I believe most (if not all) members of A/N reject the crap that is proclaimed to be science such as creationism, Nostradamus prophesies, Astrology and etc. Most of the beliefs are basically harmless, in that they don’t put the believers in danger (except intellectually). One such pseudoscience is, however, directly affecting the lives of people in Iraq. That bogus science is dowsing. For those not familiar with dowsing it is the claim that using a “Y” shaped stick or metal rods one can detect water, oil, people and also explosives. That is the opinion of the Iraq government when it comes to detecting explosives at checkpoints as pointed out in a New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/world/middleeast/04sensors.html?_r=1
This stupidity has already cost the lives of over a 100 Iraqis.

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Tags: Dowsing, Explosives, Iraq, Pseudoscience

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Comment by Jim DePaulo on November 6, 2009 at 11:54am
the time around full moon always had the most dots.

Did you check it when it was cloudy all night?
The only thing I notice on full Moons is excessive hair growth on my face and a craving for raw meat - but that's just me.
Comment by Фелч Гроган on November 6, 2009 at 8:43am
Carver: ...Do you mean that Aries aren't assholes??

Oh, absolutely they are. This is one thing that does perplex me - if you look up all of the negative traits of horoscope types, you put yourself in great danger of vanishing in a puff of pixie dust if you look to see how often they're true.

I once saw a study (which I have lost all references for) detailing a statistical anomaly for the number of intravenous drug users being Pisces. Sure enough, during the various time outs I've spent in detoxes, the majority that were in for heroin were, gasp, Pisces. Is there an explanation for this ? I don't know and I don't really care. I'm not going to invent spooks for it. I'll just blame quantum physics like I do for all the other shit that happens.

The other really weird thing I've witnessed was in a tech support call centre. We had a lunar calender and began marking instances of the real extreme psycho customers we got - over the course of a few years, the time around full moon always had the most dots.
Comment by Jim DePaulo on November 6, 2009 at 7:47am
@Fetch
I think we are making the same point in that even the apparently harmless pseudoscience can have disastrous consequences if put into practice.
I should have used apparently or alleged in my initial ramblings.
...Do you mean that Aries aren't assholes??
Comment by Фелч Гроган on November 5, 2009 at 8:24pm
Oh, I wasn't skewering you per se, rather the mindset that we are all guilty of. We too easily dismiss charlatanism as "harmless" when it's not. At it's least it's delusion that biases our decision making processes - often in ways that are not dissimilar to racism or sexism. "Oh, he's an Aries. They're such assholes..." At it's worst it's fraud that robs the stupid, or idiotic beliefs that physically harm or kill. Call it any term you like, but harmless shouldn't be one of them.
Comment by Jim DePaulo on November 5, 2009 at 8:00pm
Yarrrgg! skewered by the Cynic in Residence. You are right and I agree - my point was directed at the run of the mill bullshit that isn't immediately, deadly lethal - like being shredded into hamburger by a bomb.
Although I imagine more than one moron have killed themselves trying to trying to find the sunken city of Mu , the Yeti or have lost their ass betting on a Nostradamus prophesy.
Comment by Фелч Гроган on November 5, 2009 at 6:55pm
Carver: Most of the beliefs are basically harmless, in that they don’t put the believers in danger (except intellectually). One such pseudoscience is, however, directly affecting the lives of people in Iraq.

Mostly harmless ? I guess the parents that let their baby die from eczema were just out of luck that their homeopathic remedies didn't work, and that excuses not seeking legitimate maedical treatment. 'Cause it must have been freak eczema and it would have died anyway.

"Mostly harmless" is a wildly optimistic way of looking at voodoo spooks. Hardly a week goes by here without somebody posting some new fear-mongering about vaccination. When are we going to have an accurate body count for deaths caused by people incidentally seeing these articles and taking the advice. Then you have the lesser crimes of people arranging their social lives according to horoscopes, instead of just hanging around people they like.

This crap is "harmless" in the same way that xtianity and islam are "harmless".
Comment by John Q. Antichrist or Rosco on November 5, 2009 at 2:28pm
When I 1st started reading I thought this was going to be about oil dowsers. I was thinking, how hard could that be? "There's oil under this spot, and this one, and this one. Maybe I've found my calling in life!
Comment by Jim DePaulo on November 5, 2009 at 2:03pm
it's not like they have a lot of reliable options to choose from.
Actually they do, explosive sniffing dogs are very accurate but they are time consuming - pointing a stick is much more efficient. The objection from the minister in charge of the stick pointers was, "If we had dogs at every checkpoint the city would be a zoo". That would amount to around 400 extra dogs - there are that many f**king dogs within a 1/4 of a mile of my house, including my own.
Comment by Little Name Atheist on November 5, 2009 at 11:32am
One of my ex-friends is a dowser. I suspect he would say that they just weren't doing it right.

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