California drought means big business for water witches

Originally published at: California drought means big business for water witches | Boing Boing


Seeing people turn to this kind of nonsense makes me miss James Randi.

Randi ran some excellent tests of dowsers, who were always able to find water when they knew where it was, but not when they didn’t.

But dowsers could also be some of the most stubborn and unable to accept that their abilities didn’t work when they could not pass Randi’s simple test, whose conditions they had examined and agreed to as fair beforehand.

So although some of the dowsers working now could be eyes open grifters, a lot of them really do think they can find water, which anyone can do as well as or as poorly as the dowsers because if you drill down deep enough there’s a good chance you can find water.


I truly cannot stand it when the mainstream media covers bullshit like this at all, but in this case they do it completely uncritically. “[Farmers] are returning to a mysterious method, thousands of years old.” Jesus Christ. The TV producer who approved this story should be publicly shamed.

The “grifters” are and always will be there. It’s when the people are poorly educated and lack critical reasoning skills that they are able to be tricked by the grifters.

However, the grifters dont see themselves as grifters. The vast majority are fooling themselves just as much as they are fooling their clients. This TV dowser had a satisfied customer giving a ringing endorsement! When John Edward does a cold reading, he actually thinks he’s talking to the dead.


When people get desperate grifters and charlatans come out of the woodwork to capitalize.


Holy Water Witches Batman!


And who are we to say how these people get their answers? Although they should absolutely have to face the fact that when they are shown to have a pretty bad hit-rate under strict conditions, that also implicates fallibility in their supernatural guides…

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I remain skeptical of that.


When I was a kid I learned the trick of taping a thin thread to a coin and making it swing in a straight line or a circle. Occasionally I even got someone to briefly believe that I was controlling it even though they were holding it, just by being very vocal about it swinging in a straight line. I’ve always assumed dowsing worked the same way, and I’ve therefore always believed that the obvious validity of that assumption makes me more knowledgeable about the field of dowsing than most of its practitioners.


Pretty much.

My great uncle taught us to dowse when we were kids. He’d spin a story about hidden treasure, help us make old school rods or pendulums from washers and send us off. Sometimes he even had an “ancient map”.

He had made good money dowsing for wells back in central Maine. It was a straight con. He coordinated with the well digging guys and was fully in control of what that rod did. He just spun a good story.

So I’ve always been fairly convinced that most dowsers are well aware of how it actually works, and fully in control. Rather than true believers fooling themselves.


“big business for water witches” or Rain Kings…



The dowsers are missing the chance to move up to a more lucrative grift.


Ooh, a single scam, I’m so impressed.

Now this guy scams. And do note his most recent work.


This. This is the real problem, and garbage local news stations are the worst about this. They don’t even so much as look at the Wikipedia page for the topic they are “reporting” on and that propagates nonsense like this to a huge audience.

And we wonder why we have low information voters. Sigh.


Worth dusting off the conversation we had about this earlier in the year.


So I know that this in particular is hokum, but isn’t there some truth to metal dowsing rods finding pipes that are fairly close to the surface?
One time my in-laws were here I was talking to my FIL about work we were considering for the front yard, and factoring in where the gas and main water lines came in from the street.
He went to his car and pulled out two copper L shaped rods and where they indicated was exactly where both come in.
He swears up and down that when he’s done this for people he knows it’s worked every time.

Based on what I’ve learned today in this thread, I believe that my posthole digger is imbued with Dowsing Abilities.

Perpendicular to the street, branching from each curbside meter at a right angle would be a safe bet in most parts of the first world.


Most folks would call Miss Utility.


No, I get that. I knew where the water line was, but he did not and he was right. My meter is buried under mulch.
The gas line comes in under the ground then to the meter on the side of the house, but I was not 100 percent sure exactly where.