dowsing-rodYesterday I happened across this article in the Guardian, "Dowsing competition pits diehard believers against sceptics," in which a web site called The Megalithic Portal is giving away calendars to the winners of a "map-dowsing" competition.

Map-dowsing is a particularly silly practice which makes use of the ideomotor effect to supposedly locate hidden materials or objects, much like the usual walking-around-with-a-stick kind of dowsing. But with map-dowsing, you don't even need to put on your hiking boots. With map-dowsing, you just wave your magic wand over a printed map or a computer screen to find the treasure. Those nonexistent "vibrations" that dowsers claim make their pendulums swing, wires cross, and forked sticks twitch, are apparently so strong they even can even be found in a paper map, printed from an image online, that contains no trace of the object to be found.

I'd like to remind any would-be entrants to this contest that if they'd like to win something more substantial than a calendar, any wand-waver who obtains impressive success with his/her efforts is of course eligible to apply for the million-dollar prize offered by the James Randi Educational Foundation. Any interested person can find all the details right here. Since dowsers have by far been the most numerous applicants over the 15 years that we’ve offered this prize, we might expect a reaction…