Dirty Dowsing

So the law has finally caught up with James McCormick. I wonder how many people have died as a result of this useless woo. The true figure will probably never be known, but at least this con man is about to get his just desserts. Dowsing for bombs? It was baloney from the outset, and there is a trail of death and destruction to prove it.

Dowsing, like all other claims of the paranormal, has regularly failed properly conducted tests, and of course the dowsers always try to explain away their failure with the flimsiest excuses. But this time there’s no getting away from it: dowsing can be a lucrative business (as it certainly was for McCormick) and in this case, at least, it has proven to be deadly.

Like other forms of woo, dowsing  is complete and utter bunk. The dowsers cannot pass a properly controlled test, and the only evidence in its favour tends to be anecdotal accounts. A favourite claim of the deluded paranormal supporters is that anecdotal accounts/personal testimony is valid evidence in a court of law, so it should be accepted as evidence for their beliefs. In this case, at least, science (and the law) has trumped woo, no matter how many anecdotes anyone wants to supply to support their irrationality.

Anyway, it’s going to be interesting to see what the paranormal community has to say about it. I’m almost tempted to say that now might be the time for the government to regulate practitioners of the paranormal, but there is one big stumbling block: I can’t think of a way to regulate something that isn’t real.

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