Any truth in divining for water/oil/minerals etc

  • Thread starter ocpaul20
  • Start date
17
0
I am interested to know if there is any truth or scientific theory that
explains the search for water or other things by people with divining instruments?

For the sake of clarity, I am talking about witch hazel twigs, pendulums, L-shaped rods etc NOT recognised scientific instruments.

I have heard that there are people who can detect oil/water/minerals etc by using various instruments of this kind and that maybe these amplify the small muscle movements in our body.

Anyone got any comments or explanations please?
 

Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,093
174
I am interested to know if there is any truth or scientific theory that
explains the search for water or other things by people with divining instruments?

For the sake of clarity, I am talking about witch hazel twigs, pendulums, L-shaped rods etc NOT recognised scientific instruments.

I have heard that there are people who can detect oil/water/minerals etc by using various instruments of this kind and that maybe these amplify the small muscle movements in our body.

Anyone got any comments or explanations please?
To the best of my memory, in seven years, no one has ever produced a published scientific study that shows evidence to support any of these claims. The ideomotor effect is generally offered as the explanation for any mechanical action.

There are plenty of amateur debunkings to be found at sites like Randi.org, etc. There may be formal studies as well [it seems that we have seen one or two of those], but I don't have any links handy.
 
17
0
It maybe that
a) any reputable scientist would not want to do any research into this kind of thing
or
b) there is no finance available from the large institutions.

It could be that any research into this kind of thing is done by scientists without publishing papers.

For example: A subject somewhat close to that one, the USA government and Russians have spent millions of dollars on remote viewing programs for their Agencies. They must think there is some real science going on to spend that kind of money but where are all the scientific papers on it?
 

Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,093
174
It maybe that
a) any reputable scientist would not want to do any research into this kind of thing
or
b) there is no finance available from the large institutions.

It could be that any research into this kind of thing is done by scientists without publishing papers.

For example: A subject somewhat close to that one, the USA government and Russians have spent millions of dollars on remote viewing programs for their Agencies. They must think there is some real science going on to spend that kind of money but where are all the scientific papers on it?
For our purposes, it doesn't matter. We ars only interested in determining if any evidence exists that supports a claim - the qualify and nature of, and the proper context for that evidence.
 
1,675
3
None that I know of. There's no shortage of non-scientific explanations.

I'll take a stab at it though. Assuming it's true that dowsers do better than darts on a map, I think they are using human cognition and intuition together with the placebo of the dowsing rod. In other words, those people would spot cues in the environment that lead to good places to drill wells. The rod predisposes them cognitively to do the job well somehow.
 

russ_watters

Mentor
18,848
5,037
For example: A subject somewhat close to that one, the USA government and Russians have spent millions of dollars on remote viewing programs for their Agencies. They must think there is some real science going on to spend that kind of money but where are all the scientific papers on it?
That doesn't follow. The government spends $2 trillion a year and it spends a few measly millions on questionable research on the theory that it isn't a big deal to waste a few million on lottery tickets might just be lucky. It doesn't mean they think there is merritt in the science, it just means it doesn't hurt much to look at it.
 

Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,093
174
None that I know of. There's no shortage of non-scientific explanations.

I'll take a stab at it though. Assuming it's true that dowsers do better than darts on a map, I think they are using human cognition and intuition together with the placebo of the dowsing rod. In other words, those people would spot cues in the environment that lead to good places to drill wells. The rod predisposes them cognitively to do the job well somehow.
There have been studies showing that we percieve more than we realize. It has also been suggested that dowsers are reacting to subtle clues that they don't even recognize, with the perception of those clues indicated by the divining rod.

However, that is to the best of my knowledge, speculative, and it is secondary to real point: In order demonstrate that dowsers can actually detect water, they should be able to do it under controlled conditions. There is no need to consider their average success rate in the field. The fact that no one can, afaik, do this when tested, means that we can likely assume that successes in the field are driven by other factors. I guess it could even be true that divining rods are nothing more than mental crutches for people who have a talent for finding water.
 
There are animals which can smell water a few feet under the ground, much as pigs or dogs can root for truffles, but this is not really related to a person with forked stick. Any person able to reliably demonstrate this ability has not been tested with anything like scientific rigor, even to the level of Randi's Challenge. I find it hard to believe that people can find water based on subconscious clues unless they have an education which would allow them to make an educated guess based on plants present, or local geology. That is still not "divining".
 

alt

Gold Member
200
0
I think that water diviners are nothing more than people with a sensitivity to moisture, much like animals as stated in above posts.

The divining rod thingy, IMO, is merely an extension of that. Imagine the verical section held loosely in the fist (or in a tube in the fist), and the much longer horizontal section sticking out in front. All that happens, I reckon, is the 'diviner' picks up subtle water clues, then subconsciously tilts his fist ever so slightly off the vertical, left or ight, just enough to cause the horizontal to move.

As to subtle water clues ? Well, I seem to have a good ability to pick rain, within less than 30 seconds of it starting - nearly always. I say to my wife "it's going to rain - right now" - and I'm nearly always right.

(I might take up water diving, come to think of it)

Spelling edit.
 
Last edited:

Office_Shredder

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
3,734
99
There are animals which can smell water a few feet under the ground, much as pigs or dogs can root for truffles, but this is not really related to a person with forked stick. Any person able to reliably demonstrate this ability has not been tested with anything like scientific rigor, even to the level of Randi's Challenge. I find it hard to believe that people can find water based on subconscious clues unless they have an education which would allow them to make an educated guess based on plants present, or local geology. That is still not "divining".
Why would subconscious clues have to be based on conscious knowledge? Wouldn't that almost be the opposite of what is supposed to be occurring?
 
Why would subconscious clues have to be based on conscious knowledge? Wouldn't that almost be the opposite of what is supposed to be occurring?
I didn't say it had to be based on conscious knowledge, I said that you had to have had previous exposure to that knowledge, which then becomes a subliminal effect rather than conscious cognition. My point, is that when you claim to have subconscious knowledge of nothing you've never been exposed to, even tangentially, it's not possible; that's just code for "magic".

Maybe you watched a lot of survival shows, and the gestalt effect lets you, without conscious effort to put the pieces together, allow you to "divine" a source of water. Perhaps someone once hears that a certain mineral is often found in the presence of gold, or tungsten etc... they forget this over many years as just another factoid, but it informs their subconscious when they see those markers later.

If you raise someone in a box, then shove them into a desert and tell them to find an oasis, if they do it's pure luck. The subconscious only has access to the material the person has been exposed to. Maybe someone can compose music based on natural talent and hearing music, but if they have no familiarity with music they can't.
 
761
15
With a fairly amateur understanding of hydrogeology it is actually quite easy to find water by simply reading the landscape.

If you're in the desert and you see a line of trees, you don't need a stick to tell you that might be a good place to drill. Or if you're in a mountain range, you don't need a stick to guide you down to the dried up river valley.

Successful water diviners happen to be good at reading the landscape (whether trained or by instinct), the stick itself has no physical capacity to detect the presence of water.
 

alt

Gold Member
200
0
With a fairly amateur understanding of hydrogeology it is actually quite easy to find water by simply reading the landscape.

If you're in the desert and you see a line of trees, you don't need a stick to tell you that might be a good place to drill. Or if you're in a mountain range, you don't need a stick to guide you down to the dried up river valley.

Successful water diviners happen to be good at reading the landscape (whether trained or by instinct), the stick itself has no physical capacity to detect the presence of water.
I agree. Also, aside from various landscapes, I find it easy to predict rain in the one lanscape - my place. I do a great deal of organc gardening, growing veggies, fruit, etc, spending a lot of time outoors. I am constantly thinking about whether it's going to rain or not. It is then easy to see how over many years, one can develope an instinct for it. In fact, it would be surprising if one didn't.
 
761
15
I agree. Also, aside from various landscapes, I find it easy to predict rain in the one lanscape - my place. I do a great deal of organc gardening, growing veggies, fruit, etc, spending a lot of time outoors. I am constantly thinking about whether it's going to rain or not. It is then easy to see how over many years, one can develope an instinct for it. In fact, it would be surprising if one didn't.
People would have originally got their fresh water from streams and lakes. The first wells were probably dug by people desperate for water at the site of a dried up stream/lake. Instinctively they know that water is most likely to be there because that is where they were used to getting their water from. Once people realised that water was actually underground, they probably dug other holes getting progressively further away from the river and nearer to their base. Some wells would be more successful than others, perhaps the most perceptive/experiences members might have realised that the most successful wells were related to linear features, in topographic lows, where plant life flourished. They learnt to read the landscape and could pass on the knowledge. No need for sticks whatsoever.
 
118
0
Someone carrying a stick claims they can find water under ground from the way the stick bends. That should be enough....
 

alt

Gold Member
200
0
People would have originally got their fresh water from streams and lakes. The first wells were probably dug by people desperate for water at the site of a dried up stream/lake. Instinctively they know that water is most likely to be there because that is where they were used to getting their water from. Once people realised that water was actually underground, they probably dug other holes getting progressively further away from the river and nearer to their base. Some wells would be more successful than others, perhaps the most perceptive/experiences members might have realised that the most successful wells were related to linear features, in topographic lows, where plant life flourished. They learnt to read the landscape and could pass on the knowledge. No need for sticks whatsoever.
That, particularly your last two sentences, nails it IMO.
 
1
0
patrick here in the west of ireland ....i am a diviner and can detect water underground by useing a v shaped rod..
 

alt

Gold Member
200
0
patrick here in the west of ireland ....i am a diviner and can detect water underground by useing a v shaped rod..
Hi Patrick. OK, so keeping the OP topic in mind, ie,

Any truth in divining for water/oil/minerals etc

How do you reckon you do it ? What is your explanation for your claim ?
 

Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,093
174
Hi Patrick. OK, so keeping the OP topic in mind, ie,

Any truth in divining for water/oil/minerals etc

How do you reckon you do it ? What is your explanation for your claim ?
No, that is precisely not what we want to know. In fact it would be a violation of the posting guidelines.

The real question is whether the claim [feat] can be repeated under controlled conditions.

Again, since this is a claim that can be tested directly, and since, apparently, no one has been able to demonstrate this during a qualified test, the subject is closed.

If anyone has a published paper saying otherwise, please send me a pm.
 
Last edited:

Related Threads for: Any truth in divining for water/oil/minerals etc

Replies
1
Views
3K
Replies
29
Views
14K
  • Posted
2
Replies
41
Views
4K
Replies
11
Views
3K
Replies
3
Views
623
Replies
1
Views
7K
  • Posted
Replies
12
Views
7K

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving

Hot Threads

Top