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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

map dowsing This is a peculiar skill claimed by a few dowsers. It consists of swinging a pendulum (or just the hand or any other preferred device) over any piece of paper that represents a map of an area of land, and thereby finding anything from lost children to buried treasure. The map, most practitioners claim, can even have all coordinates removed, can be of any unspecified scale, in color or not, or be of an unknown part of the globe. A review of a book on the subject in Nature magazine in 1940 said:  

      The fact that such a thing [dowsing over maps with a pendulum] is seriously mentioned [in the book] is calculated to undermine the reader's faith in the author's critical faculty.

      In England, Dr. Julian Huxley, F.R.S., said in 1942 that he had been present at a test of this claim at Oxford and that the diviner failed both with water and with minerals. He added that, in his opinion, the alleged finding of water by means of dowsing over a map was a belief that “belongs in the Middle Ages” and was “certainly not worthy of credence.”

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