Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Magic of Crystal Head Vodka

And just when I thought Dan Akroyd couldn't get any crazier.

Behold... Crystal Head Vodka! Complete with video advertisements by Dan Akroyd. Without even getting into the video statements, we hit the wacko quotient in the text of the homepage.
Thousands of years ago, thirteen crystal heads were scattered across the earth – and they are greater and more powerful than anything we have the ability to manufacture today. Their workmanship is perfect: they contain no tool marks and have been cut against the natural axis of the crystal, defying the laws of physics. Some say they are artifacts from the lost civilization of Atlantis, some say they date back to the Mayans, still others say they were created by a higher intelligence.
According to Dan, Hewlett-Packard (why is an electronics manufacturer considered an authority on quartz carving, anyway? -- edit: answer, HP apparently does have a crystals lab in Santa Clara) couldn't find tool marks on one such "crystal head" they examined in the 1960s, and "physicists and jewelers" say that such things couldn't be made: they would shatter before they could be completed. Heck, he even drops the idea (referencing the latest Indiana Jones movie, no less) that the crystal heads may have been made by space aliens.

Yeah, and apparently genuine scientific examinations (found by as amateur a source as Wikipedia) have determined that they were crafted in Europe using 19th-century jewelers' tools, the British Museum being the cited source (edit: also, in its actual article on the skull, HP makes no wild claims regarding the skull's manufacture, noting only that it was, in fact, carved from a single crystal of quartz). So much for their manufacture defying the laws of physics.

Dan doesn't waste much time before he remarks that psychic phenomena -- referring to ghosts, magic, psychic abilities, UFOs, etc. -- are "actual elements in our existence" because "over half the world believes in such phenomena". That's probably a low estimate, but you know what? Popularity is not equivalent to scientific accuracy. You can believe in psychic phenomena all day; everyone on Earth can believe in them, for all I care, but they're not proven to any reasonable degree or even likely until they can be shown to exist in repeatable scientific experiments. The James Randi Educational Foundation can tell you about the track record of "psychics" who have applied for their million-dollar prize. In a nutshell, even after they have agreed to all of the conditions of the test, psychics seeking to win the prize have a 0% success record.

The maker, Phil Power, then tells us about the "spiritual purity" of the vodka by noting that it is quadruple distilled, filtered through charcoal, and then filtered through "Herkimer diamonds", as if they would make any difference whatsoever, since diamonds do not have the absorbtion properties that make charcoal so effective in that role. (Edit: Upon further study, I find that "Herkimer diamonds" are actually a type of quartz; in any case, filtering through them would be equivalent to filtering through fine gravel or sand.)

Good grief. It may be good vodka for all I know (I'll probably try it to see how it compares to Iceberg and Viking Fjord if I can find it around here), but if it is, it will be because of the real science that went into its production, not the new age BS that Dan is peddling or the skull motif of its packaging.

UPDATE: Alison Smith at the JREF tried some Crystal Head vodka and described her experience. Not only is it inhumanely expensive, it's also particularly nasty vodka. Her words: "I think it's like nail polish remover."

1 comment:

Perky Skeptic said...

It's a darned shame, too, because I'd REALLY LOVE to have a bottle in the shape of a SKULL!!! :sigh: Woo-woo ruins everything!

Here's my alternate ad campaign for Crystal Head Vodka:

"It's VODKA-- in a CRYSTAL SKULL!!! (How cool is that!) You should BUY it! And drink it in front of all your friends! You can pretend you're a pirate! Or a wizard! Or a mutant zombie!!!!! (Braaaains!!!) CRYSTAL HEAD VODKA-- because it's AWESOME!!!!"

Honest, and totally salesworthy!