When you see the word dowser, you probably have an image of a person walking back and forth through a field while holding a forked stick looking for underground water. When the stick suddenly bends groundward, it's supposedly pointing to water. If you're wondering if such a primitive device can actually work, you aren't alone.
The claims that dowsing can find water have been scientifically investigated numerous times, but dowsing has yet to be proven. In fact, James Randi, the stage magician (The Amazing Randi) and professional skeptic has offered a prize to any dowser who could successfully locate water in underground pipes 80 percent of the time. The prize has grown from $10,000 to over a million dollars and has yet to be claimed.
Randi said that "the sad fact is that dowsers are no better at finding water than anyone else. Drill a well almost anywhere in an area where water is geologically possible, and you will find it."
Dowsing or water witching has been around for thousands of years. The forked stick may be the popular image of a dowsing rod, but dowsers also use crossed sticks or pendulums as an aid in their art. I say art, because dowsing, the power of finding, lies within the dowser and not their particular "prop" or aid. Dowsing rods have been called divining rods for good reason.
Dowsing has been described as divination. Dowsing is a paranormal activity that belies scientific explanation. It's entirely possible that the practitioner of dowsing has an intuition or sensitivity to certain vibrations. Sounds a bit farfetched to our skeptical, scientific ears, but if dowsing is unscientific, how then can we prove fact or fiction scientifically? We probably can't.
Modern science is skeptical of any phenomenon that can't be observed by our senses. Yet, the advancement of science owes much to the invention of devices to amplify what we can't sense unaided. The telescope allows us to see into the heavens. The electron microscope the incredibly small.
The universe is filled with electromagnetic radiation. There's music in the air that you can't hear without a radio. Conversations you can join when you flip open your cell phone. Can you admit to the possibility that certain people are sensitive to electromagnetic vibrations without external aids?The divining rod might be viewed as a way the dowser might concentrate, but the detection ultimately lies within the mind of the operator.
Fact or fiction? The skeptics like Randi say fiction, but we are continually surprised at the power of the human mind. Do you suppose dowsing could be fact?