So I'm playing golf, when I see the superintendant and his helper using a pair of coat hangers to theoretically find a water pipe location by using the "divining method". 

Acting ignorant, I couldn't help but ask, "Watcha doin'?" Of course, they both were firm believers in the powers of those coat hangers. They seriously explained their technique. The "Supe" is even a college graduate (which really means nothing when it comes to superstitions). I held back my opinion, skepticism, and ridicule. (I don't know how successful they were.)

Over the years, I've seen many men trying their hands (literally) with some form of divining rods, searching for water lines, a buried septic tank, even beach "treasures". Coat hangers either cross or go straight out, depending on the object being searched for. (Details from Wikipedia, etc.) Of course, the whole "water witching" thing is hooey--absolutely no evidence that it works beyond chance occurance.

Do you see the connection and similarity of dowsing and god belief? Again, faith is more powerful than science and reason. When will man ever figure this out?

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Comment by Michael Penn on May 25, 2014 at 8:16am

Spud, as a pre-teen and very early teen I could work a Quija board with someone and we were amazed! The adults didn't want us to do it though coz it was "of the devil." Later as I grew up I tried dowsing. Nothing at all here. Then I went back to the Quija board. Nothing at all there. Neither of them worked. These things seem to work best when you have a mind full of wonder, or believe that you're special, and that god gave a personal gift just to you.

Comment by Idaho Spud on May 25, 2014 at 8:04am

Craig, I've never had experiences like you (that I can remember).  I think it's because I'm a huge skeptic.  The one time I tried dowsing, nothing happened.  

I tried something else that seemed questionable that a girlfriend talked me into trying, and had no response, even though I tried my best to feel something.

My guess is that things like dowsing tools and Ouija boards sometimes respond because the mind wants them to work, or thinks they might work, and subconsciously control our muscles.

Comment by Randall Smith on May 25, 2014 at 7:41am

Craig, perhaps your experience can be compared to how a ouiga board works. That always fascinated me!

Comment by Joan Denoo on May 24, 2014 at 11:37pm

That is the way I perceive such events, there is an explanation to explain if the phenomena is true and no supernatural explanation is necessary. Humans didn't know about gravity, or electricity, or how germs spread and now we do. No supernatural interpretation is required. 

I like your story of your experience, Craig, and I believe what you tell is true. I look forward to an explanation that can be replicated, and explained. 

Comment by Craigart14 on May 24, 2014 at 11:17pm

I'm still an atheist.  If there is any validity to dowsing, I expect it will have a naturalistic explanation.  And of course, we didn't drill wells all over the yard to check the dowser's work; there might have been water anywhere under the yard.  I just know the end of that cherry branch took a nose dive, and the downward pull was quite strong.  I felt it and everyone else there saw it.  I don't pretend to know why, but there's nothing supernatural about it because there is nothing supernatural about anything.

Comment by Randall Smith on May 19, 2014 at 6:53am

Craigart: I know the feeling. Despite being a confirmed atheist, with all the supernatural doubts, after reading Soul Survivor, I question my nonbelief(s). You should read it. Amazing story.

Comment by Craigart14 on May 18, 2014 at 5:51pm

I have three graduate degrees, including a doctorate.  I don't believe in any supernatural beings or forces.  Here is my experience with dowsing:

The water witch, who came highly recommended, showed up at our house and cut a Y-shaped branch from an old cherry tree in the yard.  He grabbed the two shorter legs of the Y with the long end sticking straight out in front of him, then turned his hands over inward, twisting the Y and holding it in tension.  He walked up and down in the yard, and after a few minutes, the end of the stick dove toward the ground.

Skeptic that I am, I wondered if what I had just seen was real.  He "explained" that his skill had something to do with body chemistry, magnetism, electrical conductivity, etc.  Some people have it and some people don't, he said.

So he showed my dad how to hold the Y-shaped cherry branch.  Dad walked up and down the yard, even straight across the spot where the dowser said there was water.  Nothing.  Sick doesn't even quiver.  So my mom tried it.  Nada.  So the guy asked me if I wanted to try it.

So he showed me how to hold the stick.  I walked around the yard a bit.  Nothing.  Then I headed for "the spot."  The long end of the stick took a nose dive.  It wasn't trembling or quivering or tugging, but pulling hard toward the ground.  Really hard.

We drilled there and hit water.

I don't believe in the power of pyramids or magic copper bracelets or auras or mediums.  I've seen one of Randi's experiments that debunked dowsing, and also another by Richard Dawkins.  (One failed dowser was distraught at realizing she had been a fraud for forty years; another suggested God was playing a joke on them.)  Dowsing is obviously bogus.

But the damn cherry branch pulled hard.  No kidding.  I'm open to explanations.


Comment by Luara on May 17, 2014 at 3:31pm

It seems to me that since we are electromagnetic beings, and that there are electromagnetic forces all around us, and that they can vary dependent upon elements in the environment, and knowing what a good conductor water is, and considering the water content of the fresh sapling, and how some people have different sensitivities to different things, I’m not willing to dismiss the “possibility” of dowsing.

It could be.  I saw an article in Popular Mechanics saying something of the sort, that people might sense subtle gradients in the EM field.  The stick would have nothing to do with it, it would just be a prop, something to enable them to access their perception. 

Or maybe they have picked up an intuitive knowledge of geological features that predict underground water. 

Randi in his Million Dollar Challenges of dowsing, didn't do it by getting people to find actual underground water.  They were asked to find water in a bucket or whatever - some artificial situation.  And the dowsers failed completely. 

Possibly people could somehow sense underground water when they can't sense water in pipes.

Comment by Asa Watcher on May 17, 2014 at 12:24pm

The first dowser I met was in Kansas, and he used a freshly cut thin fork of a sapling (a “Y”), the single leg was about twice as long as the two branches.  

He explained that it was an ordinary willow he’d just cut in his own back yard.

He grabbed the two branches, aimed the leg about 45 degrees into the air, took about six steps, the leg dropped (or he dropped the leg), and he said: “There’s water here, not real deep”.

He walked around the property for about 10 minutes and said: “There is water almost everywhere here.  Drill where you want.”  He was proven right.

It seems to me that since we are electromagnetic beings, and that there are electromagnetic forces all around us, and that they can vary dependent upon elements in the environment, and knowing what a good conductor water is, and considering the water content of the fresh sapling, and how some people have different sensitivities to different things, I’m not willing to dismiss the “possibility” of dowsing.  

Realistically, however, it would seemingly be scientifically measurable, and as far as I know it has not been measured.  

Comment by Greg on May 15, 2014 at 1:53pm

If I ran a water well drilling business in a highly religious/superstitious area, I would be looking for an edge in my advertising. This just might get me a few more calls.

What I've always wondered though is how many people who use water witches have an above average understanding of geology. I don't know that much about water well drilling but I would imagine it is an advantage.

One of the posters reminded me of an unrelated story. Years ago I was friends with a girl who worked for a fledgling pharmaceuticals company. She worked for the division developing pregnancy testing devices. I used to kid her about how their products were rapidly improving, even approaching 50% accuracy. 



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