The Biggest Junk Science of 2014

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#10. New Australian Science Chief Supports Water Dowsing

In many parts of Australia, water is extremely scarce. That's why water scientists down under must be careful in how they extract water, and the populace has to be prudent in their use of it.

Larry Marshall, the incoming chief of the Australia's leading research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), has another idea, however: fund research in water dowsing in order to find more water.

For those unaware, "'Water dowsing' refers in general to the practice of using a forked stick, rod, pendulum, or similar device to locate underground water," the U.S. Geological Survey describes.

“I’ve seen people do this with close to 80% accuracy, and I’ve no idea how they do it,” Marshall stated in a radio interview on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He thinks it would be a good use of limited CSIRO funds to find out.

Except scientists already have an answer: water dowsing doesn't work any better than chance.

"Some water exists under the Earth's surface almost everywhere. This explains why many dowsers appear to be successful," the USGS says.

Geologists already have abundant tools to find water.

"To locate groundwater accurately, however, as to depth, quantity, and quality, a number of techniques must be used. Hydrologic, geologic, and geophysical knowledge is needed to determine the depths and extent of the different water-bearing strata and the quantity and quality of water...  The area must be thoroughly tested and studied to determine these facts."

(Image: Shutterstock)

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