Woo Bomb Detector Exposed (Update 2)

So finally, I can update you on dowsing rod bomb-detector story just in time for the BBC Newsnight broadcast tonight where the truth about the “ADE651” is revealed. I have been silent on this since I last blogged on these devices because I have been assisting the BBC Newsnight team in their report.

Here is a shorter version but without yours truly.

The first time I heard about the ADE651 was when someone twittered a link to a New York Time piece about a bomb detector that appeared to be nothing more than a dowsing rod.  Two journalists had gone over to Iraq to investigate a story about a British company that had been selling a device to the security forces to screen for bombs and weapons for between £16,000 -£30,000 apiece. According to the product information, the ADE651 could detect concealed explosives, narcotics, weapons, human bodies, illegal ivory and even truffles whether they were underground, underwater and even at a distance of 3 miles from a plane. The key to the system was “programmed substance detection cards” which each carried the “frequency” of the substance they’re supposed to detect. This was achieved by a technology based on “nuclear quadruple resonance.”

Clearly this was pseudo-scientific babble. To my eyes, the ADE651 was a sophisticated looking dowsing rod, and yet the company ATSC Ltd that made them had already sold £50million worth of these devices to the Iraqis and had just secured another major contract.

When I looked into the story more, I discovered that a number of parties including the James Randi Educational Foundation had already investigated the claims of ATSC about their device and dismissed it as a scam. Randi even extended his famous $1million test for a device that defies scientific explanation. There was also a possé of bloggers most notably Techowiz, Dubious Dick of the UK Skeptic’s Forum and Bad Astronomer on the case.

To the naive, dowsing seems plausible when one considers how easily objects appear to move at a distance by invisible force fields as commonly observed with magnets. However the truth is that dowsing rods move not because of invisible energies or force fields but because the diviner is controlling the rod by either deliberate or unconscious, yet imperceptible movements of the body and hands. This is called the “ideomotor effect” and was demonstrated over 150 years ago by Michael Faraday when he developed instruments to detect minute body movements. This is why dowsing rods and pendulums have to be held to work. The ideomotor effect also explains the apparent spiritual control of Ouija boards and tilting tables that were popular during the fashionable era of the 19th century spiritualism fad.

However, unlike Ouija boards, dowsing has managed to survive into the 21st century but it is no longer a harmless parlour game. In Baghdad last year, over 250 people including children were killed in two massive attacks from suicide car bombs that had passed through security check-points equipped with the ADE651.This was no longer a trivial matter of woo and flaky beliefs. The Iraqi’s had been sold a false sense of security and by relying on these devices lives have been lost and would continue to be lost.

What made the issue all the more appalling to me was the company selling these devices, ATSC Ltd, was based in Somerset close to where I live. I felt a responsibility to do something about it. I went ahead and wrote a blog about the ADE651.I urged readers to contact David Laws MP, Liberal Democrat for Yeovil where the company operates. I posted harrowing pictures from Baghdad and challenged the inventor of the ADE651 and director of ATSC, Mr. Jim McCormick to justify his activities.

To my utter surprise, Jim McCormick responded to my blog and invited me to a demonstration at his offices.  How could I refuse? After the initial public correspondence on my blog, we entered into discussion by email as Jim was fed up of the harassment that he had experienced. I decided to play along and act as a genuinely interested party as I really wanted to get to the bottom of this.  I even suggested that there was a possible scientific explanation. So I called his secretary. She called my secretary. My secretary called her and we played this game over the month of December.

At the beginning of December the Newsnight team contacted me after discovering that I was planning to visit ATSC. Would I be willing to bring them along for the demonstration? Would I be prepared for filming or recording? Of course, I agreed but I was increasingly coming to the conclusion that Jim McCormick would neither allow any filming nor was he likely to meet with me.

By the end of December, the weather was getting bad so I emailed Jim saying that I expected that the snow had been the problem for arranging a visit but that I was still very eager.

Jim wrote back,

“Hi Bruce,

Yes, like most people, our office has suffered due to the adverse weather. Unfortunately, I have to take another trip overseas and will not be back in the UK until the then of January. I know you want to get some information but due to some legal and logistical issues, would you be prepared to enter into an NDA (non-disclosure) agreement?, as this information (and any results from it) would be for your eyes only and not for general public broadcast.

Very Best Regards,


I figured he was never going to agree to my visit and even then I would be forced to sign a gagging order.

But it wasn’t only me asking questions.

In December, just days after the latest bombing, the head of Iraqi security who had been responsible for equipping his personnel with the ADE651, Maj. Gen. Jehad al-Jabiri and Jim McCormick were called to account in a room packed with journalists.  They claimed that the ADE651 worked and that all it needed was properly trained personnel. To prove their point, a security officer holding an ADE651 walked past two grenades visibly placed on a table and the rod duly swung in the direction of the deadly devices. The Newsnight team managed to get their hands on that footage and I was asked to evaluate the demonstration. To my eyes it was a clear example of either downright fakery or the involuntary ideomotor effect. Either way, I was not convinced.

So what will you discover when you tune in tonight? Well, Newsnight managed to get their hands on a forerunner of the ADE651, the GT200 and will show what they found inside the box. They also managed to get their hands on the “programmed substance detection cards” chip inside the black box (I helped with this) and get it analysed by experts. Even I was surprised by what they found.

Hopefully tonight’s broadcast will raise the profile of the issue to warrant an intervention. I never received a response from David Laws MP. But many questions still remain. How did ATSC Ltd manage to get away with selling dowsing rods to detect bombs? How did they get an export license? Why were the Iraqi security forces so gullible? Why is the head of Iraqi security so convinced that the ADE651 works?

If Maj. Gen. Jehad al-Jabiri and Jim McCormick are really that naïve, then this demonstrates that some supernatural beliefs are potentially harmful and that scientists need to take an active role in challenging claims and activities that put lives at risk.

I recently wrote a response for “The Edge” on the question, “How has the internet changed the way you think?” In it I talked about the power of the internet to bring about change. To my fellow bloggers out there, I hope we have made a difference.

Meanwhile Mr. Jim McCormick has been arrested for fraud. Guess, I won’t get my demonstration.

(PS I’ll be demonstrating my own version of the ADE651 in tonight’s programme)


I am going to take a little break now.

UN-BLOODY-BELIEVABLE: How audacious is Jim????

The New York Times contacted Jim on Saturday after his arrest but he is unrepentant and claims that ATSC is still “fully operational.”

They should throw the book at this rogue.


Filed under In the News, supernatural, Television

56 responses to “Woo Bomb Detector Exposed (Update 2)

  1. Charlie

    I think this is quite brilliant. You should be proud of your involvement in exposing this scam.

  2. i couln’t agree more with the above comments

  3. podblack

    Brilliant, very well done! 😀

  4. Edd

    I wrote to my MP about it too – Mike Hancock. He never replied either.

  5. “We are working on a new model with flashing lights” still has to be the best McCormick quote.

    Great job!

  6. Whay Haaay!

    The power of the mighty blog.

    As Techowiz suggested, you were unlikely to ever get your meeting with Slippery Jim, but this is an even better outcome.

  7. Very well done Bruce. Looks like you won’t need my set of questions now.
    I posted the following on McCormick’s blog:

    knock knock

    Who’s there

    The cops you’re nicked……

    Hope he didn’t lose his humour along with his liberty.
    regards to all

  8. First Amendment

    Hooray !!

  9. Bloody well done Sir. Score one for honest blogging…

  10. jacarandamimosifolia

    Excellent result, well done indeed. And as you say, the power of the internet can indeed bring about change.

  11. Certainly a great result Bruce!

    (and here I was referring to dowsing as the idiotomer effect)

  12. Very well done, Bruce. I hope that you are proud of the part that you played in exposing this fraud.

  13. For those that did not catch the newsnight report it is at the following link:



  14. In reply to Bruce’s question “How did they get an export licence?” the answer is that they didn’t need one – it’s non-military technology so isn’t covered by export licensing. It’s also worth noting that the sale of these devices has *not* been banned (unfortunately). The Government can only restrict sales of them where British and allied troops may be put at risk, which in practice means only Iraq and Afghanistan. Jim McCormick is still free to sell the thing to any other country he likes.

  15. By the way, there’s a slightly hilarious video demonstration of this device in “action” here: http://www.prosec.com/Adds/ADE_651.mpg

    Readers may also be interested in Wikipedia’s article on the ADE 651 scandal, which seems to be taking off following today’s revelations:

  16. Bruce, thank you for reporting and taking action.

  17. jacarandamimosifolia

    So selling something that purports to save lives on the basis of entirely bogus science is now an arrestable offence. Excellent news. When should we expect the arrest of all of those involved in selling homeopathy?

  18. Bruce, my wife Hazel is a little worried that you always carry a piece of broken wire coathanger in your jacket?

  19. Steve Page

    Absolutely awesome result, Bruce. 🙂

  20. Very exciting.
    Tangible evidence that your work makes a difference is rare. Enjoy your moment – but for G*d’s sake drive safely. We’re still expecting a third episode of bad luck and nothing attracts the evil eye like success.
    You know that better than anyone, Bruce. 😉

  21. skener

    I believe it would be ridiculous if Jim McCormick is charged with fraud if his device is proved to be a very profitable hoax. If it can be proved that recent bombings occurred following ‘clearance’ by one or more of his systems, he should be charged with murder, or at the very least, conspiracy to murder and possibly, terrorism (As he assisted bombers in their safe-passage to their targets). All assets generated as a result of this scam should be confiscated and he should spend a very long time in prison.

  22. Wa Halla

    You have never heard of the emperor’s new clothes. If I give you £1,000,000 to confirm the emperor’s clothes look very nice, who is it hurting. Obviously Mr. Jim McCormick thinks the emperor’s clothes look fabulous and he will take a lie detector test to prove it. He has £50,000,000 reasons to believe it.

  23. Hi Bruce,

    My name is general Al-Jabiri I am head of explosives In the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, how much for your ADE651 as shown on tv newsnight, can you make it cheaper than, $85,000,000, for 1,500 devices?
    Yours ever hopefully
    The General

  24. brucehood

    Thank you all

    Yes General, I can produce a cheaper version as shown on Newsnight and the beauty is it doubles as a coat hanger for your uniform.

    Yours for only £10,000 each


  25. Bruce, thought you might like to know that the google news UK pages are now listing 228 articles about this matter. Excellent progress…

  26. Skener, maybe McCormick should be extradited to Iraq…

  27. Watch out for the New York Times tomorrow they are doing a follow up story on this.

  28. Maybe a traditional trial by jury should be replaced by a test of Jim’s faith in his ‘technology’….

    I say he gets stuck in the middle of a minefield, with an ADE651 and a topshop security explosives recognition card programmed for “Achtung! Minen”.

    If he gets out to safety then the device is a good ‘un and he’s innocent. But if there’s a loud bang and bits of Jim scattered liberally around; then oops… he was wrong about it.

  29. Massive win! Kudos to you, Bruce, and everyone else involved.

  30. Google now totals 525 articles…

  31. brucehood

    The story is not over yet….more to follow. Will keep you posted.

  32. That is good to know, waiting…

  33. maarten

    Thanks for this Bruce. Very good work!

  34. I notice Bruce that in your main article you are taking a ‘little break’, is there any truth in the rumour that you are overwhelmed with orders for your ADE651?
    The Iraqi general perhaps?
    I think we should be told, have you gone over to the other side?

  35. brucehood

    Well, when not fighting international fraudsters, I have a day job at the University of Bristol and my teaching starts this week… so blogging regularly is a bit tough, that and finishing a textbook and starting the next campaign.

    But in the words of Arnie, “I’ll be back”

    There is so much woo out there!

  36. Bravo.
    It’s nice to see the good guys win for a change.
    Now let’s homeopathy ditched by the local Chemist.

  37. Pingback: Episode 19 – 29th January 2010 » The Pod Delusion - A Podcast about Interesting Things

  38. Awesome! Thanks for the info!

  39. Pingback: One Year On & What Has Happened to Jim McCormick? |

  40. diohuni

    Latest news on the fake detectors scandal here:

    This was the man who said:

    “Whether it’s magic or scientific, what I care about is it detects bombs,” said Maj. Gen. Jehad al-Jabiri, head of the Ministry of the Interior’s General Directorate for Combating Explosives.

    “I don’t care about Sandia or the Department of Justice or any of them,” General Jabiri said. “I know more about this issue than the Americans do. In fact, I know more about bombs than anyone in the world.”

    You can check out the blogs at:




    or our new Google Group here:

    The more coverage this story get the better.

    The foolowing still are at large:
    James McCormick and the ADE 651, Gary Bolton and the GT200. David Vollmar and the HEDD1, General Pierre Hadji Georgiou at ProSec in Lebanon, Ilie Stelian at Mira Telecom, John Wyatt at SDS, Malcolm Roe, Sam Tree, Yuri Markov, Horizon Group India, Simon Sherrard at Comstrac, and quite a few others. They should not be sleeping too well now.

    ProSec were the conduit for the corrupt $85 million ADE 651 sale to Iraq. We have reason to believe they may now be changing agencies to the equally idiotic HEDD1 from Unival in Germany.

  41. Hi, anyone want to sign the petition here please:


    If interested in the history please see here:







  42. Please tell me that youre going to keep this up! Its so very good and so important. I cant wait to read more from you. I just really feel like you know so substantially and know how to make people listen to what you might have to say. This blog is just too cool to become missed. Wonderful things, seriously. Please, PLEASE keep it up!

  43. Hi the pilatesbiz et al,

    Just to let you know that Clinton Rogers of BBC Somerset (got the original interview back in 2009 with James McCormick (ADE651) has recently done a report that asks the question that the Fake Explosives Detectors Campaign has been asking for a long time now i.e. why has McCormick still not been charged after 2 plus years of police investigation.

    Of course, another outstanding question is why Gary Bolton of GT200 infamy has still not even been arrested, let alone charged!

    Clinton Rogers report available here:


    You may also like to take a peek at the next piece on the blog regarding the ADE651 still being extensively used in Iraq to this day! WTF!!!

    By way, Hoppy The Hopping Mad Frog makes a brief appearance in Clintons report.

  44. Rox

    Commenting on Baroness Warsi and Let’s Keep Religion Sidelined :

    There was a BBC report from Turkey recently suggesting that (in general) Turkey no longer aims to be part of Europe, but is more interested in increasing its influence in an area which corresponds to the non-European Ottoman Empire. The report used the word “Ottoman”, though it is not favoured in Turkey.

    The idea of a Europe with increased christian confidence sitting next to a neo-Ottoman Empire with increased muslim confidence and millions of its offspring already inside Europe does not appeal to me as a christian-coloured atheist.

  45. Insanity is a system which exploits the planet and exploits the people. How did this product every get a patent, what happened to British standards and testing products before production?

  46. roxks

    Well, it would not be in the interests of the producer of this to test it before or after production, because it doesn’t work, and he doesn’t care about that. There is a British Standard only for things for which a British Standard has been issued , and I don’t suppose there is a British Standard for bomb detectors .If there is, all he has to do is not claim to meet it .

    • The intrinsic value of an intellectual copyright in translation of matter into product is the significance and credibility of its purpose realized as authentic to the market consumption. Wheres the regulation between qualification and distribution? Is the law not supposed to defend the public interest in relation to product placement, defend the public environment and block the complete waste of finite resources.

      Can any market claim to be free, when the intrinsic value of public assets are exploited by the unregulated manufacture of public resources into international public harm and most likely death, given the purpose of the device. I feel as a part of this, as a member of a nation, we as a nation are responsible for the release of death and harm to international recipients of this unregulated questionable liberty, this member of our community as unleashed.

      I move to recommend all profits associated with this crime are the property of those injured and the relatives of those killed, since, in allowing a product to leave these shores we as a people have inherited the deformation and destruction it as caused (the responsibility). Whilst, money liberated from crime is no real compensation for death or injury the perception of security created and the ill gotten gains attributed to unilateral corruption tendered as freedom exploited to far, is a systemic failure in a country where risk assessment is supposed to defend the public from harm and in this case as evidently not.

  47. roxks

    But this is the main story on the BBC website today, he has been found guilty ! Well done Bruce indeed, but you don’t get a mention which is most unfair. It’s made to look as though it was obvious to the police and everybody else all along that the thing didn’t work . So why didn’t they do anything before ?

    I share your personal bewilderment about where this was happening. The man comes from little old Langport, which is where part of my own family (Mead by name) originated.

    • brucehood

      Thanks Roxks – it is good to see that sometimes we can make a difference

      • ps. Excellent analysis of a fraudster and killer, should the tax payer suffer the cost £40,000 a year, or should he do community service for the rest of his life in this country or one of the countries he’s abused. Who administers the justice on behalf of the victims, our state or every other state victimized?

  48. G’day Bruce.

    In fact – a very g’day indeed.

    I’m not sure that Jim would agree on how good a day it is – I susupect that he’s had better ones!

    Still, you’ve got to laugh, haven’t you?


  49. Pingback: Bruce Hood: Woo Bombdetectors — the End of Dowsing for Death | Living Biology

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