Dowsing for hepatitis (UPDATE: See patent application)

This is unreal…

Developers say C-Fast – developed from bomb detection technology – will revolutionise diagnosis of other diseases
Scientists sceptical about device that ‘remotely detects hepatitis C’

The device the doctor held in his hand was not a contraption you expect to find in a rural hospital near the banks of the Nile.

For a start, it was adapted from a bomb detector used by the Egyptian army. Second, it looked like the antenna for a car radio. Third, and most bizarrely, it could – the doctor claimed – remotely detect the presence of liver disease in patients sitting several feet away, within seconds.

The antenna was a prototype for a device called C-Fast. If its Egyptian developers are to be believed, C-Fast is a revolutionary means of using bomb detection technology to scan for hepatitis C – a strongly contested discovery that, if proven, would contradict received scientific understanding, and potentially change the way many diseases are diagnosed.

Witnessed in various contexts by the Guardian, the prototype operates like a mechanical divining rod – though there are digital versions. It appears to swing towards people who suffer from hepatitis C, remaining motionless in the presence of those who don’t. Shiha claimed the movement of the rod was sparked by the presence of a specific electromagnetic frequency that emanates from a certain strain of hepatitis C.

WHOA! That’s a bunch of crap right there. Someone needs to demonstrate that “electromagnetic frequency emanates from a certain strain of hepatitis C” because that currently is not an accepted claim. Nor is it plausible.

The article states is has no basis in science, has not been proven and is disputed. Who wants to make a bet it WON’T be. This is dangerous stuff. The tests mentioned have no details. We do not know that it has been double blinded – a necessity for this sort of test. Neither the person with the device, nor the patient must know if they have the disease. So, these claimed tests that so convinced some other doctors have not been validated.

At the bottom of the article, it states the headline was changed (above is the revised version). It originally said “Scientists divided over device that ‘remotely detects hepatitis C'” Yep, that was far too generous. There is nothing good about promoting a product that has not been shown to work and is completely implausible.

The reference to bomb detection devices was interesting. That FAILED miserably:  McCormick pleads not guilty to fraud charges over dowser-like bomb detectors.

This smells like the same load of bull.

UPDATE: (28-Feb-2013) Want to know what this thing looks like? Here is the patent application (PDF). It’s EXACTLY what you expect – dowsing rod. They are claiming tests showed 100% accuracy. I call Bullshit.

From WIPO Patent WO/2011/116782A1

From WIPO Patent WO/2011/116782A1

Tip: Peter Robinson

  12 comments for “Dowsing for hepatitis (UPDATE: See patent application)

  1. February 26, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Every time I read about one of these things, I am reminded of:
    http://www.ask.com/wiki/Hieronymus_machine

    From the wiki article:
    “The most well-known Hieronymus Machine is the Eloptic Medical Analyzer, which supposedly analyzes and transmits eloptic energy to diagnose and treat medical conditions in plants and animals”

  2. Peter Robinson
    February 26, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    Delighted to see you have published this! I would like to make clear that the article was originally brought to my attention by Pepijn Van Erp of klopdatwel.nl, a skeptical website in Holland, so really he deserves the credit for spotting this.

    I and others have been in email communication with Professor Massimo Pinzani at University College London, and changes were made to the article as a result of his complaints/corrections to the way he was quoted in the original, as well as due to the stink raised in the comments to the article.

    We now await with great interest to see whether the device is submitted for proper testing! Developed by a Brigadier who claims to be a specialist in bombs and explosives. Well that got my suspicion antenna twitching, along with the description of a free pivoting radio aerial.

    We will also be trying to find out which variant of the dowsing bomb detector was/is being used in Egypt because we were not aware of any sales there of the ADE651 or GT200.

  3. One Eyed Jack
    February 26, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    Adapted from bomb detecting technology? Do they mean the bomb detecting technology that has been tested and found completely useless?

    Do they mean the technology sold by Jim McCormick, who was arrested and charged with fraud by the UK government in 2010? http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/22/dowsing_rod_bomb_detector_bust/

    Perhaps they mean adopted from the Quadro Tracker which the FBI has obtained a permanent injunction against it sale? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadro_Tracker

    Perhaps, in general, adopted from the technology discredited by the US DOJ?

    “…There is a rather large community of people around the world that believes in dowsing: the ancient practice of using forked sticks, swinging rods, and pendulums to look for underground water and other materials. These people believe that many types of materials can be located using a variety of dowsing methods. Dowsers claim that the dowsing device will respond to any buried anomalies, and years of practice are needed to use the device with discrimination (the ability to cause the device to respond to only those materials being sought). Modern dowsers have been developing various new methods to add discrimination to their devices. These new methods include molecular frequency discrimination (MFD) and harmonic induction discrimination (HID). MFD has taken the form of everything from placing a xerox copy of a Poloroid [sic] photograph of the desired material into the handle of the device, to using dowsing rods in conjunction with frequency generation electronics (function generators). None of these attempts to create devices that can detect specific materials such as explosives (or any materials for that matter) have been proven successful in controlled double-blind scientific tests. In fact, all testing of these inventions has shown these devices to perform no better than random chance…http://www.nij.gov/pubs-sum/178913.htm

    Oh, that technology.

  4. Bob
    February 26, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    You know how you tell if someone has liver disease from several feet away within seconds? They’re yellow.

    • February 26, 2013 at 8:11 PM

      Bob: I knew there was some obvious thing I missed.

  5. RDW
    February 26, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    I recall some kind of “Drug detecting device” from several years back that was very similar : basically an empty box with a metal pointer that someone could point at a hippie or whatever and have an excuse to search illegally. It seems like some nearby police department briefly bought into the idea and actually spent some money on some of them. Highly Dubious, Indeed !!!

  6. February 27, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    And next it will be used in Africa to find witches or to hunt down “secret” albinos.

  7. Rand
    February 27, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    Hmm. And here I was thinking (based on the headline) that it was a device which picked up chemical signatures, similar to the way real, actual bomb detecting devices do (which detect the explosive chemicals)

    Or dogs. I hear they can detect some diseases based on the smell it causes.

  8. drwfishesman
    March 1, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    I work in citrus pathology and the device claims to have been used in detecting plant diseases. My boss said the patent application will probably be denied not because it is BS (which he agreed it was), but probably becuase it wasn’t “unique” enough technology. Basically meaning there is other BS technology out there that is similar to this that already has a patent. Hope in mankind…dwindling.

  9. February 25, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    I’m interested that the PCT publication date is 2011-09-29, as WO2011116782 (A1). I read this as the inventor not doing very well trying to patent this world-changing device in Egypt, in the US or at the EPO, let alone anywhere else. Hmm.
    A patent should enable “one reasonably skilled in the art” to carry out the invention. There is no information of significance in therein. It might form a basis for protecting its appearance, but nothing else. Circuit diagrams? Er, no.
    I wrote about some predecessors at http://legalthinking.net/144/its-patented-but-it-just-wont-work/, where in the case of a similar device, a statement by Nairobi police chief Benson Githinji claimed that: “the machines in use are serviceable and don’t fall short… They are in operation and they work.”
    I consider devices of this ilk highly dangerous, leaving the sick untreated and terrorists waved through checkpoints.

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