Magic Sticks

dowsing

“Usually, the boundary between science and science fiction is as distinct as the difference between the 6 o’clock news and “The Simpsons.” Wherever the line blurs, you’re bound to find contentious debates. One of the longest-running of these disagreements centers on dowsing, a supposed sixth sense that enables people to find underground water using a forked branch, pendulum or pair of bent wires. There is no scientific reason why dowsing should work. Yet, it apparently works well enough and reliably enough to keep the practice alive.

The success of dowsers doesn’t surprise the people who know the most about finding underground water, hydrogeologists for the United States Geological Survey (USGS). They point out that the United States is so water-rich you can get wet drilling just about anywhere, if you drill deep enough. Far harsher criticism of dowsing and dowsers comes from outside the mainstream scientific community. Two organizations, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), http://www.csicop.org/si, and the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), http://www.randi.org, are actually working to discourage the practice, which they both dismiss as paranormal nonsense. To make their point that dowsing is a sham each has staged demonstrations in which dowsers were asked to find buried pipes. Dowsers did no better than the laws of chance predict. JREF is so confident of its position it promises to pay $1.1 million to anyone who can “prove” dowsing works.”

DOWSING DATA DEFY THE SKEPTICS
Dowsing Data Defy the Skeptics
BY JIM WILSON
Popular Mechanics

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