Friday, November 6, 2009

Iraq security forces using dowsing rods as bomb detectors

This story is scary as hell. There is nothing in this story, and in fact nothing in the entire body of scientific knowledge, that would suggest dowsing wands are capable of detecting bombs or anything else. False positives and false negatives are easily rationalized away, and in fact both are done by Iraqi officials in the course of this short story. It really would be funny, except that people will die because of this. It's as if TSA wanted to swing a magic crystal pendulum around your head to detect any weapons before you could board an airplane. It's ridiculous.

Maj. Gen. Jehad al-Jabiri says, "I know more about bombs than anyone in the world." He also confidently dismisses all the rigorous experiments done to determine whether the dowsing wands are actually capable of... you know, detecting bombs. "I don’t care about Sandia or the Department of Justice or any of them," he says. "Whether it’s magic or scientific, what I care about is it detects bombs." Really? You actually care about that? If you care, you might bother to examine the evidence instead of putting people's lives at risk based on your magical interepretation of the ideomotor effect.

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