logo



Dowsing discredited: You can't find water or unmarked graves with magic wands

Tony Casey • Dec 31, 2015 at 12:40 AM

Just like you can’t squeeze water from a rock, you also can’t find underground wells of water with magic wands.

Despite what you may have heard, the practice of dowsing is bunk. Without evidence to support it — despite the many attempts to validate it — it continues on through the ages as a popular way to “find” water.

There are entire societies dedicated to the act of dowsing, or using some kind of very basic elongated prongs or apparatus to locate water hidden below the Earth’s surface, but at their base, these societies are as substantiated as societies involved with palmistry. It is much like the Mormon faith founder Joseph Smith’s alleged ability to use “seer stone” crystals as means of finding hidden treasure, despite his well documented legal history as a con man.

Now, I have no issues with wandering about, looking for water. In fact, I agree with the need represented at the base of dowsing. We all need to find more fresh water, but that’s where we diverge. Dowsers believe their “L-rods” find this fresh water, whereas I believe that through conservation and proper planning, with the help of companies and cooperation of big businesses — which we’ve, in general, not had so far — we can preserve the water we have and maintain the natural cycle.

Please note the word “natural” was used intentionally, as its definition pertains to things that can be verified by science. Dowsing, of course, doesn’t meet the requirements needed for it to be deemed natural. There’s a reason local ghost hunters and tour guides also teach dowsing classes. I appreciate activities that are all for fun, but to sell dowsing, or ghost tours for that matter, as anything but fun is dishonest and worthy of some ridicule.

I shudder in fear and disappointment when I think about lower-income property owners who surpass the proper avenues for finding underground water sources and bring in a dowser, who have been known to charge for their services, or lack there of. The practice has also been used to find unmarked graves or tumors, and this is where I believe the level of ridicule deserves to be upped. When you’re dealing with the shaky emotional states of people who’ve lost loved ones or are about to, you shouldn’t consult a con person for solace. This is where the truth is the only thing that matters.

If you’ve never heard of James Randi, he might be worthy of your immediate attention. Since 1964, Randi, through his foundation, offered initially $1,000, then $10,000 and then ultimately $1 million to anyone who could, under a scientific setting, prove anything outside the natural world. Over the years, thousands of psychics, spoon benders, mystics, magnetists, human electric producers, many kinds of dowsers and many other who allegedly worked with the paranormal or supernatural tried and failed to claim the prize.

With Randi’s declining health, the challenge was discontinued with a perfect record for science and nothing was substantiated outside of it.

One shining example of a dowser who took up Randi’s challenge took place in 1979 when four Italian dowsers predicted, even under Randi’s stringent conditions, that they would be near perfect in their dowsing abilities. Needless to say, all four failed the tests, and that wasn’t the first or last time dowsers failed.

No scientific study has come out to verify any kind of dowsing either. That’s not by mistake.

The practice is said to have been around in and used throughout world history for many thousand years, but that, also, doesn’t make it any more credible.

Email Tony Casey at [email protected]. Follow Tony Casey on Twitter @TonyCaseyJCP. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonycaseyjournalist.

Johnson City Press Videos