more than a little scientific outreach to address.

"Raw water" is so neat a parable about so many types of corrosive shit (heh) simultaneously that I can imagine plausibly hoping it's a hoax or parody of some kind.
posted by busted_crayons at 4:07 AM on January 2 [12 favorites]


"And of course, if you're really worried about it you can just let the water sit for 12 or so hours (most of the water I drink does, not because I'm worried about chlorine but because I keep a container in the fridge so it's always nice and cold), the chlorine will filter into the air during that time and you'll have water with no chlorine."
Fuck these people for being the criminally irresponsible & culpable arseholes that they are, but the monochloramine typically used to "chlorinate" drinking water these days (at least outside the US) takes about 15~20 times longer to dissociate than the straight chlorine previously used.

And that doesn't vary too much with the method used (sitting, aeration, heat, UV, carbon filtering, etc), unless you use additional chemicals to break & bind with the chlorine / ammonia. IIRC, it takes something like 2hrs @ 100°C to remove 50% of chlorine from chlorinated drinking water - but 25+hrs @ 100°C to remove 50% of monochloramine. Sitting in the fridge for 12 hours ain't gonna cut it…
posted by Pinback at 4:23 AM on January 2 [8 favorites]


Pinback, thanks for the correction. I was clearly misinformed.
posted by sotonohito at 4:37 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


The real takeaway from all this (and the Juicero thing, and soooooo many other things) is the apparent lack of correlation between wealth on the one hand and intelligence and knowledge on the other.
posted by signal at 5:08 AM on January 2 [8 favorites]


It would really be better if people like this would be Darwinned* by their own idiocy before they have the chance to spread their ideas. Oof.

*OK, I don't need the raw water people to actually die, but if they'd been laid low for a couple of months by a stomach bug terrible enough to kill the dumb idea before it spread, that would've been nice.
posted by duffell at 5:19 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


So when you come to eat the rich, do be careful how you prepare them, wash your hands and surfaces afterwards, and make sure that the rich are thoroughly cooked all the way through before serving.
posted by Vortisaur at 5:31 AM on January 2 [40 favorites]


> Which is the kind of science-splaining that I bet those people in the article may or may not tolerate.

Of course not, because they're grifters. They don't have a genuine interest in anything other than separating marks from their money.
posted by rtha at 5:41 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


So an excellent This is That episode was actually a documentary?
posted by TreeRooster at 5:42 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Cue the Timmy Brothers!
posted by edheil at 5:53 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Thanks edheil, I hadn't seen those guys before. Wonderfully done, craft humor. I like the way they rephrase their avocation to be more approachable than the stilted "water makers." Nice shout-out to Mark Twain, the original.
posted by TreeRooster at 6:16 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


For my grift, I will convince people not to wash their hands.

I will tell them that the natural way to health is to rub their hands on a smooth, white stone after using the lavatory. They should also do this before they prepare food, or at any other time that they would like their health to flourish.

Throughout history, most people never washed their hands. And those people were vigorous, bursting with health. They did not feel tired all the time, like you do.

They also did not feel dissatisfied.

Or lonely.

I will tell people that they can rub their hands on any smooth, white stone they please. That just makes sense--good health should be free for all. God provides for both rich and poor.

If they do not have a smooth, white stone handy, however, I will sell them one for $39.95. In this humble way, I will help to heal the Planet.

They can also subscribe for a full year of smooth, white stones for $149.95. The smooth, white stones will get used up, you see. Once the chi in a smooth, white stone is gone, you need to throw it out and get a new one. That will explain why people are getting sick--the chi in their stone got used up and they didn't throw the stone out and get a new one.

Smooth, white stones make great gifts.

My website will be "smoothwhitestones.com". The website will have dark gray text on a light gray background. The fonts will have no serifs. The margins will be excessively wide, connoting purity and single-pointedness of mind.

When the CDC writes a statement denouncing me by name, then I will know that I have those fat cat doctors on the ropes. "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you," I will say, and Oprah will nod sagely.

I will have an host of celebrities at my right hand. I will be wealthy, hated, loved, feared. My psychopathy will be fully actualized. I will at last be truly alive.

If you want to thank me for my contributions to humanity, feel free to come to one of my free introductory seminars and tell one of my Wellness Practitioners what your smooth, white stone has done for you and your health. They will be sure to pass your message on to me. You also can send me a donation. Or sign up for my week-long Smooth, White Stone Wellness Symposium ($2,495) in Ohai, California, and you can tell me in person.

Please don't shake my hand.
posted by springo at 7:26 AM on January 2 [66 favorites]


So... It’s a dehumidifier?

For what it's worth...I saw an episode of This Old House where they have a segment called 'Future House' or something like that and occasionally explore exciting new tech. Anyway, they did a segment on the Zero Mass water generator.

So yeah, it is totally a dehumidifier in principle...but they have some sort of patented material that maximizes (??) dew point inside the unit. Additionally, they have a control box that will raise or lower the temp in the unit to maximize (?? not sure if maximize is the right word) the dew point even further. Then, the water runs across some sort of mineral block so it isn't actually distilled water at that point, I don't think.

I actually think the Zero Mass is a pretty fucking cool invention. The output is too wimpy, sure. But to pull clean water out of the air and not need to be on the electric grid? That's awesome. Is it a dehumidifier on your roof? Sure, sort of. But...its still cool?

At any rate, they deserve more respect than the poop water people.
posted by museum of fire ants at 7:27 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]




If they do not have a smooth, white stone handy, however, I will sell them one for $39.95.

Will it come with an app?
posted by flabdablet at 7:40 AM on January 2


Maybe we can convince them that cryptosporidium is the hot new cryptocurrency. Look, they're already mining it!
posted by ultranos at 7:53 AM on January 2 [5 favorites]


Can't someone just buy a bottle of this stuff and test it? Then we'd know immediately if they're just repackaging tap water and swindling people wholesale, or potentially poisoning people. All the uproar about disease is overblown if it's just tap water, which seems to be the most likely scenario here. Selling truly "raw water" is going to be an extremely hard business to scale if he has to trespass to get it. Any perceived different taste is a placebo effect.
posted by AFABulous at 7:56 AM on January 2


So yeah, it is totally a dehumidifier in principle...but they have some sort of patented material that maximizes (??) dew point inside the unit. Additionally, they have a control box that will raise or lower the temp in the unit to maximize (?? not sure if maximize is the right word) the dew point even further. Then, the water runs across some sort of mineral block so it isn't actually distilled water at that point, I don't think.

I think minimize would be the correct word, because there is generally a difference between the dew point and the higher ambient temperature (usually about 10 degrees of difference), so it generally would have to lower the air temp to the dew point to make water. Central air conditioners do this too, but in most places the waste water is required to be recycled back into the public water supply and can't be discharged on the ground.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:00 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


we'd know immediately if they're just repackaging tap water and swindling people wholesale

There's not much money to be made in wholesale. I think you'll find they're swindling people retail.
posted by flabdablet at 8:03 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


It's understandable that people wouldn't trust the government despite what scientists say because the government lies and changes course constantly. Especially the new administration, but throughout modern history there have been all kinds of secret projects and experiments that only came to light much later. We've also learned that things that were once thought healthy are actually really bad for us, and vice versa. (Water treatment is a poor example of this, but my general point stands.) It's hard to know who to trust these days. I think these guys are scammers but I don't think their customers are all "stupid."
posted by AFABulous at 8:06 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


We Can Swindle It For You Wholesale
posted by saturday_morning at 8:06 AM on January 2 [6 favorites]


It was a shock for us to learn that Kingston doesn't have fluoridated water (and apparently a lot of our neigbours didn't know as well!) and it definitely sets off the "are you fucking kidding me" chat we have with people.
posted by Kitteh at 8:34 AM on January 2


I went to a distillery last summer on Hilton Head Island that produces the world's first "cloud sourced" vodka LOL. They use an atmospheric water generator, which was broken when I visited. So, there's some sort of market for those things. The vodka was good, but because it was molasses based, there's a vanilla after taste and it didn't taste all that "pure" compared to even rotgut vodka.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 8:42 AM on January 2


Okay, I'm all about modern water treatment technology and all, but isn't this all a bit overblown, that they're poisoning people? Places have been bottling and selling mineral and spring water for ages. I don't think there was ever a point where you couldn't go and buy spring water. There was, conversely, a bit of outrage when people figured out that Dasani and the like weren't actually spring water. They're just applying new buzzwords to the same stuff they've been selling for ages, as far as I can tell. Probably nobody's going to die. Probably none of it has any actual health benefits. The Live Water website is terrible but I'm pretty sure the only actual new thing they're introducing is that it comes in fairly attractive glass bottles, so I can see why people like it from that perspective.

I still think this is basically a con, but like--bottled water has indeed had things like E. coli recalls before, it's not like it's perfectly safe, but it's also not like it's the same thing from drinking from completely random water sources while lost in the woods.
posted by Sequence at 8:42 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


In my area, a little over a year ago, PFOAs were found in the water (both in homeowner wells and also some of the town-owned wells within a mile of a chemical factory). The town has addressed the issue by switching water sources and monitoring levels, while homeowners with problem wells are receiving bottled water and/or are being connected to the town water system (NH DES PFOA info).

My neighborhood has always had water supplied by the town but it seems that everyone is still purchasing bottled water, since they do not trust the government guidelines on PFOAs. After reading this article about 'raw water', I can see my neighbors thinking this is better than the bottled water they are now purchasing.
posted by bCat at 8:46 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


They are missing out on a great marketing angle by not touting the homeopathic properties of raw water.
posted by TedW at 8:47 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


"It's all about trust, isn't it? And some people have decided to put their trust in rich and/or pretty people who tell them that putting silver threads in a dishcloth magically makes it sterile. They trust Gwyneth Paltrow when she tells them that a jade egg in your ladybits is good for you. They trust..these assholes with their water scam. The people they don't trust are the people with degrees and knowledge about things like germs and disease: doctors, scientists, educators. These people aren't rich, or pretty! What do they know?"

I think it's that, but it's also that-adjacent -- what a lot of these health and purity scams have in common is people seeking wholeness, spiritual meaning, connectedness to other people and to the universe, and instructions for right/moral living -- that is, religion. The clean/unclean stuff is straight-up purity rules out of any ancient religious text you like. The importance of ritual objects (like the jade vagina eggs), the hallowing of the body through ritual and obedience to taboos, the marking out of a community of the holy by their adherence to visible and strange rules ... it's religion.

I honestly think a lot of this -- the clean eating, the anti-vaxxing, the GOOP-devotees, the rejection of scientific expertise (and, for that matter, the rise of the alt-right and their ilk) -- has a lot to do with the breakdown of traditional religious authority structures and their ability to provide meaning. And I think science has done a poor job of telling their stories about how our scientific knowledge provides meaning (and a piss-poor job of handling societal ethics). A lot of that is that science struggled to throw off superstition for a long time, and the culture of science wants to be cold and unemotional and rational, which is understandable, but it ends up positioning science as inhuman or even anti-human.

There is a literature of scientists showing the beauty and meaning and connectedness of the universe that we discover through science (and a lot of us at MeFi see that intuitively because we're all "science, fuck yeah!") -- I would even cite classic Dawkins (who I think has done more harm than good on this front lately: he's given up on sharing the beauty and wonder and prefers mocking the lost and confused, which sends them looking for people like GOOP) like "River out of Eden" -- and a literature of theologians and philosophers and ethicists talking about how scientific understandings of the world fit into our self-understanding as humans. But the fact is that stuff isn't widely read.

Where there is an inspirational science literature developing -- one that narrates the beauty and wonder of the universe and the natural world, and lovingly shows us our place in it -- is in children's books, for parents who want to answer "where did the world come from?" with "The Big Bang" and "where did humans come from?" with "evolution." And I honestly think we need more people inculturated into our scientific understandings of the universe with loving childhood stories of who we are and where we come from, rooting our self-understanding in physics and biology the way it used to be rooted in Adam and Eve, from earliest childhood. And I think people who are raised from childhood seeing beauty and meaning and, yes, love in the scientific stories of the world won't go searching for meaning (nearly as often) from quacks and grifters. But until we have a new, authoritative cultural agreement on where to find meaning, how to life a good life, how to be right with yourself and your community, we're gonna have lots and lots of this kind of crazy, because the search for meaning is an extraordinarily powerful impulse, and when society doesn't provide a structure for that, people create a shit-ton of "start-ups." For the last 5,000 years or so that has largely been religion providing the overarching structures (and we call start-ups cults). I don't know that the next iteration will be "religious" in the sense it has been since the Axial Age, but I know it will fulfill the same human impulses and needs, and science needs to get a lot better at recognizing, honoring, and meeting those needs if science is going to be what organizes our search for meaning for the next couple thousand years.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:56 AM on January 2 [28 favorites]


isn't this all a bit overblown, that they're poisoning people

Yeah, as fun as the pile-on has been I agree with you. In particular I'm assuming the FDA is involved in regulating the company somehow. At least I'm guessing it is. Anyone know?

OTOH the product is literally named "Live Water". The website talks all about "beneficial bacteria". They even proudly link to a water report talking about the viable cultures living in their spring water. It's not too big a leap to wonder that if there's "good bacteria" in the product, could there also be bad bacteria?

But really what's dumb is the whole woo and hucksterism of the thing.
posted by Nelson at 9:06 AM on January 2


If they do not have a smooth, white stone handy, however, I will sell them one for $39.95.

No thanks. The three seashells work fine.
posted by Splunge at 9:13 AM on January 2 [8 favorites]


Isn't kombucha effectively water with "good" bacteria in it? Booze, too, I guess…
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 9:27 AM on January 2


Places have been bottling and selling mineral and spring water for ages.

yes, and it's also treated to ensure it doesn't have e coli and such in it.

these people are deliberately promoting the idea that tap water is full of toxins and is bad for you and that you should just go drink something from a spring because it's clean.

that is not necessarily true. tap water isn't great everywhere, as evidenced by Flint, but in most places, it's safe to drink.
The rules for selling bottled water are imposed by states and the Food and Drug Administration, which does not specify how water be treated but sets acceptable amounts of chemicals and bacteria at a low level. State and federal inspectors make unannounced visits to bottling plants to test for harmful contaminants.

Seth Pruzansky, the chief executive of Tourmaline Spring (whose website touts its “sacred living” water), got an exemption from the State of Maine in 2009 to sell his water untreated. “The natural food industry has been in the dark ages when it comes to water,” he said. “Now there is a renaissance.”

The movement against tap water, like the movement against vaccines, has brought together unlikely allies from the far left and the far right. Conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones, founder of the right-wing website Infowars, have long argued that fluoride was added to water to make people more docile. Similar claims can be heard in the largely liberal enclaves where Live Water is seeing interest spike.

“Fluoride? It’s a deathly toxic chemical,” said Vanessa Kuemmerle of Emeryville, Calif., who does landscape design for large tech companies. She said she was an early adopter of raw water, and has noticed many of her clients following suit.


this is dangerous thinking and dangerous precedents.
posted by sio42 at 9:40 AM on January 2 [8 favorites]


In his message to Congress explaining his reasons for proposing Reorganization Plan No. 3, President Nixon stated that the national government was "not structured to make a coordinated attack on the pollutants which debase the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land that grows our food."

That was a sound thing Nixon did. I don't like saying that. My dad got merged into the EPA from wastewater management. Lake Eerie had caught fire a couple times. So had some rivers and people who saw water on fire really didn't like what that implied.

I've lived on raw well water for 22 years now. Coffee, tea, pasta, soup all taste better. None of us have any cavities.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:44 AM on January 2


Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation uses synthetic ultraviolet light, different from our natural environment UV

i am SICK and TIRED of the 1world govt & its GMO light waves!!! u dont fool me, Light Masters, i see rite thru your BRAINWASHING scehmes! only PURE and UNFILTERED 400nm light DIRECT from the sun 4 me!

*pees in own mouth*
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:54 AM on January 2 [11 favorites]


What about people who are too busy to pee in their own mouths? Don't they deserve the health benefits of pee, too?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:08 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


no they must perish
posted by poffin boffin at 10:11 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


In a true sharing economy, there would be people ready to pee into the mouths of others. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 10:14 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


All the uproar about disease is overblown if it's just tap water, which seems to be the most likely scenario here. Selling truly "raw water" is going to be an extremely hard business to scale if he has to trespass to get it.

Yeah, the point where the fucking Juicero guy is also a covert water smuggler carrying bottles of his precious cargo through distant fields in the dead of night while "being agile and tactile" was somehow dumber than all the rest of it, and significantly more improbable.

I did enjoy this line about the this whole stupid thing: "The telos of Silicon Valley is to (1) build electronic tools that will eliminate the need for human beings to work and (2) then replace human work with dumb pre-industrial magic rituals. In a science-fiction future where robots do all the jobs and satisfy your every need, what will you do all day? Well, maybe you'll get really into elaborate quests for water, why not."
posted by Copronymus at 10:32 AM on January 2 [7 favorites]


The rest of it is just the typical "We've forgotten what the problem was, so now we're going to start tearing the solutions down" bullshit that seems to be common everywhere these days.

I've said in the political threads and elsewhere that I feel like this is an inherent part of people that I can't quite define. There seems to be cycles of this throughout history, and despite all the analysis and theories I think it's the biggest factor in our current political meltdown. Fight Club.

In a true sharing economy, there would be people ready to pee into the mouths of others.

I've got good news!
posted by bongo_x at 10:56 AM on January 2 [6 favorites]


Yeah, as fun as the pile-on has been I agree with you. In particular I'm assuming the FDA is involved in regulating the company somehow. At least I'm guessing it is. Anyone know?

One would assume that since AirBNB is renting hotel rooms and Uber is running a taxi service that they would be regulated by the relevant agencies as well. However, the ethos of the disruption economy is that one can claim to be exempt from regulation because... I don't know? You've got an app or something? So I wouldn't bet on it.
posted by stet at 11:27 AM on January 2 [11 favorites]


I'm assuming the FDA is involved in regulating the company somehow

Ahahahahahahahasputtercoughgasp . . . sweet summer child, have you been to this country?

"*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Our services are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult your health care provider before making a decision to switch your drinking water source."
posted by aspersioncast at 11:54 AM on January 2 [10 favorites]


In a true sharing economy, there would be people ready to pee into the mouths of others.

The sharing economy is dead. Long live the gig economy. I'd like to introduce you to my new project Peeer. It's Uber, for pee! If you grew up in New York in the 1990s, and you had cable, you know what the extra E is for. (Maybe don't click that at work. Or at all, maybe.)

It's entirely pee-er to pee-er? No?
posted by The Bellman at 12:26 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


At least it's sterile!
posted by thelonius at 12:45 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


You guys, FetLife already exists.
posted by AFABulous at 1:01 PM on January 2 [6 favorites]


goodgawd. I'm traveling in east Africa where people have to lug jerry cans of water up hills, then balance six of those jerry cans on a bicycle which they then push up another hill to bring to their house so that they have enough water to drink, cook with, wash clothes, take a bucket shower, give their goats and chickens water to drink and all of the water has to be boiled because bad bad bad germs spreading horrible horrible horrible diseases. Then they have to do all of this again the next day. People don't wash their hands regularly because water is so difficult to get.

These people are nuts, just nuts - I will never, ever, ever drink bottled water again after this trip because I come from the land of total water privilege.
posted by bluesky43 at 1:16 PM on January 2 [11 favorites]


pyramid termite: ...can he guarantee that his H2O molecules haven't been bruised by extreme cold?

Maybe not bruised, but if the cold bends those H2O molecules too much this guy has a solution.
posted by AzraelBrown at 1:27 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Like Timecube, but for water. ^^^
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:12 PM on January 2


What I'm saying is: Diet coke with flouride would solve everything.

That's what they want you to think, man! Who do you think makes the fluoride?! And ask yourself this: Why did Barack Obama sign executive order 393?!? This is all about payback, you watch. Total, like, ET technology shit, man.

*sips Diet Coke, looks shifty*
posted by petebest at 3:37 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


aspersioncast, the web copy you quote is about the FDA not having reviewed Live Water's statement about the water's health effects. It's standard disclaimer for fake medicine. What I'm curious about is whether the FDA inspects and regulates the product they are selling. It's bottled water, which the FDA generally regulates. See also sio42's comment. I mean it's possible they're pulling some Uber-like "we don't need to be regulated" scam too, anyone have evidence of that?
posted by Nelson at 3:40 PM on January 2


The guy in the picture looks just like a video maker who makes fun of these types of people. I cannot think of his name to save my life, but he makes fun of all sorts....

Ha, found him.

Awaken with JP
posted by SuzySmith at 3:55 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Mr. Battle poured himself a glass. “The water from the tap just doesn’t taste quite as refreshing,” he said. “Now is that because I saw it come off the roof, and anything from the roof feels special? Maybe.”

Like.... Santa?
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 6:55 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


like bird shit and mildew
posted by poffin boffin at 8:08 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


I have a standard-issue howl of rage for things like this and it goes something like so: "DON'T THESE ASSHOLES REALIZE WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY?!?!?"
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:17 PM on January 2 [6 favorites]


We'll form our own society! With poop water and diseases!
posted by Going To Maine at 8:38 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


What I'm curious about is whether the FDA inspects and regulates the product they are selling.

I would bet a Mnuchin-signed dollar bill that they are skipping this step in the name of disruption and being agile and the free unfettered hand of the market and it being better to ask for forgiveness than permission. 50/50 on whether they even bothered to run it past legal far enough to bother finding some weird loophole that lets you sell water without approval as long as it's in glass decanters or something.

But that's pure (precedented) speculation, and really the point is that this is awful and/because there exist fucking idiots with too much money, and this is one of the fucking idiot things they're doing with it instead of, I dunno, buying someone a sleeping bag while half of North America freezes half to death.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:31 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


Please let this be Nathan Fielder. Please let this be Nathan Fielder...
posted by lauranesson at 4:44 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


There are regulatory carve-outs for any product that markets itself as a dietary supplement and doesn't make any specific health claims. You can thank Orrin Hatch for that. Snake oil is a big industry in Utah because Mormons love multi-level marketing.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:16 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Whoa, Santa comes off the roof?!

Not cool, Nick
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:41 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it’s a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health.

OK, sure: "You, Sir, are a conspiracy theorist."
posted by sour cream at 7:43 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


What I'm saying is: Diet coke with flouride would solve everything.

The water in Diet Coke just comes out of a tap at the bottling plant. There’s already fluoride in it.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:44 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Although, on second thought, if it's a mind-control drug, how do we know that our minds aren't being controlled in such a way that we dismiss the actual mind-control as a conspiracy theory.

Oh, oh, I know! Drinking raw water! That's the solution that will enlighten us, right?
posted by sour cream at 7:46 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


any product that markets itself as a dietary supplement

Yup. But does this market its Live Water as a dietary supplement? Neither the website nor the NYT article suggests it does. They describe themselves as bottled water. My guess is either the FDA is inspecting the water and its source. Either that, or the NYTimes publicity means they're about to. At least if the FDA is doing their job, which I admit in the Trump era is not a given.

Live Water is absolutely stupid, no argument from me. Just saying in the US we have a regulatory system that should protect gullible consumers from the most obvious risks: cholera or E. Coli or whatever. At least until it fails like it has so many times in the past with ground beef, ice cream, etc.
posted by Nelson at 8:25 AM on January 3


if anything they should just own the grossness of the water and market it as a diet aid. "raw water makes the pounds just gush away!" etc
posted by poffin boffin at 8:52 AM on January 3 [10 favorites]


Not that I want there to be a cholera outbreak at Burning Man, but...
posted by goatdog at 9:03 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


The vodka was good, but because it was molasses based

Erm, isn't that rum?
posted by Pyry at 10:43 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]



I'm gonna bet that this guy and his acolytes would not like the 'raw water' that came out of the well that was connected to an underground spring at my old house. Perfectly safe but with just enough sulphar that it didn't 'taste' very good. The taste reaction was due to the smell rather then the taste but that was hard to avoid. Even safe untreated water can suck to drink.

But hey it was raw!

I'm a water drinking fiend and grew up in a city with great tasting tap water so not getting it out a tap is annoying. At that house I got water to drink from a nearby spring (tested regularly by the township) that was really good.

I now drink untreted water out of a tap that is connected to a well. It is very good tasting water. It's regularly tested and thankfully there has never been a problem with it. I know how lucky this makes me. It is a priviledge. It's too bad I have a conscious. Looks like I could make some extra cash with it.
posted by Jalliah at 11:07 AM on January 3


The rest of it is just the typical "We've forgotten what the problem was, so now we're going to start tearing the solutions down" bullshit that seems to be common everywhere these days.

There is an editorial by a public health official in California about his struggles to communicate with anti-vaxxers in the state, and I like the analogy he uses, which applies in this subject as well:

"One analogy that I have found helpful to illustrate this last point to parents is that of a dangerous curve in the road on the side of a cliff. Statistics show that, over a period of one year, 100 people are killed going over the cliff—that is like a disease affecting the population. Therefore, we build a guardrail—that is like vaccination. After the guardrail has been put into place, the statistics now show that no one was killed going over the cliff (i.e., no one died of the disease). However, three persons were injured hitting the guardrail—that is like the side effects of vaccination. With these statistics, some people might argue that we need to take down the guardrail since it is injuring three people a year. Of course, in reality, if that were done, we would return to the preguardrail situation (i.e., the prevaccination era) of 100 deaths per year from people once again going over the cliff! Therefore, when comparing guardrail injuries to deaths from a dangerous curve, the proper comparison is what would be the deaths in the absence of the guardrail—just like we must compare side effects of vaccination to what would be the deaths from the disease in the absence of vaccination."

Once the collective memory of what life was like before safety measures existed begins to fade away, people begin to experience the minimal inconveniences (or fictional conspiracies) of the safety measures themselves as the primary evil. Once no children have died of cholera in fifty years, you begin to dislike the smell of the chlorine that has quietly saved so many lives. Once tooth decay has plummeted, you begin to feel vaguely suspicious about the fluoride that gets added to the water "for no reason". That guardrail is so ugly-- it simply ruins the view! Our ancestors were able to look over this vista freely, so why are we being denied their freedoms?

(See also: libertarianism)

(See also: people who make jokes about Y2K "being a made up thing" instead of understanding how effective prevention works)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:19 PM on January 3 [33 favorites]


So it’s like a mikveh, but it’s in a bottle and without the whole “cleansing-your-sins” part? Pass.
posted by Itaxpica at 12:53 PM on January 3


The vodka was good, but because it was molasses based

Erm, isn't that rum?


probably why it was lousy vodka
posted by anem0ne at 1:35 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Ars Technica just posted a better article which touches on the "evidence" for Live Water's claims about the bacteria they found in (a single) analysis of their spring water a couple of years ago:


Live Water also found Pseudomonas oleovorans in its water. This is an environmental bacterium and opportunistic pathogen. Lastly, the company reports unidentified Pseudomonas species and unidentified species in the Acidovorax genus. Without species-level identification, it's not possible to know what these bacteria may be up to in water. Both genera contain well-known plant-associated bacteria, but Pseudomonas contains well-studied human pathogens, too, such as P. aeruginosa, which is drug resistant and tends to plague patients with cystic fibrosis.
posted by girl Mark at 1:38 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


To my question about FDA regulation, the Ars article implies maybe not
And for bottled water, the Food and Drug Administration has set standards and can inspect bottling facilities. But such assurances aren’t in place for scouted spring water.
posted by Nelson at 2:26 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Once the collective memory of what life was like before safety measures existed begins to fade away, people begin to experience the minimal inconveniences (or fictional conspiracies) of the safety measures themselves as the primary evil.

Marc Bolan was wrong. Turns out, it’s actually pretty easy to fool the Children of the Revolution.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:18 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


That's a fantastic analogy, a fiendish thingy, but I couldn't find the editorial at the link you provided.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:03 PM on January 3


One of the issues with ozone is that it does not remain active in the water for nearly as long as chlorine. Even more so for UV treatment. It’s all about trade offs.

Dutch drinking water doesn't use secondary disinfection at all, so water from the tap has no ozone, chloramine, or disinfection byproducts. The use of chemicals in primary disinfection is also lower than it is in the US. This is only possible through an immense and sustained investment in source water quality, water filtration through dune sand, and an aggressively monitored water distribution system. As a result, we pay much more for our water than Americans do but those are the tradeoffs we've made.
posted by atrazine at 7:02 AM on January 5


I'd be interested to get "raw" water to use on my garden since chlorinated stuff isn't going to be doing the soil biota too many favours, I suspect, but as far as ingesting it myself? lol no.

(Yes I know rainwater is "raw" water but sometimes it doesn't rain when I want it to - mental, right?)
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:19 PM on January 7


I did some searching in the literature, and I couldn't find any studies that suggested that the levels of chlorine/chloramine in municipal water were a problem for plants or soil microbiota. There are some studies suggesting you shouldn't water plants with pool water or even fairly dilute saline water, both of which have much higher chlorine concentrations (and sodium in the latter case). Most of the research on the effects of chlorine in irrigation seem to be regarding whether it helps reduce the concentrations of human and/or plant pathogens when irrigation runoff or wastewater is reused.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:15 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the aversion to chlorine being a problem for plants is related to how you take care of air plants? To care for those, you're supposed to soak them in water for a few hours once a week, but the experts recommend that you not use water direct from the tap. You're also not supposed to use water direct from the tap if you're replacing water in a goldfish bowl either.

However, in both cases the experts also say you can just leave a pitcher of water standing around on the counter overnight to let the chlorine offgas and it'll be fine. Also, we're talking about two beings that get submerged in the water entirely, and one that actually breathes it, so I think it's different.

I water my own plants with water direct from the tap and they seem to be fine. (In fact, they're going so nuts I had to make a gallon of all-herb broth this weekend to cope with the cuttings when I cut them back.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:53 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah the plants are all fine, but it might be an interesting experiment to try down the track a little when I can control their environment a bit better than I can now. Cholera might be really good for habanero plants, we have no way of knowing!
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:12 PM on January 8


IIRC there is some kind of funny connection between hot peppers and bacteria. ... Actually I think this was part of a post I made a while back. Hmm. ...

Oh it's plant viruses and hot sauce nm
posted by grobstein at 2:39 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Anyway my favorite metaphor for stuff like getting off the water grid is the ultra-rich guy from Greg Egan's Distress who wants to move himself and his family to an entirely new biochemical basis for life -- an alternative to DNA.

I think they have some public cant about how it's like a glorious scientific revolution or something. But the real reason they want it is it will make them immune to the biological plagues that they think are going to rip through all the rest of humanity (possibly because they are planning to start those plagues themselves).
posted by grobstein at 2:49 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Charlotte Simmonds, Guardian: Caught in a deluge: 'raw water' pioneers blame 'opportuni-whores' for brouhaha
Bryan Pullen and Seth Pruzansk have been quietly bottling water in the woods of Maine for nearly a decade – straight from spring to bottle without filtration or treatment. They began selling their “raw water” in 2009 and trademarked the phrase in 2012.

Then last week, the New York Times published an article that thrust their business, Tourmaline Springs, into a harsh spotlight.

The Times’ piece showed how raw water, once a fringe product with supposed health benefits from minerals and bacteria, is going VIP: scoring endorsements from Silicon Valley CEOs and selling for more than $35 (£25) a jug at specialty grocers in San Francisco.

It was a story ripe for viral outrage: a food fad for rich hippies, reinventing a product already available cheaply and safely at home. A flood of articles followed, ridiculing raw water as an overpriced scam, while experts questioned the health claims and warned of diarrhoea-causing pathogens than can lurk in untreated water. But those at the center of it were taken aback by the deluge of anger. Some even got death threats.

“We have received hundreds of messages, [which] ranged from blatant insults to really harsh, hateful statements that we are intentionally poisoning people and ripping them off,” Pruzansk said. “There were two where they threatened to come [and] shoot us.”
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:47 AM on January 10


Frankly, I think the "raw water pioneers" kind of have a point. It's one thing if you're the guy bottling water from a spring in your yard and selling it off a card table on your front porch or something; you're still doing something dangerous, but your market and your sphere of influence is a little limited.

But if you're the dot-com dude looking for The Next Thing That Is Going To Make Me Rich, and you roll up to the guy on the card table with a big stack of cash and say "Got something to sell, I can help", and if you don't stop to think "hey, wait, maybe card table guy isn't doing a smart thing, should I really invest in this", but just forge ahead, then now you have given Card Table Water Guy way more legitimacy - a legitimacy that will trick people who would have initially balked ("well, huh, maybe there is something to Card Table Water after all").

If DotCom Dude didn't investigate the health dangers of Card Table Water, then DotCom Dude is ignorant. And if DotCom Dude did investigate, but decided to ignore it becuase "fuck it, so some people get sick, I'll still be rich", then DotCom Dude is selfish.

So you have Card Table Water Dude who is deluded but largely ineffectual; and you have DotCom Dude who is either ignorant or selfish, who is giving Card Table Water Dude the perceived legitimacy to cause greater harm. I think DotCom Dude deserves some share of the blame, at that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:56 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


“There were two where they threatened to come [and] shoot us.”
posted by Going To Maine at 11:47 PM on January 10


Looks like this week's episode of the Sawbones podcast takes on raw water:

Do you need a doctor and her lovely sidekick to tell you that you shouldn't drink dirty water? No, probably not. But, infuriatingly, some people do. So we will. Let's talk about "raw water."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:00 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Amusing tangent: this was the "bluff the listener" segment on this weekend's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me", and for the outgoing music sting afterward they played a snippet of The Standells. Because of course.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


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