Friday, December 03, 2010

The World Of Illusion

Penn and Teller are illusionists. They begin their shows by explaining why what you are about to see is just a trick, and then proceed to make that trick so confounding that it looks like magic. You might believe that they were catching bullets in their teeth, for example. But, as they are quick to point out, there is no way this could happen. They have applied this same ethos to their Showtime television show in which the pair seek to uncover hoaxes and ruses that plague our society today. Think of them as new-age Houdinis.
One particular episode sought to knock a hole in the myth of bottled water. The hoaxbusters set up a number of "taste tests" with plastic bottles of water filled from a garden hose at the back of a restaurant and then sold at inflated prices. Invariably, patrons chose the most expensive and eloquently described labels. They often commented on the delicious sensation they experienced in sampling each of the various choices, even though they all came from the same hose.
I should say at this point that I grew up in Boulder, Colorado, and I have made much about the privilege of drinking water that came directly from our own glacier, but that time has passed. I know that I have had some vaguely unpleasant experiences drinking the "local water" when I have traveled to other cities and towns in the United States, but it's still water, and it's pretty clean. Picking a particular brand of bottled water has always seemed a little silly to me, since the recipe is pretty much the same for all of them.
Now we are told that Fiji water will no longer be hauled up from the Artesian wells found on that tropical island. Fiji Water president John Cochran said that his water's namesake nation's decision last week to hike taxes on the mineral water it extracts at an aquifer on the main island Viti Levu by five thousand percent made the move inevitable. That means that you may soon be finding a new and possibly more enticing imported water on your shelves soon: How about a refreshing swig of Bayonne?


Anonymous said...

How about a refreshing swig of Bayonne?

In fact, a significant percentage of domestic bottled water is simply the purified output of a municipal feed, including Pepsi's Aquafina and Coke's Dasani.

Anonymous said...

That's the last straw--I'm switching to firewater.