Psychic Phenomenon Dowsing Rods and Dowsers Part 2

About the psychic phenomenon known as dowsing done by dowsers with dowsing rods or sticks, history and scientific study of the hunt for water.

Dowsing and Dowsers

Perhaps prompted by the news reports from Vietnam, the U.S. Dept. of the Interior and Utah State University conducted a dowsing research project in which over 150 people were asked to place wooden blocks wherever they got a dowsing reaction along a certain course. Each subject walked separately, not knowing where his predecessors had placed their blocks, yet there was a strong tendency for the blocks to be grouped in specific locations. These locations also tended to be where the earth's magnetic field changed abruptly. Such changes may be caused by water below the ground, so in this sense the experiment's results may help explain dowsing. However, magnetic-field changes are not necessarily due to water, and Professor Duane Chadwick, who conducted the experiment, emphasizes that since no wells were dug, there is no proof that any of the places chosen by several subjects would actually yield water.

One explanation put forward is that the dowsing rod may serve as a sort of "amplifer" of ESP impulses. This is supported by the fact that Dutch psychic M. B. Dykshoorn often uses a divining rod to supplement his clairvoyance. Perhaps the dowser receives information by ESP, and, though he is unaware of it, his muscles react just enough to move the rod. Some believe the dowser perceives the water itself; others say he senses the change in the magnetic field. Since the 5 senses do not perceive magnetism, the latter would still be a form of ESP, but with a rather more physical tie-in.

Another theory is that different substances give off specific vibrations to which a dowser is physically sensitive, making his muscles twitch so that, unconsciously, he turns the rod. The study of the effects of different substances and their vibration is termed radiesthesia, and its proponents consider it a science that can be used in medical diagnosis.

Yet another theory maintains that the rod itself is affected by the substances being dowsed. Most dowsers sincerely try to hold the rod still, yet it moves anyway. Unwilling to accept the unconscious muscle-movement theory, some are convinced that the rod moves of its own volition. In 1530 Georgius Agricola commented that if this were the case the rod would move for everyone, which it does not with any degree of accuracy. Nearly everyone can get some dowsing reaction, whether right or wrong (of Chadwick's more than 150 subjects, only one got no reaction at all), but few can approach Evelyn Penrose's purported 80% success rate. An even higher rate of 93% "hits" was reported for American John Shelley, former president of the American Society of Dowsers, based in Schenectady, N.Y.

Skeptics dismiss the whole subject as a sham. They say that a dowser's successes are due to an understanding of geology, a surveying of the lie of the land, vegetation, and so on. The record of the many dowsers who have repeatedly succeeded where geologists have failed suggests that this is not the whole story.

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