Dowsing for dollars, a challenge to test your skills

Water dowsers are offered a chance to compete for prize money…if they can really do what they say they can.

Calling all diviners | Australian Skeptics Inc.

Australian Skeptics are again organising a major test of water divining, repeating an exercise last undertaken 11 years ago at the Mighty Mitta Muster in Mitta Mitta, northern Victoria.

Organised by the Borderline Skeptics with input from Australian Skeptics Inc and the Victorian Skeptics, diviners putting themselves up for the test will, depending on their results, be in the running for the Skeptics $100,000 challenge. (In fact, the amount for the Mitta event has been boosted by a further $10,000 from Borderliner Russell Kelly.)

The 2013 divining challenge will be held on March 10, and will again be conducted by placing water in plastic containers covered by paper bags.

A protocol has been developed to give a definite yes/no verdict as to whether a diviner’s decisions are better than odds of about 1000:1 against chance – a figure that should be easily beaten by anyone with the real ability.

Last time, in 2002, 30 people tried to pass the test but their scores were within the realm of chance. Any entrant who scores above chance odds will then undergo a further test for the chance to win $100,000 and possibly more!

Sound easy? No dowsers have ever performed above chance under stringent scientific conditions even though many think their skills are close to infallible. Dowsing has been used for hundreds of years and relies on the ideomotor effect, a subconscious movement by the handler when they recognize clues to what they seek. Regardless that it’s an ancient “art”, it simply does not work.

Skeptic’s Dictionary: Dowsing

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