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Randi offers million dollars for dowsing proof

 JAMES RANDI’S million dollars is on special offer again – this time it’s promised in return for proof that dowsing works.

The 86-year-old American sceptic has made the challenge, sponsored by the James Randi Educational Foundation, to Dr James Marshall, newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

James Randi
     

The challenge came after Dr Marshall made some controversial comments on Australian radio on the subject of dowsing. He said, “I’ve seen people do this with close to 80 per cent accuracy.”

Proponents of dowsing, or divining, believe they can find underground water by using a pendulum, rod or stick.

Dr Marshall posed the question: “Is there some instrumentality we could create that would enable a machine to find water? I’ve always wondered whether there’s something in the spectro-magnetic field.”

Many people have questioned whether CSIRO, where Dr Marshall takes up his new post in January, should be funding research into the authenticity of dowsing.

James Randi, due to visit Australia in December, said: “I’ll save the Australian government a lot of money. I’ll give $1 million for proof.”

Randi featured in a 1980 radio documentary on dowsing with Dick Smith, patron of Australian Sceptics, who said he had tested dowsing many times around the world and had never witnessed success.

“Test conditions aren’t very difficult. You simply do what you say you can do under the circumstances in which you operate. ”It’s that simple. – Dick Smith
   

“I believe a lot of dowsers thought they really could do it, but it turned out that they couldn’t,” he said. “They couldn’t do it under test conditions.

“Test conditions aren’t very difficult. You simply do what you say you can do under the circumstances in which you operate. It’s that simple.”

Smith told Yahoo7, “Dowsing is simply human delusion. There’s no way a scientist could accept the myth of dowsing.”

In 2001,  Australian Sceptics offered $100,000 to 52 water diviners who could demonstrate paranormal ability. The results were worse than would have been expected from sheer chance alone.

CSIRO spokesman Huw Morgan said Dr Marshall was trying to illustrate the importance of water in Australia, and how technology could help to source it.

“He is a trained physicist, so is acutely aware of the need and importance of scientific rigour,” he said.

“I also think it unfair to infer anything from these general comments about the focus and priority of CSIRO’s research effort.”

Meanwhile, there’s a million dollars on the table for someone.
 







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