Pseudoscience and Water Dowsing

Tim Cullen over at Malaga Bay has published another thought provoking post about the Greenland icecap and its evolution over geological time, here. He has discovered a new category – Post-Normal Creationism; I would suggest a synonym – Lyellianism. Read his post and the previous ones – and marvel at what the progressive education system in the West has produced for the last 100 years or so. (I should add I have no idea what causes ice ages, and the development of ice caps like Greenland and Antarctica, though I have mentioned the role of solar protons coming into the earth-system via the polar Birkeland currents into the ionosphere as a possible explanation for ice formation).

AIG News issue 118, last of the printed issues and in colour is out and an AIG member just emailed me that he noticed a letter to the editor criticising me for the heresy of believing in water dowsing, apart from being misprepresented by that letter writer. Previously I have been told by a friend that I also copped a bit of criticism on the AIG LinkedIn forum over the publication of the Pollack EZ water article some time back. And of course the usual suspects have been trying to have me dismissed as editor ever since I was first asked by the then AIG President Rick Rogerson, now head of the WA Geological Survey, to take up the position. Apparently my appointment was seen by some government types in Brisbane as an unwanted tactic by the conservatives in AIG to ensure AIG News did not become politically correct; other academics in South Australia were mightily displeased I was editor as well, and tried very hard to have me dismissed for publishing sceptical articles in AIG News. They failed miserably, but equally one does not stand in front of a spooked herd of bison either, so I thought it wise to retire from editing AIG News at the end of 2014.

Water Dowsing – the ABC rural news reported ( that the incoming new head of the CSIRO, Dr. Larry Marshall, wants to make it easier “for farmers to dowse or divine for water”.

“I’ve seen people do this with close to 80% accuracy and I’ve no idea how they do it” he said.

As I wrote in an earlier issue of AIG News, I too can dowse for water and did so during the early 1970’s at the Yeelirrie exploration project when Davies Drilling and I were sent out to find ground water for the exploration camp. (We were at that time billeted in the shearer’s quarters at the Yeelirrie homestead, and hence had insufficient water for the proposed large exploration camp and test plant).

The driller and I drilled one hole that ended up dry, and moved to a second location, that was also starting to work out as another dry hole when the driller asked whether I could dowse for water, since we were basically wasting money. My response was that I did not know, but I would give it a go. So I found a metal clothes hanger, reshaped it into a “L” shape,(I read about this in book years past) and with dowsing tool in hand, started to pace along the track. To my surprise the rod made a distinct swing and I marked the position on the track. We drilled it, and found water. Task accomplished. Afterwards at university I discovered that the geologists in the then USSR used dowsing and other “novel” techniques but universally mocked by Western mainstream science, to locate mineral deposits etc via airborne surveys. However the tradition of mocking scientific novelty remains alive and well, I have since discovered.

So I know dowsing works and like Dr. Larry Marshall I don’t understand how either but after reading Professor Gerald H. Pollack’s book “The Fourth Phase of Water”, I wrote in the AIG News article that perhaps Pollack’s discovery of this new phase of water might enable us to scientifically explain why some people have the (proven) ability to water dowse. Of course Pollack has been dismissed as a crank by the usual suspects, but this comes as no surprise and is to expected from the scientifically retarded who criticised me about the subject.

How might water dowsing be explained? As ambient environmental infra-red radiation causes water at physical interfaces, such as in rock pores and fractures, to develop into a fourth phase that involves the partial removal of protons (H+) away from the water at the rock interface, thereby producing negatively charged hydronium ions, then if that water moves or flows, even imperceptibly, then it will generate a local magnetic field which may be picked up or sensed by a sensitive observer. Is it the dowsing stick itself that picks this up? Or does the human organism itself react to the “dowsing” field? I don’t know but unlike many of my peers, I don’t dismiss the phenomena but relegate it to the “to be explained” category when more information and facts come to hand. And that is the difference between thinking scientifically and other thinking patterns.

An interesting fact is that Russian scientists generally don’t have the Western “Anglo-American” disdain for anomalous observations and phenomena, partly because after 70 years of doctrinaire socialist conditioning many have stopped thinking religiously and instead learnt to think scientifically. And this is the crux of the whole issue – the way we think and why I distinguish two types of thinking – scientific versus religious thinking.

The religious thinker explains novel, or new, phenomena by determing whether the novelty fits into the existing scientific paradigm or religion. If it does it is accepted and if not, then it is rejected. The scientific thinker, on the other hand deals with the novelty by either explaining it in terms of extant knowledge, and if that is not possible, then lays it to one side for re-examination when new theories, or data, become available. The scientific mind never asserts that the something is impossible, rather that the something is, at present, inexplicable.

Western science itself evolved from religious thinking and the problem is that one does not need to be overtly religious, in the traditional sense, to think religiously. After all if you are part of a culture that believes in divine creation, which these days has been accepted as the Big Bang Theory, then you must of necessity have a science which is compatible with this cultural belief.

So stated simply, religious thinking is the process by which authority trumps evidence under all circumstances, whether that authority is a divine script or a scientific theory. After all, don’t scientists assert that all scientific theories are provisional and that obsolete ones need to be dropped in favour of newer theories that are able to explain the observations better than their predecessors? So too the critics of water dowsing or water divining – none of these critics could be described as being scientifically critical but as religiously intolerant pseudoscientists displaying cognitive dissonance and thus criticising the messenger who delivers an impermissible message.

The cause of this type of thinking can be traced back to over a century ago when, in both the UK and and the Anglosphere, “progressive” education was put in place, not to develop critical thinkers, but to produce socially compatible members of a community. In fact it may be reasonable to assume that this method of education was first started in Germany during the 19th century.

Scientific thinking requires the existence and acceptance of objective facts, but it is the purging of this manner of thinking by the West’s educational systems that has led to the dominance of religious thinking whereby individuals do not need to think matters out for themselves, but to tacitly accept the doctrines taught them by the public education system and the universities. The unintended outcome of this manner of thinking is the development of pseudoscience, the science done by religious thinkers who apply their intellectual paradigms to prophesy. Anyone can use the scientific method as well, so one does not need to be credentialed in it to be scientific. This possibility, of course, is anathema to the various guilds and professions in our society.

There’s also a fact not generally known – the scientific method is not about predicting a future event or result, but about predicting the outcome of an experiment to test a theory framed to explain an existing observation or phenomena in the here and now. Hence the theory of anthropogenic global warming is not a scientific theory. You cannot have an observation of something that has not happened, or is not happening, so the belief that increased atmospheric CO2 by humans burning hydrocarbons and coal will result in runaway global warming or catastrophic climate change is not a scientific belief or theory but a prophecy expressed in scientific language, or scientese. And it goes without saying that the theory has been most decidedly falsified, so why are our politicians still harping on about it? Because it isn’t science, but religion, and religion is used to modify the behaviour of people to ensure social peace, or so the devout insist.  So science is about explaining things in the here and now, and prophesy about the future or here-after, which is the business of religion.

Those proselytising the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, (CAGW), or climate change, are thus not scientists, but priests of a technological religion. And I’ve noticed my loudest critics also seem devout in their CO2 religion. Coincidence? No, devotion to authority is the hallmark of the religious; the objection is thus not scientific but pseudoscientific. Their, the critics that is, problem is their obvious inability to admit ignorance that is the hall mark of the scientific thinker. Only the religious are 100% certain and absolute in their explanation of natural phenomena, and hence absolutely certain that the ability to water dowse is crank science. Only the religious dismisses scientific novelty when existing theories are unable to explain the observation; the scientist, on the other hand, realises his understanding is incomplete and puts the anomalous phenomenon into the too-hard-at-the-moment tray. Not so the religious mind, of course, which is absolutely certain of itself and whose understanding is thus complete. The sad part in all this is that the lunatics remain in charge of the asylum, so I don’t expect anything to change much during my lifetime. It seems that what we call science today is in reality nothing other than post-modern religion in which a created (Big Bang) physical universe exists and whose workings are explained by the credentialed priestly class dressed in white dust coats. And it seems Medieval practices haven’t changed much, except this time the persecution is rhetorical rather than physical. Or so we hope.

About Louis Hissink

Retired diamond exploration geologist. I spent my professional life looking for mineral deposits, found some, and also located a number of kimberlites in NSW and Western Australia. Exploration geology is the closest one can get to practicing the scientific method, mineral exploration always being concerned with finding anomalous geophysical or geochemical data, framing a model and explanation for the anomaly and then testing it with drilling or excavation. All scientific theories are ultimately false since they invariably involved explaining something with incomplete extant knowledge. Since no one is omniscient or knows everything, so too scientific theories which are solely limited to existing knowledge. Because the future always yields new data, scientific theories must change to be compatible with the new data. Thus a true scientist is never in love with any particular theory, always knowing that when the facts change, so too must he/she change their minds.
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2 Responses to Pseudoscience and Water Dowsing

  1. Jim Coyle says:

    Mr Hissink; I also know dowsing works as I have used it repeatedly to locate water lines and sources. When I moved to my first “farm” I needed to redrill a well but didn’t kow where the wellhead was. A neighbor said he could witch for the water and tell me where it was. I figured the man was insane at best but said go ahead just for giggles. I took him 3 minutes to find the head and the depth of the water table at that location. The area where I was located had a high table, generally 6ft in drought years, but he told me to sink a sand point to 15 ft to get good water and he was right. I asked him if anyone could dowse and he said sure and showed me he basics and the rest is practice. I was instructed to walk a grid and when the rods swung together mark the ground then back up until the rods part again. That will be the depth to the main source of water. I don’t know about dowsing for anything else but I’m sure it works one just needs to know what to look for in your rod behavior.


  2. fabio says:

    Modern education, which disdain memorization, systematization, deduction, etc., can be introduced in Germany in the 19th century, but the predecessor was Comenius (Kominsky) in 17th century and now he is a patron of Unesco.


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