Grauniad: “Water divining is bunk. So why do myths continue to trump science?”

Guest lampooning by David Middleton

Hopefully, this post won’t have as many typos as my last post.

I just love ridiculing The Grauniad…

Grauniad

The news that many water companies use dowsing to locate underground water has prompted outraged demands from scientists that they desist at once from wasting time and money on “medieval witchcraft”. They are right to call this practice deluded. But it reveals how complicated the relationship is between scientific evidence and public belief.

When the science blogger Sally Le Page highlighted the issue after her parents spotted an engineer dowsing for Severn Trent Water, the company responded to her query by claiming that “we’ve found some of the older methods are just as effective than [sic] the new ones” (such as the use of drones and satellite imaging). The engineer concerned told her parents that dowsing works for him eight times in 10.

Further inquiry elicited the comment from Yorkshire Water that “although few and far between, some of our techs still use them!”, while Anglian Water said: “There have been occasions where we’ve used dowsing rods.” Le Page says that 10 out of 12 British water companies she approached have admitted to the practice. But “admitted” isn’t quite the right word; what is striking is the jaunty tone of these responses, as if to say: “Yes, isn’t it extraordinary that these old methods work?”

Let’s be clear: dowsing doesn’t work. Le Page’s blog links to detailed experiments conducted in Germany in the 1980s which showed that the dowsers tested weren’t locating water at levels better than random chance.

[…]

The resistance to basic scientific reasoning and evidence displayed by large businesses that also deploy cutting-edge space technology may seem lamentable, but it shouldn’t surprise us. It has never been more apparent that an inability to make scientifically informed choices is no obstacle to flourishing in modern society.

[…]

Given that company executives and engineers seem no more immune to pseudoscience than the rest of the population, it’s not obvious that better public education about science is going to dispel the modern-day survival of concepts rooted in Renaissance natural magic. (Whether the public should be expected to bear any costs incurred is quite another matter.) Rather, these beliefs need to be understood – and if necessary confronted – in the way that all magical thinking should be: as an expression of desire and the need for consolation.

Philip Ball is a science writer

The Grauniad

This bit is worth repeating…

The resistance to basic scientific reasoning and evidence displayed by large businesses that also deploy cutting-edge space technology may seem lamentable, but it shouldn’t surprise us. It has never been more apparent that an inability to make scientifically informed choices is no obstacle to flourishing in modern society.

Given that company executives and engineers seem no more immune to pseudoscience than the rest of the population…

It always amuses me when academic pinheads and “science writers” lament about private sector scientists and engineers resisting the “basic scientific reasoning and evidence” which they reject.

While, there are lots of reasons to doubt that dowsing can directly detect water, minerals, lost jewelry or anything else.  Dowsing can detect subtle variations in the Earth’s magnetic field… And the presence of groundwater can cause magnetic anomalies.

ABSTRACT

Perturbations on the earth’s magnetic field may coincide with the existence of groundwater. Theoretical calculations are made showing how and to what extent this effect may exist. The suggestion is also made that water dowsers may get a dowsing reaction as a result of entering a change in magnetic gradient. Tests were conducted to determine the statistical significance of dowsing reactions obtained by separate individuals dowsing in a common test area. Approximately 150 people participated in the experiment over a period of one year. Chi·square tests showed considerable statistical significance. Virtually all people tested experienced dowsing reactions though most of them had never dowsed before. There is some evidence of correlation between magnetic gradient changes and dowsing reactions.

Chadwick, Duane G. and Jensen, Larry, “The Detection of Magnetic Fields Caused by Groundwater” (1971). Reports. Paper 568. http://ift.tt/2A7cIVh

Utah State University

There are reasons why scientists and engineers, with decades of experience in their fields and successful track records, might just choose to ignore the lamentations of academic pinheads and “science writers” and continue to employ practical methodologies despite the “outraged demands from scientists” to cease and desist.

Disclaimer: As a professional geologist, I am not endorsing dowsing as a method of finding anything.  I’m just pointing out that the real world operates in a totally different universe than government, academia and journalism do.

Featured image from Wikipedia.

 

via Watts Up With That?

http://ift.tt/2jjbf6s

November 24, 2017 at 09:53AM

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