As prospectors, we have a deep connection to the past. We live in a world where technology has advanced to an amazing level. High tech devices that could only be imagined by science fiction authors a few decades ago are part of our everyday lives. Despite the current state of technological advancement, there is still no surefire way to detect unexplored gold deposits. Our pursuit of the yellow metal leaves no stone unturned. A good prospector will employ every tool at their disposal to get even the slightest edge in locating a gold deposit.
We look to the prospectors of the past and admire their ability to locate gold deposits with nothing more than their own ingenuity and a sense of adventure. Some techniques are no longer used and some haven’t changed for centuries. Dowsing fits somewhere in between. It’s always been a mystery. Nobody can explain how it works but many swear on their mother’s grave that it does.
Dowsing refers to the practice of using a forked stick, metal rod, pendulum, or similar device to locate underground water, minerals, or other hidden or lost substances, and has been a subject of discussion and controversy for
hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The practice is also called divining or witching. There is a history of mysticism, magic, and supernatural beliefs associated with the divining rod that dates back over 8,000 years.
In the Tassili Caves of northern Africa, an 8,000-year-old cave painting depicts a man holding a forked stick, apparently using it to search for water.
Divining rods were used by the Scythians, Persians, and Medes. The practice was used by Bavarian miners in the early 1500s and spread throughout Europe as their deep mining skills were highly sought after. Check out our article on Free Miners for a bit more info on that.
Controversy on the subject goes back to before medieval times. In 1518 Martin Luther listed the use of the divining rod as an act that broke the first commandment under the assumption that dowsing is in league with witchcraft. One of the most important books on mining during that period called “De Re Metallica”, published in 1556, describes the practice in this excerpt:
There are many great contentions between miners concerning the forked twig, for some say that it is of the greatest use in discovering veins, and others deny it. Some of those who manipulate and use the twig, first cut a fork from a hazel bush with a knife, for this bush they consider more efficacious than any other for revealing the veins, especially if the hazel bush grows above a vein.
Others use a different kind of twig for each metal when they are seeking to discover the veins, for they employ hazel twigs for veins of silver; ash twigs for copper; pitch pine for lead and especially tin, and rods made of iron and steel for gold. All alike grasp the forks of the twig with their hands, clenching their fists, it being necessary that the clenched fingers should be held toward the sky in order that the twig should be raised at that end where the two branches meet. Then they wander hither and thither at random through mountainous regions.
It is said that the moment they place their feet on a vein the twig immediately turns and twists, and so by its action discloses the vein; when they move their feet again and go away from that spot the twig becomes once more immobile.
Nevertheless, these things give rise to the faith among common miners that veins are discovered by the use of twigs, because whilst using these they do accidentally discover some; but it more often happens that they lose their labour, and although they might discover a vein, they become none the less exhausted in digging useless trenches than do the miners who prospect in an unfortunate locality.
Therefore a miner, since we think he ought to be a good and serious man, should not make use of an enchanted twig, because if he is prudent and skilled in the natural signs, he understands that a forked stick is of no use to him, for as I have said before, there are the natural indications of the veins which he can see for himself without the help of twigs.
There are variations on the construction of dowsing rods. The original technique consists of using a forked branch cut from a live tree, any tree will work but sticks from willows, witch hazel, and various fruit and nut trees seem to be the most popular. You grasp the ends of the “Y “in your hands with your palms facing upwards. The technique is to walk around and as you approach the target (ground water, gold deplost, etc) the rod will bend towards the ground.
Modern dowsers prefer to use metal rods. A modern dowsing rod consists of two metal rods created from sixteen inch long steel acetylene welding rods with a 90 degree bend forming a handle on each (also known as L-rods). The latest innovation uses ball bearings in the handle to allow the rod to move freely. The modern divining rods don’t bend towards the ground, the technique is to allow the rods to either cross or reach the operator’s chest or point in certain directions.
There are people claiming to be able to conduct long-range dowsing from distances of 100s of meters up to thousands of kilometers away. Some even claim to be able to dowse using a map from the other side of the world.
Dowsers claim to be able to find all sorts of things ranging from water to gold and even your lost car keys. Dowsing for water is the most common. There are quite a few practitioners of water dowsing that do so as a career. The American Society of Dowsers currently has over 2000 members.
In the summer of 2020 I had the opportunity to try dowsing myself. A friend of mine had some dowsing rods and we gave it a try while exploring his claim. He told me that you need to visualize the thing that you’re looking for. In this case we were exploring for a hidden paleochannel.
I held the rods horizontally so that they were able to move freely and walked in a straight line while keeping the idea of a channel in my head. At one spot I was surprised to feel the rods moving without my control and they did cross in front of me. It was a cool feeling and did seem supernatural. We marked the spot using a pin flag. My friend continued over a larger area and we mapped several spots where he felt the rods cross. The results didn’t match up to our seismic survey but he will be testing the area with his excavator next summer.
My personal account was by no means a conclusive test. It certainly piqued my curiosity though.
I know several professionals that occasionally use the technique to locate underground utilities such as water lines and electrical lines. They swear that it works, they don’t know how or why but swear that it does. Several utility companies in Canada do use divining rods occasionally.
Long Range Locators
There are even electronic devices that claim to extend the dowsing signal for great distances. These devices are called Long Range Locators (LRLs).
There is quite a range of LRLs on the market, they range from devices that look like a ray gun to “signal generators”, “oscillators”, “harmonic molecular resonators”, or other scientific-sounding names. The world of LRLs is very murky. The majority of LRLs are fake and many manufacturers have been charged with fraud.
One such device called the Omni-Range Master retails for $2,885 USD and makes the following claim:
The signal line from the Omni-Range Master can scan an area of at least 64 square miles and determine if any of the sought-after mineral is present within 15 minutes of the start of operation
It also claims to have “Accuracy of 1/32 of an inch from 50 feet to over 8 miles”. Wow, it would be pretty cool if that actually worked!
Credit for the above photo goes to Carl at geotech1.com. He’s done a lot of research and testing on LRLs. Check out his site for some surprises on some of the most popular long-range locator products on the market.
The Omni-Range Master is a favorite among dowsing and LRL enthusiasts even though it doesn’t actually do anything.
The manufacturer supplies a list of frequencies to locate various substances and items such as:
- Diamonds – 12.835 Khz
- Gold – 3.025 Khz
- Titanium – 13.385 Khz
- “Prehistoric Rex” bones – 15.367 Khz
- Paper money ($100) – 9.41 Khz
- Paper money ($20) – 12.77 Khz
It’s interesting that it mentions bones of a non-existent dinosaur which would be made up of a complex mix of molecules. It’s also strange that it has two different frequencies for paper money and that it lists paper money at all.
This device uses a standard waveform generator (chip that produces an electrical current in a variety of voltages and frequencies). You then plug electrodes into the ground and the idea is that the device will induce “molecular resonance” in the surrounding area and create “signal lines” that you can follow with dowsing rods.
The device uses a 12V power supply and does not transmit enough power to do anything productive. I suspect that believers in “signal lines” and LRLs believe that a very low voltage can be amplified by a form of harmonic resonance but there is absolutely zero evidence for that.
At face value, the concept of “frequencies” and electrodes in the ground is similar to some geophysical techniques such as Induced Polarization (IP) and Resistivity that are commonly used. IP uses 25,000 volts and very specialized recording equipment. It also involves a comprehensive data processing technique. IP can detect conductive ore bodies if they are big enough but even that advanced geophysical technique won’t show you exactly where gold is (or dinosaur bones).
Explanations of the Phenomenon
Proponents of the dowsing technique have a variety of explanations of the mechanics behind the phenomena. One person on a prospecting forum recently claimed “The rods simply extend your personal magnetic field..which, in turn responds to, and interacts with vibrational frequencies of the Earth.”
Some claim that there is psychic energy involved while others say it has something to do with the solar cycle and charged particles from the sun. There are just about as many explanations as there are practitioners.
A recently published book, “The Art of Dowsing: Separating Science from Superstition” by Michael Fercik, tried to explain dowsing in scientific terms. Here’s a quote from the book:
The hands-on dowsing practices are absolutely 100 percent correct, but the dowsing theory could be slightly off here or there. I expressed in wording to the best of my abilities on how I can dowse to find sought objects, with the physics that came from electrical classes, a college physics class, educational books, and educational TV programming. If a group of open-minded physicists say one of the theories is not this way but is that way, then I stand corrected, and we go by the group of open-minded physicists’ theory.
The author seems to have a very faint understanding of science despite the fact that his book is titled “Separating Science from Superstition”.
Fercik explains his own theory of the concept of “elemental magnetism”. It’s important to clarify what the word “theory” means in the realm of science. People often claim something is “just a theory” or “I have a theory”. That word has a specific meaning in science. A scientific theory is an explanation of the natural world that makes testable and verifiable predictions. Those predictions must be confirmed by experiments using the scientific method. You can’t have a theory without it being able to make predictions that can be verified by other people, otherwise it’s just a guess and doesn’t have anything to do with science.
Fercik goes on to explain that each element in the periodic table has its own unique “elemental magnetism” and that a dowsing rod can “tune in” to that unique characteristic similar to a radio tuning to a radio station. He claims that you can tune in your rod by attaching a “one-tenth troy ounce” piece of silver, for example. Then your rod is tuned for silver. He emphasizes that it must be 99.999 percent pure silver or gold or else it won’t work.
The author claims that a dowsing rod and metal detector work in similar ways and that the dowsing rod is powered by “human neuron electrical signals”. Apparently walking while dowsing builds up a static charge strong enough to move the rods when your target is close.
Fercik claims that metal detectors and dowsing rods both work by “picking up the unique emitted elemental magnetic flux lines of the targeted element or targeted elemental mass.” In reality neither device works that way.
Metal detectors transmit an electromagnetic field from the search coil and any magnetically susceptible metal objects that are close enough and large enough become energized and retransmit their own field. A second coil receives the field transmitted by the metal objects. It’s a similar concept to electromagnetic geophysics such as HLEM or aerial TEM. Modern metal detectors are able to differentiate certain phase responses and that allows them to discriminate between different metals such as gold and iron. When metals have a similar phase response such as tin foil and gold it’s hard to tell the difference.
The author describes the movement of the dowsing rod as the result of closing a circuit and allowing static electricity to flow. According to the book, when in contact with the sought element’s “elemental magnetic flux lines” a circuit is created and the dowsing rod connects the static electricity of the human body’s nervous system with the “elemental flux density” of the sought element.
The author goes on to introduce numerous other terms related to magnetism that he created from his own imagination. His ideas don’t meet the criteria for a scientific theory, they could be easily tested but there is no evidence of that in the book. He also fails to recognize that water is not made of a single element, it’s composed of hydrogen and oxygen.
The author should have consulted someone with a background in physics or chemistry instead of his emphasis on “educational TV programming”. Scientists aren’t hard to find, however, had he done that there wouldn’t be a book to write since it would have been debunked before it even reached the publisher.
Dowsing rods have been shown to work on the same principle as a Ouiju board. The rods, or the planchette in the case of the Ouija board, are moved by human muscles not ghosts, magic or “elemental magnetic flux lines.” The reason the operator isn’t aware that they are actually moving the object is what’s referred to as the ideomotor effect.
The ideomotor effect was discovered by William Benjamin Carpenter in 1852 and describes the movement of the human body that is not initiated by the conscious mind. Your body moves without requiring conscious decisions all the time. In sports it’s referred to as muscle memory. Driving a car is another example, or playing a musical instrument.
When you are startled or accidentally touch something hot your body is able to move in a way to protect you without conscious input from your brain. Many experiments have shown that under a variety of circumstances, our muscles will behave unconsciously in accordance with an implanted expectation. As this is happening we are not aware that we ourselves are the source of the resulting action.
One of the first people to study this effect was the famous scientist Michael Faraday who also established the basis for the concept of the electromagnetic field in physics among many of his important contributions to the world of science. During the time of Faraday’s ideomotor experiment, in 1853, mysticism was at an all time high and Ouija boards were very popular. He set out to determine what the real force behind the Ouija board was.
Faraday’s experiment was simple. He placed a small stack of cards on top of the Ouija planchette (the piece that you put your hands on). In this experiment, if the force was coming from the participant’s hands the top of the deck of cards would move first. If there was another force the bottom cards would move first. What Faraday and others have shown in every case is that the force was coming from the participant’s hands and not some external entity.
Modern experiments have been done to test dowsing using high-speed cameras. It has been shown that the force on the dowsing rods comes from the person and not from an external force.
It’s interesting that today’s purveyors of the technique insist that testing needs to be done by “open-minded” scientists as if there is some kind of conspiracy against dowsing. There is no conspiracy, in fact there have been a lot of scientific experiments conducted to test the dowsing.
Take a look at some of the studies mentioned below. This is by no means a comprehensive list, there are hundreds of studies on this subject.
Chris French 2007
Psychologist Chris French conducted a double-blind study on dowsing in 2007. The study was filmed as part of a TV show hosted by Richard Dawkins.
Professor French had this to say about the dowsing experts that took part in the study:
I think that they are completely sincere, and that they’re typically very surprised when we run them through a series of trials and actually say, at the end of the day, “Well your performance is no better than we would expect just on the basis of guess work.” And then what typically happens, they’ll make up all kinds of reasons, some might say excuses, as to why they didn’t pass that particular test.
Ongley, P., 1948
Ongley tested 75 professional water diviners in New Zealand in 1948. The report, linked above, is quite interesting, it discusses some of the history and methods available at the time.
Ongley concluded, “If the seventy-five diviners tested representative of all occupations and from all parts of New Zealand, not one showed the slightest accuracy in any branch of divination. That 90 percent of the diviners are sincere does not lessen the harm that they do.
Vogt, E & Hyman, R, 1959
Water Witching, U. S. A.
Vogt and Hyman argue at some length that anecdotal evidence does not constitute rigorous scientific proof of the effectiveness of dowsing. The authors examined many controlled studies of dowsing for water, and found that none of them showed better than chance results.
Taylor, J. G. & Balanovski, E., 1978
Can electromagnetism account for extra-sensory phenomena?
In this study John Taylor and colleagues conducted a series of experiments designed to detect unusual electromagnetic fields detected by dowsing practitioners. They did not detect any.
Foulkes, R. A, 1971
Experiments organized by the British Army and Ministry of Defence suggest that results obtained by dowsing are no more reliable than a series of guesses.
McCarney, R et al, 2012
Can homeopaths detect homeopathic medicines by dowsing? A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
This study took place in 2012 and studied a different part of the dowsing technique. The study states: “According to the theory of psionic medicine, every living thing and inanimate object is continuously vibrating at a molecular level. This vibration is sensed subconsciously by the dowser, and it is then amplified through the pendulum or other dowsing device.”
Participants were tested on their ability to detect naturopathic medicine vs a placebo in double blind trials. The study showed that the experienced dowsers were not able to identify the correct substance with results better than chance alone.
Grave Dowsing Reconsidered
This study is a review of previous experiments which was put together by the office of the state archaeologist at the University of Iowa. The study concluded:
Simple experiments demonstrate that dowsing wires will cross when the dowser observes something of interest; this is an example of the subconscious ideomotor effect, first described by Carpenter (1852). This does not disprove dowsing, but demonstrates that simpler explanations can account for the phenomena observed by dowsers The premise that dowsing rods cross when exposed to a large magnetic field created by a subsurface anomaly runs contrary to basic scientific understanding of magnetic fields, and does not hold up under simple experiment.
One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge
The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge is an offer by James Randi, a famous magician, to anyone who could demonstrate a supernatural or paranormal ability under agreed-upon scientific testing criteria.
In his book, “Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions”, Randi describes one of the tests that he conducted in 1979 where four dowsers took an attempt at the prize.
The prize in 1979 was $10,000 and he accepted four people to be tested for their dowsing ability in Italy. The conditions were that a 10 meter by 10 meter test area would be used. There would be a water supply and a reservoir just outside the test area. There would be three plastic pipes running underground from the source to the reservoir along different concealed paths. Each pipe would pass through the test area by entering at some point on an edge and exiting at some point on an edge. A pipe would not cross itself but it might cross others. The pipes were 3 centimeters in diameter and were buried 50 centimeters below ground.
Valves would select which of the pipes water was running through, and only one would be selected at a time. At least 5 liters per second of water would flow through the selected pipe. The dowser must first check the area to see if there is any natural water or anything else that would interfere with the test, and that would be marked. Additionally, the dowser must demonstrate that the dowsing reaction works on an exposed pipe with the water running. Then one of the three pipes would be selected randomly for each trial. The dowser would place ten to one hundred pegs in the ground along the path he or she traces as the path of the active pipe. Two-thirds of the pegs placed by the dowser must be within 10 centimeters of the center of the pipe being traced for the trial to be a success. Three trials would be done for the test of each dowser and the dowser must pass two of the three trials to pass the test.
A lawyer was present, in possession of Randi’s $10,000 check. If a claimant were successful, the lawyer would give him the check. If none were successful, the check would be returned to Randi.
All of the dowsers agreed with the conditions of the test and stated that they felt able to perform the test that day and that the water flow was sufficient. Before the test they were asked how sure they were that they would succeed. All said either “99 percent” or “100 percent” certain”. They were asked what they would conclude if the water flow was 90 degrees from what they thought it was and all said that it was impossible. After the test they were asked how confident they were that they had passed the test. Three answered “100 percent” and one answered that he had not completed the test.
When all of the tests were over and the location of the pipes was revealed, none of the dowsers had passed the test. Dr. Borga had placed his markers carefully, but the nearest was a full 8 feet from the water pipe. Borga said, “We are lost”, but within two minutes he started blaming his failure on many things such as sunspots and geomagnetic variables. Two of the dowsers thought they had found natural water before the test started, but disagreed with each other about where it was, as well as with the ones who found no natural water.
Cargo Cult Science
Dowsing has never actually passed any real scientific test. That has nothing to do with how “open minded” the scientists doing the study are. Science does not rely on opinion, it’s simply an unbiased way of testing and explaining the natural world. True science does not try to prove a hypothesis, a real scientist should try their best to disprove the hypothesis and only when all attempts to disprove it have failed can we draw the conclusion that the phenomenon is true.
The famous physicist , Richard Feynman, described this perfectly in his 1974 commencement address to the graduating class of Caltech. It’s a great speech that touches on pseudoscience and cargo cults. Check out the video below.
Dowsing is a pseudoscience, at best, and attempts to explain dowsing would definitely fit into Feynman’s description of Cargo Cult Science.
It would be amazing if a prospector could actually pick up two metal rods and walk around until they find a high-grade gold deposit. The idea is very appealing, and that desire is what has kept it around for so many years. If that actually did work, everyone would be able to find gold in large quantities and the practitioners of dowsing would all be multi-billionaires.
Even if you ignore the scientific studies and everything else mentioned in this article it’s pretty obvious that the practitioners of dowsing have failed the fundamental logic test. If they have the magical ability to find gold by holding two rods, shouldn’t they have tons of gold in their possession?
I have had long conversations with numerous expert dowsers. Except for a few that get paid to dowse for water, they all have a day job and dowse as a hobby. Dowsers all swear that the technique works and is effective but they don’t have any gold to show for it. I have yet to meet a dowser that has discovered billions of dollars worth of gold and lives in a mansion.
It is possible that there is some hidden force that we don’t yet understand that can be tapped into using the human body and two metal rods. That’s the idea promoted by dowsing practitioners. They claim there are unexplained “frequencies”, “harmonic molecular resonance”, “elemental magnetism” or other clever-sounding phrases that science hasn’t yet been able to explain.
Dowsing, like many other forms of divination or intuitive practices, can tap into a person’s beliefs about the nature of reality, the power of the mind, and the existence of unseen forces or energies. For some individuals, the act of dowsing may feel like a sacred or meaningful practice that connects them to something greater than themselves. This sense of connection or spirituality may contribute to their confidence in their abilities, even in the face of evidence to the contrary.
Additionally, the social dynamics of a community of dowsers may also contribute to their confidence in their abilities. If a person is part of a group that strongly believes in dowsing, they may feel more confident in their own abilities due to the collective reinforcement of their beliefs. This social reinforcement can create a sense of community and belonging that reinforces the belief in dowsing as a valid and effective practice.
Carl Sagan famously stated, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” The claims made by dowsers are certainly extraordinary. The extraordinary evidence has yet to present itself.
If you’re waiting for the discovery of a magical force that presents signal lines to buried gold that only a specialized few are able to pick up on with their innate abilities, I wouldn’t hold your breath. It’s far more likely that the phenomenon of dowsing is little more than a self-delusion brought on by unconscious movements in response to implanted expectations, also known as the ideomotor response.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and personal dowsing stories. Feel free to post them in the comments below.
27 thoughts on “Deep Dive into Dowsing”
Interesting post on dowsing Nick. I had a hunch that there wouldn’t be any scientific experiments that could prove dowsing to be effective, so thank you for clearing that up with all your research.
Thanks Dan. It would be pretty cool if it did work. When I started researching this I was hoping that I’d find out that it actually does work. My goal was to learn about the principles behind dowsing and hope to develop a technique based on those principles to help find mineable gold deposits.
The research clearly shows that dowsing is fake. I do enjoy hearing the crazy explanations that dowsers come up with though. They definitely have an active imagination.
have dug deep into the esoteric – have very little gold to show for it – but – some of it is hard to explain
There are a number of us that have learned to tune in to the frequency of gold and remotely view it on satellite maps from hundreds or thousands of miles away.
Then using the scientific John Fales effect in electronics of sympathetic energy frequency connecting identical frequencies gold to gold etc we go to the areas and walk straight to it.
We have all heard of a trumpet blowing and breaking a wine glass. Also a tuning fork vibrating and another one also vibrating on its own. Those are examples of physics in action.
That is a far cry from dowsing because physics are used. Please do not condemn everything because somethings are not easily understood. We know physics work. That is a point of beginning.
I went to the advanced dowsing class taught by Leroy Bull 20 years ago at the American society of dowsers. What got my undivided attention was that one hour into the class
we were asked to look at a scaled down topo map and tell him which square has the gold mine. With nothing to work with but pure intuition over half of us got it right.
Encouraged by that I have been successful for the last 20 years locating gold. When I was tested for comprehension at Jeff state college my comprehension was 100 percent.
I said all that to say this. There are a few of us that use our gut survival instinct to help us do wonderful things that if people would allow themselves they may also do well also.
When in doubt check it out will open a big wide world of unlimited possibilites.
Do not allow fear to paralise you. Research and get the facts of what works and what does not. Unlimited knowlege and wealth await you. All my best, Robert.
Do you care to expand on your ideas that “we know physics work”? You can’t just mention “physics” and expect anyone to believe you. What exactly is the John Fales effect? I googled that and didn’t find anything.
I’m familiar with resonance. What does that have to do with map dowsing? Please expand on what you have written. It sounds like you’re just throwing clever-sounding terms around to try to provide some basis for your dowsing ideas. You say to “Research and get the facts”, what do you think this article was about? I’d love to hear your explanations.
Maybe dowsing is fake. That’s totally possible. I’d probably think it’s a hoax that someone can learn or read something and have perfect recall of it or have an eidetic memory. That seems fake, too. But some say it’s real even though they can’t obviously replicate it or make another person have an eidetic memory. Scientists may have proved people can have an eidetic memory, but the thought is still as absurd or far fetched as dowsing. Like really. Anyone with an eidetic memory have got to be billionaires just from reading and trading on the information or making new things. Not everyone with an eidetic memory is a billionaire I’d wager though.
Another reason you don’t have billionaires from finding gold is taxes. It’s like Bitcoin. People don’t want to report they own it because then they’d have to pay massive amounts of taxes especially if they bought it cheap. If someone found a gold bar on private land they’d pay like 37% plus whatever state income tax is and then they’d have to split it with the land owner most likely. If a person finds gold bars in New Mexico on public land they can’t own it. It’ll be confiscated by the US government because the government loves taking things. In England if you find some thing metal detecting they’ll pay you for it. They may by law take it by you’re compensated. In the US in the west the government is basically saying if you find any Spanish stuff it’s ours and you won’t receive a penny. I think most people try to be honest and obey laws, but the US is absurd. I bet you the US would instantly have more relics and gold finds reported if people were compensated.
But let’s say you are lucky and can get a treasure trove permit. You may only keep 40%. So let’s say you find a 70 pound bar that’s worth let’s say 2 million. And let’s say you find five bars so you have 10 million. Instantly you’d only get 4 million because the government would legally take six. But wait there’s more. If you then pay 40% on the 4 million the federal government let’s you keep you then only end up with 2.4 million. 2.4 million out of ten isn’t horrible, but it’s not good. If the government paid you market price like other countries do for fines and then you pay 40% tax it’d make a lot more people report finds. Tons of people find stuff with metal detectors and don’t report it because of the law. Here’s a thought. Ask yourself if you find 10 million in gold bars, but you know if you get a permit and then pay taxes you’d only end up with 2.4 million would you come out and say look what I found? Or if you can’t get a permit and you say look what I found and report it and the government takes everything would you report it still? A lot of people probably wouldn’t report it and just saw off a little and melt it and send it in saying they found it. Because at least then they could keep it and slowly sell it off over decades rather then lose the majority of it by doing it the legal way. The other option is to do what they said happened on the history channel
With civil war gold and launder it through a mine. But even back in the 1800s gold bars were probably under reported from mines. Just a thought, but taxes and the government taking stuff without compensation automatically dictates what’s reported by the majority of people that are human in nature. Forget dowsing. Just considering metal detecting and the laws and you’ll probably get why people are smart enough to not report things. Maybe more then 50 years ago things were discussed in public, but 40-50 years ago when laws changed it changed human behavior due to incentives.
Theories aren’t always made theories because they haven’t been disproved. For instance, the Big Bang theory is a theory, but not all scientists believe it. Maybe it has been peer reviewed, but that doesn’t always mean much. P hacking in doctorate and published papers does happen.
I don’t think science has disproved dowsing. Science sure has disproved the hypothesis that dowsing works, but like the Big Bang theory it’s not proved one way or another. It’s kind of like religion I think. Another example is the rain man. Sure science can explain why someone maybe to memorize an entire phone book because they have autism, but that isn’t replicated. Scientists can’t make another human that smart. Science can say the brain in an autistic person did something different then a normal person, but let’s be honest. Scientists know nothing. The more you learn the more you know how much you don’t know. Scientists can’t make a baby grow into a super smart person to mimic a high functioning autistic person. They may have theories of how something happens, but theories do change overtime and scientist seems to make the earlier generation seen dumb as they increase innovation. But with as far as science has come the last hundred years it’s still nothing. Elon is trying to do extreme things to advance tech like hooking a monkeys brain up to a chip to play a game.
Another thought is if dowsing is a mind thing or disorder of course most people won’t be able to do it if it’s a rare condition just like how smart autistic kid is rare that can have an eidetic memory.
Hi Kolton, I see that you’re really reaching here. Why are you trying so hard? Dowsing is an easy thing to test and it has failed every single time. I mean every single time. Nobody has ever shown dowsing to work in a controlled experiment.
Eidetic memory is another thing that’s easy to test. There are tons of people with an eidetic memory and many have shown that in controlled experiments. Your understanding of scientific theory isn’t exactly coherent, you should read up on that a little more. Dowsing is as fake as a 3 dollar bill, the article explains why.
Many decades ago I met Prof. Dr. Friedrich H. Balck, a gentle and expert person. I exchanged views and consulted him on the subject of the impact of radiation on human development.
He and his group, have unique knowledge and spread it freely and openly – http://www.biosensor-physik.de/.
There are few of us who study these phenomena with an open mind without letting our brains leak out. The conditions under which they manifest themselves, above all.
It is a complex thing, either because of the need for special equipment and monetary resources or because one must have enough time to devote to it, like Hans Reichenbach.
While there are people who focus on studying strange phenomena, it is rather to reinforce their ideas about them and demonstrate nothing more than their egocentrism, materialistic thinking and are self-referential like an author whose motto is “you have some ability, prove it”.
And they boast of establishing new matters to mold children and indicate their truth, how totalitarian.
It is curious that these “researchers” obtain monetary resources by selling books that attack people who perhaps happen to possess some strange ability that sometimes works adequately. It would be productive to know why certain capacities tend to appear few or no times in life, wouldn’t it?
It is very difficult to have the self-control and immunity to replicate the situations that provoke strange phenomena and sometimes some extra help from the environment is needed. The problem is that many people consider that they can repeat special situations whenever they want and that is their perdition.
Some people are so mercantile and narrow minded that they believe that if someone searches with dowsing and finds a coffer of gold coins hidden by pirates in the coasts of southern Chile, they will publish it in the town newspaper and be boastful and vain.
This limited judgment indicates a lot about the author. Always keep a low profile. Do not draw attention to yourself. You can have a lot of money with securities operations or the stock market without any need to detect seams, that is archaic and childish.
Good luck to you… it’s a joke because it’s all the same to you, isn’t it?
if I tell you, bad luck, it will be the same for you…
I can see that you really, really want dowsing to be a real thing. I also wish that it actually worked. It would be a hell of a lot easier than actually exploring for gold using real exploration techniques.
I checked out Hans Reichenbach’s research. He has not shown any verifiable evidence that dowsing can actually find gold. That has nothing to do with whether you have an open mind or not. That’s the cool thing about science, it’s true whether or not you believe in it.
It does look like Reichenbach is doing some research on the matter but so far has found absolutely zero proof that dowsing actually works. Other exploration techniques, the ones that actually result in finding gold, are backed up by literally hundreds of thousands of scientific studies that have been repeated time and time again with the same results. There are quite a few studies on dowsing, some of which were mentioned in the article. So far, all the studies show the same thing, dowsing is nothing more than a self-delusion with no verifiable results.
I don’t believe for one second that you, or any other dowser, has made a living finding gold using dowsing rods. You can pretend all you want. We both know that isn’t true.
As I said, it would be awesome if you could find gold using “some strange ability that sometimes works adequately” as you put it. Just so you know there is no conspiracy against dowsing. If you actually believe that then you need to have your head examined.
If dowsing really worked every mining company in the world would be paying expert dowsers huge money to show them where to dig. In the same way that they pay geologists, geophysicists, engineers, and other professionals to help them find resources. Don’t you think it’s kind of odd that dowsers aren’t part of legitimate exploration programs? Maybe there’s a reason for that.
Here is my personal dowsing story.
I live in south-east Queensland, Australia, on the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range. In this area, underground water is found in narrow streams ranging in width from a few inches to about 4 feet with an average width of about a foot. They are usually located at a depth of 20 to 200 feet. The streams can range in thickness from half an inch to many feet. Material forced to the surface by the compressors on water drilling rigs show that the subsurface water flows through fractured rock, particularly basalt, or gravels and sands. These streams have been tracked for many miles. They meander all over the place, but appear to generally flow to the east and empty into the Pacific Ocean below the water level. They are part of the water cycle, returning water to the sea that once fell on the land, and at recharge sites, infiltrated the Earth’s crust and rested on an impervious layer like solid basalt or clay. While this water flows through the voids in the underground strata, some of it also soaks out into the surrounding rock forming a soak zone. The soak zone is most often many times wider than the stream from where the water came from. In most areas these streams are fairly rare, making up only a tiny fraction of the land area. That makes them difficult to find and unlike drilling on the western side of the Great dividing range where water can be found easily in a great underground basin (at considerable depth), drilling must be very accurate in order to find water. The water brought to the surface will contain salts eg sodium chloride, which dissolved in the water as it peculated through the Earth’s surface layers. Salt levels range from 100 ppm to many thousand ppm.
I live on a farm that was once owned by my grandfather. He was a water dowsing sceptic. (In Australia, we refer to water dowsing as water devining.) He employed a water driller to find water near his house to be used for domestic purposes, to irrigate his crops, and water his livestock. The water driller sunk a total of four wells, each to 85 feet where he struck solid basalt. The first three holes were dry, but the last one produced 50 gallons an hour, which dwindled to just a few gallons per hour after a few hours. While the water driller recommended that grandad use a water deviner, he refused on each occasion. The last well was cased and a windmill installed to deliver the water. This process turned out to be very expensive (the cost of drilling 4 holes, casing, and windmill instillation) but did not produce anywhere near enough water for what was required. He then spent more money by having a dam dug with a dozer. This dam would dry up during drought years. After I acquired the farm in 1978, I devined the well site and discovered that the bore had been sunk on the very edge of the soak zone that was 35 feet wide. The stream the water came from was 22 feet away. I needed water security to be able to farm, preferring a bore over a dam. I didn’t like the stream at this site as it was split into a number of streamlets. So I tracked the stream for some distance to where the small streams all united, had it drilled and was delighted to find the well produced 10 000 gallons an hour. In really wet years, this increased to 12 000 gallons per hour. It never went lower than 6 000 gallons an hour even in the most severe droughts. This bore saved my farming operation in many a drought. It is a great pity the my grandfather didn’t listen to the water driller and employ a water deviner. The water driller and told me that my grandfather’s experience in finding water was not unique. He had been drilling bores in my area for over 20 years and had come across many landholders who were water devining sceptics. He said the conversation would go something like this.
Water driller – “Where do you want the hole drilled?”
Land holder – “Over there right next to the power pole so I can hook up power to a pump” or “Right there beside the irrigation hydrant so I can pump water directly into my irrigation system without having to install too much extra pipe.”
Water driller – “Have you had your selected site devined and checked by a second deviner?”
Landholder – “Are you kidding – I don’t believe in that @%#*&! rubbish.”
So the hole gets drilled and its dry. The weather starts getting drier, and the crops are starting to suffer. The water driller is called back to try again, this time on the other side of the power pole with the same result. A drought sets in, the crops are nearly dead, and the livestock have to be hand fed at great expense. The water driller is called back for a third attempt with the same result as the earlier two holes. The landholder is now really worried – without water he could have to sell up. He sees his neighbour with irrigated lush green crops and healthy livestock. He discovers that his neighbour has a bore that was devined by the local water deviner. In desperation, the farmer employs the deviner to find a suitable drill site, the well is drilled, water flows and the farmer is saved.
I have a degree in applied science with honors from the University of Queensland, and as a scientist, I know that devining for water cannot possibly work as it has absolutely no scientific basis – but it does work for me. I have no idea how it works, and make no claims (as some deviners do) about the mechanics of devining. The only thing I can tell you is that as I approach a stream, I get a strange bodily sensation. I have also discovered a few things. Firstly, the information about a stream’s location enters my body about where my heart is. I fellow deviner had open heart surgery where his sternum was split from top to bottom. From that day forth, he was unable to devine for water. If I put my hand on my lower chest where my heart is and I pass over a known stream, I do not get any reading. Secondly, any instrument I use to devine with (forked stick, wire L rods etc) does not move by some invisible force created by the water flowing underground – it is my own hand that makes an almost imperceptible movement causing a movement in the instrument. Also, deviners’ claims that one type wire eg copper works much better than other types is incorrect. These days, I have thrown my devining instruments away, and I just use my index finger.
I have helped many local farmers to find suitable streams, and as yet (touch wood) none of the holes drilled on my selected locations have been dry. I do not charge for my service.
A few months ago I had a very difficult assignment where my selected drill area contained three streams at depths from 80 to 180 feet. I had to find the exact spot the three streams overlapped vertically so that water could be extracted from each one with a single drill hole. The well was drilled, each stream tapped for water, the hole was cased and the result was a bore producing 15 000 gallons per hour. I have made a video of the whole operation. I can send you a copy of the video if you email me your address.
I have read with interest the claims made by many sceptics that water devining does not work. Frequently, such claims are based on experiments conducted to test a deviner’s skill. I have been flabbergasted by the design of these experiments as not one of them has been based on the scientific method that must be followed to conduct a fair test. In one experiment in Germany, deviners were placed on the upper story of a two story building. A water pipe on the lower floor was moved to different locations and deviners were asked to tell where the pipe was located. This design bears no relationship to reality and what a water deviner experiences. Firstly, there is an air gap below their feet as their feet are not in contact with the ground. Secondly, water being pumped through a pipe is not the same as water flowing through underground strata. Many other experiments have similar design problems that make the results invalid. A properly designed experiment would be a double-blind experiment in which wells are actually drilled in pairs close together (no more than a few yards apart) – one where the deviner says there is a stream and the nearby one where they indicate there is no stream. Obviously a considerable number of holes would need to be drilled in different locations so that enough data could be collected for analysis. The deviner(s) selected for the experiment need to be competent deviners. Devining is skill that takes a considerable amount of practise to perfect. I regard a competent deviner as follows. 1. They have a success rate of 95% or greater. 2. They can discriminate between a stream and a soak zone. 3. They can view a topographic map and know where to start looking for water. This also includes reading the ground correctly when they are onsite. 4. They can create a map of the area they are asked to survey showing the location of all streams. 5. They can select the best stream (water volume and quality) and drill site for the landholder. The proposed drill site must be user-friendly for both the landholder and water driller. As with any skill, people have different levels of competency. The skills 1 to 5 described above take a considerable time to learn and I would regard few deviners as being fully competent. I am frequently asked to crosscheck the drill site proposed by another deviner only to find that they have missed the stream and are on the soak zone, or their site is where the stream has split into many sub streams that would result in a reduced water flow, or they have selected a site on a stream that has already been drilled and found to be inadequate due to water volume or quality.
I also note that some sceptics say that when a deviner correctly predicts a stream location, they could have selected a site anywhere nearby and still found water because water is everywhere underground. This notion is purely speculation. The only way you could tell this is to drill holes 1 yard apart in a grid pattern over the whole area. I would be sure this has never happened.
I am sure the personal story I have told here will raise a few eyebrows, and there will be some cries of disbelief, however I will continue water devining and helping farmers droughtproof their land as long as I can.
Hi Steve, that’s a great story.
I find it interesting that you acknowledge that your own body causes the rods to move. Most dowsers/deviners try to make up crazy stories about molecular resonance, or magnetism.
There have been many, many double-blind experiments on dowsing. As someone who holds a degree in applied science with honors you should understand how the scientific method works.
Why would an “air gap” change the results of dowsing? How is water being pumped through a pipe is not the same as water flowing through underground strata?
A true experiment should try everything possible to disprove the hypothesis. Only after every attempt has been made to disprove the hypothesis can it be considered true. The “experiment” that you proposed has many variables and is basically designed to favour your technique. I’m sure that you would pass that test but that is not scientific and would prove nothing. All variables other than the one being tested must be removed. Take a look at some of the examples provided in the article.
I agree that there could be more study into this area. The experimental evidence so far has shown that dowsing results are no better than chance. Especially with dowsing for gold.
Thank you for spending the time to read my rather lengthy personal devining story and posting your response so quickly. I have finally found someone who is scientifically literate and who understands what it takes to design an experiment using the scientific method in order to produce valid results that can be analysed in order to support or disprove the hypothesis.
I have some clarification relating to the experiment I described above. The aim of the experiment would be something like this :- The aim of this experiment is to determine if a competent water deviner can correctly predict the presence of underground water more frequently than would occur by chance. A key term here is “by chance” meaning that the treatment well site (no water) as opposed to the where the deviner says there is water, (the control), has to be selected randomly. The researcher could throw a rock over their shoulder and mark the treatment well site where the rock lands. Now in order to control variables, this treatment location has to be relatively close to the control site where there is similar surface topography and subsurface material in the profile from the surface to the bedrock. The bedrock also needs to be at the same level in both holes. However, the deviner needs to check the treatment location to see that it is not over a stream or soak zone that they can detect otherwise both holes could produce water.
There will be many other variables in this experiment that will need to be kept constant (the controlled variables) along with the one just described to ensure the test is fair and does not favour any of the parties involved. I will design an experiment that outlines these and post it here in due course.
The second point I would like to make in reply to your reply comments is that none of the devining experiments conducted so far that I have read about are valid because they do not involve a well actually being drilled where the deviner says there is water. The experiments have attempted to mimic what a deviner might experience when devining which in all likelihood will not be the same as when a real stream is being devined.
I would like to see this experiment done. Maybe you can organize a group to take such a task on. You’re incorrect to say that past experiments are invalid. They are designed to test the ability of a dowser to find water or gold, nothing else. This article is actually about dowsing for gold, water is a hell of a lot more common and easier to find.
At any rate, the experiments performed so far are double-blind and designed to control variables such that the outcome depends on the dowser’s ability to find sought objects or substances. The experiments were not intended to test the ability of a dowser to locate a producing well, that would be a different experiment. Interestingly the participants in the studies were on board and were confident that their abilities would hold up to scrutiny in every single case, they didn’t complain about the design of the experiment until afterward. Of course, they all failed in the end.
There are lots of different types of dowsers. Some dowse for water, others for gold, some for paranormal stuff like ghosts. You claim to have the ability to find water in narrow streams and soak zones in Australia. Testing that specifically would be a different thing.
I’m curious though. You state that you have no idea how dowsing works and no theory as such. Why then would it matter if a dowsing experiment is taking place in an artificial environment or a real underground stream? To be scientific about the subject and your proposed experiment you’d have to explain variables such as that and how you’re going to control them.
What makes you think there is any difference between an artificial stream and a natural one? What would make the experience different? If you feel that other experiments are invalid because of that then it would be prudent to explore what those mechanisms might be. That just might be fundamental to understanding how you are able to locate these underground streams.
Hello, just happened to come across this article while searching for dowser info.
I can honestly say, I know 2 persons that don’t even need a rod to find gold and silver.
They are so focused, when they go out they find it every time. They can sense it because they are some how in tune with something.
I have seen first hand. So in my opinion a dowsing rod could help assist, but I have see. first hand that you don’t need any type of finding device except for your own heart mind and positive thoughts & and also an extremely pure heart not full of greed or dark thoughts.
We are all from the earth and we are all connected to the earth & universe, but most of us don’t know how to tap into it.
Just thought I would share my little story.
Thanks for allowing me to share
I have one question. Is your friend a multi-billionaire? If he or she has the ability to find gold and silver then there is no reason that they shouldn’t have accumulated more wealth than Elon Musk. Something tells me that isn’t the case.
Dowsing has been in the family for many generations. Oil wells in Texas were found by family members, 8 generations later family members I had never meet found water wells when none were found before.
My uncle would say you kids go behind the house out of my site and remove a leaf and bring it to me and I will take it and show you where you removed it.
My dad would take a y shaped branch and hold it and it would turn so hard that it would strip the bark off in his hands from the branch.
Personally a friend and I were in the barn yard with a water hose running into a stock water tank took two l shaped coat hangers and when I walked across the water hose with them they slammed into my shoulders with force.
It’s interesting how everyone who believes in dowsing has an uncle or a close friend who has amazing abilities to find things. When put to the test these abilities always seem to vanish.
I get it, it would be really cool if dowsing actually worked. It would also be cool if the story in the Lord of the Rings actually happened. Unfortunately magic and wizards don’t exist in real life.
Its been a couple of years since I posted a comment on your site. Soon after my last post, South East Queensland went into a severe drought. My divining services went into overdrive and I was doing at least one job per week in all parts of the south east corner of the state. On most of the rural properties ( some with 10 000 acres or more of area) wells and bores had gone dry along with surface water storages like creeks and dams. Cattle producers had to truck in water at great expense. New streams that still had flowing water of adequate volume, that were not too deep, or were not too salty were hard to find. This area of Queensland has been developed for over 150 years, and in that time, many an old diviner had already found the existing streams ( those old diviners didn’t miss much).
Last year it rained and it didn’t stop. Aquifers filled and the previous dry bores overflowed with water. The emergency was over and water drilling contractors closed their doors. No more need for my services either (until the next drought).
I have 2 good streams on my 80 acre home property. I have a bore on one of these (at a depth of 72 feet) that supplies the farm. Some time ago, I made a detailed plan of the exact path these 2 streams follow on the property. I did this in case my kids want to subdivide the property in the future and want a bore on each of their blocks. I friend of mine, Colin, who is a diving sceptic told me I was completely deluded as there was no scientific basis for water diving.
Since the continual rain we have experienced now for over a year and a half, my bore overflows at the rate of 5 or more gallons per minute. This shows that the top of the water level in the aquifer is higher that the top of my bore and the water is being forced to the surface under pressure. What is interesting is that 4 springs have erupted over a distance of about a quarter of a mile. The source of water for these springs will be an underground aquifer. What is more interesting is that these springs are exactly (+ or – 2 inches) above the underground stream I had divined and mapped prior to the springs appearing. I took Colin down and showed him and I think he is now a convert. This is an example of how science can use indirect evidence to determine something that can’t be seen. Scientists don’t know what is in the inside of an atom as it is too small, but we use indirect evidence to tell us what’s in there. The probability that I could have correctly guessed the location of the underground stream below 1 spring would be 1 in millions. The probability that I could do this correctly 4 times would be 1 in trillions. I don’t think I am deluded.
The other stream at a depth of 117 feet demonstrates a similar situation. The total length of this stream on my property is about three quarters of a mile. It is shaped like a giant hairpin. This stream feeds over 60 springs. I would be unable to estimate the total volume of water issuing for these springs but it would be substantial. This time the springs are mostly not directly above where I marked the stream on my map, but most are within a yard or so. Some are spot on. These springs straddle the underground stream on both sides foe the entire length of the stream.
I can understand that some people find it hard to believe a diviner can locate an underground stream using just a bent piece wire. Science has not yet worked out how they can do this. However the information I have provided in this post may just get scientists believing there could be something in this divining phenomenon. Until science comes to fully endorse the work of a diviner, I will continue to provide a valuable service to people on the land so they can drought proof their property.
I appreciate your enthusiasm for water divining, but I must respectfully disagree with your claim that dowsing is an effective means of locating underground streams. The scientific community has conducted numerous studies and experiments over the years, and the overwhelming consensus is that dowsing is nothing more than a pseudoscientific practice.
There is simply no scientific evidence to support the idea that a person can use a bent wire or other divining tool to locate underground water sources. In fact, studies have shown that dowsing practitioners are no more accurate than chance when it comes to locating water or other hidden objects.
You mention that the emergence of new springs on your property lines up with the locations you had previously divined, but this could easily be a coincidence. It’s important to remember that correlation does not equal causation. Without rigorous scientific testing, there is no way to know for sure whether your dowsing had any influence on the location of these springs.
You also make a comment about how science uses indirect evidence to make discoveries, such as the structure of atoms. While this is true, the key difference is that these discoveries are based on repeatable experiments and rigorous testing. Dowsing, on the other hand, has consistently failed to produce results that can be replicated or verified through scientific methods.
While it’s understandable that some people may be drawn to the idea of dowsing as a way to locate underground water sources, the scientific evidence simply doesn’t support its effectiveness. Until rigorous scientific testing can prove otherwise, it’s best to rely on more proven methods of locating water, such as geological surveys or other scientific techniques.
None of the studies I have seen on dowsing have properly used the Scientific Method to explore the subject. All studies appear to begin with the assumed hypothesis that dowsing will or will not find groundwater or flowing water or gold or whatever. The studies then go on to disprove the positive hypothesis or prove the negative hypothesis. This type of investigation moves in the wrong direction. To study the efficacy (or lack thereof) of dowsing, one should examine where dowsing “hits” occur, and then form an hypothesis as to why the hits had occurred.
I have formed such an hypothesis and have successfully tested it with verification. My hypothesis is that what is being found are minute changes in local gravity. Muscles in each arm, placed in opposition to each other when holding a twig or rods, respond to a change in gravity by moving autonomically in the process of homeostasis. This results in the dipping of a twig or the moving together or apart of L-rods. I formed this hypothesis about 50 years ago . I have affirmed the positive hypothesis many times (with verification) and have never affirmed the negative hypothesis. It cannot yet be called a theory.
Using the microgravity hypothesis, as a licensed geotechnical engineer, I regularly identify and then verify the location and direction of cracks in earth dams. In the most notable example, for a 2500-foot-long earth dam, 24 transverse cracks were identified. 23 of the cracks were found when they accepted water from a narrow trench along the centerline. No other cracks accepted water. Subsequent excavation of the downstream slope during repairs allowed close inspection for other cracks. Only 3 cracks were found that hadn’t taken water, and they were about 8 inches apart, visible but tightly closed, at the 24th location. Coefficient of correlation equals 1.00.
I have located buried culverts in embankments where the ends of the culverts were not visible from the embankment crest. Verification was then made from the toe of the embankment. As a potential proof of concept, researchers at the University of Birmingham recently (2022) were able to locate a buried culvert using a portable gravity gradiometer. Measurable changes in gravity permitted the identification a subsurface void.
It seems that if one starts from what dowsing may be indicating, dowsing makes sense.
While your personal experience and observations may suggest that dowsing is effective in identifying cracks and buried culverts, it is necessary to subject these claims to rigorous scientific investigation to determine if they hold up under scrutiny. This is the only way to ensure that we are not just relying on anecdotal evidence or personal beliefs, but rather on a solid empirical basis.
Ironically what you are doing is the exact opposite of the scientific method, see the part of the article that mentions cargo cult science. You state that you have affirmed your hypothesis with verification and have never affirmed the negative hypothesis. It is important to approach the scientific investigation with an open mind and consider all possible explanations, rather than starting with a preconceived notion and looking for evidence to support it. That avoids confirmation bias which you are very much guilty of.
The scientific method involves the systematic testing of hypotheses through controlled experiments that can be replicated by other independent researchers. However, you do not provide any information on how you controlled for alternative explanations or sources of bias in your own experiments. You are also making the mistake of starting with a conclusion and working backwards to find evidence to support it, rather than starting with a hypothesis and testing it through experimentation.
I agree that there are a lot of studies that are performed with poor methodology (including your attempt at a study) but the ones mentioned in the article are not. You can’t just deny those studies because they do not match your expectations, that is the complete opposite of science.
That’s so interesting! Especially the bit about the water test in 1979. I only have one experience and it’s with a drain pipe embedded in the cement of our back patio when I was a kid. Now you could clearly see where the pipe came down into the patio and where it came out on the other side but you couldn’t shine a flashlight down one end and see it at the other, so my dad suspected there were a couple of joints in it.
I found him out there with a couple copper welding rods, about 30 in long, maybe longer? Don’t know, I was 12 or so, so it’s been a while. Anyway I asked him what he was up to and he showed me the rods and said he was trying to find the pipe under the patio. So he held the rods out in front of him and showed me where the pipe was by walking slowly forward at what he hoped was 90° from the pipe.
As he walked, one rod went out to the left and one went out to the right. Now it turns out that he wasn’t actually 90° from the pipe, and the angle of the rods to either side showed that fairly clearly. But I, knowing my dad, thought he was pulling my leg. After all, I had also heard that dousing rods don’t work. So he handed them to me and said to give it a try. I did the same thing and sure enough it worked. Mine ended up at the same angle that his did. And I could step forward, and step backward, and the rods would correct themselves. Now, this could have been me moving them. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but I was more inclined not to believe him then to believe him so I’m not sure how that would be.
That said, the pipe was only an inch below the surface of the pavement, maybe two at most. It may or may not have had water in it, I have no idea, though I believe it was empty at the time or mostly so. It was about three or four inches wide I think, and made of PVC. And I have little to no doubt that I could bring someone back there blindfolded and they would be able to find that pipe the very same way. I have no idea how it works, and I’m not saying that it would work in the scenarios described above because clearly others failed in those. But for that house and for that pipe and with those rods, though I’m sure there’s nothing special about the rods, it worked.
Was I influenced by my father’s having shown me first? Possible, very possible. Could I have fooled myself into thinking that I felt a tug on those rods? Also possible, I won’t deny that. But as a child who generally lacked dexterity who would have loved to have proven his father wrong on that occasion, I don’t think that was him playing tricks on me, or me playing tricks on me, as it were.
But now you have me curious. Sometime when I’m back in the area, and that may be many many years from now, who knows, I’ll have to give that a try and see what happens. Regardless, if it only works in that place, on that pipe, then it isn’t much good to anybody, is it? 🤣 Even so, I have to wonder if he was playing a trick on me after all, and, if so, how he did it…
It is concerning that so many people dismiss rigorous scientific testing in favor of anecdotal accounts that support their beliefs. The article shows evidence for some of the scientific studies about dowsing. This is not an unsolved mystery, it is completely solved. Dowsing does not work, not even a little bit.
Somewhere along the way I must have given you the impression I was presenting ‘evidence’ against your article. What I was actually doing was telling a story of an experience I had and how convincing it was. I think your response was unduly harsh, but I can see how my last night have been ambiguous.
I understand you’re tired of people arguing the point; I would be too. I’m just making an observation: my experience doesn’t square up with everything you’ve laid out here. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong. That just means something strange happened that I can’t account for. On balance I’d say your mountain is clearly more credible than my molehill, but it has me shaken. I’d say it’s reasonable for me to express that.
I don’t have a horse in this race – it makes little difference to me whether dousing is a thing or not – but now I have to go find out for myself why that happened the way it did, and would be just as content to prove it or disprove it. It bothers me when experience doesn’t fit the data, and I’m of sound enough mind to figure it out. I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up debunking my experience. I’m sorry if my intention was unclear. Questioning everything is part of what makes me ‘me’, but sometimes inconsistencies have to be pointed out to me first. I don’t always get things right on the first try.
I suggest that you read the article again. The effect that you felt from your dowsing experience is called the ideomotor effect. I have felt the same thing. It seems as if something mystical is happening but it is not. This has fooled many people.
I studied dowsing with the hopes of using the principle to develop a geological instrument that could actually find resources. What I found is that there is no principle to be developed, just an interesting form of self-delusion. Believe what you want to believe man, in the world of science we depend on evidence, not confirmation bias.