From Bob Park’s What’s New for 11 June 2010:
1. FAKE BOMB DETECTOR: THE HIGH COST OF IGNORANCE.
According to a story in The Independent (UK) on Tuesday, the investigation into the sale of fake bomb detectors has been expanded to a number of firms in the UK. It seemed comical fourteen years ago when we learned that golfers were buying fraudulent golf-ball finders (WN 12 Jan 96). The Quadro Tracker was nothing but an “antenna” mounted on a pistol-grip with a swivel that was free to rotate 360°. An almost imperceptible deviation of the swivel from horizontal would cause the antenna to rotate under the force of gravity to its lowest point. To a credulous observer it might seem to be controlled by some mysterious external force. Quadro soon began marketing them to law enforcement agencies and the Department of Defense for $995 each to search for drugs and weapons. It failed a simple scientific test. Sandia National Labs took one apart and found it contained no internal parts. The FBI shut Quadro down and arrested its officers (WN 26 Jan 96). However, the device soon reappeared in the UK as the ADE 651, sold by ATSC for prices as high as $48,000. At least 1,500 were sold to the government of Iraq as bomb detectors at a cost of millions of dollars, as WN reported in January (WN 29 Jan 2010). The fake bomb detectors have reportedly contributed to hundreds of bomb deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, including British and American troops.
2. MAGICAL THINKING: DOWSING IS NOT ILLEGAL IN THE US OR THE UK.
In spite of the heinous nature of the ATSC crime, it may be difficult to
obtain a conviction. The defense of those charged with selling fake bomb detectors will be that they believe the devices work. Their defense will point to the hundreds or thousands of people who openly market their services to dowse for water or other substances. Sometimes called water-witching, dowsing is said to rely on supernatural influence over the muscles of the person holding a willow fork or an ADE 651. Dowsing doesn’t always work, but what does? The prosecution will find itself hip deep in arguments over how an ADE 651 differs from prayer. Magical thinking will be with us until children are taught that observable effects result only from physical causes. It must be taught at the time they are learning their first language.