Dowsers quote Einstein in worthless appeal for legitimacy

Press release for the Dowsing World Summit will leave you laughing/speechless/head-desking [choose one]…

Einstein Thought Dowsing Was Genuine and Now 17 Experts Will Explain Why.

To celebrate the possibilities dowsing offers, 17 international experts will be presenting their knowledge and use of dowsing at the inaugural Dowsing World Summit, held online at, beginning September 25th and lasting for 4 weeks.

Einstein himself respected dowsing and what it implied. He said: “I know very well that many scientists consider dowsing as a type of ancient superstition. According to my conviction this is, however, unjustified. The dowsing rod is a simple instrument which shows the reaction of the human nervous system to certain factors which are unknown to us at this time.”

In this unique online event at, presenters from Canada, the US, The UK and Australia will explain how they use this natural skill in areas such as Feng Shui, animal communication, health and even in the garden as well as in finding water.

This first Dowsing World Summit, which includes Marie Diamond of the hit film ‘The Secret’, will introduce dowsing and what it can do to a wider audience than ever before. It will also demonstrate how easy it is to take up this simple skill which all of us have within us, to one degree or another.

Tip: DJ Grothe

The Einstein quote is not easily sourced. I find it at many pro-dowsing pages but when I go to the source, it’s not something reliable. But, the Einstein database does reveal two references for dowsing in correspondence between him and Herman E. Peisach that is noted by quoters as the source. So, that may well be it. However, the text is not available so I can’t see the context of the quote. The problem with this is the appeal to authority. Pseudoscientists LOVE LOVE LOVE to use lauded scientists’ work and words to show support for their own. But often it’s not valid. Einstein also believed we would never harness nuclear energy. (Several other well-known physicists thought so too.)

All scientific theories stand or fall on the basis of evidence, not someone’s authority. Which makes these dowsers’ wishful endorsement by Einstein completely worthless.

There are SO MANY TESTS results that show that dowsing is an ideomotor effect that in no way identifies the substance the dowser is out to detect. Yet there are no double-blinded scientific studies that show that dowsing is some special undiscovered power. And no plausible mechanism as to why it might work at all. So, dowsers continue to fool themselves.


Skeptic’s Dictionary: Dowsing
Straight Dope: Does dowsing for water really work?
Dowsing is as Easy as Pi (A test)
Testing Dowsing: The Failure of the Munich Experiments
The Dowsing Illusion is Still with us
Dowsing: An unethical geologic delusion

  9 comments for “Dowsers quote Einstein in worthless appeal for legitimacy

  1. snoma
    September 16, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    At least Einstein isn’t the only well-known and respected historical scientist who has believed something silly. Here’s a list of other great scientists who believed pseudoscientic bullshit:

  2. Massachusetts
    September 16, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    Were there many skeptical tests of dowsing done when Einstein made his comments? Perhaps he had less data to go on, leading to his erroneous conclusion. In time he may have changed his mind as the studies accumulated.

  3. Susan
    September 16, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    It says on the Dowsing web site: “What is dowsing? Dowsing is often classified as a psychic ability, but nearly anyone can learn to dowse accurately. Using dowsing gets you answers to questions you could not answer using your rational mind. It’s like having a hidden superpower. And it’s fun!”

    Sounds like the Magic Eight Ball I had when I was seven.

  4. Massachusetts
    September 16, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Yes, it also sounds like the very definition of a psychic ability, i.e., “gets you answers to questions you could not answer using your rational mind. It’s like having a hidden superpower.”

  5. Old Muley
    September 16, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    During a big yard project last year I had to call “diggers hotline” to locate buried utilities. The guy from Public Service first used an electric detector to find the buried phone lines. When he saw evidence of a buried line between our garage and hose, he whipped out dousing rods. He told me that anyone could use them to find whatever buried objects they wanted. I suggested to him that he apply his “talent” to the JREF million dollar prize, but he said they’d never believe him… He was probably right.

  6. Bob
    September 17, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    Randi has a million dollars for the “expert” who can show dowsing works.

  7. Massachusetts
    September 17, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Funny, both ha ha and strange. If you can use it to find anything you want, then it must work. If it works, then he would pass the test. So why wouldn’t they believe him. What am I missing? Drives you nuts! 🙂

  8. Massachusetts
    September 17, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    I must say though, the visual image I have of a wild-haired Einstein with a dowsing rod combing the quads of Princeton for buried treasures is most amusing.

  9. Phil
    September 18, 2012 at 6:49 AM

    Einstein got his Nobel prize for the photoelectric effect though, not for dowsing. His expertise probably didn’t extend to imaginary ideas.

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