Dowsing and Alternative Medicine Anyone?

Whenever I see a new flyer about on campus that advocates classes for things debunked long ago, I worry that I will lose so much touch with reality that I’ll begin walking into walls.

Most recently, there’s been a little yellow flyer for a “Dowsing 101″ class. It’s not actually something you can register for through the college. It’s being done by the “Crypto-Science Society” and presumably you show up, pay them, and learn how to use unbent coathangers dowsing rods.

Dowsing is the skill of using one’s intuition through the use of specialized tools to locate things such as underground water, oil wells, Archaelogical sites, and gold.

Dowsing has led to the discovery of some of our most productive wells with 96% accuracy.

Inconveniently, no source was provided for that last statistic.

Dowsing has already been debunked by James “The Amazing” Randi.

Actually, that’s not the only video of water dowsing being debunked.

James Randi in Australia

Enemies of Reason

Oh, but that’s not the only shit that my splendid campus has to offer… oh no indeed…

The Metropolitan State College of Denver offers an “Integrative Therapeutic Practices” degree which involves alternative medicine. You learn about acupuncture, homeopathy, aromatherapy, and guess what? That stuff has been debunked too!

I could be more detailed about exactly why a lot of the junk that they’re teaching is just dumb, but that’s for another time and for now I have provided links to The Skeptic’s Dictionary for information on it. The point I want to make is the very definition of alternative medicine is medicine that has not undergone rigorous scientific testing.

Personally, I think that it ought to be a college’s responsibility to make sure that what they’re teaching is not going to be stuff that’s already been proven false… especially if they’re teaching that bull shit as having practical applications. And when those practical applications involve getting neccessities…

I would not trust a generation of college graduates who wanted to use dowsing to get our water, oil, gold, and artifacts for the benefit of science. I would not trust a generation of college graduates who think that their untested treatments of disease are suitable for my health. What happens if their techniques fail (and I have reason to believe that they will)? Imagine the panic, chaos, and disaster that would result from failure to find what we are searching for when we are in dire need of resources. Imagine how many people’s health may be damaged by these untested or disproven medicines. Not to mention the damage done to this generation’s understanding of science.

No, society might not come crashing down… Dowsing isn’t really a profession that they’ll train for and there are other ways of getting water besides knowing where to drill for wells. There are still students going through real medical school who will become real doctors…

But damage can and will be done by ignorant students.

But that’s why colleges, especially public universitites, need to be held accountable for what they put in the minds of tomorrow’s leaders, scientists, and thinkers.

By the way, both the Crypto-Science Society and whoever is running the “Therapeutic Integrative Practices” program are eligible for the new MSCD Paranormal Challenge.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by James T Kirk on April 3, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    What’s the (pseudo)physics behind Dowsing rods? It would make sense if the rod were able to pick up some sort of electromagnetic signature in the rock but mostly it seems to be just magic, you wave your rod over a mineral and it starts vibrating magically.

  2. As with all pseudoscience, it probably has something to do with ‘energy’ of some sort. They are never quite specific about what kind of ‘energy’. It’s almost always ‘energy’ or ‘psychic energy’ or ‘electromagnetic energy’ which could mean ANYTHING.

  3. Posted by Bobington on April 3, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Jesus waves bro. It picks up the jesus waves.`

  4. I am a practicing geophysicist and encountered people, who are degreed, and licensed engineers or geologist who swear by dousing. I really can’t explain it, but I don’t think it is the universities. This kind of stupid is cultural superstition.

    My last job site I got into an argument with a driller because he decided that it was a good idea to clear utilities with dowsing rods. He walked around like an ass for 45 minutes scratching random marks into the ground. When the utility people got there and used the devils technology, he missed 4 inch gas main.

    While he was scratching around like a chicken I asked, so how do your magic rods work? He replied they pick up electrical fields in the ground. He said this while standing under a huge power line. Dumbass

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