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'Water witches' pit science against folklore


Posted on Thursday, 29 July, 2021 | Comment icon 11 comments

Can you really find water by dowsing ? Image Credit: Thomas Pennant
Can dowsers really find water sources using nothing but a wooden stick or is dowsing a centuries-long con ?
The demand for dowsing, the age-old practice of using either a forked stick or two metal rods to locate hidden resources under the ground, has been on the rise in recent years, mostly due to the extreme droughts to have hit parts of the United States and the desperation of the people affected by them.

Dowsing is thought to have originated in 15th-Century Germany where it was first used to find precious metals however it soon became synonymous with the hunt for hidden sources of water.

While scientists these days tend to shun the practice as nothing more than pseudoscience, dowsing is still proving popular - especially in the worst hit regions of California where some farmers have come to rely on the efforts of dowsers to locate water for their crops.

The jury is still out, however, on whether or not dowsing actually works in the way that is implied.
"There's been at least some research testing the dowsers' skill," said Todd Jarvis of Oregon State University. "And for every study that says there's nothing to it, there's a study that says there's something to it."

In an article on its website, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) writes:

"The natural explanation of 'successful' water dowsing is that in many areas water would be hard to miss. The dowser commonly implies that the spot indicated by the rod is the only one where water could be found, but this is not necessarily true. In a region of adequate rainfall and favorable geology, it is difficult not to drill and find water!"

While there is little doubt that some dowsers do achieve success when searching for water, it's going to take some pretty strong evidence to convince the scientific community that this is down to anything other than random chance.

Source: How Stuff Works | Comments (11)


Tags: Dowsing


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by Buzz_Light_Year on 29 July, 2021, 13:20
No it isn't. I can do it and I can also find underground electric and sewer lines. I have known at least 3 besides myself that have the ability to do this. Don't ask me how I do it or how it works because I haven't a clue.
Comment icon #3 Posted by papageorge1 on 29 July, 2021, 15:03
I believe there i something real to dowsing like I believe a lot of other things that don't belong in a materialist paradigm. What the bleep do we know.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Wreck7 on 29 July, 2021, 21:13
It works.   I use two bent steel rods held loosely. You can find whatever you're looking for. Have someone hide a quarter under a cup with two or three empty ones. Think "quarter" and the rods will cross over that cup. Use them to find water by thinking "water" then then ask yourself "how deep" walk away from the spot until the rods cross again and that's your depth.  Try it. 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Twin on 29 July, 2021, 22:15
I'm not to sure I fully grasp the meaning of:
Comment icon #6 Posted by Twin on 29 July, 2021, 22:15
I'm not to sure I fully grasp the meaning of: In a region of adequate rainfall and favorable geology, it is difficult not to drill and find water!" Anyway, Ive seen it done and it worked
Comment icon #7 Posted by NCC1701 on 29 July, 2021, 22:51
If it worked, dowsers would be rich people.
Comment icon #8 Posted by psyche101 on 29 July, 2021, 22:58
Put to the test, it fails.    
Comment icon #9 Posted by gillmanjoe on 29 July, 2021, 23:29
my parents did it on their property in the ozarks and found a natural spring. during some parts of the year it runs as hard as a kitchen faucet.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Hugh Mungus on 30 July, 2021, 0:33
I've seen it done to find water mains. No proof other than my eyes. I had some old plans of the mains i was trying to find and when the city council contractors turned up, dug a few holes where my plans showed the main, then started dowsing and found the main we were looking for about 10 meters away on the other side of a driveway. Dug once, hit the main spot on.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Trihalo42 on 31 July, 2021, 11:37
The science is that impure water, a conductor, moving across the earth's magnetic field results in ionization (static). It's like passing a straight piece of wire over a magnet. That ionization is best detected in very dry conditions, which is usually why people are looking for water in the first place. The two metal rods technique is simply static in the air causing the rods to move together. Any kind of grounding, like morning dew, will disrupt the effect. The same technique can be used to locate PVC water mains without tracer wire or having tracer tape that has broken down over the years, a... [More]


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