Dowsing

RaM

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Can’t say for sure but I thought they were normal mild steel welding rods I have a pair somewhere knocking about the ones I have are
They have a plastic tube that the short bit goes
Through so there’s less friction but just welding rods
 
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Floyd1

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I remember as a child making a set using coat hangers and the part you hold went into the outer plastic casing of felt pens. I seem to remember that they worked, but it was so long ago I can't be certain about that. (There was always someone dowsing on tv back in the 70s).
 

Carl Grove

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I’ve seen utilities workers use dousing rods and as the others were not rolling around laughing I suspect it worked
There's no doubt that it works, it's nothing to do with any "special powers" of the dowsers, although they might prefer to believe that. But it's long been used as a quick way for engineers to check on buried obstructions when about to work there. Dowsing for water is a more specialised job, but the experts can tell you where the water is, at what depth, and whether it's suitable for trying to extract it. There was a recent controlled study in Zimbabwe that compared the effectiveness of two high tech methods with that of an experienced dowser. The result was that all three located the same water source, but of course the dowser was far more cost-effective than the high tech methods!
 

Bad Bungle

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Our Waterboard uses pigs. These get stuck, which is when the dowser gets called in to locate them.
 

Sharon Hill

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There's no doubt that it works, it's nothing to do with any "special powers" of the dowsers, although they might prefer to believe that. But it's long been used as a quick way for engineers to check on buried obstructions when about to work there. Dowsing for water is a more specialised job, but the experts can tell you where the water is, at what depth, and whether it's suitable for trying to extract it. There was a recent controlled study in Zimbabwe that compared the effectiveness of two high tech methods with that of an experienced dowser. The result was that all three located the same water source, but of course the dowser was far more cost-effective than the high tech methods!
I'd say there is PLENTY of doubt that it works. It's been tested repeatedly and failed. Of course, it's been tested where it doesn't fail and there the questions arise. If we have no mechanism, the doubt will remain.
 

Carl Grove

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I'd say there is PLENTY of doubt that it works. It's been tested repeatedly and failed. Of course, it's been tested where it doesn't fail and there the questions arise. If we have no mechanism, the doubt will remain.
It hasn't been tested very effectively in the past, but the recent work by Reddish and the Russian research have established not only that it works, but identified a mechanism. I suggest you check out Reddish's two small books on the subject, The D Force, and The Field of Rotating Masses. A good review of the older, rather less competent studies is:
Hansen, G. P. Dowsing, a review of experimental evidence. Journal of the Society for
Psychical Research
, 1982, 51, 343-367.
There is also a very interesting article by the Fortean researcher Ivan Sanderson:
Sanderson, Ivan. "Mechanical Dowsing," in More Things (1969). In this he describes a simple demonstration to determine that the attraction between the dowsing rods is not (as is usually casually assumed by both dowsers and sceptics) due to unconscious movements, but is a real physical attraction. Reddish also had photos taken of his hands while the rods were, or were not, responding to buried linear structures, and showed that hand movements were not involved. In some demonstrations of dowsing, you can see clearly that the movement of the rods is not being influenced by the dowser's hands.
There are also instances where the response has been so strong that the rods or stick have actually been torn from the dowser's fingers.
There are two problems in studying the subject that tend to be neglected. One is that a majority of dowsers are committed to "New Age" beliefs and ideas, and this actively discourages researchers who might be able to contribute new ideas to the field. Another is that once people think that they are something special in being able to dowse, they are not going to welcome evidence that it is a purely physical process (aside from the skills and knowledge of dowsers in interpreting the movements of the rods).
 

Sharon Hill

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Why aren't we seeing these types of responses in other situations all around us? If it's demonstrable, why is it not obvious? Why are there still so many errors? Why do we still need technological mechanisms that measure actual properties like resistivity and conductivity? To me, dowsing is like naturopathy. It takes some belief and stretching of the results to sound good. It utterly fails as a predictive theory.
 

Carl Grove

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Why aren't we seeing these types of responses in other situations all around us? If it's demonstrable, why is it not obvious? Why are there still so many errors? Why do we still need technological mechanisms that measure actual properties like resistivity and conductivity? To me, dowsing is like naturopathy. It takes some belief and stretching of the results to sound good. It utterly fails as a predictive theory.
Dowsing is not a theory, it is -- whether you like it or not -- an effective way of getting info about things underground. Belief has nothing to do with it at all. It has been used for a long time because it works and has been of practical value to mankind. We are, at last, starting to understand how it works, thanks to the Russian researchers and Vincent Reddish. Nobody needs to stretch any results, because they speak for themselves. In Russia it has been completely accepted. Most Geology graduates there go on to take a course in Dowsing, and it has been credited with enabling Russia to locate valuable mineral deposits and hence promote economic growth. Most UK utility suppliers apparently use it as a fast way of locating pipes underground. During WW2, it was possible in London to quickly repair power supplies following the devastation caused by the Blitz even when all visual clues to the cable locations had been obliterated -- because all London Electricity Board inspectors were trained in dowsing.
 

Bad Bungle

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Why aren't we seeing these types of responses in other situations all around us? If it's demonstrable, why is it not obvious? Why are there still so many errors? Why do we still need technological mechanisms that measure actual properties like resistivity and conductivity? To me, dowsing is like naturopathy. It takes some belief and stretching of the results to sound good. It utterly fails as a predictive theory.
I mean absolutely no disrespect Sharon but interested if you have tried dowsing rods yourself.
 

Sharon Hill

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I mean absolutely no disrespect Sharon but interested if you have tried dowsing rods yourself.
Of course! It's very easy to understand it when you are aware of the ideomotor effect and very easy to misinterpret the response when you don't.
 

Sharon Hill

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Dowsing is not a theory, it is -- whether you like it or not -- an effective way of getting info about things underground. Belief has nothing to do with it at all. It has been used for a long time because it works and has been of practical value to mankind. We are, at last, starting to understand how it works, thanks to the Russian researchers and Vincent Reddish. Nobody needs to stretch any results, because they speak for themselves. In Russia it has been completely accepted. Most Geology graduates there go on to take a course in Dowsing, and it has been credited with enabling Russia to locate valuable mineral deposits and hence promote economic growth. Most UK utility suppliers apparently use it as a fast way of locating pipes underground. During WW2, it was possible in London to quickly repair power supplies following the devastation caused by the Blitz even when all visual clues to the cable locations had been obliterated -- because all London Electricity Board inspectors were trained in dowsing.
You're right; it doesn't matter whether I like it or not. Evidence matters and there is only weak evidence to substantiate dowsing. So, I'm going to stay with the more reasonable bet that it doesn't work as described.

If it was so effective, we wouldn't need more technological methods. As a geologist, we DO NOT go looking for karst voids, well locations, mineral deposits, etc. with dowsing rods. We don't use shamans to locate gas or water wells. They may have worked in the past as a good guess using surface clues (like changes in topography, rock type, or soils) but past processes that were "good enough" at the time are not good enough for modern times. Sorry, but any use of "apparently" and claims without good evidence are of no use to me. Dowsing as a claim is a big one and, thus, considerable and strong evidence is required to validate it - which should eventually have lead to an explanation for it. Yet, even though it's been "used for a long time" (meaning centuries) the explanation has not been forthcoming.
https://spookygeology.com/witching-for-water/

By the way, US utility companies do not use dowsing. I'd also wonder if very many UK use it anymore. Back in 2017, they got slammed for the practice. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-42070719
 

ramonmercado

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I found an old post of mine on the topic and I'll stick by that. Imho this could be an explanation of how it works when it works:

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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You're right; it doesn't matter whether I like it or not. Evidence matters and there is only weak evidence to substantiate dowsing. So, I'm going to stay with the more reasonable bet that it doesn't work as described.

If it was so effective, we wouldn't need more technological methods. As a geologist, we DO NOT go looking for karst voids, well locations, mineral deposits, etc. with dowsing rods. We don't use shamans to locate gas or water wells. They may have worked in the past as a good guess using surface clues (like changes in topography, rock type, or soils) but past processes that were "good enough" at the time are not good enough for modern times. Sorry, but any use of "apparently" and claims without good evidence are of no use to me. Dowsing as a claim is a big one and, thus, considerable and strong evidence is required to validate it - which should eventually have lead to an explanation for it. Yet, even though it's been "used for a long time" (meaning centuries) the explanation has not been forthcoming.
https://spookygeology.com/witching-for-water/

By the way, US utility companies do not use dowsing. I'd also wonder if very many UK use it anymore. Back in 2017, they got slammed for the practice. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-42070719
I can understand your answer in the context of the stories and poor information that you are basing it on, but since you have clearly not looked at the specific sources that I described, especially the key research of Reddish, there is little point in continuing any discussion. The reluctance to examine evidence that might run counter to your beliefs is a normal reaction, of course. The explanation that torsion fields seem to be the most plausible answer may or may not be correct, but it does provide an avenue of approach to the mystery. The fact that dowsing rods have been shown to react to underground materials completely independently of human operators should surely be a strong indication that the role of the dowser has been long misunderstood. When you say that British utilities got criticised for using dowsing, you need to see who was criticising them and why. If you check more sources for that story, you will find that it provoked a backlash from people who had been helped by dowsers or had seen it in operation, and knew that it did work. The first thing we need to do is to strip dowsing of the New Age aura that has surrounded and distorted our perceptions of it, linking it with all kinds of fanciful nonsense. It is a physical effect that needs to be thoroughly studied.
 

Sharon Hill

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We're up to about 100 years of studying dowsing. Still no solid results, no mechanism. How long do we keep studying it when the world has moved on?
 

Carl Grove

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We're up to about 100 years of studying dowsing. Still no solid results, no mechanism. How long do we keep studying it when the world has moved on?
No mechanism? When Reddish was able to confirm the Russian findings about the role of torsion that had been given him by the MoD? When he was able to confirm that variations in the strength of the dowsing response were dependent upon the relative positions of the Earth and the Sun? When he was even able to confirm that torsion could be used to transmit Morse code? When the most powerful and reliable finding previously reported by researchers, that dowsers are abnormally sensitive to magnetic fields, is explicable by torsion (since all magnets generate torsion)? I have a feeling that you haven't bothered to check out any of the basic references that I gave a while back!
 

EnolaGaia

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Dowsing for the dead ... A law enforcement consultant has promoted dowsing techniques for locating bodies, and some law enforcement personnel have claimed the technique proved useful.
Bloke uses bizarre 'witching' technique to help teach police to find corpses

Forensics expert Arpad Vass has researched dozens of revolutionary techniques in order to find the victims of murder.

He’s working on a technique called "decomposition odour analysis", or "DOA", which he claims will help to identify the distinctive gases that are produced by decomposing human bodies and has even suggested the use of “cyborg” flies implanted with a tracking chip to find dead bodies.

Using flies as detectives “would have worked great,” he said, “but birds eat flies. I lost most of my trackers.”

But perhaps Vass’s strangest crime-detecting innovation is an ancient paranormal technique that was once seen as “witchcraft”. ...

Vass, 62, is teaching detectives the ancient art of “witching,” or “divining” in order to locate buried human remains.

He teaches the technique at the University of Tennessee's renowned Forensic Anthropology Centre, known to Vass’s students as the Body Farm. ...

He told The Marshall Project that metal dowsing rods can pick up on microscopic electrical charges that build up in bones under pressure – for example bones buried in a shallow grave.

Not everyone can dowse for bodies, he says, because “if people don’t have the right voltage, it’s not going to work.” ...

Vass says that the technique will only work to find dead bodies.

“The electric field you’re generating from your bone is dissipating through the water and moisture in your skin, so it ends up being so weak,” he explains.

“The rods won’t detect you if you are alive. You have to be about two to three hours dead before this will work.”

There’s no scientific evidence to support Vass’s claims, and some lawyers have actively opposed his techniques. ...

Chris Fabricant, from justice reform group The innocence Project, expressed his concern that Agent Todd Crosby, from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, had been allowed to demonstrate to a jury how he had located the body of murdered beauty queen Tara Grinstead using “witching”.

“The search for the truth is never advanced through junk science,” he said. He has since described Crosby’s testimony as “a dispatch from the Flat Earth Society”.

Crosby said that he had used the “witching” technique in at least 40 other cases. Many other law enforcement agencies have tried dowsing as a technique to find bodies and other evidence. ...

Vass himself has recently moved on from “witching”. Instead he’s working on an even more “out there” method he called the “quantum oscillator”. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/weird-news/bloke-teaches-police-find-corpses-26951487
 

Carl Grove

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Dowsing for the dead ... A law enforcement consultant has promoted dowsing techniques for locating bodies, and some law enforcement personnel have claimed the technique proved useful.

FULL STORY: https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/weird-news/bloke-teaches-police-find-corpses-26951487
Alarming how what could be a useful technique is dismissed using the horrendous term "witching." (For some reason, witches still seem to loom large in the American consciousness). A British policeman used to use dowsing to locate the bodies of Blitz victims in WW2, and apparently he wasn't allowed to continue, not because it didn't work, but because he couldn't explain how it worked. Interesting that in one case when he was working with another man the rods were suddenly torn from his hands, something that also happened once at Rougham where high energies were at work. This in itself should have signalled that dowsing is not "unconscious movements" on the part of the dowser. Somewhere on YouTube there is an interesting video from a US paranormal programme (can't recall which one). The presenters visited Avebury and met Maria Wheatley. She demonstrated dowsing, walking along a path until the rods crossed, then one of the visitors tried it as well. He held his hands extremely stiffly and the rods crossed, at the same spot, slowly, and clearly not the result of any movements on his part. However Maria was up for that, she promptly tied his arms to a wooden stick, and this time the rods didn't cross! The idea that there is an external physical force that directly affects the rods rather than the hypothetical unconscious movements dies hard. Even Reddish's photos of his hands taken when dowsing, showing they didn't move when the rods crossed, and Sanderson's makeshift mechanical dowsing machine from the 60s have been ignored.
 

Paul_Exeter

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My only experience of dowsing is watching two men on the Dartington Hall courtyard lawn using dowsing to apparently locate a spring. They were quite pleased with themselves despite any evidence to substantiate their claim. What made me a little skeptical was that the lawn is dominated by a huge swamp cypress that can only grow in that location because there is an underground acquirer (quite likely the well that originally supplied the Hall with water).

So are dowsers subconsciously picking up on clues from their surroundings that indicate water nearby? In that instance I wasn't that impressed, but I have had people in the farming community swear to me it works.
 

Coal

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My only experience of dowsing is watching two men on the Dartington Hall courtyard lawn using dowsing to apparently locate a spring. They were quite pleased with themselves despite any evidence to substantiate their claim. What made me a little skeptical was that the lawn is dominated by a huge swamp cypress that can only grow in that location because there is an underground acquirer (quite likely the well that originally supplied the Hall with water).

So are dowsers subconsciously picking up on clues from their surroundings that indicate water nearby? In that instance I wasn't that impressed, but I have had people in the farming community swear to me it works.
tbh I suspect some dowsers consciously do this.
 

Carl Grove

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My only experience of dowsing is watching two men on the Dartington Hall courtyard lawn using dowsing to apparently locate a spring. They were quite pleased with themselves despite any evidence to substantiate their claim. What made me a little skeptical was that the lawn is dominated by a huge swamp cypress that can only grow in that location because there is an underground acquirer (quite likely the well that originally supplied the Hall with water).

So are dowsers subconsciously picking up on clues from their surroundings that indicate water nearby? In that instance I wasn't that impressed, but I have had people in the farming community swear to me it works.
Don't forget that dowsers aren't always looking for water --- pipes and other linear features seem to be the easiest things to detect. Reddish's research began with detecting pipes, etc., then went on to detect interference fringes from interactions with other linear structures (he estimated from his data that the wavelength of the dowsing force was around 1 metre). Moreover, when looking for water, the dowser needs to know how deep it is, whether there is enough to make digging a well worthwhile, etc. And obviously dowsers that can detect mineral deposits are very useful and can earn good money from mining companies.
 

gridban

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I vaguely remember that there was a section on dowsing in the Fortean exhibition at Croydon Clocktower and you could have a go for yourself - I don't remember how that worked but I remember I didn't get any result.
 

Sharon Hill

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Don't forget that dowsers aren't always looking for water --- pipes and other linear features seem to be the easiest things to detect. Reddish's research began with detecting pipes, etc., then went on to detect interference fringes from interactions with other linear structures (he estimated from his data that the wavelength of the dowsing force was around 1 metre). Moreover, when looking for water, the dowser needs to know how deep it is, whether there is enough to make digging a well worthwhile, etc. And obviously dowsers that can detect mineral deposits are very useful and can earn good money from mining companies.
Show me a mining company that uses dowsers instead of geological maps, geochem testing and remote sensing. They don’t use occult practices. It doesn’t happen in real life no matter what some creative individuals claim.
 

Carl Grove

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Show me a mining company that uses dowsers instead of geological maps, geochem testing and remote sensing. They don’t use occult practices. It doesn’t happen in real life no matter what some creative individuals claim.
Who said anything about occult practices? One day you may change your mind and check out Reddish's work, until then you could check out the autobiography of Evelyn Penrose:
Penrose, E. Adventure Unlimited, 1958
She was a professional dowser who made a very good living locating valuable mineral deposits for big corporations. And as I mentioned before, geologists in Russia routinely employ dowsing in their work (indeed, most go on to take a course in dowsing after graduating).

I'm sure one of the major astronomers of the 20th Century would have been amused at your claim that he was dealing in the occult!
 

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Coal

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Show me a mining company that uses dowsers instead of geological maps, geochem testing and remote sensing. They don’t use occult practices. It doesn’t happen in real life no matter what some creative individuals claim.
It's revealing that any actual blind testing on dowsing fails 'without fail'. As it were.

(he estimated from his data that the wavelength of the dowsing force was around 1 metre)
If said 'force' was remotely electromagnetic 1m wavelength that would make its frequency 300MHz, far far beyond anything in the human body can manage as a response. Seems unlikely, especially as such a wavelength can pretty much be blocked by any aperture in the region of 3mm or less. A few feet of compacted soil would certainly do the job.

What force or mechanism do you think it is Carl?

Penrose, E. Adventure Unlimited, 1958
Surprisingly little information on the interweb. I'd venture this instance 'making a living' and 'divining' are not necessarily casually linked. What little I can find is the very definition of anecdotal. I did find the great phrase 'Charismatic prospector' mentioned a few times in respect of her and other similar practitioners.
 

Carl Grove

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It's revealing that any actual blind testing on dowsing fails 'without fail'. As it were.


If said 'force' was remotely electromagnetic 1m wavelength that would make its frequency 300MHz, far far beyond anything in the human body can manage as a response. Seems unlikely, especially as such a wavelength can pretty much be blocked by any aperture in the region of 3mm or less. A few feet of compacted soil would certainly do the job.

What force or mechanism do you think it is Carl?


Surprisingly little information on the interweb. I'd venture this instance 'making a living' and 'divining' are not necessarily casually linked. What little I can find is the very definition of anecdotal. I did find the great phrase 'Charismatic prospector' mentioned a few times in respect of her and other similar practitioners.
Blind testing. A very interesting study was conducted in Zimbabwe where two high tech methods for locating aquifers were compared with the performance of a dowser. The result was a tie -- all three located exactly the same promising water source. However -- and that is a big however -- in a poor country in the third world cost effectiveness is a major factor. And I imagine that a lot of companies who are most interested in their profit margins do indeed discreetly employ dowsers -- judging by the ludicrous outcry when it was revealed that most water companies employ dowsing to locate pipes, they are generally going to keep it secret.

The "D Force" as Reddish called it in his first book turned out not to be EM in nature, according to the Russian research. It was torsion, the result of rotation of objects, something I find hard to comprehend, but it is apparently something that has been researched since the 1900s. I give a summary of the subject, and Reddish's findings, in my Rougham Mystery report.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/4tjuu3rr9yrnwqg/THE ROUGHAM MYSTERY.pdf?dl=0

There's also an update about dowsing towards the end. To summarise, when testing is carried out in a sensible way, dowsing does give results, but usually it isn't. The only consistent finding -- and this reflects the theoretical bias of the experimenters, of course -- is that skilled dowsers appear to show an incredibly high sensitivity to magnetic fields. This actually confirms the torsion link, because according to theory all magnets should generate a torsion field as well as a magnetic one.
 
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