Let’s be clear here: I like chocolate. It’s not my intent to have this article bash chocolate in general. Nor is it my intent to suggest that eating chocolate can’t make you feel better. However, it is my intent to suggest that the chocolate makers at Intentional Chocolate make dubious claims. What claims you ask? How about this one:

All Our Chocolate is Embedded With This Intention:

“Whoever consumes this chocolate will manifest optimal health and functioning at physical, emotional and mental levels, and in particular will enjoy an increased sense of energy, vigor and well-being for the benefit of all beings.”

Wow, I need some of that! Or do I?

Before we get too far ahead, I should explain what they mean by “intent.” They equate it with a “blessing,” so it is safe to say this chocolate is blessed, the way a communion wafer or holy water is. I believe that the word "intent" may soon be added to the words "energy" and "quantum" as being red flags for woo-wwo.

I took a closer look at their site, intentionalchocolate.com to see why they made these claims. Lo and behold, a study was conducted in 2006 that showed a strong result for chocolate with “intent” having an effect on elevating mood and vigor. While the abstract is available online, I had to shell out $10 to read the actual study, which appeared in Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing. The specific article is Effects of Intentionally Enhanced Chocolate on Mood by Dean Radin, PhD, Gail Hayssen, and James Walsh.

First, some notes on the authors. Dr. Dean Radin, according to his site, is currently working on a study that will test “Using Quantum Randomness to Send a Message Back in Time.” He is perhaps best known for his book The Conscious Universe, in which he states, “the eventual scientific acceptance of psychic phenomena is inevitable.” Confirmation bias? Hmm.

Gail Hayssen was involved with a Dean Radin led study on the effect of “intent” on water crystal formation ala Masaru Emoto as seen in the movie What the BLEEP Do We Know? (a useful review is found here.) Those crystals that had intent applied were judged to be more aesthetic than control water. I'll leave that without comment.

James Walsh is an interesting name to have on that list. He is or was chairman of Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate Company, and is now Founder of Intentional Chocolate, the company that cited the study in the first place. Since the study was done in 2006, years after James Walsh was involved with a chocolate company, one wonders how independent and unbiased it could be. Jim Walsh personally supervised the treatment of two of the groups consuming blessed chocolate, including the one that used the method that Intentional Chocolate uses (an electronic device).

The study included a total of 62 people, in four groups. Three of the groups ate chocolate “blessed” by different methods and one group was the control, which ate “normal” chocolate. There was no control group that didn’t eat anything, which seems like an oversight to me. More importantly… 62 people in 4 groups is hardly enough of a sample size to make. There were two groups of 17 including the control, and two groups of 14.

One group ate chocolate blessed by “experienced meditators,” and another ate chocolate chanted over by a Mongolian shaman. The third group (described as ‘second method’) ate chocolate blessed by an electronic device. To quote the study:

The second method involved six meditators from the Deer Park Buddhist Center, including the Venerable Geshe Sopa. He and five other monks chanted in front of an electronic device while holding the assigned intention in mind. This device’s design was based on the concept of an intention-imprinted electrical device, which can purportedly record an intention and later play it back, and thereby influence physical systems in the vicinity. To date, the majority of the experimental evidence for this device has been reported by Tiller and colleagues. Independent replications of the concept have proven to be difficult, but we nevertheless decided to test the idea by using a new electronic circuit design based on Tiller’s publications. After 30 minutes of running the device in record mode during the chanting, it was turned off and later played back continuously for five days inside a Faraday cage along with samples of chocolate.

A device with an intent? Surely a Nobel prize is in order.  Anyway, to cut to the chase, the chocolate that was blessed by the device was the most effective, with that group reporting a significant change in mood and vigor. That’s an interesting result. If that were true, imagine the things that could be accomplished… banks of these machines could be set up in the Middle East to promote peace. Diseases could be eliminated and everyone could get rich. And... hmm, I'd better shut up before they start marketing these ideas.

And what is the Faraday cage for? To keep radio waves away from the chocolate? I don't know how the modified Tiller device works as it's not described in the study, but if it records sound and plays it back, the Farraday cage isn't going to do anything to inhibit other sounds. And If blocking waves is important during this process, why wasn't the other chocolate treated the same way? Surely if radio waves can effect chocolate being chanted at by a machine they can also effect chocolate being chanted at by actual people. And if the device doesn't record sound, what exactly does it record?

But I digress.. the results of the study: all the blessed chocolate groups self-reported better mood and vigor than the control did. The site is, in fact, correct in saying that this study supports the claim that its chocolate makes people feel better.

However, given that the study seems to have had a faulty design, one wonders what good that endorsement really is. I doubt any scientist would take it seriously. A peer-reviewed journal is only as good as the peers reviewing it, and based on my quick layman's glance, I'd say this peer group was lacking in credibility. Sadly, the study is probably pretty effective as a marketing tool, because so few people are going to spend the $10 to read the study, and even fewer are going to understand it.

Here’s the bottom line: we’re offering $1,000,000 if they can show us that this device works. It should be a very simple test and it wouldn’t take long at all. If they’re successful, the ENTIRE WORLD WILL CHANGE. If a device can focus intent and change things in the material world, NOTHING WILL BE THE SAME. I can’t overemphasize the impact such a discovery would have.

And yet… even though they claim it works, the best thing they can think of is to make chocolate with it. Although at nearly $35 a pound, the price might hint at the real intent of the makers.