William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

On Dowsing—Guest Post by Ray Kidd

I dug a one-meter square test pit outside an 18th century ruined cottage. A “dowser” invited to test his powers stood beside the pit dangling a bob on a string. It swung from side to side. He declared, “There’s nothing in there.”

“Nothing all the way to China?” I asked. He grunted and went away. I’m not a fan.

Many or most dowsers claim they have no influence over the response of their implement, be it Y-twigs or L-rods. I sought to test this and made an isolating device consisting of a board of MDF approximately 1″ x 4″ x 12″ into which I drilled two channels, into which I fitted a tube of Perspex with the bottom blanked off. I then placed L-rods into the channels. I call it ‘HI’, for hand isolator.

A dowsing platform

The HI dowsing platform

I invited putative dowsers to ply their trade holding the HI. These were people who had tried L-rods and professed that they “worked”, meaning they had mysteriously crossed over at certain survey points.

In the HI, the L-rods form an unstable system when the short piece of the rod is held vertically; in other words they swing about uncontrollably. The only way they can be controlled is by gravity and tilting the board very slightly forward, which makes them point forward in parallel. The practitioners can then walk carefully, watching the rods and trying to keep them stable. No cross-overs appear. They can’t. Any movement is governed by gravity; the most that can be hoped for is that they swing in parallel to the left or right, or if the user has the upright section exactly vertical, the rods swing uncontrollably.

I had a colleague who was convinced she had dowsed successfully in finding graves in a cemetery in Turkey. I thought about this and the reports of dowsers finding underground streams. I also knew an electrical engineer who swore by dowsing to find underground cables. My MDF HI board showed (to my satisfaction) that, free of hand influence, the dowsers were unable to obtain any positive responses. So what, if anything, could the influence of hands do?

Great cats, when stalking, hold their heads perfectly level, no matter what the terrain. They concentrate on the prey to the exclusion of all distractions. The human fist is not naturally held vertically, i.e. as with a candle held upright. Relax the hand and the fist will rotate inwards (try it). L-rods detect this minute rotation and turn inwards to cross. Holding them vertically and still takes great concentration and effort, like lions hunting, to the exclusion of all outside influences. When moving forward, any change in the level of the ground will impact on the sensory balance, resulting in a distraction. At that instant, the concentration on the hands is lost and they relax, albeit imperceptibly. They rotate inwards and the L-rods cross. The change in surface level need not be large: even stepping on a pebble will have the effect. It will also be repeatable if the dowser retraces steps and tries again. The HI board eliminates these movements.

From James Randi’s Swift (vol. 2 No. 3/4, Jan., 1999), “The matter of dowsing”:

The Ideomotor Effect

We are witnessing here a very powerful psychological phenomenon known as the “ideomotor effect.” This is defined as, “an involuntary body movement evoked by an idea or thought process rather than by sensory stimulation.” The dowser is unknowingly moving the device of choice, exerting a small shaking, tilt or pressure to it, enough to disturb its state of balance.”

I suggest the sensory stimulation of balance receptors distract the eye-concentration sufficiently to allow momentary relaxing of the hands, causing the device to be unstable. This of course only applies where surface level changes are the source of the anomaly. 
 
Graves sink through time. Trenches with buried cables do likewise. I suspect underground streams or pools cause some sinking of the ground surface. Anywhere there is a change in surface level is probably sufficient to cause a distraction which relaxes the hands and causes the L-rods to cross.

The same theory can be applied to the twig. The hands hold the unstable fork under tension until the hands relax and the fork bifurcates to a new stable position, twitching upwards or downwards.

So there is a logical explanation. Dowsing may sometimes appear to “work” but not for the paranormal reasons commonly put forward.

Ray Kidd is a retired telecoms engineer.

45 Comments

  1. Dowsing may sometimes appear to “work”…

    Wouldn’t it be reasonable to say, “Dowsing works but not for paranormal reasons”? And if it works as you say surely people could be trained and the method improved on.

  2. And dowsers don’t record or report their failures.

  3. I’ve had a similar thought about your surface level changes theory. The problem is, I can keep the rods pointing forward over a lot of uneven terrain but they will cross at the water line or buried cable. I don’t know how, but dowsing has worked for me at least four times for me over the years. However, I knew there was a water or sewer line and I was just trying to find exactly where. It’s worth trying since the cost is one coat hanger. I’ll record a failure here. Last fall, I was looking for a water line I buried years ago so I wouldn’t cut it with a fence post hole. I dug on the spot where the rods crossed which was pretty much where I wanted a post. I started carefully digging and couldn’t find the line. So I expanded outwards and still no water line. After a considerable amount of digging my wife said, “If you are deep enough for the fence post and haven’t hit the water line then put the post in the hole and fill it up!” Couldn’t argue with that.

  4. I think that your explanation is too complicated. Dowsers “find” water or other things where they expect to find them. They may very well use visual cues and not be entirely conscious of muscular movement (Ideomotor Effect) but I don’t buy the tripping over terrain effect. James Randi, see the following link, has tested many dowsers over the years, after removing all visual cues, and they always fail.

    http://www.amazon.com/Flim-Flam-Psychics-Unicorns-Other-Delusions/dp/0879751983/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361547683&sr=1-3&keywords=james+randi

    It is interesting that most are not frauds: they genuinely expect to succeed and are surprised at failure. Although, they never agree to be tested a second time and soon recover their belief. It is a matter of recognizing the importance of a double bind test. We all do better on any task when we already know the answer and fool ourselves as to the legitimacy of the result. Of course, there are other effects, such as the ubiquitous presence of underground water. Occam’s razor applies.

  5. I am reminded of chicken sexers — no not peverts — people how idnetify the sex of baby chickens. They ruffle the feathers, and look at the chicken junk,and decide if it is a boy or a girl. But the chickens little chiken parts are too small to see. Most chicken sexers will tell you that they can’t explain what they are looking for, but looking at enough chickens they develop an instinct for it.

    But they are not using hocus-pocus L-rods.

  6. Saw it work once. On the farm we needed to uncover an old iron water line. The backhoe operator dug where we told him to, and around that area. No luck. He was able to find the line by dowsing. Though he did admit it didn’t always work. This was on a heavily travelled area, rutted by tractor wheels, which would seem to reduce the value of visual clues, or terrain. The dowser used a bent piece of iron rebar held loosly in his hands. I dunno.

  7. Rich said

    “Wouldn’t it be reasonable to say, “Dowsing works but not for paranormal reasons”? And if it works as you say
    surely people could be trained and the method improved on”.

    No. I specifically said “Dowsing may sometimes appear to “work”…

    The inverted commas are there for a purpose. I have seen a small class of students, being shown how to ‘dowse’,
    go into rapture when they managed to get the rods to cross. No digging involved. No verification of what they
    found. No declaration of what they were expecting to find. No, if the wires crossed, it had “worked” for them. Joy!
    I have no doubt many of them are still convinced that they have the power.

    Can they be trained and the method improved upon?

    Certainly. It is called surveying with a Dumpy level.

    Ray

  8. William Sears said:
    I think that your explanation is too complicated….
    No, I think it is very simple and logical. I have not read all Randi’s works, but some of the tests involve hiding water and removing visible clues. A large test in Munich (I think)some years ago also had a complex set of tests with water/no water in pipes. The dowsers also had no better than random success. I think the elephant in the room is that success is defined by finding water. Perhaps redefining the parameters to finding level anomalies would be fruitful.
    You may not buy the “tripping over terrain effect”, but then I did not suggest that. We manage to walk the hills and dales without falling over.
    The Hi test shows just how frequently our balance is affected. Ray

  9. Ray: Some of us manage to walk the hills and dales without falling over. Some of us have to watch our feet to actually do this. :)

  10. Sheri said:

    “Some of us have to watch our feet to actually do this”.

    With the Ghurkas in Hong Kong, they had an annual hill race (the cud race or Kud, or Khud?) They launched themselves
    from the top covering several meters at a time, landing on one foot before launching themselves again. There was no
    possibility of seeing where they would land before taking off again, but there was supreme confidence in their ability to
    negotiate whatever came their way.

    Don’t try this at home.

    Ray

  11. Doug M said:

    “Most chicken sexers will tell you that they can’t explain what they are looking for, but looking at
    enough chickens they develop an instinct for it.”

    I think chicken sexing is a lucrative trade, jealously guarded. What better way to protect their closed shop
    than to claim you need to develop an instinct for it.

    In my young days there was a chicken farm up the road. The chicken sexers tossed the males into a nearby stream. However there was no verification that the correct selection had been made, who knows
    how many false positives there were?

    After slaking our thirst in the stream, we came across the sign that said ‘Polluted water DO NOT DRINK’.

    Next day I had to ask my teacher what ‘polluted water’ meant. She said if you drink it, you die.

    I’m still waiting……

    Ray

  12. At least with respect to water, dowsers cannot fail. At almost every site in reasonably rainy areas, the ground is saturated with water in every direction some distance below the surface. There are no underground rivers needing location. There is an underground sea. You sometimes find underground rivers in karst regions. These are solution channels in the limestone.

    When I taught hydrology, there was at least one student every class who believed in dowsing, and most of the believers had actually dowsed to find a well. I used to point to the others that believers in dowsing were always in-season game if they needed a few bucks.

  13. Speed, And dowsers don’t record or report their failures.

    Something they have in common with a lot of academic statistical studies.

  14. Ray Kidd,

    There isn’t much cost in destroying a few of the girls as chicks (at least if you aren’t a cick), but there is a cost in raising boys to adolecense before destroying them.

  15. There is very little difference between dowsing and using a Ouija board to communicate with the great beyond. They both give expected results, users swear they are not causing the motion, both rely on unstable equilibria and the ideomotor effect, and neither require uneven terrain. You don’t spell out words by accident and you don’t find the desired location because of a misplaced pebble.

  16. William Sears said:
    “There is very little difference between dowsing and using a Ouija board to communicate with the great beyond.”
    Bringing in Ouija has nothing to do with the discussion, except obfuscation.
    “neither require uneven terrain” is begging the question, a fallacious argument (used in its correct sense i.e. when a proposition, which requires proof, is assumed without proof). You seem to be saying ‘because sensory imbalance has no part to play, Dowsing is based solely on an unstable equilibrium and the Ideomotor effect’.
    “you don’t find the desired location because of a misplaced pebble”.
    1) I think the evidence of dowsing tests (Randi et al) shows that the desired location is predominantly not found.
    2) Accepting the possibility that a physical explanation may exist for some dowser responses (whether resulting in a ‘correct’ result or not) is not to reject the ideomotor effect, but to introduce a testable hypothesis for the response, i.e. not the interpretation of the response. The interpretation of dowsing (or Ouija) is not the issue here.

    Where a disagreement exists between visually perceived movement and the vestibular system’s sense of movement, the distraction may be the source of the hands relaxing. I think that it may be a factor, additional to the Ideomotor effect.

    I’m not sure where you stand on this unless it is ‘the science is settled, look no further ;-)

    Ray

  17. At the, probably strong, risk of ridicule from others commenting on this article I can only relay my own experience. There is no doubt that dowsing is possible for some people.

    I am a property developer who frequently finds that utility companies in the UK have very poor official records of exactly where their assets are located underground. Before digging on virtually any site these have to be located. I have used dowsing since I saw an old neighbour using it locate a field drain on my fathers farm when I was a teenager. My father was completely unable to detect anything using this method but I have been doing it now for around 40 years.

    I have no idea how it works. All I use is a cut up wire coat hanger formed into two L shapes. The strongest signal comes from cables (any voltage, high or low) but it is unusual to miss a drain of any sort even if there is no running water at the time. Sometimes (not often)a reading is detected where no drain exists, but because we live in an area of predominently granite base, these ‘false readings’ nearly always relate to a crack in the formation with a very high water content although not enough to show any surface signs.

    As I have said I don’t know how it works, although I would be very interested to know. I have always assumed that electrical cables may be detected from some interaction with the magnetic field but I could be completely wrong. Don’t know what possible explanation could apply to water drains.

  18. I notice that some commenting on the article suggest, fairly reasonably, that dowsers may be fooled by their own involuntary hand movements or inadvertant tilting of the rods or whatever they are using. However all I can say from experience is that the signal, expressed by the movement of the rods, is much stronger than anything an involuntary movement could cause. Signals are just as easy to detect walking (slowly of course) backwards as forwards. On the sites I use dowsing on virtually none show any signs of surface work, in fact most have not been touched other than by normal farming activities for decades so it impossible to assume what is underground from visual inspection.

  19. A guest post on dowsing by someone who is not a real dowser? What’s next, a guest post about Hinduism by someone who has no clue about it and wants to make fun of those ‘idiots’ who believe in reincarnation?

  20. However all I can say from experience is that the signal, expressed by the movement of the rods, is much stronger than anything an involuntary movement could cause.

    That has been my experience as well.

    Also, I failed to mention in my previous comment, my dowsing results were verified by digging and finding the water or sewer line.

    Give it a try. Make a couple of L’s with a coat hanger and walk across area where you know you will cross a water/sewer/electrical line. You may surprise yourself.

  21. Really Ray, you seem to be determined to misrepresent everything that I say. Please read my comments a little more carefully and you will see that our only disagreement is that I find your interpretation needlessly complicated and thus too specific to individual cases. Regardless as to who turns out to be correct, this is a legitimate criticism.

    John B.,
    If you strongly feel that you have this ability than you should enter James Randi’s million dollar challenge as linked below.

    http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge/challenge-application.html

    You may win where all else have failed.

  22. William

    I had never heard of the “challenge” you linked, perhaps I because I come from the UK. I scanned the document quickly, however I am quite sure I don’t have any “psychic,supernatural or paranormal powers”. I have never once considered the dowsing I do in any of these terms. I am sure there must be a perfectly rational scientific explanation.

    I just find it useful. Your article has however got me thinking and if I have time this week I may well do a mock up of your “platform” to see if this arrangement has any negative effect. I don’t know if not having the rods in contact with the dowser, ie totally insulated, makes any difference. I will let you know

    Possibly you can also suggest an arrangement where the rods contact with the dowser, albeit minimal, can be maintained, even by just drilling a hole just large enough for one finger through the MDF at the bottom of the perspex tubes to allow the bottom of the rods to simply rest on top of the finger.This would preclude any possibility of exerting a twisting force.

    I’ll try your device first.

  23. John B.,
    Dowsing qualifies for the million dollar challenge and has been tested by Randi and associates many times. Under double blind conditions the dowsers always fail. There is a perfectly rational scientific explanation, if you are willing to except it. The explanation is that you are mistaken. Please read up on the ideomotor effect: many articles can be found on line. The following link gives James Randi’s description accompanied by an excellent demonstration.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMtuWymUzz4

    Ray, please note the lack of terrain discontinuities. Also, I should mention that the ideomotor effect was first developed to explain both dowsing and Ouija board phenomena and this connection is very relevant to this discussion.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideomotor_phenomenon

    http://www.skepdic.com/ideomotor.html

  24. Most attempted physical explanations of dowsing that I’ve heard have to do with electromagnetic effects, and your isolation board — while effectively isolating the rods from voluntary hand movements — also serve to isolate the rods electrically from the dowser.

  25. I’m not saying you are wrong with your explanation, I simply don’t know, but that would not seem to explain why I have been able to detect cables and drains on a site which was completely virgin territory and previously unseen. If you missed a high voltage buiried cabe, all I know is the digger driver would get to know about it pretty damned quick.

    However, since I have never been interested in exploiting dowsing for commercial gain, only for my own use, I can assure you I will quite happily try the experiment and if it does not work I have nothing to lose by letting you know.

  26. Maggie Percy said:
    “A guest post on dowsing by someone who is not a real dowser?” What’s next, a guest post about Hinduism by someone who has no clue about it and wants to make fun of those ‘idiots’ who believe in reincarnation?

    Maggie, a better analogy might have been “a guest post about ghosts by someone who is not a real ghost.”
    I assume Briggs must have thought there was some merit in the discussion to invite the guest post.
    However, can you define a “real dowser”. Dowsers are pretty well debunked as Briggs makes clear in his book “So you think you are psychic”. James Randi has reached a similar conclusion and the Munich tests are an excellent analysis of scientific testing that soundly refutes water dowsing.
    see : http://www.csicop.org/si/show/testing_dowsing_the_failure_of_the_munich_experiments/
    I think the assumption of getting a ‘real dowser’ also falls under the heading of ‘begging the question’.
    Making fun of those ‘idiots’ (your words not mine) is not my intention. In fact, if anything I was seeking to provide a plausible scenario for some responses.

    Ray

  27. John B said;

    “William: Your article has however got me thinking and if I have time this week I may well do a mock up of your “platform” to see if this arrangement has any negative effect. I don’t know if not having the rods in contact with the dowser, ie totally insulated, makes any difference. I will let you know”

    John, maybe William will be less than enamoured that you appear to credit him for the HI board. I think it is a capital idea that you build one and try it. By all means, if you would feel more comfortable, leave a little hole so that, say, the tips of the little fingers make contact. You could also try using just the tubes, that way you could see if insulating the hands blocks you out (as opposed to ‘isolating’ hand twists).
    Please remember though, that the HI board is not a device for dowsing. It only addresses the dowsers’ claims that their hands are not influencing the response. If the wires consistently cross when using the HI board when over a location where you previously had a response, that would be worthy of note.

    Ray Kidd

  28. William Sears said: 24 Feb 6.10.pm
    “Please read my comments a little more carefully and you will see that our only disagreement is that I find your interpretation
    needlessly complicated and thus too specific to individual cases”

    William, while I am always aware that we are singing from the same hymnsheet, I fail to understand why you find my
    suggestion “too complicated” (the bit about ‘thus too specific to individual cases’ you only now introduce.)
    In very simple terms, I made a device (HI) to counter dowsers’ claims that they do not influence the rods with hand movements.
    I noted that HI shows very well when the eye concentration fails to pick up on sensory balance anomalies, there is a loss of rod control. I noted that the natural position of the fist, when relaxed, is to rotate inwards. How is this ‘too complicated’?
    The ideomotor phenomenon is an explanation, but it doesn’t preclude other explanations, particularly one that has a physical
    coherence.
    Ray

  29. William said:24 Feb 7.41.p.m.
    “Ray, please note the lack of terrain discontinuities. Also, I should mention that the ideomotor effect was first developed to
    explain both dowsing and Ouija board phenomena and this connection is very relevant to this discussion.”
    William, you point to a video of James Randi debunking the million dollar applicant and say “please note the lack of terrain
    discontinuities”. If your point is that lack of terrain discontinuities and a debunked test, leads to a conclusion that sensory imbalance can not be a factor in a response, then that is a non sequitur. Besides ‘terrain’ is much to large a concept, ‘sensory imbalance’ can be a miniscule but significant effect when the brain is focussed elsewhere. I dare say you could walk up a flight of stairs and keep the rods under control, because you can see the discontinuities and make allowance.

    Dowsing and Ouija and several other phenomena are attributed to the ideomotor effect, but that doesn’t mean they are dependent on each other. In fact, given that one depends on the actions of a group and the other is a solo affair, I suggest the Ouija is irrelevant to the discussion, but hey! I’m repeating myself.

    Thank you for a most enjoyable discussion.
    Ray

  30. Ray, you seem to be misusing the term “non sequitur”. If I have made an error, that is certainly not the one. You seem to be intent on forcing me into extreme positions that I have not made. Of course, sensory imbalance may occasionally occur in the same way that outright fraud involving the conscious moving of the rods (or willow stick) may occasionally occur. My position is that this is not the usual case. I linked to the video because it is a good example of the usual case. Maybe you should send your article to James Randi to get his feedback, although he is a very busy man and may not have time to respond.

    On a slightly different tack, I don’t object to your attempt to separate the dowser’s grip from the swinging rods as a method to educate dowsers, but it is unlikely to be convincing. The true believer will simply conclude that the direct connection is necessary for the “energy” to flow and produce the strongly desired result. After all if the temptation of the million dollar prize hasn’t done this what will? Even after failure dowsers return to their craft.

    John B., Only after rigorous double blind tests can you be sure that you are doing what you think that you are doing. The easiest person to fool is our self. Couldn’t you use a million dollars?

  31. William

    I’m not sure I know what I “think” I am doing, if that makes any sense at all. I just do it and it works. Hey presto when we dig down where I detect a signal we find a cable, pipe or drain. Never can be sure which it is, although you can obviously guess from where you find it. As I said i’m going to do some experiments myself this week. You never know I could achieve fame, albeit modest, by becoming the first dowser to agree with Ray. That’s the freedom a total lack of commercial gain offers.

  32. William Sears said; 25 Feb at 2.09 pm
    “Ray, you seem to be misusing the term “non sequitur”.
    William, I use it in the sense of an inference or a conclusion that does not follow from the premises.
    Premise 1 was the youtube video debunking the dowser.
    Premise 2 was ‘note the lack of terrain discontinuities’. You did not indicate a conclusion but left it to be inferred. I therefor inferred you were presenting it as evidence counter to my case that sensory imbalance could be a factor in a response. I even made my inference clear by stating ‘IF your point is that……….etc.’ Therefor there is no misuse of the term ‘nonsequitur’.
    If you inferred a different conclusion, it would have been appropriate to make it clear.
    Then “Of course, sensory imbalance may occasionally occur “.
    Why not stop there? Instead you have:
    “in the same way that outright fraud involving the conscious moving of the rods (or willow stick) may occasionally occur.”
    It does not follow. The two are not the same except in that they may occasionally occur. Sensory imbalance may be a result of surface anomalies, they are likely to result from surface depression, which is a feature of buried cables, bodies, wells ditches and streams, more than occasionally.
    Thanks for the James Randi suggestion. I understand he is getting quite old and I’d hate to be a bother.
    Ray

  33. Really Ray, the burden of proof is on you. I am presenting reasons to doubt your claim, not trying to present an air tight argument in symbolic form. I believe that I have given many reasons, but you refuse to address them head on, but instead look for reasons to dismiss me out of hand, often by twisting my words. I think that we have gone as far as we can in our debate. It has been fun.

  34. John B on 25 February 2013 at 3:39 pm said:
    “You never know I could achieve fame, albeit modest, by becoming the first dowser to agree with Ray”.
    You would certainly be among the few dowsers to experiment with a mind open to alternative explanations. From what I read,
    the Ideomotor effect (and some intentional deception) seems to explain a lot, but so too did Miasmas and Phlogiston (around the same time). These last two have been updated somewhat.
    We are far from a hypothesis, only a few physical observations. However, if the HI board can negate responses that are otherwise showing consistently with dowsing, then I would suggest a close step contour survey with a dumpy level over the same ground. (cont……)

  35. John B said (cont…)
    The hypothesis might then be “An Operative skilled in the use of some dowsing tools can detect subtle surface level changes”. Of course there would need to be an agreed test that would reject the hypothesis. I can envision a field criss-crossed by back-filled trenches (nothing in them) The dowser selects three bearings forming a triangle and sets
    off, noting where a response is felt. Results are plotted and compared with the trench map and scored for accuracy.
    Certificates are awarded for achieving better than 70% hit rates. Failures are tasered.
    It would also help explain why you sometimes seem to have a response but can’t identify the type until you dig. Ray

  36. Ray

    Steady on with the punishments Ray. This is the 21st century not the 16th. Seriously though, I did get most of the materials I will need to set up at least a semi-scientific test, but because I’m so busy this week I probably won’t get started now until Saturday.

    Just to make clear, I never claimed to know with certainty atall what was being detected at any particular location, ie whether it was a drain or water main for example, until you dig.

    I don’t want to appear disrespectful but I think you are getting a bit too hung up on the surface level changes thingy. The signal you get is several orders of magnitude greater than anything a surface level change would cause, and if there is any doubt you just reverse back after the signal fades and it reappears. If it did not then you would dismiss it, but that would be very unusual. I feel that may be one of the easier problems to solve if I am going to be able to convince you. One of the reasons for my confidence on this point comes from having dowsed in ploughed sites (parts of agricultural fields) which were ploughed so unevenly even a telecoms engineer could have done it better.

  37. Ray

    I’m afraid your comments about Miasmas and Phlogiston have sailed straight over this simple builders head. That’s something else I’m going to have to check on this weekend now. Please, no more intelectual challenges until I get some of these resolved. Thanks

  38. John B said 27 Feb:
    “Steady on with the punishments Ray.”
    I thought it might set your digger driver’s mind at rest knowing the certificated dowser took the risk before he did. ;-)
    My brother was a builder. Two council surveyors were faffing about with an OS map saying it indicated a drain just here. My brother looked at the lay of the land and said “Anyone who knows about drainage would put it along that line over there.” indicating about 25 yards away. He was right. Respect!
    Rest assured I’m not hung up on surface level changes. I designed and build a magnetometer and earth resistance meter, both of which can detect all the buried walls , drains, trenches and graves I need, with plotted pictures to predict. No, I just don’t subscribe to the paranormal explanations, but instead of poo-pooing, I like to seek logical answers. I suspect you are the same.
    Miasmas were thought to be clouds of putrescence and the cause of plagues. Phlogiston was a nonexistent chemical that, prior to the discovery of oxygen, was thought to be released during combustion. (by doctors and scientists).
    Did they do tasers in the 16th century? I didn’t know that. ;-) Ray

  39. Ray

    “Did they do tasers in the 16th century? I didn’t know that”.

    Don’t believe they did. I was thinking more along the lines of burning for witchcraft and things like that.

  40. John B said 27 Feb.
    “Don’t believe they did. I was thinking more along the lines of burning for witchcraft and things like that.”

    I believe one English King had an unfortunate experience with a red hot poker, perhaps that counts. Ray

  41. Ray

    Ah I think you must be referring to Edward II and his supposed demise. Well being Scottish you’ll perhaps excuse me for not being too downhearted.

  42. John,

    I guess he was hot on innuendo…. English or no, it was a sad end.
    Ray

  43. I’m curious about your opinion of the non-peer-reviewed work published here:
    http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1567&context=water_rep
    Where the task was not finding water, but just a test of whether random people’s dowsing “reflex” was related to changes in the magnetic field.

  44. Douglas2 on 5th march said:
    “I’m curious about your opinion of the non-peer-reviewed work published here:”
    Douglas, I currently don’t have an opinion as I haven’t gone into it in sufficient detail. I had not seen it until your link. But I will try to get to grips with it, though at first glance the methodology is not clear cut. They seem to be comparing the data with a Poisson distribution using ChiSq analysis, claiming that a statistically significant rejection must show that the results are non random, whereas I think it just shows the results are not compatible with a Poisson distribution. The program they use is not made available, but they quote a range of various p-values (why?) inconsistently. The trial ChiSq tests for randomness against the Poisson distribution are given at p=0.5. I would have thought for consistency they would have used p=0.05.
    There are many other uncertainties but until I can understand the analysis approach, I’ll refrain from commenting on the magnetic comparisons.

    Ray

  45. Douglas2 said:
    “I’m curious about your opinion on the non peer reviewed work published here..”…”

    Douglas
    To test the scenarios set out in the paper, I created a random test bed in Excel.
    This simulates the folded paper exercise in the Paper with true Random numbers.
    Allocate a random number of positive ‘hits’ between 2 and 30 from each of 17 ‘dowsers’.
    This simulates how many ‘hits’ each dowser records per line in a test.
    Allocate a random number between 1 and 120 for each positive ‘dowser’ hit.
    This sets where the hit is recorded in the line. Sum across each line slot (1-120).
    Count the frequency total of hits for values 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12.
    Iterate by stepping forward 1 slot from 1 to 114. Here each window is one step wide.
    Do a ChiSq analysis. If ChiSq > ChiSq(p=0.05) reject Ho.

    Ho:The number of hits per window follows a Poisson Distribution (i.e.random)
    H1: Reject Ho. The number of hits per window does NOT follow a Poisson Distribution.

    Result 1: Only iteration 1 does not reject the Null Hypothesis.

    Iter No. Deg F DF ChiSq ChiSq P=.05 Reject Ho
    1 6 11.89 12.59 No
    2 6 14.05 12.59 Yes
    3 6 14.05 12.59 Yes
    4 6 12.61 12.59 Yes
    5 6 12.61 12.59 Yes
    6 6 13.00 12.59 Yes

    Now make each window 6 steps wide. (simulates 6 x 6″ steps in a 36″ window)
    Iterate by stepping forward 1 slot from 1 to 114.
    Count the frequency total of hits for values 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19.
    Do a ChiSq analysis. If ChiSq > ChiSq(p=0.05) reject Ho.

    Ho:The number of hits per window follows a Poisson Distribution (i.e.random)
    H1: Reject Ho. The number of hits per slot does NOT follow a Poisson Distribution.

    Result 2: All six iterations reject the Null Hypothesis.

    Iter No. Deg F DF ChiSq ChiSq P=.05 Reject Ho
    1 11 245.75 19.68 Yes
    2 11 230.66 19.68 Yes
    3 11 223.97 19.68 Yes
    4 11 214.10 19.68 Yes
    5 11 209.61 19.68 Yes
    6 11 206.33 19.68 Yes

    So a Random set of numbers is rejected as NOT following a Poisson Distribution!

    By the logic of the Paper, this would be classed as evidence that there is ‘statistically significant’
    evidence for non randomness in the results.

    If the methodology is not capable of recognising random test data,
    then there can be no trust in any of the results with real data, calling into question the results of the paper.

    The computer program used in the paper may be suspect. Perhaps the treatment of
    Degrees of Freedom neglects low count theoretic frequencies and the double use of Lambda (mu)

    Ray Kidd

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