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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

pendulum One method of divination uses a pendulum. A weight of any kind, the bob, is suspended at the end of a string or chain: crystals, real or fake, are currently popular. The device is held over a map or other object, and various movements of the bob are interpreted in different ways by different operators. Most pendulum swingers say that the bob swings clockwise over a person's right hand and counterclockwise over the left. They say that it swings to and fro over a male's body and in a circular pattern over a female's. But some of them say exactly the opposite.
      In this phenomenon, it can always be seen that the subject moves his or her hand to set the pendulum swinging, though this will be vehemently denied. The event is a perfect example of ideomotor reaction. To-and-fro motions and circles are produced, often in answer to questions directed by the dowser at the pendulum itself. The operator speaks to the pendulum. Really.
      The bob of the pendulum is often hollow so that diverse substances——solid or liquid——can be retained inside, the idea being that the device with thereby become more sensitive to the contained substance. The French, who dignify the process with by term radioaesthesia, produce a wide selection of screw-together pendulums in various colors made of metal, wood, or plastic.
      See also dowsing and map dowsing.



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