As of August 2003, We have begun a series of Investigations and experiments on the practice and validity of Dowsing
The following were gleaned from news articles available:
Dowsing persists, despite widespread skepticism
June 19, 2000 - AP - NY
There is water somewhere below Tommy Hanson's feet. He walks across a grassy hillside looking for it, waiting for a profound interaction between man and coat hanger.
In Hanson's fists are two L-shaped lengths of hanger pointing straight ahead. He takes a step, holding the hangers like two guns at belly level. The metal pieces swivel inward to form an X, clinking softly.
The water is directly below, some 300 feet down.
Hanson knows this because he already had drilled a well here - a gusher - on his father's land based on faith in his hangers. A professional well-driller, Hanson says he found water this way maybe 200 times over 33 years, with a 90 percent success rate.
Hanson is a dowser, a finder of subterranean water or other treasures. In the hands of dowsers, metal rods turn, forked sticks pull downward and pendulums swing, seemingly on their own accord.
There are some theories: perception of energy fields, clairvoyance, dumb luck, self-delusion. Scientists in search of an answer have analyzed brain waves and run field tests. But evidence of dowsing's validity remains mostly anecdotal.
Hanson cheerfully admits he doesn't know how it works. He just accepts it. He dowses for some customers; if they don't want him that's fine.
Dowsing, sometimes called 'water witching', is ages old.
Proponents spot evidence of dowsing in ancient drawings and in an Old Testament passage describing water gushing after Moses struck a rock with his staff. There are accounts of dowsers working in German and English mines a few centuries ago.
A common dowsing instrument is a Y-shaped branch, one fork in each hand, a tip tilting down as a dowser passes over water. Many modern dowsers say wood loses its effectiveness when it dries out, so they've switched to plastic. Hanson, 39, sticks with wire, or sometimes fresh branches.
Even veterans, like 56-year-old Leroy Bull of Doylestown, Pa., concede that amateurs can succeed. About 496 out of 500 people can get at least a little dowsing reaction, he says. After all, there's not much to it: Hold your instrument, walk straight, keep your mind on the task.
The search is usually for water. But dowsing also has been used to search for minerals, people, treasure, missing car keys.
Some practitioners claim the related ability to "map dowse" - that is, find water or other hidden objects by studying a map. Elliott recalls how his father would invite customers at his general store to sketch out street maps on scraps of butcher paper; he would then draw where streams or creeks were.
Elliott, 47, and Hanson are traditional dowsers: They look for water. Like old-schoolers practicing a skill handed across generations, Elliott, learned dowsing from his father. Hanson learned it from a traveling salesman.
Other dowsers may be more contemporary, attuned to the New Age. To them, dowsing is more than a way to find water. They take pendulum in hand for answers to all sorts of questions: Is my child in school? Are these vegetables fresh? Will I like this book?
Bull, for instance, keeps a pendulum by his phone in case someone calls in search of answers. Clockwise means yes. Counterclockwise, no.
He likens a dowser to an antenna picking up natural vibrations. He notes with satisfaction that some physicists now theorize that infinitesimal vibrating strings are the building blocks of the universe.
Old schoolers offer a more basic explanation: that they sense changes in electromagnetic fields as they step above aquifers. In fact, traditionalists will sometimes look askance at the pendulum-swingers.
Robert Park, a physics professor who directs the Washington office of the American Physical Society, suggests that some water dowsers may have a talent for picking up clues from the landscape. He knows of no widely accepted study demonstrating dowsing ability.
One large-scale German study in the late '80s involved dowsers trying to divine the location of water pipes beneath the floorboards of a barn. The success rate for most dowsers was nearly equal to chance, though researchers did find a few dowsers with a high success rate. Skeptics claim the German researchers overstated the success rate of those few dowsers by only including their most successful runs.
Some dowsers disparage all such field tests, saying their talent cannot be tested under artificial conditions. However, the American Society of Dowsers, in Danville, Vt., sponsored a study indicating that dowsers' brainwaves show measurable changes during dowsing.
Divining Rod Led Searcher To Dead Girl
August 13, 1999 - Vancover - Canadian Press
With his trusty divining rod and a strand of hair from a murdered girl, Rex Fitz-Gerald was able to solve a mystery that had confounded more than 400 searchers.
Fitz-Gerald, 68, found the remains of eight-year-old Mindy Tran in 1994, setting the stage for an ongoing murder trial in B.C. Supreme Court expected to make legal history by relying, in part, on cutting-edge DNA technology. "It, in a way, blows your mind," Fitz-Gerald said Wednesday, after completing two days of testimony at the trial of Shannon Murrin, who is accused of having abducted and killed Mindy in 1994. Murrin - a neighbour of Mindy's -- was charged with first-degree murder in 1997.
The girl had vanished in Kelowna, 400 kilometres east of Vancouver, while out looking for a playmate. Her disappearance prompted a massive police investigation.
Fitz-Gerald was the civilian co-ordinator of an intensive four-day search for Mindy. He then worked on his own. "My wife said I was obsessed, and maybe -- in a way -- I was," said Fitz-Gerald, puffing on a pipe as he spoke to reporters after testifying.
Two months after she vanished, Fitz-Gerald found her the body just blocks from her home. It appears she had been sexually abused and strangled. "If Mindy hadn't been found, her parents would still be looking at her coming in the door, and never know," he said.
On Wednesday, the diminutive Fitz-Gerald, who at times had trouble hearing questions put to him, told jurors about his "personal energy loss" and "upset energies" as he used the divining rod to look for the girl.
Neither Crown nor defence lawyers probed the credibility or intricacies of his method.
Police had called him in because he has done more than 500 searches in a 46-year career that has even seen him train some of the officers involved in Mindy's case.
A friend suggested he use his divining rod -- also known as dowsing rods -- which are generally used for finding water. His is a metre-long telescoping rod with a stainless-steel coating.
Police loaned Fitz-Gerald a strand of Mindy's hair, obtained from a hairband she had left behind. Fitz-Gerald said he put the hair against the rod to provide focus. It led him, he said, to an area where he found some red cloth. "I noticed the odour," said Fitz-Gerald, who probed the area, accompanied by a friend.
His friend noticed a shoe. Fitz-Gerald recognized it from the description of Mindy's clothing, and probed it with a stick. "I noticed a human leg in the shoe," Fitz-Gerald told the court in a soft matter-of-fact way.
Within hours, police had confirmed Mindy's identity, bringing a small measure of peace to the girl's family and resolving a mystery that had bedevilled British Columbia for two months. Fitz-Gerald said he found evidence around the gravesite that civilian searchers came within a metre of the remains without finding them during at least four searches of the area.
"She was just very well covered," Fitz-Gerald said outside court. "The police told me that if I hadn't found her, she probably never would have been found. It was pretty carefully done."
The rod, he said, gave him an edge that other searchers did not have. "It indicated to me where she was . . . The chances of just walking along and finding her would have been just about impossible."
Fitz-Gerald, who still works as a searcher, said he has used the rod on other occasions. He said he is not a psychic, but cannot easily explain the feelings he draws from the rod.
"It's just that I have the ability to work a divining rod. I don't know why. I feel it's an energy of some sort."