Dowsing is a pseudoscientific divination method for locating groundwater, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil, grave-sites, harmful ‘earth vibrations,’ and a variety of other objects and materials without the need of a scientific apparatus.
Dowsing is sometimes known as divining (especially when it comes to interpreting findings), doodle bugging (primarily in the United States, while looking for petroleum), or water finding, water witching (in the United States), or water dowsing (when looking for water).
Although some dowsers use alternative equipment or none at all, a Y-shaped twig or rod, or two L-shaped ones—individually termed a dowsing rod, divining rod, “vining rod,” or witching rod—are sometimes used during dowsing.
The ancient Greeks, Romans, Persians, and Scythians utilized divining rods to find out where water or various minerals were located.
The hazel twig, which is essentially a forked or Y-shaped stick, appears to have been the most popular, especially for finding water.
Hazel for silver, iron and steel for gold, ash for copper, and pitch pine for lead and tin were also favoured woods for locating metals. Ash, rowan, and willow are among other common general-purpose sticks.
The operator walks over the area regarded to be the likely source of the water or mineral while holding the two ends of the stick in his or her hands.
The twig will twist in the hands as the operator passes the subsurface source, frequently with such force that any bark will be peeled from the wood.
Why do they seem to work?
The dowsing rods move, but not in response to anything beneath the surface. They’re merely reacting to the guy gripping the rods’ erratic movements.
A tiny movement is amplified into a large movement when the rods are held in an unstable equilibrium state.
Why do people still use them?
Even though there is no scientific evidence that this medieval method works, water companies continue to use divining rods to identify underground pipes in the UK, according to an Oxford University expert.
Sally Le Page, an evolutionary biologist, claimed her parents “couldn’t believe their eyes” when a technician from Midlands water company Severn Trent arrived at their home and began slowly wandering around with two “bent tent pegs” to identify the mains pipe.
There is no hard scientific evidence that divining rods operate, but there are hypotheses as to why dowsers believe they do.
“One idea for this is that the muscles in the body react to some electromagnetic action induced by the presence of the metal or water moving down the pipe; the rods then enhance this effect so that the searcher becomes aware of them,” according to Groundwater UK.
“Another theory is that some diviners know where groundwater is likely to be found based on their experience and local knowledge and subconsciously create the reaction.”
Why don’t they work?
Water dowsing does not operate in the sense of finding subsurface water. Water dowsing is the practice of claiming that a person can identify subsurface water sources without the use of scientific gear.
Typically, a dowser travels around a property with sticks or rods in the hopes that the rods will dip, twitch, or cross as he walks over underground water.
The movements of the rods do not appear to be caused by the slight vibrations in the dowser’s arms, because the vibrations are so faint compared to the rod motions.
From the false assumption that the movements of the rods are not coming from the small random vibrations of the dowser’s arms, people then make the illogical leap that the movements must therefore be caused by something powerful that is out of sight, i.e. underground water.
This primarily affects deeply religious persons. The premise underlying this scenario is that the Devil and dowsing have a devilish connection. For those who fit into this category, the rods are seen as a tool for Satan (or bad spirits) to get access to their soul.
Another concern when using dowsing rods is that if you have really solid rods, such as those made of steel, brass, or copper, there is a small chance you could injure yourself if you aren’t careful how you carry them or how you use them.
Some people carry a rod in their boot or pocket, ready to stick it in the ground and stab themselves, but the chances of this happening are extremely remote.
Various controlled scientific research conducted over the last century has repeatedly concluded that water dowsing is ineffective. In 1990, for example, James Randi invited 30 “professional” dowsers to Kassel, Germany, to have their abilities examined in a study.
Pipes carrying running water were buried underground at established sites, and dowsers were tested to see if they could detect water flowing through them. All of them failed to outperform random guessing.