Water dowser, water diviner or hydrogeologist?

What is water dowsing?

"...the water diviners’ assistance has been absolutely worthless."

"Water dowsing" also referred to as “water divining” and “water witching” generally refers to the practice of using a forked stick, rod, pendulum, or similar device to locate underground water.  Many diviners or dowsers also claim to be able to locate other material and non-material objects such as minerals deposits, oil and gas fields, archaeological remains, missing persons and the health and wellbeing of individuals, animals and houses. 

Dowsers may use keys, wire coat hangers, pliers, wire rods, pendulums or forked sticks made from specific types of wood to locate the object of interest.  Some dowsers claim powers that enable them to "see" through soil and rock others claim to be mediums and enter trance-like states when conditions are favourable.  A dowser may also offer remote dowsing surveys in which they often use a swinging pendulum over a map to locate an area of interest. 

The British Society of Dowsers’  website lists 40 ‘Professional Practitioners’ who offer services ranging from water dowsing to vortex healing, which brings positive energy in to your home, to dowsing for energy patterns that restrict an individual’s full expression of their soul.  

A water dowser using hazel

"...the water diviners’ assistance has been absolutely worthless."

'...dowsing doesn't work but the law of averages does.'

"...dowsing does not work when it is tested under properly controlled conditions..."

'...experimental evidence clearly indicates that [dowsing] is totally without scientific merit.’

Does water dowsing work?

When water dowsing has been subjected to various controlled testing over the past 100 years it has fared no better than chance.

The natural explanation of "successful" water dowsing is that in many areas, including the UK, groundwater is so prevalent close to the surface that it would be unusual to drill a well and not find any water.  Although some water may be present the most important aspects in locating a source is the quantity and quality of the water. 

In their quest for water supplies during World War II the British military in the Middle East concluded that using water diviners was worthless.  Major-General Tickell (Director of Works for Middle East Forces) stated in a letter, dated 1942, to the Engineer-in-Chief, ‘Our experience has been, without one shadow of a doubt, that the water diviners’ assistance has been absolutely worthless. Not only in their percentage of successes below what would have been expected by mere chance, but their ability to distinguish between saline and non-saline water does not exist. They have been given a fair trial and we have come to the conclusion that they should be prohibited from even offering gratuitous advice.’ (Rose, E.P.F. and Mather, J.D., 2012. Military aspects of hydrogeology: an introduction and overview.  Volume 362 of Special publication - Geological Society of London

James Randi is an internationally renowned magician and escape artist although is best known as an investigator of paranormal and pseudoscientific claims, including dowsing.  After controlled testing of expert and professional dowsers in Australia in 1980 and in Germany in 1990, James Randi concluded that '...dowsing doesn't work but the law of averages does.

After controlled testing of professional and amateur dowsers in 2007, Professor Christopher French of the psychology department at the University of London concluded that, "...dowsing does not work when it is tested under properly controlled conditions...". (Stone, A. and French, C., 2013. Anomalistic Psychology - Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience. Palgrave, 2013) (French, C., 2013.  The unseen force that drives Ouija boards and fake bomb detectors. Published in The Guardian, 27 April 2013

The USA’s National Ground Water Associationstrongly opposes the use of water witches to locate groundwater on the grounds that controlled experimental evidence clearly indicates that the technique is totally without scientific merit.’ (NGWA, 2016. Water Witching. Position Paper, National Ground Water Association, U.S.A., 24/02/2016)

The US Geological Survey (USGS) states that ‘Case histories and demonstrations of dowsers may seem convincing, but when dowsing is exposed to scientific examination, it presents a very different picture.’ (Read what the USGS says about dowsing)


Why use a hydrogeologist?

A hydrogeologist will use proven scientific means to provide information relating to:

A hydrogeologist will also provide technical expertise helping to:

A hydrogeologist at Groundwater Solutions can help you at every stage of developing a water abstraction at your site. 

Contact us to discuss your requirements. 

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