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No. 97: Jan-Feb 1995

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A Major Study Of Dowsing

Most evidence for the efficacy of dow-sing is anecdotal. Most evidence for the inefficacy of dowsing comes from carefully controlled field experiments, including such props as buried pipes with and without running water and other juicy targets for the dowser's wand. It is, therefore, somewhat surprising to find that a large study by physicists at the University of Munich supports the reality of dowsing. Here follows part of the abstract from a paper on this work:

"We report on the first major scientific program to tackle this intricate problem aiming for, at least, solid proof for either existence or non-existence of the debated phenomenon. Within a period of two years some 100 dowsers have been tested by means of sophisticated experiments, designed and supervised by a very large team of scientists. A statistical analysis of the results revealed a very high level of significance for the existence of a real dowsing phenomenon.

"Further geological experiments have been conducted, and are still going on, which aim at the location of underground drinking water. The results turn out to be extremely positive. This leaves hardly any doubt that certain persons are capable of locating position-dependent anomalies by utilizing a new, still unknown mechanism. Various attempts will be described which explain how the reproducible phenomena could be dealt with. In particular, arguments will be discussed which speak in favor of the dominance of a cause-reaction model compared with ESP explanations."

(Betz, Hans D.; "Recent Results on Water Dowsing," Journal of Scientific Exploration, 8:436, 1994. Journal address: P.O. Box 5848, Stanford, CA 94309-5848.)

Comment. The abstract here is frustratingly vague. If the full report fulfills the promise of the abstract, we will have a major scientific coup.

From Science Frontiers #97, JAN-FEB 1995. 1995-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987