Dowsing Doesn’t Work?

Written by Nigel Percy

Is it True?

“Dowsing doesn't work” is something you can hear quite often, if you listen to some people, usually those who consider themselves rational and scientific.

They ponder what they conceive of as evidence and make a pronouncement that dowsing doesn't work and that all dowsers are frauds who are out to dupe the world with their wrong beliefs.

It makes me smile. It really does, because they expect me to argue back and I don't, because they don't want to hear the truth.

Why do critics say dowsing doesn't work?

The truth is that they base their criticism on the way they think the world works and how they think we human beings should fit into that picture.

And they're pretty much always going to be wrong, because the picture they have of the world is so broken up, so unfinished, so full of gaps that they don't have a picture at all. If they are lucky, they might have the beginnings of a frame with a couple of dabs of color in it, but that's about it.

I'm not just saying this to feel good. It's the truth.

The staggering amount of ignorance bouncing around in the scientific community make your mind boggle.

For example, human prehistory? Everything we've got, all the bones and fragments of, maybe 5,000 individuals? It would fit into the back of a pickup truck. And that, apparently, is more than enough to make definitive statements about our ancestry.

We don't even know what there is in the world: new species are always being discovered in unlikely places and there aren't enough people trained to place them into the existing framework.

We don't know why some spectacularly infectious diseases don't spread but kill only one or two people. (In 1969, a doctor at a Yale lab contracted Lassa fever and survived, but a technician nearby, in a separate lab with no direct exposure, caught it and died.) Or why the 1918 flu epidemic was so deadly or how it came to explode into action and then killed mostly those in their 20's and 30's, not the very young or very old, the traditional target groups. Or why, before that, 5 million died in ten years from a sleeping sickness.

We have better maps of Mars than of our own seabeds.

Drilling deep into the crust of the earth revealed rock saturated with water – something thought not to be possible 10 kilometers down!

We don't know how proteins do what they do in combinations. We don't know what most of the DNA we have does. We don't know how life actually managed to come about.

But, hey! Let's tell all the dowsers that they are fooling people and what they do doesn't work. That would be a bit like declaring that the takahe, a large flightless bird of New Zealand, was definitely extinct. Definitely! For over 200 years in fact.

Unfortunately, in 1995, it was rediscovered.

Taken together it means that any general condemnation by science is about as useful as saying that the takahe doesn't exist anymore. We don't know so much about this planet and about ourselves that it seems just plain presumptuous to say what exactly humans can and can't do.

And that's why I don't argue with scientists. It hurts me to see them upset. :-)

(All the examples were taken from Bill Bryson's ‘A Short History Of Nearly Everything'.)

What do you think of critics who say dowsing doesn't work? Are their arguments valid? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


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  1. Oshish

    There’s lots of words here and none serve to reinforce the claim that dowsing is legitimate.

    Instead a waning native that claims “I don’t argue”, then proceeds to argue the counterclaim is wrong Reasons? Science has been wrong at times! Can’t anyone tell you that? Hardly profound or insightful! Any scientist will happily tell you science is continually rewritten, updated and old claims are often abandoned.

    As Carl Sagan famously stated “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. Claims about dowsing fail this test.

    • Nigel Percy

      I promote dowsing because it obviously works. The article, in about 500 words, is simply a synthesis of a much more complex argument. If you are truly interested in dowsing, rather than debunking it (why post on this site otherwise?), I should direct your attention to a book I edited titled “The Credibility Of Dowsing” available on Amazon, which was the result of six years of dedicated enquiry into the subject by an initially prejudicial professor.
      You claim dowsing is not ‘legitimate’. But to legitimize something there has to be someone to make that claim, and that assumes some form of authority. At least, an authority you choose to recognize. As I doubt you have ever used dowsing yourself but rely upon others to decide for you, I can cheerfully reject your claim and, instead, myself claim that it is ‘legitimate’ based on the many years of experience of using it in a variety of situations and for differing purposes. And I choose not to wait until science has decided that what I and many others can do is real.
      As for Sagan’s quote, dowsing does not require extraordinary evidence because, over a period of many, many years and in many environments by many, many people, dowsing has consistently been shown to be successful. That is not ‘extraordinary’. That makes it very ordinary.
      As I said, this article is merely a summary. Read the rest of the website, invest in the book mentioned above, then go to a dowser and ask for a demonstration before trying it yourself.

      • ACS

        It works. It’s not like it’s some newly discovered phenomenon either. But you don’t have to know the science behind it to know it works and you shouldn’t listen to a scientist who’s never tried it telling you it doesn’t work.

        • Nigel Percy



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