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dowsing - skeptical perspective

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  • Eric Krieg
    The following was a response to a request for information on science of ... My guess is that experienced well-diggers probably often are skilled intuitive
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 25, 1999
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      The following was a response to a request for information on science of
      dowsing by Jim Enright:



      >>Scientific basis for dowsing?

      My guess is that experienced well-diggers probably often are skilled
      "intuitive" geologists, who, on the basis of many years of past experience,
      can distinguish between sensible and foolish places to bore for water, in
      ways that don't involve dowsing itself at all, although they may put on a
      "dowsing show." Even I, who lacks that background (and probably you as
      well) would have the suspicion that the top of a high hill would be a poor
      starting point to dig a water well.

      Rather than making specific suggestions about how such research OUGHT to be
      done, I offer the following background on prior scientific research on
      dowsing, from which you can draw your own conclusions:

      In the 1980's, there was a massive experimental research project undertaken
      by University physicists in Germany, the outcome of which seems to have
      been quite negative-- despite the researchers' claims-- and which has been
      roundly criticized (Naturwissenschaften 82, 360-369 (1995); and
      Naturwissenschaften, 83, 275-277 (1996), and see also Skeptical Inquirer,
      Jan/Feb 1999, pp. 39-46. An extensive summary of still earlier literature
      about research on the topic (several centuries' worth) is contained in a
      publication of the US Department of the Interior, U. S. Geological Survey,
      Water-supply paper 416, published in 1917; dozens and dozens of citations.
      The author, A. J. Ellis, concluded, "...further tests...on this so-called
      "witching" for water, oil or other minerals would be a misuse of public
      funds." I suspect, after you have been through those items of literature,
      that you might well end up choosing a different research project-- unless
      you can see some fundamentally new avenue to investigate it. Even the
      German physicist-researchers offered no suggestion whatever about where the
      relevant stimuli might be found in the electromagnetic spectrum, or how
      they might be perceived. If one knew that, then one could design the proper
      sort of measuring instrument such that everyone could do it! Sort of like
      chasing ghosts, I think: not the kind of thing that sensible physicists
      ought to spend their time doing, but that decision must remain yours.<<

      Cheers!
      Jim



      --


      Eric Krieg eric@...

      http://www.phact.org/e/dowsing.htm
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