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Old 25th August 2009, 02:32 AM   #1
Springfork
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Dowsing To Replace C14 Dating?

This article appeared last Friday in the Decatur, IL Herald & Review paper.
http://www.herald-review.com/article...al/1043264.txt
The town where this is taking place, Cowden, is about 25 mi. from me and is a poor rural community in downstate Shelby County. The education system here in Illinois ranks near the bottom and the science classes these rural kids grow up with are no doubt pathetic. Mix a poor education in science with a strong religious upbringing that assures that their belief in the supernatural is never in doubt and you end up with "dowsing" for lost graves...and the end all...determining the sex of the individual and how old the grave is with a coat hanger!! I hang my head in embarrassment that I still live here in a place where so many people seem to have invincible ignorance and sound-proof heads.
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Old 25th August 2009, 06:27 AM   #2
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Well, there are always woo-woos around, but the Herald Review article seems very carefully constructed to give the impression that dowsing is for real. The dowser was a "self-described" skeptic, an article in Popular Mechanics is cited for authority, and even Stanford University is tentatively behind the idea that there is "a scientific basis to dowsing, though the jury's still out on exactly what it is."

There is no mentioning that dowsing has never ever been successful in a proper double blinded test.

It is a nice piece of propaganda.
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Old 25th August 2009, 08:27 AM   #3
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I had to quit the Mitchell County Pioneer Cemetary Restoration Project because they insisted that dowsing was the way to go.
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Old 25th August 2009, 11:37 AM   #4
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Just in case anyone is in any doubt, I've written a fair bit on this recently;

http://bshistorian.wordpress.com/200...gical-dowsing/
http://bshistorian.wordpress.com/200...ense-of-place/

Another part to come though!

edit- this must be the Pop Mech article;

http://www.popularmechanics.com/scie...h/1281661.html

Which refers to the Betz study - which is also the Stanford connection. So it all comes back to that. Which has been covered by Randi himself;

http://www.randi.org/jr/011003.html

And ehocking too;

http://www.internationalskeptics.com...9&postcount=71

Last edited by Big Les; 25th August 2009 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 25th August 2009, 11:39 AM   #5
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There is no Dowsing, so there is no replacement of C14 Dating by it.

Paul

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Old 25th August 2009, 04:37 PM   #6
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To be fair (ha) to dowsers, I doubt many would suggest replacing any other archaeological technique, least of all chemical dating techniques. If anything, it would be man-portable geophysics equipment that they would offer to 'undercut' with their bogus technique.
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Old 25th August 2009, 05:08 PM   #7
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**Cleans up soda snorted through nose onto keyboard**

ETA: As someone who lives north of Chicago and is a public school teacher, I can vouch for the inadequacy of the down-state schools. I have seen the type of folks who pass as "teachers" from that part of the state... Yeesh!
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Last edited by MattusMaximus; 25th August 2009 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 26th August 2009, 06:56 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Springfork View Post
This article appeared last Friday in the Decatur, IL Herald & Review paper.
http://www.herald-review.com/article...al/1043264.txt
...!! I hang my head in embarrassment that I still live here in a place where so many people seem to have invincible ignorance and sound-proof heads.
let's just have a look at the veracity of the dowser's claim in that report (my bolding):

Quote:
...friends tried to dowse for water on some acreage so they could dig a well...They were walking all over that property looking for a well," he said...He took the rods, and in mere moments, they had their location, and when the backhoe operator dug there, he struck water.
Being the nasty sceptic that I am, I looked up the Illinois regulations for digging private water wells.

BEFORE digging a well a property owner has to apply for a permit, note the relevant passages from the FAQs and permit application itself.

Quote:
http://web.aces.uiuc.edu/vista/pdf_pubs/PLANWELL.PDF
Well permits are required by the state of Illinois for all
drinking water wells. Before construction begins, well
contractors must obtain these permits from the Department
of Public Health and (in some counties) from the local
health department.
Note that in Il, private property owners can undertake their own water well construction without having to use a well contractor, BUT, the permit conditions still apply.

From the permit form, the applicant has to supply a,
Quote:
...draw[ing of] the proposed construction site with dimensions showing the water well, direction of slope, distance to buildings and property lines, sewer lines, all septic system components including septic tanks and seepage fields, and other sources of conftamination,
, note again the bolding.

So this reporting of an anecdote is SOP for dowsers, overstating the case, IMO.

ETA: And their boasts of finding graves and identifying their "residents" are so exaggerated as to be quite laughable.
None of their claims can be verified... since that would require exhuming the bodies for confirmation (or of course, just checking the headstone...)
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Last edited by EHocking; 26th August 2009 at 07:06 AM.
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Old 26th August 2009, 01:20 PM   #9
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Nice work EHocking.
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Old 27th August 2009, 05:56 AM   #10
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You're welcome - it was surprisingly easy to get this information - 10mins on Google max.

Also there is extensive aquifer information for Shelby county and even Cowden itself supplied by the state and county sites for Illinois available online, and I have no doubt if you are a local, more readily available at their municipal offices.

As with the Betz "report" - a little foreknowledge of an area's geology and aquifers are a boon to a "dowser".

It reminds me of my post on your other dowsing thread, that in context, won't be inappropriate to repost:
Originally Posted by EHocking View Post
You made me look, and then I wandered over to the British Dowser's Association website as a proponent suggested, where I found this "interesting" passage on their water dowsing page,

"The movement of water underground varies considerably in relation to the local terrain and underlying geology, and knowledge of these factors locally and appropriate geological knowledge and research aid greatly in the dowsing process."

How telling...
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Old 27th August 2009, 03:42 PM   #11
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I've discovered (not that others haven't before me) another rich seam (ha) of dowsing - the British army. Or at least, members of the unofficial forum (which I think must reflect an even greater proportion not so active online). Quite a few were either believers or fence-sitters, even Explosive Ordnance Demolition types. I ended up there asking after the claim that the UK government used dowsing to detect mines in the Falklands

Closet I could find was a map-dowsing study that was both official, and carried out using mines (inert!), but at a UK site. It failed miserably.
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