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Dowsing by...iPhone PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Naomi Baker   

iphonedowseIn response to a post I saw on Twitter, I hustled over to the Apple iTune store to check the story out. Yes, indeed, there was a free application ("app") for a virtual dowsing rod (link opens in iTunes). When you launch the program, your screen shows two parallel rods over a background that looks like the ground, with grass and exposed dirt. As you tilt the phone, the rods spread or come together, and when you get a hit, the phone vibrates, buzzes, and a red light flashes. Apparently I have water in the keyboard of my Mac. Or maybe oil. I'll let you know how the drilling comes out, at which time I will be busy filling out my paperwork for the JREF Million Dollar Challenge.

Ok, so this a silly application. But I thought regular readers might get a kick out of the comments in the store.

I used this dowsing rod application when I was in the desert to find wter. An arch nemesis left me in the middle of the desert with only a bottle of motor oil, after he threw me out of the CEO position of my multi-national corporation.

After a string of comments about the stupidity of this app, the following comment appeared. All spelling and grammar are exactly as posted.

YOUR ALL DUMB

This is NOT a GAME! Hence the..."entertainment" category? And dow say its a stupid "game" if you dont even know what it is. A dowsing rod(s) is used to find water or oil underground using the vibrations coming from your footsteps. Oil refineries hire dowsers to find oil underground. so all in all...anyone who says this "game" is stupid you are infact the stupid one. LOVESSPORTSTOMUCH

I've not personally met many deluded people, other than Ms. Sonne. How does one go about explaining reason to people like this? Other than the obvious issue with believing that dowsing works, I also note that the commenter thinks oil is found at a depth shallow enough to be detected with foot vibrations, that oil is found by dowsing rather than the multi-million dollar expenses of seismic surveys and good geology work, and that refineries look for oil, presumably right beneath their processing units. Those aren't delusional beliefs as much as they are uninformed. Are most believers in dowsing otherwise rational people with a couple of wrong ideas, or do they tend to hold an entire portfolio of woo beliefs?

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written by daveg703, July 25, 2009
@Ms. Baker:
Are most believers in dowsing otherwise rational people with a couple of wrong ideas, or do they tend to hold an entire portfolio of woo beliefs?

I haven't met enough of them to provide a valid statistical sampling, but I believe (and hope) the former is the case, because they would be the only ones amenable to rational explanations. Thus they might be "cured" - perhaps "relieved" is a better word - of that particular fallacy.
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written by Steel Rat, July 25, 2009
The problem with the web is, you never know if someone is having you on.
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written by MadScientist, July 25, 2009
Hahaha. smilies/smiley.gif I like the sound of that app. I'd say it was made by some bored person who thought it would be neat to play with the accelerometer (or is it an attitude sensor?) in the phone and make up something silly. The post about being left in the middle of nowhere with a bottle of motor oil should have reminded people of a certain Bond film.

I like the claim about oil refineries hiring people to find oil underground. It is the oil producers rather than refineries who do the prospecting and drilling, nor am I aware of anyone using dowsing for it in the past 40 years; except in the case of the occasional placer, sophisticated sensors are used to find evidence of hydrocarbon seepage at the surface.
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iWoo
written by Crispian, July 25, 2009
There are indeed all manner of iRational apps for your iPhone
http://crispian-jago.blogspot.com/2009/07/iwoo.html
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Brilliance!
written by Metatron, July 25, 2009
Really, a clever use for the internal iPhone accelerometer. It's an ideomotor effect sensor!

I'm guessing, Naomi, that people who will believe woo, will believe a whole portfolio of it.

Just last week, I met a very nice Kazakh woman in a French language immersion course. Blue eyes, brown hair, striking. While discussing various topics, lotteries came up. 'Round the class the opinions went, and they got mine (lotteries are taxes on people who are bad at math). The lovely Lyubo was quite offended, a regular lottery loser (I don't say player). Later in the course, the topic of fortune telling came up. Again, around the room for the opinions. Sadly, the lovely Lyubo is also certain her aunt can see the future. Being lovely and tri-lingual is apparently no guarantee of rationality.

I didn't bother to invite her to the MDC. I saw no point in wasting your or her time on another abject failure.
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My experience with dowsing
written by yarro, July 25, 2009
Ten years ago I was involved in a search for a hidden tunnel on a 17th century estate. It was believed the large mansion - demolished in the 1960's - on the estate was built on the foundations of a much older building dating from the 13th century. There was supposed to be a tunnel leading from that building to the centre of the then small town. To a monastery to be more precise.
I grew up near the estate and was at an early age intrigued by the colourful stories connected to it. Together with some friends we decided to investigate the very persistent Tunnel Myth. To confirm it or put it to rest once and for all.
One of us suggested asking the help of a dowser. Reluctantly we agreed. It was not what we wanted, but but the dowser did it for free, so we gave it a go. After hours of impressive mumbo jumbo the dowser 'suprisingly' found nothing. But we did. We drafted in the help of hundreds of people who, armed with long prodding sticks, methodically searched the whole estate. And we got a result. We got official permission for an archeological dig and we found a 17th century water cellar. The dowser's rod must have been badlly tuned. The cellar was used to collect rainwater for cleaning and washing. The beautiful tilings were still intact. Alas, no sign of a tunnel, but we were happy with what we found.
It was a great example of method over madness. Methodical searching gave us a result whereas the dowser was utterly useless.

Why not use ground penetrating radar and the like? We couldn't get the money to hire that equipment. It would have cost thousands of euros.
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written by DaveHunt, July 25, 2009
In the UK I took on our local adult education service who were setting up a dowsing course at around 300 pounds a go. To prove dowsing worked they sent me literature from the British Society of Dowsers. From that I found that feng shui and crystal healing worked and that crop circles are a real phenomenon caused by ley lines creating vortices. Almost Happy ending - dowsing is no longer offered as a course although their "complementary" medicine group now has dowsing energy healing at 65 pounds a go!!
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@yarro
written by Dysomniak, July 26, 2009
Waitwaitwait! I've seen this flick! Are you Gerard Butler? SPAAARTAAAA!!!!! Seriously though, what's Dick Donner like in person?
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written by GeekGoddess, July 26, 2009
@MadAcientist
I like the claim about oil refineries hiring people to find oil underground. It is the oil producers rather than refineries who do the prospecting and drilling


Yea, it's rather uninformed. I've spent the past 29 years working in the oil business, including working for two of the majors, and now direct a privately-owned processing company. I've tried to explain how the industry works, from exploration up through refinery products, but most people get bored silly, or accuse me of being a schill for Big Oil. I do run across my share of woo, including dowsing and the use of magnets in pipelines, but it's always someone trying to sell the services to the oil companies, not the 'technique' being used by same.
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Oh no !
written by Dr.Sid, July 26, 2009
Another brilliant idea for iPhone done by someone else ! smilies/cry.gif
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written by Kuroyume, July 26, 2009
There isn't a "Sylvia Browne" app yet! smilies/wink.gif
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plot thickens
written by starskeptic, July 26, 2009
"I used this dowsing rod application when I was in the desert to find wter. An arch nemesis left me in the middle of the desert with only a bottle of motor oil, after he threw me out of the CEO position of my multi-national corporation."

The second sentence is from the plot of "Quantum of Solace" -ROFL --this is definitely something I'd like to see James Bond use in the next film...
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written by JeffWagg, July 26, 2009
It's interesting to note that this app is actually very similar to "real" dowsing rods. It detects slight movements of the hand that in many cases are imperceptible to the person holding the device. I tried to use it in a way that would elicit the ideomotor response, but I was unsuccessful. I have been able to get dowsing rods and pendulums to respond. An enhancement would be to use the iPhone's camera to snap a picture of the exact spot where water is found.
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my story
written by nethead, July 26, 2009
I was helping a friend move a mobile home to a plot of land he had leased from the local tribe (Native American) and the tribal utility district had spent over 2 hours with a back-hoe trying to find the water pipe (the records were non-existent.)

Finally they decided to call "Mo" over from another job to help. He came over with his rods and found the pipe in under 5 minutes.

I'm guessing that either dowsing works (for him) or he knows where all the pipe on the rez are and uses his rods to keep his job at the water district.
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written by Steel Rat, July 26, 2009
It detects slight movements of the hand that in many cases are imperceptible to the person holding the device.


But most of the time the rods are tipped purposefully by the dowser to obtain a "result".
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written by tmac57, July 26, 2009
I started to write a joke response asking "what's next, a Ouija Board app for Iphone?" then I thought, well maybe I should check 1st. Guess what, they already have one! It's called Talking Board.
http://www.addfone.com/iphone/...ndex.html
You just can't make up anything original anymore smilies/sad.gif
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written by tctheunbeliever, July 26, 2009
I think I'll stick with my Magic 8-Ball--it's a lot cheaper and the minutes are free.
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It's a wonder!
written by Holmstrom, July 26, 2009
Since using this device for only a few minutes, I have located Jimmy Hoffa, the Lost Dutchman Mine and Amelia Earhart. I am working on Bigfoot. Boy, that will be some news, huh?
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written by yarro, July 27, 2009
Wouldn't it be awesome if someone came up with an app that can force people to pee?
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written by luisclaudio, July 27, 2009
At least it works as good as the traditional way.
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written by GoddessGeek, July 27, 2009
@JeffWagg

but I was unsuccessful. I have been able to get dowsing rods and pendulums to respond


I could not get them to NOT work - even slight movements gave me feedback that *something* was there. I must be located over a huge reservoir. Or maybe my aura was aligned correctly.
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written by Steel Rat, July 27, 2009
Since using this device for only a few minutes, I have located Jimmy Hoffa, the Lost Dutchman Mine and Amelia Earhart. I am working on Bigfoot. Boy, that will be some news, huh?


When you crack Oak Island, let me know.
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No comments
written by rjh02, August 01, 2009
Either they have deleted all comments or the comments are only in the USA, because I cannot see any comments in itunes for this product.
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