Dowsing for Death

With the release of “The Men Who Stare at Goats” this week in the UK, one might be forgiven for thinking the US army are complete knuckleheads when it comes to dismissing woo. That of course, would be a sweeping generalization (or sergeantization) depending on the rank of the remark. Thankfully, there are some in the current US army who are less inclined to woo-sh*t when they smell it.

This article from the New York Times is both comical and chilling at the same time. Apparently the Iraqi army is relying on magic to locate bombs and placing their personnel at risk. According to the article, the US military is less convinced. Nevertheless, a completely unscrupulous company is apparently  selling magical wands that are allegedly based on nothing more than dowsing and the authorities are buying them up at $60,000 a piece. Here is some of the sales jargon that accompanies the product info.

Simultaneous Detection of Multiple Types of Explosives or Drugs. The ADE651® incorporates electrostatic ion attraction [ESA] technology to target the specific substances. It can accommodate multiple substance detection cards to detect a broad range of explosive or drug [narcotic] substances. It can more specifically identify a substance by removing detection cards from the ADE651® after detection is received until the attraction is lost.

Sounds plausible doesn’t it? I understand that there are chemical “sniffing” devices that we have all seen at airports etc, but apparently the claims of  this company are completely unwarranted. The James Randi foundation has challenged the company to scientifically prove the efficacy of their wands and the NYTimes article reports that the US Department of Defense has dismissed the claims. That does not stop the Iraqi’s Ministry of Interior spending a reputed $32m for these wands last year.  Major  General Jehad al-Jabiri, head of the Ministry of the Interior’s General Directorate for Combating Explosives is reported as saying, “Whether it’s magic or scientific, what I care about is it detects bombs.”

So who are these charlatans of death who are willing to sell a completely bogus piece of junk that has the potential to cost lives? This is where I am aghast with horror. It apparently comes from our neck of the woods. They are listed at the Randi site as Cumberland Industries UK LTD but I think this information is out of date. I have checked and found these guys

ATSC (UK) Ltd
26 York Street
LONDON,
United Kingdom W1U6PZ
2

Is this the woo wand that detects bombs?

A Mr Vic would appear to be the foreign sales director and I believe this is a photo of the offending device. If (and I truly accept that I may have been wrong in misrepresenting your product and claims) this report is wrong and misrepresents your company then please set the record straight and issue a press release and opportunity to verify your product claims. There are some very serious accusations being made against your company and frankly if it is the case of dowsing for bombs then this needs to be stopped.

BTW if I seem to overuse “apparently, allegedly” etc it’s not that I don’t have an opinion, it’s just that I don’t have a large defense fund to pay for lawyers. KEEP LIBELS LAWS OUT OF SCIENCE!

26 Comments

Filed under In the News, supernatural

26 responses to “Dowsing for Death

  1. Bruce,
    This would be hilarious if it weren’t true. Divining rods for bombs??? WTF??

    The manufacturers of these devices are making a pretty penny off misplaced/misguided beliefs. A Harry Potter wand replica would be just as effective, and much cheaper.

    Pshaw.

  2. jacarandamimosifolia

    Weird. A quick google search shows that Cumberland Industries UK Ltd is based in Kettering and is “…a specialist engineering Company for the design and build of powered access platforms for the Utility Industries.” It has nothing to do with bomb detectors.

    Meanwhile, the link from the Randi Foundation site takes you to a page which describes the Quantum Sniffer with the words, (familiar to designers) ‘Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consec tetuer adipiscing elit. Praesent vestibulum molestie lacus.’

    Is someone winding someone up?

  3. Paul

    I went to see the goat film and it was dismal although I hope one of the goats will get a nomination for best actor or supporting actor.

    Knowing parts of the story are true makes the experience even more sobering despite the goats.

  4. The address of ATSC in London is merely a mail drop address that anyone can obtain for a few pounds a month, they are actually in Somerset.
    Cumberland Industries are actually in Jordan using another mail drop address like ATSC.
    The makers of the ADE (ATSC) currently have their webiste offline or, ‘under repair’ as the prefer to call it since the story broke in the New York Times.
    You can follow our efforts over the last 12 months to put these scammers out of business at:
    http://www.skeptics.org.uk/forum/showthread.php?p=47058
    regards

    • brucehood

      Thanks Technowiz… these guys need to be put out of business and now that I know that they are in my neck of the woods in Somerset, I feel even more annoyed… No doubt they are based at Glastonbury and are charging up rods at the Tor.

      Bravo on your efforts.

  5. M Yasin

    I am currently using the ADE651 in a private organisation in Cairo Egypt. I cannot believe all the abuse this product is recieving from people who have never used the product and have never worked in security before. I USE IT AND BELIEVE ME THIS PRODUCT WORKS. You people are accusing the manufacturers having never even come close to one of the devices. Do you all believe that governments and private organisations would buy the product without testing it, under their own conditions first. How stupid do you think people are?
    James Randi is a magician!!!!! What the hell does he know about security and protecting people. I really wish someone would take him up on his offer. Everyone is discussing scientic issues when the real question should be does it work in the field or not, which from a personal point of view it does.

    • brucehood

      I and my readers would be really interested to know HOW it works if not by chemical analysis and it does not have a power supply for such analysis… otherwise it sounds remarkably like dowsing.

      • Scote

        Yes, yes, M Yasin, do tell us how this amazing device can detect truffles from 3 miles in the air… (A function that is, I believe, entirely within the claims made by the manufacturer) I’m eager to start an aerial truffle survey of my locality…. ;->

        Does it occur to you, M Yasin, that there is absolutely no known way this device can work other than “magic”? That fact alone should tell you why James Randi is eminently qualified to judge this device.

  6. M Yasin
    Why don’t you take the challenge, as a user who believes it works?
    The ADE651 is only sold to the, corrupt, gullible or the stupid, which one are you?

  7. @M Yasin

    Why don’t you take the challenge? If you’re right, you’d make a million dollars. It isn’t only open to the manufacturers.

  8. @M Yasin,

    Would you be the same M Yasin exposed on the Ministry of Truth website posting under different names but from the same IP address, check the following link:

    http://www.ministryoftruth.me.uk/2009/11/05/british-company-sells-60000-dowsing-rods-to-iraq-as-explosives-detectors/comment-page-1/#comment-28185

    Caught you again, bye bye.
    regards

  9. To, obviously not toe…

  10. Pingback: Whats Hot » Blog Archive » Update on the Iraqi magic wand story

  11. Hi Bruce,

    Found the fraudsters multiple posting on the, ‘Scneier on security blog’, where not surprisingly they got caught again. Check it out on:
    http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/11/the_doghouse_ad.html?nc=85#comment-399815

    regards

  12. Hi Bruce,
    It would seem that McCormick is now fighting back against all the negative publicity.
    He is adding an upgrade that will convince us all that his scam device, the ADE651 actually works. The upgrade is going to be, ‘Flashing Lights’, well that’s me convinced, what about you?
    see below for the story:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1231678/Iraq-spent-85million-useless-bomb-detectors-Britain.html

    I suppose the upgrade will cost a little bit more, but hey whats a few thousand dollars more!!!
    regards

  13. Pingback: Maritime Accident Casebook

    • brucehood

      I don’t know when that photograph was taken but it is still pretty depressing to see. These guys are still up to their old ways from what I understand.

  14. I’ve just done a post, with a reference to your blog. We do deal with maritime safety and this information that needs to be out there.

    All this and 2012 too!

  15. My cognitive bit wasn’t working – I suddenly realised that you must have known Richard Gregory. Literally just before he died we were talking together, by email, about cognition in the maritime domain.

    • brucehood

      Not only did I know Richard but we were very good friends. We used to have chat every thursday about anything that intrigued us. I still miss him dearly.

  16. Even in the very short time we had to exchange thoughts I got to like him enormously.

    The other person we may share as an acquaintance is Susan Blackmore. We got to know each other in other ‘parapsychology days’. We both eventually had books out at around the same time. Her’s was ‘Adventures of a Parapsychologist’, mine was ‘Forbidden Knowledge’ and we both appear to have reached the same, sceptical, destination by different routes.

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