Dowsing

Mungoman

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I've known Dowsers, and chatted with them and they all say the same - the body recognises what they 're searching for, and the twigs, wire, whatever that they hold is merely a display unit that magnifies the reaction that the body has.

Geobotany is another insight into what's below.

In Australia if you want deep water, search for E. camaldulensis (red rivergum). If you want gold, search for E sideroxylon (red ironbark) among others.

What do you do though when your out on the Plains where there are no observable rock formation to give you an educated guess, and you need water? You go to the local Pub and have a chat with some local colour - and nine times out of ten that fella or lady will be, or know, a Dowser.

I'm out on the western slopes and plains of inland NSW and we have a couple of local dowsers who are known for cracking it, as they say.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a believer in the science of influence and effluence, recharge and discharge, permeable and impermeable...but there is an indescribable art that is infallible, much like the rheumatic pain I get for 36 hours before rain.

What did Mr Shakespeare say :-

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

And I think that I'll leave it at that.
 

Krepostnoi

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I'll repeat that I have been present at an academic conference, hosted by a well-known, reputable university, at which I interpreted for a Russian researcher who proclaimed the efficacy of dowsing in his presentation and the attendees did not question his findings.

(Mind you, it wasn't a geological gathering or, indeed, any sort of hard science: the assembled scholars were historians and other such social scientists. Furthermore, the researcher was describing his team's work in identifying and re-interring the remains of victims of state terror in the USSR: the dowsing was employed to find the site of the mass graves. He said that they had never had a false positive. Unfortunately, there is a very grim explanation why that might be so, that does not rely on the efficacy of dowsing.)
 

Spookdaddy

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I spoke to a hydrologist many years ago about dowsing. In his professional opinion it was bollox. He said if you dig a hole almost anywhere in the UK you will find water, at most just a few tens of feet down...

Without discounting the possibility that this may all be true, it's worth pointing out that - at least in some circumstances - dowsers claim to be able to follow the course of underground water. This is less easily explained by the 'dig a hole anywhere, you'll find water' claim.

I was brought up in a rural, upland, limestone area - there's a lot of rain, but most disappears underground and there is often, ironically - given the high levels of rainfall - a serious shortage of surface water. It was already a dying art, but when I was a kid there was the odd local who would be called upon to pinpoint likely water sources, but also to trace the routes of sub-surface water courses*.

Again, I'm kind of on the fence here - but it strikes me that if, in order to address a claim, one oversimplifies that claim, then one is also in danger of over-simplifying the debunking.

*Edit: Worth pointing out that these were not professional New Age types, but people embedded within the rural community; generally I think, farmers or farm workers, although the only one I remember specifically was actually a local mechanic, who spent most of his working life under ancient tractors.
 
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bakelite brain

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Indeed, dowsing has been used for locating many things from minerals to people - or so it is reported.

Uri Geller told me (it's not big to name drop, Mick Jagger told me that!) that he made much of his money by map dowsing for minerals. Maybe he did make money that way, maybe he didn't.

I'm inclined to think there might be something in it - even if dowsing usually fails sceintific tests - simply because the idea won't go away. I realise that idea is not a rigorous application of logic; lots of crazy ideas won't go away, and some even gain ground (Flat Earth anyone...?).
 

Carl Grove

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Indeed, dowsing has been used for locating many things from minerals to people - or so it is reported.

Uri Geller told me (it's not big to name drop, Mick Jagger told me that!) that he made much of his money by map dowsing for minerals. Maybe he did make money that way, maybe he didn't.

I'm inclined to think there might be something in it - even if dowsing usually fails sceintific tests - simply because the idea won't go away. I realise that idea is not a rigorous application of logic; lots of crazy ideas won't go away, and some even gain ground (Flat Earth anyone...?).
Well, dowsing doesn't fail scientific tests, except when the tests are structured inappropriately. As I pointed out in my dowsing appendix, putting small containers of water a foot or two down doesn't relate in any way to the reality of the water dowser's task, which is to find a reliable and sustainable water source in a rock stratum to provide a constant supply for a community. Some Russian researchers have concluded that water diviners actually detect the movement of water through small subsurface channels. In Africa, some researchers have found that the most effective ways of finding water supplies in desert regions is through a combination of dowsing and hi-tech electronic scanners. If Sanderson was right, even the dowser might be dropped and a machine employed instead!
Yes, I heard Geller was hired by a number of mining companies. Of course, map dowsing, which seems to be nearly as effective as dowsing on the spot, raises a whole new set of questions!
I'm not sure why anyone should think the idea of dowsing crazy per se. It was (and still is, in Scotland) regarded as a useful tool which can quickly find underground linear structures, a lot faster and much cheaper than ground penetrating radar! I think the unhealthy relationship between energy dowsers and New Age crankiness is probably the cause of much misunderstanding today. But that is the situation and we have to live with it!
 

Mungoman

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Cite your sources!


Sir!

Being the Polymath renaissance, Wiccan anarchist Italian man that you claim to be - I would've thought that proclaiming stridently "Citation", would've been below you...

I remain your trusted colleague,
Jonathan DW Mullen Esq. Dip CALM, Dip Hort, Dip. Ag.....actually, just generally Dippy.




(Pardon my frivolity, the coffee has just kicked in.)
 

Carl Grove

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Cite your sources!
I have cited a major review paper of dowsing research up to the 80s in my revised report. "Scientific" research prior to Reddish's groundbreaking work was patchy and much of it irrelevant. Reddish seems to have been the first scientist in the Western world to have systematically studied the phenomenon from first principles, in other words applied a straightforward commonsense approach. In contrast many Russian scientists have -- however almost nothing of their published work is available in English -- but as a result dowsing, "biolocation", is widely accepted and used there.
 

Coal

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I have cited a major review paper of dowsing research up to the 80s in my revised report. "Scientific" research prior to Reddish's groundbreaking work was patchy and much of it irrelevant. Reddish seems to have been the first scientist in the Western world to have systematically studied the phenomenon from first principles, in other words applied a straightforward commonsense approach. In contrast many Russian scientists have -- however almost nothing of their published work is available in English -- but as a result dowsing, "biolocation", is widely accepted and used there.
Can you give me the names and authors of the papers from your report?
 

Coal

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Being the Polymath renaissance, Wiccan anarchist Italian man that you claim to be - I would've thought that proclaiming stridently "Citation", would've been below you...
I respectfully draw you attention to my signature quote :)

(give me proof any day...)
 

Carl Grove

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Can you give me the names and authors of the papers from your report?
Reddish, V. D. The D-Force, A Remarkable Phenomenon, 1993.
Reddish, V. D. The Field of Rotating Masses, 2010.
Gribbin, J. What lies beneath. Focus, July 2004.
Hansen, G. P. Dowsing, a review of experimental evidence. J.Soc.Psychical Res., 1982, 51, 343-367.
 

Frideswide

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Reddish, V. D. The D-Force, A Remarkable Phenomenon, 1993.
Reddish, V. D. The Field of Rotating Masses, 2010.
Gribbin, J. What lies beneath. Focus, July 2004.
Hansen, G. P. Dowsing, a review of experimental evidence. J.Soc.Psychical Res., 1982, 51, 343-367.

Thank you! I love things to follow up :) much appreciated.
 

Coal

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Reddish, V. D. The D-Force, A Remarkable Phenomenon, 1993.
Reddish, V. D. The Field of Rotating Masses, 2010.

http://www.second-physics.ru/lib/books/reddish.pdf

I'll take a look at that some other time, but you can all access it here. It's short, 40 pages or so, so isn't a huge read.

Did find this review of "The D Force" by the same author.

http://dowsing-research.net/dowsing/book_reviews/Wiseman - review - The D-Force A remarkable phenomenon.pdf

I also found an article by the same; "Dowsing physics: interferometry"

https://www.cambridge.org/core/jour...terferometry/3DAE8060882DCFC9049DAA839E410A71

My academic access has lapsed, if anyone can point me at the full paper I'd be most grateful.

Gribbin, J. What lies beneath. Focus, July 2004.
This chap?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gribbin

In any event, I cannot locate this article.


Hansen, G. P. Dowsing, a review of experimental evidence. J.Soc.Psychical Res., 1982, 51, 343-367.
This is a review of experiments that don't pass muster, and are even described as such, so nothing in this review actually supports the hypothesis that dowsing is real. Even the odd occasion where there appears to be a significant finding, statistically speaking, the methodology is unclear and the experiment can't be replicated.

As it says in the paper:
"In spite of the large number of investigations made into dowsing, its status remains unclear. This is largely a result of sloppy experimental procedure and or report writing. "
And;
"As indicated previously, to prove that dowsing is a function of psi, more successful, strictly controlled tests will be required. In most of the studies testing this idea, sensory cues were not ruled out. Of the three map dowsing experiments reviewed, one obtained marginally significant results. Further experiments testing the psi hypothesis should utilize map dowsing to rule out sensory information to the subject. It would also be desirable to conduct the testing with a 'real' problem. In short, the work investigating dowsing from a biophysical and physiological standpoint is promising but not totally compelling. Considerably more experimental work is required to support the case that dowsing is a psi process. "

I'd add to that last that one first has to prove psi is a real thing.

This paper better supports the proposal "Dowsing is not real".
 

Carl Grove

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http://www.second-physics.ru/lib/books/reddish.pdf

I'll take a look at that some other time, but you can all access it here. It's short, 40 pages or so, so isn't a huge read.

Did find this review of "The D Force" by the same author.

http://dowsing-research.net/dowsing/book_reviews/Wiseman - review - The D-Force A remarkable phenomenon.pdf

I also found an article by the same; "Dowsing physics: interferometry"

https://www.cambridge.org/core/jour...terferometry/3DAE8060882DCFC9049DAA839E410A71

My academic access has lapsed, if anyone can point me at the full paper I'd be most grateful.


This chap?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gribbin

In any event, I cannot locate this article.



This is a review of experiments that don't pass muster, and are even described as such, so nothing in this review actually supports the hypothesis that dowsing is real. Even the odd occasion where there appears to be a significant finding, statistically speaking, the methodology is unclear and the experiment can't be replicated.

As it says in the paper:
"In spite of the large number of investigations made into dowsing, its status remains unclear. This is largely a result of sloppy experimental procedure and or report writing. "
And;
"As indicated previously, to prove that dowsing is a function of psi, more successful, strictly controlled tests will be required. In most of the studies testing this idea, sensory cues were not ruled out. Of the three map dowsing experiments reviewed, one obtained marginally significant results. Further experiments testing the psi hypothesis should utilize map dowsing to rule out sensory information to the subject. It would also be desirable to conduct the testing with a 'real' problem. In short, the work investigating dowsing from a biophysical and physiological standpoint is promising but not totally compelling. Considerably more experimental work is required to support the case that dowsing is a psi process. "

I'd add to that last that one first has to prove psi is a real thing.

This paper better supports the proposal "Dowsing is not real".
It doesn't support that proposal at all, it shows that many of the previous studies of dowsing prior to Reddish's work in the 80s were flawed by wrong assumptions, ignorance of dowsing and geology, and poor methodology -- which is just what I remarked. By the way, I forgot to reference Ivan Sanderson's Things which devotes a chapter to dowsing and his own demonstration of automated dowsing.

As for psi being "a real thing" and wanting "proof" for that or anything else, I would remind you that proof is not a scientific concept, in science one can only find evidence in support of an experimental hypothesis which shows that the null hypothesis (of no real effect) can be rejected at a high level of significance. The number of studies of various types of psi showing high levels of significance is (in my experience in the more conventional field of psychology) far higher than many of those supporting more conventional hypotheses. In any case, where dowsing is concerned, there is certainly no clear evidence for the psi theory.
 

Coal

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It doesn't support that proposal at all, it shows that many of the previous studies of dowsing prior to Reddish's work in the 80s were flawed by wrong assumptions, ignorance of dowsing and geology, and poor methodology -- which is just what I remarked. By the way, I forgot to reference Ivan Sanderson's Things which devotes a chapter to dowsing and his own demonstration of automated dowsing.

I agree, possibly I was being a little facetious when I suggested it arguably provides better support for dowsing not being real than for it being real. It's a quibble though, in any event, there's no repeatable properly conducted studies that have produced results that can be replicated.

Reddish's dowsing work in contrast is anecdotal, uses himself as a self-report subject and generally fails to use decent experimental protocols (and I refer to Reddish, V. D. The Field of Rotating Masses, 2010. ). It seems scientific prima facie, but isn't. In reality he's showed nothing in this field either, he's perpetuated the poor protocols, methodology and personal confirmation biases so evident in the Hansen dowsing review above.

You stated clearly dowsing is real (you hypothesis that 'dowsing is real' is supported), I asked for evidence, I've seen nothing to support this hypothesis.

As for psi being "a real thing" and wanting "proof" for that or anything else, I would remind you that proof is not a scientific concept, in science one can only find evidence in support of an experimental hypothesis which shows that the null hypothesis (of no real effect) can be rejected at a high level of significance.
Re. proof: quite right, one's results only support or do not support a hypothesis. When I typed that I was thinking in rhetorical terms rather than experimental ones.

The number of studies of various types of psi showing high levels of significance is (in my experience in the more conventional field of psychology) far higher than many of those supporting more conventional hypotheses. In any case, where dowsing is concerned, there is certainly no clear evidence for the psi theory.

In any event, there is no support for the concept of 'psi' nor a definition for it in this context.

I've yet to see (in quarter of a century of Fortean interest) any properly conducted double-blind study of any type which provided replicable and replicated results to support the existence of any kind of physic abilities. By all means direct me to some as you've stated there are a number of studies showing high level of significance "far higher than many of those supporting more conventional hypotheses".
 

Carl Grove

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I agree, possibly I was being a little facetious when I suggested it arguably provides better support for dowsing not being real than for it being real. It's a quibble though, in any event, there's no repeatable properly conducted studies that have produced results that can be replicated.

Reddish's dowsing work in contrast is anecdotal, uses himself as a self-report subject and generally fails to use decent experimental protocols (and I refer to Reddish, V. D. The Field of Rotating Masses, 2010. ). It seems scientific prima facie, but isn't. In reality he's showed nothing in this field either, he's perpetuated the poor protocols, methodology and personal confirmation biases so evident in the Hansen dowsing review above.

You stated clearly dowsing is real (you hypothesis that 'dowsing is real' is supported), I asked for evidence, I've seen nothing to support this hypothesis.


Re. proof: quite right, one's results only support or do not support a hypothesis. When I typed that I was thinking in rhetorical terms rather than experimental ones.



In any event, there is no support for the concept of 'psi' nor a definition for it in this context.

I've yet to see (in quarter of a century of Fortean interest) any properly conducted double-blind study of any type which provided replicable and replicated results to support the existence of any kind of physic abilities. By all means direct me to some as you've stated there are a number of studies showing high level of significance "far higher than many of those supporting more conventional hypotheses".
Well, a definition of psi would I suppose talk about events that appear to run counter to contemporary concepts of physics and psychology. Obviously this would change as science develops and culture changes. There are many places and cultures where contemporary views accept and employ psi without any contradiction. I am not going to start quoting individual studies (and I suspect you would in any case find some reason to quibble or find reasons not to accept the results) but I seem to recall a meta analysis of just about all available studies of remote viewing that generates values of p that are all but zero.
I think the real difference between our viewpoints is that I have through much of my life experienced many "psi" (for want of a better term) events and so they are part of my background and as I know that they have happened I don't have to worry about "proving" it or finding evidence for it. But my impression is that the people who research such things have moved on from that anyway, and are (thankfully) getting more interested in a wider range of hypotheses about how and why it works. My own personal view is that 99% of such events happen spontaneously and that attempts to control them (which is what experimentation demands) will be unsuccessful. You can only try to simulate situations which might promote psi and there is no guarantee it will work. (For ethical reasons certain methods of control should be disallowed.)
As I am sure you know, 99% of scientific research is not subjected to the kind of ultracritical analysis that you would want to apply to psi. I think any reasonable person with no particular bias would regard the evidence for psi as pretty convincing.
I think Reddish's work is good and important. For a retired man in his 70s and 80s, working mostly on his own, he has explained a lot that seemed puzzling about dowsing and pointed the way for people with more time and resources to conduct the kinds of more intensive research that you might find convincing. If nobody -- not the new age dowsers, nor critics, nor open-minded scientists -- has taken up the challenge, I think that tells us a lot about contemporary science. Maybe the MoD have found someone else to follow his lead in a quiet and discreet way, and it is possible that the members of his informal group are still conducting work in this area. I hope so, because he made a real breakthrough, and it deserves to be extended.
 

INT21

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As I am sure you know, 99% of scientific research is not subjected to the kind of ultracritical analysis that you would want to apply to psi. .

That is a rather sweeping statement.

The single problem with PSI is, as you allude to, it's non-repeatability under test.

Almost all fields of scientific endevor have to fill this criteria.
 

Cochise

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I would emphasise, that in rural areas dowsing is accepted as a normal fact of life. No we don't know how it works. Does that automatically mean it doesn't work?

My next door neighbour is a dowser (and a steeplejack) and is frequently employed in that capacity, not by some deluded maiden aunt trying to contact the dead, but by serious contractors wanting to avoid ancient drainage etc..
 

Frideswide

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Archaeology destroys its primary data as it proceeds. Less so now than even 10 years ago - but it's still a much-theorised-about aspect.

In that sense at least it's full of non-repeatable experiments.
 

ramonmercado

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I would emphasise, that in rural areas dowsing is accepted as a normal fact of life. No we don't know how it works. Does that automatically mean it doesn't work?

My next door neighbour is a dowser (and a steeplejack) and is frequently employed in that capacity, not by some deluded maiden aunt trying to contact the dead, but by serious contractors wanting to avoid ancient drainage etc..

I sometimes think the dowsing ability is due to an understanding of the location, the colour of the vegetation, the pitch of the field, the type of soil, nearby natural drainage, the smell, even the feel of the land. All of this plus actual experience feeds in to the dowser's mind (perhaps subconsciously) helping him/her to work their "magic". The dowsing rod perhaps only being a prop, moved (again unintentionally) like a planchette on an Ouija Board.
 

Carl Grove

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That is a rather sweeping statement.

The single problem with PSI is, as you allude to, it's non-repeatability under test.

Almost all fields of scientific endevor have to fill this criteria.
It's not entirely true to say that all psi phenomena are non repeatable. There are plenty of studies that have demonstrated repeatability for small effects. The problem for someone like myself who has been scientifically trained and knows that psi events do happen is that if the aim of science is to try to explain all phenomena, then sooner or later it will have to confront the fact that not all phenomena are making it easy for us by allowing us to exert total control over them. Partly this is down to our tendency to adopt as principles things that work in some circumstances but not others, then to say (in effect if not openly) that the other things aren't important and/or don't exist anyway. In fact it is our ignorance that's to blame. In the case of dowsing, as you say, it works in practice but (until Reddish) we had no idea how. The theories that were put forward -- it's psi, it's deception, it's unconsciously using subtle cues -- overlooked the possibility that some natural force/energy was involved. Now we know what the energy is, it should be possible to determine how exactly different minerals affect the torsion waves and how the dowsing process works in more detail.. But I'm not that interested in that, but in why this energy seems to be correlated with time slips, strange light phenomena, ghosts, etc.
 

Coal

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Well, a definition of psi would I suppose talk about events that appear to run counter to contemporary concepts of physics and psychology. Obviously this would change as science develops and culture changes. There are many places and cultures where contemporary views accept and employ psi without any contradiction. I am not going to start quoting individual studies (and I suspect you would in any case find some reason to quibble or find reasons not to accept the results)

You may not like it, but a vital part of reading any scientific study or paper is to read it 'critically' (i.e. to actively question the premises and statements therein to see if they stand scrutiny) and question the methods and results.

The writer (or the hypothesis proposer) has to make their case.

As the Royal Society motto (paraphrased) goes "Take no one's word for it".

Otherwise you're just believing what other people are saying.

but I seem to recall a meta analysis of just about all available studies of remote viewing that generates values of p that are all but zero.

Point me at that study, do, that rather suggests "all the remote viewing worked". That would be an earth shattering result, especially if repeatable.

I think the real difference between our viewpoints is that I have through much of my life experienced many "psi" (for want of a better term) events and so they are part of my background and as I know that they have happened I don't have to worry about "proving" it or finding evidence for it.

That's the whole point right there. So much work has confirmed that people are susceptible to misinterpretation of events, due to a whole range of cognitive biases (all well demonstrated and verified), never mind false memories, that believing 'something' is true because 'something' happened to you has no empirical weight at all and is on the same level as believing in [insert deity of choice here] because you believe you saw a statue move once.

You're welcome to believe something yourself and you may not feel the need to prove it to or for yourself, but you don't get to state your personal beliefs as facts on that basis, without said beliefs being challenged and rightly so.

But my impression is that the people who research such things have moved on from that anyway, and are (thankfully) getting more interested in a wider range of hypotheses about how and why it works.

Sure, but a hypothesis is just that. It's repeatable results that support or don't support. Otherwise, it's just an interesting idea, story or coincidence.

My own personal view is that 99% of such events happen spontaneously and that attempts to control them (which is what experimentation demands) will be unsuccessful. You can only try to simulate situations which might promote psi and there is no guarantee it will work.

That's a convenient view (for you) as is means that rigorous studies that show no support for a hypothesis in any such area can be conveniently ignored.

That's the basis of a belief system, not a scientific theory.

(For ethical reasons certain methods of control should be disallowed.)

Well that's true. For example experiments (e.g. French, Haque, Bunton-Stasyshyn Davis: "The “Haunt” Project") , trying to ascertain whether certain conditions cause people to think they are seeing ghosts, by necessity, to avoid priming the subjects, may not state this is the object, but ethically one can't scare the pants off them either as this is also unethical.

As I am sure you know,
You don't speak for me.
99% of scientific research is not subjected to the kind of ultracritical analysis that you would want to apply to psi.

Yes it is. That's the whole point of critical evaluation of papers and studies. It's part of the training, as it were.

I think any reasonable person with no particular bias would regard the evidence for psi as pretty convincing.

Any reasonable person with a modicum of critical thought and an understanding of the scientific method would find otherwise.

I think Reddish's work is good and important.

I think it's bunk. Other well-known scientists, who's reputation is sound, think the same.

For a retired man in his 70s and 80s, working mostly on his own, he has explained a lot that seemed puzzling about dowsing and pointed the way for people with more time and resources to conduct the kinds of more intensive research that you might find convincing. If nobody -- not the new age dowsers, nor critics, nor open-minded scientists -- has taken up the challenge, I think that tells us a lot about contemporary science. Maybe the MoD have found someone else to follow his lead in a quiet and discreet way, and it is possible that the members of his informal group are still conducting work in this area. I hope so, because he made a real breakthrough, and it deserves to be extended.
No, he really hasn't.

I've read some of this work, after you pointed me to them and they prove nothing. It's awful to say so, but they are poor science by any standards.
 

Carl Grove

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You may not like it, but a vital part of reading any scientific study or paper is to read it 'critically' (i.e. to actively question the premises and statements therein to see if they stand scrutiny) and question the methods and results.

The writer (or the hypothesis proposer) has to make their case.

As the Royal Society motto (paraphrased) goes "Take no one's word for it".

Otherwise you're just believing what other people are saying.



Point me at that study, do, that rather suggests "all the remote viewing worked". That would be an earth shattering result, especially if repeatable.



That's the whole point right there. So much work has confirmed that people are susceptible to misinterpretation of events, due to a whole range of cognitive biases (all well demonstrated and verified), never mind false memories, that believing 'something' is true because 'something' happened to you has no empirical weight at all and is on the same level as believing in [insert deity of choice here] because you believe you saw a statue move once.

You're welcome to believe something yourself and you may not feel the need to prove it to or for yourself, but you don't get to state your personal beliefs as facts on that basis, without said beliefs being challenged and rightly so.



Sure, but a hypothesis is just that. It's repeatable results that support or don't support. Otherwise, it's just an interesting idea, story or coincidence.



That's a convenient view (for you) as is means that rigorous studies that show no support for a hypothesis in any such area can be conveniently ignored.

That's the basis of a belief system, not a scientific theory.



Well that's true. For example experiments (e.g. French, Haque, Bunton-Stasyshyn Davis: "The “Haunt” Project") , trying to ascertain whether certain conditions cause people to think they are seeing ghosts, by necessity, to avoid priming the subjects, may not state this is the object, but ethically one can't scare the pants off them either as this is also unethical.


You don't speak for me.


Yes it is. That's the whole point of critical evaluation of papers and studies. It's part of the training, as it were.



Any reasonable person with a modicum of critical thought and an understanding of the scientific method would find otherwise.



I think it's bunk. Other well-known scientists, who's reputation is sound, think the same.


No, he really hasn't.

I've read some of this work, after you pointed me to them and they prove nothing. It's awful to say so, but they are poor science by any standards.
I can see that you are the sort of person whose mind is made up and I doubt that any evidence, presented in any way, with high levels of significance, would make any impact on you.
Just to correct one false comment that you made regarding me, I do not "believe in the paranormal."
 

Coal

The Ultimate Skepticus
Joined
Jun 27, 2015
Messages
8,874
I can see that you are the sort of person whose mind is made up and I doubt that any evidence, presented in any way, with high levels of significance, would make any impact on you.
Just to correct one false comment that you made regarding me, I do not "believe in the paranormal."
Nice 'out' for you there Carl. Don't have to prove anything now do you?
 

Carl Grove

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Dec 14, 2014
Messages
1,509
Location
Bury St Edmunds
As I thought I made clear, "proof" is not a scientific concept -- it is a logical concept and a mathematical concept. It is also a legal term but I think everyone would accept that plenty of theories "proven" in court by virtue of convincing 12 jurors turn out to be totally wrong. I don't therefore have to prove anything, and if you examine any of my posts regarding this or any other Fortean topic you will find that I have studiously avoided ever using the term. Like I would think most people on this site, I have a great interest in the topics that "science" (as a social phenomenon) has either dismissed or (more often) ignored completely. I have experienced some of these myself -- I have never made a big thing about this, although I have referred to a few of these occasions in context. So I don't have to "believe" anything either. If you have seen a rainbow, you don't say "I believe in rainbows" -- that would be absurd. Belief is something, a kind of crutch, for when you don't know something. If you know it at first hand, the term is not appropriate.
I am in a kind of quandary with people like you, because decades ago, I would probably have thought, and argued, in the same way that you do -- dissecting someone's statements, analysing them, seeing their logical and factual weaknesses, citing scientific principles etc. I realise now that that is a kind of game that I don't want to play any more. (One change, for the worse, I think, that has taken place in science since my younger days is the accent on "peer reviewed papers" and such stuff, as a kind of general principle guiding research and thought. I personally think that demanding this kind of conformism is disturbingly similar to religious orthodoxy assessing ideas for possible heresy, or political witch hunts.) Sorry, interpret it how you will, but I don't get engaged in long ultimately pointless debates of this kind any more.
If you want to discuss dowsing or any other borderline topic in an open-minded and relaxed way, that's fine -- but I feel that trying to force spontaneous phenomena into a presently available theoretical framework is often a way of maintaining your mental status quo. Maybe one day you will experience something really significant yourself, and when that happens you will be faced with a very difficult choice. Whether to trust your own senses or your theoretical framework. I hope if that happens you will come here and post details of it and your reaction to it.
 

Coal

The Ultimate Skepticus
Joined
Jun 27, 2015
Messages
8,874
As I thought I made clear, "proof" is not a scientific concept -- it is a logical concept and a mathematical concept. It is also a legal term but I think everyone would accept that plenty of theories "proven" in court by virtue of convincing 12 jurors turn out to be totally wrong.

OK. Let's be clear. You have offered no solid support to several assertions that a phenomena is 'real'. E.g.

There is no doubt that dowsing does work,

I don't seek proof (leaving aside the semantic differences between 'proof' and 'supporting a hypothesis'). I only sought solid studies or experiments that support this (your) hypothesis. You offer works that do not support your assertion and no studies that do.

As you made the assertion, it falls to you to show supporting evidence that is decently put together according to well trusted principles. If you cannot do so, yet cling to your assertion, it is a belief system.

I don't therefore have to prove anything,

You do if you state something as a fact, as you have done above.

and if you examine any of my posts regarding this or any other Fortean topic you will find that I have studiously avoided ever using the term. Like I would think most people on this site, I have a great interest in the topics that "science" (as a social phenomenon) has either dismissed or (more often) ignored completely. I have experienced some of these myself -- I have never made a big thing about this, although I have referred to a few of these occasions in context. So I don't have to "believe" anything either. If you have seen a rainbow, you don't say "I believe in rainbows" -- that would be absurd. Belief is something, a kind of crutch, for when you don't know something. If you know it at first hand, the term is not appropriate.
I am in a kind of quandary with people like you,
Patronising.
because decades ago, I would probably have thought, and argued, in the same way that you do -- dissecting someone's statements, analysing them, seeing their logical and factual weaknesses, citing scientific principles etc. I realise now that that is a kind of game that I don't want to play any more.

Naturally. You'll always come of badly in this 'game' as you have no verifiable empirical support for your beliefs. If you have well supported hypotheses you can state them as facts. If you do not, then they're beliefs. You have a belief system.

(One change, for the worse, I think, that has taken place in science since my younger days is the accent on "peer reviewed papers" and such stuff, as a kind of general principle guiding research and thought. I personally think that demanding this kind of conformism is disturbingly similar to religious orthodoxy assessing ideas for possible heresy, or political witch hunts.) Sorry, interpret it how you will, but I don't get engaged in long ultimately pointless debates of this kind any more.

As you have no repeatable significant results that support you belief system, that's probably best.

If you want to discuss dowsing or any other borderline topic in an open-minded and relaxed way, that's fine -- but I feel that trying to force spontaneous phenomena into a presently available theoretical framework is often a way of maintaining your mental status quo.

My status quo is fine. I'm willing to believe in things we have not yet discovered or understood. But, even if a mechanism is not understood there must be cause and effect because, without cause and effect any phenomena are indistinguishable from chance.

I'm willing to embrace: the existence of a phenomena, or the absence of it, or it's attribution to (for example) the strange workings of the human brain.

You on other hand dismiss everything that doesn't accord with you beliefs and reject or obfuscate any request for evidence supporting them.

Which of us is more open minded?

I suggest, the reverse is the case, that you need to believe in supernatural phenomena as you cannot accept that your life-events can be explained otherwise. Random chance would be far too mundane.

Maybe one day you will experience something really significant yourself, and when that happens you will be faced with a very difficult choice.

You assume this hasn't already happened. You assume that I'd take such a thing in with utter credulity. And frankly the 'pretending to pity me' thing is very very old hat.

Whether to trust your own senses or your theoretical framework. I hope if that happens you will come here and post details of it and your reaction to it.

As has been very strongly supported by literally thousands of papers, studies and experiments, one's own senses simply cannot be trusted.

So, to be clear. Dowsing, when stripped of bias and other cues a dowser might use as a method of detecting anything at all, on all the available evidence, is not a real phenomena. We might say 'irrational belief in dowsing' is a phenomena.

There is no doubt that dowsing does work,

To state this is simply untrue. At best it's self delusion. At worst it's peddling nonsense to gullible.

In any event you're quite simply wrong.
 

GNC

King-Sized Canary
Joined
Aug 25, 2001
Messages
33,542
As an aside, there was a clip of a dowser on that Arcadia film on BBC Four last Sunday who was comically over the top. Like howling and jerking along with the twig. It's on iPlayer if you're interested.
 

Bad Bungle

Tutti but not Frutti.
Joined
Oct 13, 2018
Messages
3,611
Location
The Chilterns
It seems odd thinking about it now but I never tried dowsing for water using a forked stick as a child. I grew up as a semi-feral farm kid and I had a Fortean bent and water divining was certainly known about (no-one EVER referred to it as water witching in the '60s, but nor was it called rhabdomancy either) . It seemed so easy to try out, but maybe I never saw and tagged behind anyone doing it, or perhaps ghosts,witches, Department S, the Avengers, Denis Wheatley and the 'Wart Whisperer' was of sufficient mystery.
My older brother told me he once came across a team from Thames Water using a young chap with a rod - it was explained in matter-of-fact terms 'oh yeah, we've lost a pipe and he's the quickest way of finding it'. I believe my brother - I read that in 2017, ten out of twelve Water Companies still use dowsers (https://www.theguardian.com/busines...t-using-divining-rods-to-find-leaks-and-pipes) - but I didn't see it.
In 1979 I visited a friend who'd set up his new farm in St. Austell (Cornwall). The Water Board wanted £2,000 to connect him to the Mains so he asked for advice from other farmers. They recommended a Dowser that had given good results in finding springs. I got out of bed late on the morning and missed the Dowser by 10 minutes. My friend was given the site of the spring, the direction of flow, the depth and the flow rate (can't remember how many gallons per minute) and seemed well satisfied - I must emphasise this, no Farmer parts with money for something that doesn't work or is of no value. But I didn't see it.
*Interlude* A couple of years later I watched a prog with two Dowsers (one or both may have used a pedulum) trace the 'Primary Ley' from the Lizard upwards.They described a twisting male line and a weaker female line snaking down the country like a Ying Yang helix and where they crossed was a ley site. This was the first time I'd seen a pendulum in action and the first time I'd seen some-one dowse for a ley line. Also the first time ley lines were described as lines of power rather than an alignment of markers à la my hero Alfred Watkins. None of it made sense to me.
Next came a Fortean Times Uncon in London - 1991 ? I think it opened with a Procession of Giants (sounded a hoot but I missed it by 20 minutes) and had two days of Mind Lab experiments. I actually got to try rods to find water (in a bowl under a bucket). I was convinced I knew where the water was but the results were not revealed so didn't know if I was right and if dowsing worked. I was getting hooked though.
I applied to join a group from the British Society of Dowsers (BSD), who wanted to extend the mapping of London's 'lost' rivers. Meet at a Pub, walk down the street with a rod, draw a map. Fantastic, two areas of interest with one stone and a chance to mingle with experts, maybe they could tell me how it all worked. It rained and rained and rained, flooding of Biblical proportions - I didn't go. Somewhere in my Eudora folder on my Win98 PC is an email with the mapping progress made that day, sent by those wonderful people of the BSD.
Finally, In 2016 a local branch of the BSD held an open day in a Church Hall and I went with my brother. I was given a pair of rods and told to follow a thick blue nylon rope in the lawn to get a feel of how the rods move. When I crossed the rope, the rods swung inwards with gratifying force. After half an hour I then tried to locate the mains water pipe, this was surprisingly easy and was pleased when reaching the Church-yard wall to see a Water Board marker on the other side. Next I measured how far the 'bio-aura' of a small tree extended beyond the trunk - oh kaay - and finally before coffee I had to locate the resting place of William Penn (local boy) of Pennsylvania fame. This proved very difficult, not least because it transpired that although there is a grave marker in the Churchyard (which fooled some), he ain't under it (I don't think anyone knows where his body lies). Whilst traversing the green looking for ol' Bill I passed over the blue rope from earlier - not a twitch ! I found that significant (but can't say why).
I asked the Organiser how dowsing worked but only got a polite non-reply ('I offer no opinion', ie work it out for yourself) and after coffee we were introduced to the pendulum and other members of the Dowsing Society.
This did not go well. I could not get the pendulum to swing like a pendulum-do, I could not tell the difference with the pendulum between bottled water, tap water and vodka - or between an organic apple and an ordinary apple. Yes of course an organic apple has a greater life-force, it has more bugs growing on it.
My brother was fascinated (but not impressed) by a lady wearing a broad rim hat and an embroidered tent, pose a question, visibly move the pendulum with her wrist and then solomnly pronounce the answer. It was like watching a bad Ventriloquist's lips move. The earlier promise not to knock and be mindful of other people's beliefs came to the fore, but she was an embodiment of every New Age idea going and they can't all be right or even compatible.
Conclusion: rods move by muscle twitches, muscles move by Mind, which can be highly susceptible to suggestions. I found water (I didn't dig) and I'm happy with that - go try it for yourself.
I have a set of rods and have not used them since - I'm just too self conscious in public. IMHO Dowsing has moved so far away from water divining (as I knew it) as to be unrecognisable. Pendulums are not for me, although I have purchased a book on "How to ask the right question."
What I will try next is to run Dowsing alongside a metal detector - see who has the best discriminator.


 
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