Dowsing, how not to find water

What is Dowsing?

In its simplest form it’s wandering about with a couple of sticks hoping they move on their own to tell you you’re standing over an underground water source.

The proponents of this will have you believe that this stick waving can do much more than find you a drink. The practice purports to be able to be able to find underground features such as archaeological remains, cavities and tunnels, oil, mineral ore, underground services, missing items and missing persons.

How does it work?

Their are various types of Dowsing, V Rod, Angle Rods, Wands and a Pendulum. We are going to stick to Angle Rods as they are the most common and well known. Angle Rods are L shaped rods used in pairs the shorter arm of the L is held in the hand with the long section parallel to the ground and to each other, when the target is reached the rods will cross indicating the spot.

Real Dowsing instructions

1, Walk over the area with the rods. Often, water dowsers are called to locate water in a certain area, such as a rural or suburban community. You should hold the rods properly and walk back and forth slowly over the area that you are testing for water. Make sure you hold the rods lightly but with some grip so they do not roll or shift in your hands as you walk

2, Wait for the rods to cross or move. Once the rods detect water, the butt end of the stick should rotate or be pulled downward. The rods may also cross over each other when you stand in a certain spot in the area, indicating there may be water under the surface.

3, It may also help to visualize the water under the earth as you walk over the area with the rods. You may picture a stream or body of water in your mind as you hold the rods to help let the rods know what you are looking for.

Yes you read that correctly!

So why do people think this works?

Well besides stupidity the most common theory that confuses people is that often the rod will actually move seemingly on their own. Nope its not divine intervention or the power of the energy of the water are any other pseudoscience. Not so shockingly there’s a perfectly sensible explanation, In 1852 psychologist William B. Carpenter identified a  unconscious action: ideomotor action.

What is ideomotor action?

Ideomotor: it is derived from the terms “ideo” (idea, or mental representation) and “motor” (muscular action). The Ideomotor phenomenon is a psychological phenomenon wherein a subject makes motions unconsciously. Which means people wandering up and down fields thinking about the rods moving are actually unknowingly moving the rods themselves.

Watch this Video of Richard Dawking debunking dowsing

So how do you find underground water?

Employ a Hydrogeologist…

A Hydrogeologist will study the topography of the area to identify the direction of groundwater flow, potential water recharge areas, springs, and discharge points. The depth of impermeable rock units can be determined. All this information allows the hydrogeologist to develop a three-dimensional model of the area that define locations that are promising or those that should be avoided.


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