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Randi Responds to the Arrest of James McCormick PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

In a refreshing news item, the BBC and others are reporting that Jim McCormick, inventor of the ADE 561 Bomb Detection Device has been arrested and charged with fraud.

McCormick sold $85,000,000 worth of these devices that he claims work on the same principle as dowsing rods, except that they detect bombs instead of water. James Randi has offered a $1,000,000 prize to anyone who can demonstrate successful dowsing of any substance under controlled conditions. When McCormick was presented with this offer, he did not reply. The devices were "programmed" with cards that supposedly told the device what to look for. A BBC investigation showed that the cards contained nothing more than retail security tags (RFID), which are often found on garments, books, compact discs, and other merchandise.


James Randi said:

The accompanying video expresses my thoughts on this rather important issue.

The intemperate language is, I hope, acceptable, and emphasizes my disdain for pompous "authorities" who base their opinions on folklore and superstition.  I know I'll not hear back from the General I refer to, because, as I say, he's running…  When we turn on the light, they run…  Enjoy the video, and let us have your comments, please.

McCormick is now out on bail but his devices are still in the field, doing nothing. Several recent bomb attacks in Iraq have left hundreds dead, and it is hoped that this arrest will shed some light on the dangerous practice of marketing "woo-woo" instead of technology.

JREF associate Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack presented the JREF's findings to the military in October and former JREF President Phil Plait wrote this article in November, 2009 excoriating the device.

The JREF $1,000,000 challenge is still unclaimed. The offer remains open to anyone who can demonstrate dowsing or any other paranormal claim under proper observing conditions. More information can be found at www.randi.org.

Further reading:

Guardian UK: Boss who sold bomb detectors to Iraq arrested over fraud

The Economic Voice: Head of bomb detector company arrested for possible fraud

Times Online: Head of ATSC 'bomb detector' company arrested on suspicion of fraud

Skeptic's Dictionary: Quadro QRS 250G "Detector"

 

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Why the tariness?
written by Beelzebub, January 23, 2010
Why do governments around the world just sit back and do nothing in the face of such obvious fraud?
It couldn't possibly be MONEY, could it? After all, who cares about a few deaths at home (and who cares even less about 'dem dang furriners!), so long as the tax-receipts keep coming in? If this sounds a bit over-the-top, just look at the massive homoeopathic industry - this nets billions in tax, so, not surprisingly, governments are loathe to do anything that might jeopardise this income. Perhaps there is also the "Made Here" syndrome - it might be wrong, it might be bad, it might kill, but it's ours and it employs our workers and returns foreign currency and, of course, all those tax-dollars (Pounds, Yen, Shekels, Euros etc).
Wearily cynical, or just uncomfortably realistic?
Sigh......
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Long Long overdue
written by Steve Packard, January 23, 2010
While this is great news, it's also something that should not have taken this long to happen. Lets not forget that this device is not simply a fraud, but it endangers the lives of those who were suckered into believing and to others, such as civilians and military personnel who are exposed to the threat of bombs in vehicles or packages that were "cleared" by this device.

These days, saying that someone or some action is "on the side of the terrorists" or "helping the terrorists" has become something of a buzzword that has lost most of its meaning. However, in this case, Jim McCormick truly was enabling terrorists by producing a device that gave a false sense of security and would allow bombs or any other dangerous materials to pass by without being detected.

Whether lives were lost because a bomb carrying vehicle was given the all-clear is not clear, but this should be investigated and if it is the case, he should be charged with homicide.

Given how absurd this device is, however, I left stumped that it took this long. it seems like it should be a very high priority to the authorities to stop these kind of scams, yet it took many months to come down on this relatively open and shut case.

There is indeed a low-tech and reliable means of detecting explosives. A well trained dog and handler can screen vehicles and packages quickly and accurately. $85,000,000 could have put a lot of dogs through explosives training and gotten them to the front lines where they're needed.
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We Americans Have an Analagous Woo-Woo Device
written by George Maschke, January 23, 2010
It's encouraging to see James McCormick getting his just deserts. At this juncture, I think it's worth pointing out that the U.S. government is relying heavily on a similarly fraudulent and worthless device: the lie detector (or polygraph). Despite the consensus of the scientific community that it's junk science, federal agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and NSA continue to swear by it. And alarmingly, since 2008, a hand-held lie detector has been used by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in an attempt to screen out terrorists. Like the full-size polygraph, the hand-held lie detector (or port-a-poly as I like to call it) is easily fooled. I've been accused of treason for pointing out how to do so:

https://antipolygraph.org/cgi-bin/forums/YaBB.pl?num=1207756058

It's time for us Americans to do some housecleaning of our own.
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Votes: +29
Clickable link.
written by George Maschke, January 23, 2010
Oops, here again is the link I posted above on how to fool the hand-held lie detector:

https://antipolygraph.org/cgi-bin/forums/YaBB.pl?num=1207756058
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Votes: +3
$85,000,000??????
written by Guitcad1, January 23, 2010
Eighty-five million dollars!?!?!?!? Eight, five, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero dollars!?!?!? 85 × 106 dollars?!?!?!?

Please tell me this is a mistake!
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10 to the 6th
written by Guitcad1, January 23, 2010
That was supposed to be 10 to the 6th but it didn't support the HTML thing.
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...
written by Rustylizard, January 23, 2010
What a fascinating scenario for a movie – all the right ingredients: villains who are willing to pass up a million dollar challenge, inept government officials who ignore evidence and expert advice, cover-ups, greed, death, and much, much more. Pay attention, Hollywood!
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written by jcwept, January 23, 2010
Stirring, brilliant stuff, Randi. Could this arrest be the reason the UK's security 'alert status' is now at 'severe'?.
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No charge as yet
written by RobbieD, January 23, 2010
I think I am correct in saying that as yet McCormick has not been charged, just arrested for questioning. In the UK if the police want to question you properly they have to arrest you and read you your rights otherwise it will not be admissible in court later. There is still a long way to go before we get to a charge, a trial, and a verdict.
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This is great news, but...
written by occasional, January 23, 2010
This device is more powerful than you think. It works exactly as effectively as prayers to the Christian, Islamic and Jewish god(s) in detecting explosives — and in all other respects too.
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written by JonK, January 23, 2010
I'm relieved that Jim McCormick has finally been arrested, but like so many others, I can only be amazed that it took so long. Though I am grateful that Randi is here to courageously expose this dangerous kind of chicanery, government agencies shouldn't need him to do so. The performance claims about this device are so ludicrous and the mechanisms by which it could work simply non-existent such that a dozen flags should have gone up at any point during procurement. I have worked with people at government defense laboratories, and most are highly competent. Those who got in their way or didn't listen to them should, along with Mr. McCormick, face appropriate action.
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This is far reaching.
written by Twm Sion Cati, January 23, 2010
The worrying thing about this is, it demonstrates, yet again that governments can not be trusted to carry out basic 'due diligence'. When I first read about the detectors last year, I had to check it was not April 1st. I wasn't reading a critical article it was one saying how good the device was. Anyone with a basic knowledge of science could tell it was impossible the device could work.
Out of interest, could it be possible troops are being treated with homoeopathic medicines. Well it wouldn't surprised me.
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written by ianmacm, January 23, 2010
On the question of whether the device was endorsed by the British Army's Royal Engineers, there is some confusion. The UK Ministry of Defence reportedly asked Global Technical to remove statements implying use or endorsement ( http://sniffexquestions.blogspot.com/ ). Although British people can be very gullible sometimes, hopefully no-one in the British Army fell for this blatant scam. smilies/tongue.gif
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False underlying premise
written by Skeptigirl, January 23, 2010
written by Beelzebub, January 23, 2010
Why do governments around the world just sit back and do nothing in the face of such obvious fraud?

If you start with the underlying premise that the individuals within the government are better critical thinkers than the general population which buys into these frauds en mass, you might assume said individuals in positions of authority ignored the problem.

A more valid underlying premise to start with is that the elected and appointed officials are more like the gullible public than they are like the critical thinkers in the skeptical community. For whatever reason natural selection resulted in the human species' tendency to rely on magical thinking, it is what it is.

Does that mean it is a permanent state and hopeless situation? No. The skeptical and scientific communities are evidence to that answer. But the things which have led us to think more critically about the Universe aren't being transferred to other individuals despite efforts to spoon feed the evidence directly to them.

I'm not suggesting we give up efforts to inform others about these frauds and the many other forms of magical thinking. But just as one solves other problems using the scientific method, I am suggesting we do more to investigate other methods than simply sharing knowledge to accomplish our goals.

I think we need more public shaming of the authorities who repeatedly demonstrate magical thinking. Peer pressure of looking foolish is hard to ignore. In this case I'm wondering how we can get Mr Randi's message to more news outlets? Have we framed the news story in the most scandalous format possible? That is an excellent video message. How about some shorter ad like messages naming the people involved in the decision to buy these useless dowsing rods?

I don't have the answers. I'm just pointing out a single direction that might be useful. I'd like to see more research/brain storming on actions we can take besides just sharing supporting evidence. The underlying premise that magical thinking is a simple knowledge deficit in insufficient. If it were just a knowledge deficit, then providing evidence of the facts should have a bigger impact than it does.
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Nobel Prize?
written by Michael K Gray, January 23, 2010
I think that James Randi is a worthy recipient of the next Nobel Peace price for his tireless work in exposing this dangerous fraud.
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written by MadScientist, January 23, 2010
@Beelzebub: Most government agencies only act on complaints; except in a few mandated cases such as detection and prevention of the distribution of illicit drugs, government agencies do not actively look for cases to prosecute. As Randi pointed out, the FBI didn't even care to prosecute the Quadro scamsters (possibly an attitude of higher ranking officials that they have better things to spend their prosecutorial budget on). As L. Ron Hubbard so ably demonstrated - if you're going to run a scam, make sure you have lots of money and even the US government won't screw with you.
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We have a big corruption of GT200 Bomb Detection Device in Thailand.
written by Yankawee, January 23, 2010
We have a big corruption of GT-200 Bomb Detection Device in Thailand.
The head of Defense said it's really work.
It was bought for US$30000 each excluding cards that have to use with the devices.
If they were not corruption, They must be very stupid for sure.
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Votes: +17
It's all about money
written by Kajabla61, January 23, 2010
I have said before that, unfortunately, the Million Dollar Challenge actually doesn't offer enough money. The greed of these folks is amazing when they are trying to be the next millionaires - and that means MULTI-millionaires.

For his trial James McCormick should be given a choice:
Plead guilty with full restitution to every purchaser of his device.
OR
Clear a field of 100 active land mines to prove that his device works.

I'm sorry, that second option would be a death sentence, which I detest.
Didn't McCormick sentence some folks to death with his fraud however?
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Votes: +23
Woo...
written by JohnRatti, January 23, 2010
The thing that still astounds me to this day is people believing in these types of "magic". Let us consider the "dowsing rod". People claim it'll find everything hidden underground (except for a working dowsing rod that is). When I was deployed to Iraq in 2007, I befriended some of our Iraqi interpreters (local national interpreters are one of our best resources over there). One in particular got his bachelor's degree in geology. He had the knowledge and ability to go out into a given expanse of desert and find water, oil, minerals, etc... under the ground. Of course he often required certain equipment to do this. Things like ground penetrating radar and special aerial maps in certain light spectrum. We HAVE the technology and knowledge to do the things that these unbent coat hangers fail to do via magic, and yet people STILL believe the crud works.
We have technologies today that in the 80s would have been considered magic. In the 1800s and earlier would have been considered witchcraft. Yet this isn't good enough for some people. I have tech and gadgetry in my pockets that's more technologically advanced than what Gene Roddenberry dreamed up for Star Trek. Heck my phone can use SONAR!! I guess people just want to believe there is some kind of power that only they can wield, that will make them more unique than they already are. Disregarding the fact they have an organ in their heads that is so outrageously complex, that science has yet to replicate it fully, or even understand it fully. This is why I am glad there are groups in the world like the JREF to educate these folks as to the error of their beliefs and try to lead them in a better direction.
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Nonsense!
written by Skeptigirl, January 23, 2010
It's all about money
written by Kajabla61, January 23, 2010
I have said before that, unfortunately, the Million Dollar Challenge actually doesn't offer enough money.

Give me a break. These creeps would attempt to get the million dollars time and time again if they really believed in their claims. If anything, the MDC exposes the fact these charlatans are fully aware they are scamming people.
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yes!, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Great video!
written by Holmstrom, January 23, 2010
The McCormick gizmos, it seems, are at least as effective as polygraphs and Ouiga Boards
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...
written by burpy, January 23, 2010
@Davis, I agree with you, but for a different reason. Evolution is not controversial, its case is proven, and most of the world has moved on. Let Dawkins et al be the torch bearers for that one. This is the sort of story I like to see the JREF cover. Along with the medical woo, other science fraud and sleight of hand (or mind)fraud. These are where the JREF´s financial clout and human expertise can hit hardest.

That said, I still want to see the big evolution news stories here too.
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Arrested the wrong person?
written by vino, January 24, 2010
Mr. McCormick is obviously a fraud but the real criminals in this scenario are the public officials who authorized the purchase of these empty black boxes.
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The GT 200 in Thailand
written by RobbieD, January 24, 2010
There is an article in the Bangkok Post about the GT 200 here:-

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/166305/uk-bans-bomb-detectors

It says "The GT200 has caused several deaths, but every time it failed to detect explosives, the operators have been blamed. The GT200, which reportedly has cost the Thai army and taxpayer 200,000 baht per unit, has been described by sceptics as a "divining rod" - a forked stick used to find water or buried treasure. There is no scientific explanation for why the GT200 should find explosives."

The people who sell these things have blood on their hands
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And even after the evidence is presented...
written by Mike James, January 24, 2010
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wor...477601.stm

Still some people believe in woo-woo...

-=mike=-
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U.S. goverment promotes health care woo woo.
written by CasaRojo, January 24, 2010
Yesterday I went to a chiropractic clinic for social security disability assessment. About two weeks ago I discovered that the SSA was sending me to a chiropractor for my medical evaluation. I called the SSA office and voiced my objections asking if they didn't have real doctors to do these things. I was told that if I was not willing to cooperate that I needn't go. I told the SSA rep that I'd literally been hurt by two separate chiropractors in the past but I would go as there was only suppose to be observation and assessment with no therapy provided. The Social Security Administration is actively promoting woo.
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Off Subject, but...
written by GusGus, January 24, 2010
Welcome back from therapy, Randi. You look and sound like your old self.
.
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Wow!
written by Skeptigirl, January 24, 2010
written by Davis, January 23, 2010
As a christian skeptic, I have to say kudos to mr. randi. This is what JREF is all about. Lives will be saved because of this. Please concentrate the efforts on these types of topics and steer clear of the controversial ones like evolution, etc.
So your opinion is, challenge any unsupportable belief but the ones you hold?

I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this but, Evolution Theory has not been controversial in terms of the science for many decades.
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If only it were just about the science.
written by Skeptigirl, January 24, 2010
written by burpy, January 23, 2010
@Davis, I agree with you, but for a different reason. Evolution is not controversial, its case is proven, and most of the world has moved on. Let Dawkins et al be the torch bearers for that one. This is the sort of story I like to see the JREF cover. Along with the medical woo, other science fraud and sleight of hand (or mind)fraud. These are where the JREF´s financial clout and human expertise can hit hardest.

That said, I still want to see the big evolution news stories here too.
Scientifically, of course evolution theory is not controversial. But politically, we have the ongoing battles with organizations such as the Discovery Institute which are actively trying to undermine science classes in our public schools.

I think the JREF probably expends the appropriate level of resources against the attacks on public school science curriculum.
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written by ThinkTank, January 25, 2010
I have to disagree with the poster who said that the MDC isn't worth winning for these people. Sure, they can make more money by scamming, but "We took Randi's million!" is worth much more than that in advertising.

But they can't, so they don't.

And for the record, I support the "trial by minefield" approach smilies/grin.gif
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re: U.S. goverment promotes health care woo woo.
written by CasaRojo, January 25, 2010
As it turns out, and I just found out this today, the doctor that I saw at the chiropractic clinic last Saturday, that the SSA sent me to for disability evaluation, was a licensed MD. This was never made clear to me. I assumed, quite reasonably I think, that since I had been sent to a chiropractic clinic and I was clearly in a chiropractic clinic that I was seeing a chiropractor. BTW, the doctor told me that I needed to see an orthopedic specialist. This I knew. Anyone have any spare medical insurance? Doesn't Peter Popoff claim orthopedic specialty? smilies/grin.gif
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There is a much likelier explanation for why "governments" are slow to act
written by Rоger, January 25, 2010
It is a little disappointing that on a skeptical blog we see such quick resort to unfalsifiable conspiracy theories when there are commonplace explanations readily available.

Firstly a small nitpick: in most political systems, including the Westminster system, such an investigation is not a government responsibility but a police responsibility. In some cases the supervising Minister may become directly involved but that is quite exceptional. So we should ask, why are the police slow to act in cases like this? There are at least two reasons that are readily apparent.

1. In an international case the police may have jurisdictional issues that make these matters very difficult to investigate and prosecute.
For example, suppose a bogus device was manufactured and sold in the UK "for amusement purposes only". A misleading marketing spiel was published but only in Iraq, by a one-off freelance salesman who no longer has ties to the company. On interrogation the salesman claims that he was only repeating information passed to him by a company employee whose name he can no longer recall, and in any case he was on a fixed price contract so he received no advantage from the deception. Who if anyone committed fraud, and in which jurisdiction was it committed? The police may well do nothing in the first instance because it is not until after an investigation has been made that it even becomes apparent that a UK offence has occurred, and they do not start investigations "on spec" because they have limited resources.

It is still possible to build a fraud case in these circumstances but you are not going to get anywhere with a simple argument of "any educated person can see that this product is obviously bogus."

2. Fraud, in the legal sense, can in some cases be quite difficult to prove.
In a case like this you have at least two hurdles: firstly you must prove that the devices do not perform the function that the customer was paying for, and secondly you must prove that the vendor knew this and made his claims with the intent of deception.

The first point may seem simple enough but remember, you are trying to prove a negative here, which can be quite tricky. If the defence counsel is any good it is quite unlikely that a court would accept an argument of "an engineer looked inside it and said it couldn't possibly work"; you will need to actually do some pretty exhaustive testing. Furthermore in this case you are testing it on dangerous restricted materials, which greatly complicates the testing process and its associated costs.

The second part -- intent to deceive -- is very difficult to prove and may require a covert surveillance program to build a case. Note that many people believe that dowsing is a genuine process, so it really is possible that the suspect honestly believes in his product. In that case merely proving that it doesn't actually work only gets him on selling unmerchantable goods (a civil tort) or breaches of trading standards (probably not applicable for direct export to a foreign government), not on fraud (a crime.)

A particularly nasty feature of this is that your very expensive proof of the fraudulence of, say, the ADE 561, does not automatically apply to any other explosives dowsing system. Where I live we formerly had a very nice bit of legislation in the Crimes Act which effectively said that if someone pretended to be a medium or fortune-teller, the courts were entitled to presume this was fraud unless the accused could prove otherwise. Note that this is not presumption of guilt: the prosecutor still has to prove that fraud actually occurred, he just doesn't have to prove (ab initio for every prosecution) that fortune-telling is bogus. Unfortunately this perfectly sensible clause was recently repealed on the grounds that it was unkind to witches or some such barf.
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Million Dollar Challenge
written by William, January 26, 2010
Forgive me, but I've been out-of-touch for bit while deployed. I thought I saw where the $1M challenge was going away. Is it really here to stay?
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Why I'm ALMOST Unsympathetic
written by ShawnPitman, January 26, 2010
Firstly, let me be clear, this has been a tragedy of the highest degree for the Iraqi soldiers charged with using these devices. There is no "qualifier" there.

However, I hope the guilt of this finally weighs on McCormick and on the Iraqi general responsible for deploying this nonsense in the field. The poor soldiers forced to use this "technology" never stood a chance of succeeding. I think the failure, however, is very deeply rooted in the Iraqi way of thinking and the Iraq education system. Perhaps you recall an article dated about a year ago saying that Iraqi police officers refused to investigate crimes using forensics because they labeled it a "black magic." Not figuratively, mind you, but literally "black magic."

If there had been one iota of scientific inquiry the country would never have been put in this position. We all recognize a gun as a mechanism capable of (1) carrying munitions, (2) creating the percussive force necessary for igniting the munition, and (3) a means of guiding the munition in the intended direction. When any single aspect is missing, we doubt whether or not the object in question is really a gun. Right? Imagine a gun without a barrel. Or a gun with no "hammer" mechanism. We instantly doubt it.

A ham sandwich must have (1) ham and (2) at least one slice of bread (usually two). If either aspect is missing, we doubt whether or not the object in question is a ham sandwich.

A bomb detector must have (1) an olfactory unit (a unit capable of detecting airborne chemicals), (2) a test processing node, and (3) a display for indicating the results of the test. When one of those items is missing, we should instantly doubt whether the object in question is a bomb detector or not.

This Iraqi general has applied LESS deductive reasoning in identifying his bomb detectors than he might apply to identifying a ham sandwich.

"Sell me $1 of garbage, shame on you. Sell me $85,000,000 of garbage, shame on me."
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The plot thickens...
written by ShawnPitman, January 26, 2010
http://www.bangkokpost.com/new...-effective

People are ridiculous! "Yeah, I understand his nonsense doesn't work, but our nonsense is a totally different brand. Ours works much better."
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written by Skeptigirl, January 26, 2010
There is a much likelier explanation for why "governments" are slow to act
written by Rоger, January 25, 2010
It is a little disappointing that on a skeptical blog we see such quick resort to unfalsifiable conspiracy theories when there are commonplace explanations readily available.
I'm unclear which CT you are referring to here.

Firstly a small nitpick: in most political systems, including the Westminster system, such an investigation is not a government responsibility but a police responsibility. ....
Tell me, do you seriously think the police and government officials are so hamstrung with political and legal correctness that even the most blatant massive dangerous fraud such as selling 85 mil worth of fake bomb detectors gets a pass as being unable to prove obvious fraud?

What is it you think a person has to know about such a device before selling it? Are they legally protected because they believe the device is magical? Surely you aren't suggesting this scam artist actually had real results waving the thing over a bomb?
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@DAVIS
written by Christie, January 26, 2010
I agree in part, where there is imminent danger including physical harm and/or death, due to pseudo science, attack the claims vigorously! But steering clear of topics all together, eg: ID vs Evolution, well that ain't going to happen.
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written by Rοger, January 27, 2010
I'm unclear which CT you are referring to here.


Several posters have made comments to the effect that the UK government must have been slow to act because they were somehow making money out of the deal themselves.

Tell me, do you seriously think the police and government officials are so hamstrung with political and legal correctness that even the most blatant massive dangerous fraud such as selling 85 mil worth of fake bomb detectors gets a pass as being unable to prove obvious fraud?


Having one worked as a civilian consultant to a police department: yes, I do think that, based on personal experience. The size of the losses, and obvious bogosity of the product, have nothing to do with the ability to prosecute.

Are they legally protected because they believe the device is magical?


Against fraud? Yes. Well, not so much "legally protected" against it, but that the prosecution must show an intent to deceive before a charge of fraud can succeed.

Surely you aren't suggesting this scam artist actually had real results waving the thing over a bomb?


Of course not. But that is not the point. The defence does not have to prove that any alleged belief was reasonable; the prosecution must be able to prove that there was an intent to deceive. Without that there is simple no case for fraud. Something else perhaps, but not fraud. )And if you go for unmerchantable goods -- i.e., the product does not perform as advertised -- that is not a crime, it is only a tort.)

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Manslaughter?
written by Gaius Cornelius, January 27, 2010
It seems to me that what is essentially a safety device has been sold with a reckless attitude to whether or not it works and its there was a continued failure properly to test even when concerns have been publically raised.

If a car safety belt was sold under these circumstances, isn’t the seller be guilt of manslaughter?

It really does not matter that the seller might believe in dowsing – that only means that he believed that it could work. It does not mean that it actually does work. I might firmly believe that my design of car safety belt will work because I have made it from the finest silk, which does not mean that it should not be realistically tested.

As for building a case, the plug-in cards might strongly suggest that the perpetrator knew his device did not work. What was the process by which they were tuned? Was there an appropriate procedure with proper quality controls? Were they, perhaps, just ordered in bulk from a manufacturer with the required printing indicating “TNT” or some other substance to be located?
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written by MJG, January 27, 2010
Usually a company is only going to be criminally liable if their product does not meet some standard set by a duly authorized regulatory agency. (or if there was fraud, which certainly does get prosecuted in some cases, but as Rodger rightly pointed out, requires clearing some burden of proof hurdles) In most cases, at least in the United States, product liability is handled in the civil courts under tort law. On the one hand, the burden of proof is lower in civil court. On the other, incarceration is generally not an available remedy in a civil case. As always, with any area of the law, there are exceptions and case specific factors, but that's the general jist of things.
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I stand corrected
written by Kajabla61, January 27, 2010
I agree with the posts criticizing me, I don't know what I was thinking.

These folks WOULD gladly take the million dollar challenge if they were for real. That would certainly be the best way to start off a new company, and jump start profits and PR.

I guess the money these hacks can make - $85 million - just overwhelmed my non-thought process there. If McCormick is found guilty of fraud I would think he can then be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter. Clearly, knowing that the device doesn't work and selling it with the intent of sending people out looking for bombs constitutes a type of homicide. We can only hope he will be charged and prosecuted.

I still stand by my recommendation for punishment however, after reading that people have died using these phony devices. If
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@ Roger: I'm not buying your emperor HAS clothes BS
written by Skeptigirl, January 27, 2010
Give me a break. If you believe outright obvious fraud is not prosecutable, you might want to buy this bridge I have for sale in Brooklyn. I understand the nuance of legal proofs. But the assumptions being stated in your post based on your experience suggest absurdity and I, for one, am not that cynical. Whatever your individual anecdote which has led you to believe one can take a fake magic wand, claim it detects bombs, and sell it based on those claims, then hide behind some outrageous claim the fraud was unintentional, I don't buy it. I, for oner have just a little more faith in judges and juries than you seem to have.
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Well...
written by Skeptic, January 27, 2010
>>>>>...he claims work on the same principle as dowsing rods, except that they detect bombs instead of water.

Well, can't argue with THAT...
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...
written by MadScientist, January 28, 2010
@William: There was an announcement a few months ago that the MDC will remain after all.
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Hmmm.
written by timtimes, January 28, 2010
It took the Brits to prosecute this dude? Maybe they can now focus on the war criminals (theirs and ours) since nobody over here seems to be interested in prosecuting anything other than Acorn.

Seems to me that the Ipad launch yesterday is a perfect metaphor for the Obama admin to date. What could have been.

http://thetimchannel.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/the-sad-little-ipad/

Enjoy.
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@CasaRojo
written by AlmightyBob, January 28, 2010
written by CasaRojo, January 25, 2010:
"
Anyone have any spare medical insurance?
"

Move to Canada smilies/wink.gif
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@AlmightyBob
written by CasaRojo, January 28, 2010
"Move to Canada smilies/wink.gif"

Moving at all is the hard part. ;-) And Canada's to frickin' cold. Perhaps the Netherlands Antilles. :-)
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"christian Skeptic??"
written by mikekoz68, January 29, 2010
RE: Davis

First of all, there is no controversy concerning evolution, it happened, is happening, and will contiue to happen whether you like it or not. Secondly, "christian skeptic" isn't this an oxy-moron? You may be a christian but you are certainly not a Skeptic.
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@Skeptigirl
written by Dooyoowoowoo, January 30, 2010
" But the assumptions being stated in your post based on your experience suggest absurdity "
Absurdity and the law, who would have thought eh? Sadly common sense and the law are not common bedfellows, Roger is correct in a great deal of what he says. You may have faith in judges and juries, but juries are directed on points of law by the judge. The judge has to follow the law and so by default the absurd may come to pass.
As an example, we have a law in the UK that makes it a crime to move eggs when directed not to by an official(don't ask me, I have no idea). I know the USA has some equally bizare laws.
Bottom line-the law can be an ass.
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Is everything OK at the JREF?
written by bigdoggy, January 30, 2010
No new items on here in almost a week. Hope all is well with you guys.
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Sketch
written by kevinmurphy, February 01, 2010
There was a sketch on this subject on the BBC's "Newsjack" last week. Podcast here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/newsjack/

(Disclosure: I wrote it.)
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@ Dooyoowoowoo
written by Skeptigirl, February 01, 2010
I'm not saying the law and legal system are not full of absurdities. Then there is the absurdity of the royal family in the UK supporting homeopathy which is a fraudulent medical practice.

But I'm saying the legal system is not as bad as your cynicism implies. If we assumed your premise, no fraud ever could be prosecuted. I would bet one could find criminal fraud convictions in both the UK and in the USA. And I would bet those convictions were based on violations that also apply to selling fake bomb detectors.
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