View previous topic | View next topic

Dowsing

Page 3 of 4
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4  Next

Gray
47027.  Sat Jan 21, 2006 1:47 pm Reply with quote

Einstein also believed in the existence of Atlantis, of course.

 
mckeonj
47032.  Sat Jan 21, 2006 1:56 pm Reply with quote

Gray wrote:
Einstein also believed in the existence of Atlantis, of course.

Lets discredit Isaac Newton as well, for studying alchemy.

 
Gray
47053.  Sat Jan 21, 2006 3:11 pm Reply with quote

...and believing that Christ personally operated gravity...

 
samivel
47067.  Sat Jan 21, 2006 4:33 pm Reply with quote

Newton was very nasty to Robert Hooke, so let's give him a dusting for that as well

 
Fychan
47077.  Sat Jan 21, 2006 7:33 pm Reply with quote

First some background - like a lot of you here (I'm sure!) I was always accused of being a pedantic sod, who always wanted to know why, and didn't accept something without proof. (As an aside, my 4y/o daughter asked me a couple of months back, in the car, why the sky was blue. Everyone in the car groaned when I started to explain about refraction of light and such like...)

I also have a degree in archaeology, a Desmond admittedly, but I think that was because I spent too long in the union proping up the bar asking things like "what is the colour blue? What's the difference between a table & a desk? and when is a game classified as a sport?)!

Anyway, while I was on one of our digs (down at Fishbourne Roman Villa in fact), we had a session away from the site, on a section that had been previously excavated (1970's I think - I was there in 1996), where we were shown how to dowse. We used two L shaped pieces of wire, cut from coat hangers I believe. The shorter part was around 4", and the longer one around a foot.

There were around 35-40 of us who were there, and it only appeared to work for less than half a dozen of us, and much to my disgust (honestly), I was one of them. We were instructed to walk across the area and chant to ourselves (not out loud) what we were looking for, so while I was looking for the excavated foundations I was repeating "stone...stone...stone" in my head. As I moved across one piece of ground the rods swung completely (we were told to walk with them about a foot apart) until they were pointing at the opposite hand, and a step further on they uncrossed again.

Moving slowly over this area, it was possible to see them cross slowly, there wasn't a sudden cascade point , they gradually moved inwards. I found that they would stay crossed if I walked in one direction, any other way and they would uncross again within about a foot. In this way, I was able to mark where I thought the foundations were and the layout of the villa. When I thought "water...water...water" I could only find one line where they crossed, and they wouldn't cross again where they had until I thought about stone again.

I'd previously heard about the muscle contraction theory, so I put the 4" of wire into tubes about 1.5cm in diameter and held the tubes. The only way I could make the wire move voluntarily was to tilt my hands. It still worked as before.

Once we'd all finished one of us carried out a proton magnometrey survey (thing you see them use on Time Team a whole lot) and the results matched our dowsing.

[quote=mckeonj]I don't go along with the 'earth rays' thing, nor do I think that I am detecting 'springs of water'. Somehow, I am detecting underground disturbances or discontinuities such as fault lines, aquifers, old excavations, old foundations, perhaps by 'attending to diagnostic clues' such as surface profile, soil type and plant cover, geology, without being aware of the attention. Compare with crop marks (not crop circles!) used by archaeologists to spot ancient building sites from the air. [/quote]

This is one answer I've thought of over the years to try and explain what happened - I've never tried it before or since that day - another is that there is quite an extensive museum on site with aerial photos and plans, which may have sub-consciously influenced me. A third option is faulty memory and the magnometrey was done first... The problem with mckeonj's suggestion is the apparent ability of dowsers to change what they're looking for at will - which is not only evidenced by my experience with stone and water, but my grandmother said that she called a dowser once to help her find a gold chain necklace on she'd dropped on a pebble beach. He found it within 1/2 hour coiled in a nook between 3 pebbles, almost entirely hidden from sight. Not only are there no visual clues for this kind of thing (and no "earth-rays"!) but I had little experience for spotting growth patterns for stone or water, ceryainly not enough to make me able to do it without knowing how...

[quote=Gray]I'm much less inclined to believe these newspaper reports that say that such-and-such a company or organisation uses a dowser. I've heard claims that the army do, and some oil prospectors, but I'd be very surprised if it was worth their while. [/quote]

Just FYI I know of several archaeological teams that use dowsers on most - if not all digs - especially as it's fairly cheap to get them to walk around outside your site with a couple of bits of wire!

Apologies for long post, but wanted to make it clear that I am also a sceptic, yet it worked for me - and that I have tried to think of everything I can to explain what was happening, and why.

As an aside Paul McKenna (I think) did an interesting test on this, and got people to pass their rods over 3 upturned buckets - only one of which had a bowl of water under it. Using suggestion & visual clues only, he got all of their rods to cross over a bucket without water underneath... I haven't done it justice, the program was fascinating.

 
Gray
47096.  Sun Jan 22, 2006 5:46 am Reply with quote

But still we return to the biggest problem that dowsing faces - if it works, why doesn't it pass any statistical tests - why does it work less well than testing, even for the best dowsers in the world?

Until that is cleared up, no amount of individual success or anecdote really means anything. Individual cases don't prove anything - mostly because they're never repeated.

I once threw 11 'heads' in a row while tossing a coin. Once. Chance of 2048 to 1. I once had a friend who got 5 numbers right in the lottery. Chance of 1 in a few hundred thousand... But to not do either of those thing, many, many times is easy, and unremarkable (and thus unrecorded).

If it actually works, it must be possible to demonstrate that it works, surely.

 
mckeonj
47132.  Sun Jan 22, 2006 10:49 am Reply with quote

Gray wrote:

If it actually works, it must be possible to demonstrate that it works, surely.

But, gentle reader, this is where we started. Any dowser can demonstrate to you that it works, even show you how to do it. Possibly. like fychan, it will work for you. You wanted 'scientific proof'. I think you will probably never get it, but you already have pragmatic proof a-plenty, so rest content.

 
Gray
47153.  Sun Jan 22, 2006 1:44 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Any dowser can demonstrate to you that it works...

But this is the problem - they can't. Maybe they'll get it roughly right occasionally, but the whole discipline of statistics was invented to see whether 'a few times' are anything more than a random occurrence. Statistics allows you spot patterns in randomness.

My lottery-winning friend doesn't have a playing strategy that 'works' - he just got lucky once.

The far, far simpler explanaion is that people like to think they have 'special powers' to fight the seemingly random universe, and other people remember when they get it right, and not when they get it wrong, because getting it right is 'amazing'.

We certainly did start here, and we haven't really moved off this square yet. If it's so simple to do, why has no-one claimed James Randi's huge prize for simply demonstrating that 'it works'? For the same reason that Uri Geller can't prove his powers, or any of the other illusionists that understand human fallibility...

What's 'pragmatic proof', by the way?

 
Jenny
47161.  Sun Jan 22, 2006 2:54 pm Reply with quote

Reading through the links and the experiences that have been cited on this thread, it seems to me that if it works as the users of it say it does, then one of the reasons it wouldn't work in setups such as Randi was providing is that these are essentially artificial and would therefore remove those subconscious cues.

Why can't Randi and his associates pick an area of ground from a map, where nobody knows what is under the ground, and ask dowsers to work over it to show what they think there is? They could get several dowsers over the same piece of ground, as long as they kept them away from each other or did the test on different days.

 
Fychan
47164.  Sun Jan 22, 2006 4:10 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
<snip> They could get several dowsers over the same piece of ground, as long as they kept them away from each other or did the test on different days.


It'd be interesting to see if the different seasons affected the precision of the dowsers results. Perhaps in this way, sub-conscious effects of varying vegetation growth could be investigated.

Just a thought...

 
Gray
47202.  Mon Jan 23, 2006 5:17 am Reply with quote

Well, that's certainly the approach I'd use. I can't see why it hasn't been done.

Perhaps we should have a QI Summer Dowsing contest. I'd especially like to see how dowsing ability, as perceived in the semi-conscious mind, is affected by different strengths of beer.

 
Woodsman
47495.  Tue Jan 24, 2006 3:54 pm Reply with quote

3 for 3

I've had 3 intersections with dowsing.

1. The local water district worker was said to be able to dowse. A building was torn down by a contractor and the cellar hole filled with rubble. Unfortunately, the water service had not been cut off and removed as required - just shut off. As is common, there were no drawings showing the 100 year old piping location. Instead of digging up the whole mess to find it and possibly breaking the pipe, the guy dowsed the location exactly.

2. Having seen this happen, and expressing doubt, I was handed a pair of rods to see how I would do. There were two long culverts running under my property about which I needed to know the condition. The inlets and outfalls were unknown because they fed into a storm drain. I only knew that I was to walk perpendicular to the general run of the unseen culverts. To my amazement, the rods swung twice as I moved slowly over the ground. The two locations were verified to be correct.

3. A client needed a water well and I suggested using a dowser as the bedrock in the area of their house was known to be a relatively poor water producer. Bedrock in these parts has very variable fracturing, resulting in some very deep wells in order to get enough water, unless one hits the right spot. Our own drilled well is 430 feet deep. The dowser stated that at a specified location the wellman would get an artesian flow at 110 feet deep. The wellman went to 110 feet but there was virtually no flow. I came back the next day and found a dejected wellman as he had lost his drill bit at 116 feet and water was flowing out of the well head. It ultimately had to be tapped off to relieve the pressure.

Should I keep looking to interface with dowsing until it fails?

 
Gray
47549.  Tue Jan 24, 2006 6:57 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Should I keep looking to interface with dowsing until it fails?

Not quite sure what this means... Do you mean 'should you keep dowsing until it doesn't work for you'? Sure, if it works then I should go with it. If you can get it to work more than 50% of the time, you can easily make yourself a very rich man indeed. And cast serious doubts over a large chunk of science too, even if you can't work out how it happens.

How did the dowser in your third example translate the 'tingling in his arms' to a figure of 110 feet, exactly? And how do we know he hadn't inspected the water table beforehand? There are so many simpler explanations of success that supernatural forces need not be brought in. There's too much reliance on hearsay.

Someone wins the lottery nearly every Saturday at odds of over 13 million to 1, but the lists of those that don't win are not published. Should we assume, then, that the winners have a 'knack' that the losers don't have? Or are we selecting the statistics in a rather biased manner, concentrating on only the wins to strengthen our case that those people are somehow gifted?

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see dowsing work, to see if we have a biological adaptation for unconsciously finding water, but while there's no repeatable evidence, no mechanism for it, and many simpler explanations of the reported cases of success, I can't understand why it should be more credible than, say, prayer or ESP or telekenesis.

How can we distinguish dowsing from wishful thinking?

 
Woodsman
47560.  Tue Jan 24, 2006 9:55 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
How did the dowser in your third example translate the 'tingling in his arms' to a figure of 110 feet, exactly? And how do we know he hadn't inspected the water table beforehand? There are so many simpler explanations of success that supernatural forces need not be brought in. There's too much reliance on hearsay.


Thanks for your comments. I don't think I mentioned 'tingling in the arms', and I don't know how he came up with 110 feet, exactly. Inspecting a water table buried in bedrock is a little difficult to do. I didn't mention 'supernatural forces'. No hearsay - I was a first person witness.

 
Woodsman
47565.  Tue Jan 24, 2006 10:16 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
If you can get it to work more than 50% of the time, you can easily make yourself a very rich man indeed.


I don't think that dowsers around here make themselves rich.

In the case that was questioned, the search was for a good individual water well. The method of making the well was with a 'pounder', which essentially used a dropped bit to shatter the rock. The theory is that a much shallower well will produce more and better water, if the correct location in the rock is chosen. This process takes about a week, as in the example given.

Unfortunately, with time being of the essence these days, the 'drilled' well process has taken over. This produces much deeper wells because the drill tends to seal the shaft as it bores through bedrock, requiring more depth to get a minimum yield. The water produced is more mineralized. But it is fast; a much deeper well can be drilled in a day or two. And these drillers don't have time to wait for a dowser.

No need for a dowser; brute force takes over. Then once in the residence, the water has to go through a softening process.

When high yield municipal wells are being established, the search is conducted by hydrogeologists. So the dowser is generally marginalized.

 

Page 3 of 4
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4  Next

All times are GMT - 5 Hours


Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group