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 They are listed at the Randi site as Cumberland Industries UK LTD but I think this information is out of date.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
United Kingdom W1U6PZ
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!