U.K. paper posts the year’s worst story on dowsing (UPDATE: Dowsing is pseudoscience)

What a bizarre article! “Scientists”? Dowsing is a science? No details? Complete rubbish. (I’m picking up the UK lingo…)

Dowsing discovers plague pit in Tunbridge Wells. | Kent and Sussex Courier.

A trio of scientists claim to have made the gory discovery after exploring the popular town centre park.

They tested a secluded part of the park, an area behind the buildings on Crescent Road, with a technique known as dowsing and claim to have found a mass burial site.

Visitors to the park may have seen the group of men wandering slowly over the grassy bank holding rods in their outstretched hands last Tuesday.

One of the researchers Don Hocking from Hertfordshire told the Courier: “We found lots of grave sites and we found one mass grave or ‘plague pit’. This is a place where the bodies of those who died of the plague were dumped. I am not sure what plague it was but the main plague was about 1660. It’s not very surprising. There must have been a lot around. The plague took out half the population.”

So. Many. Things. Wrong.

Scientists? They give no credentials. So, I’m not going to swallow that.

Tested? No. Guessed is more like it. They didn’t even confirm! Because “they are not archaeologists, they don’t dig.”

The obviously KNEW that “this is a place where the bodies were dumped”. No magic there then…

“It’s mostly for our own interest. […] We are always trying to refine the science aspect because it is a scientific thing although not universally regarded as such. We had a very successful day.”

How utterly unhelpful and pointless then. This is one of the stupidest pieces of “news” I’ve seen a while. From what I can tell, a group of guys told the paper they found graves by magic powers that they decide to call a “science” and never confirm their findings but pat themselves on the back for a successful day. If I am misinterpreting, shame on the paper for not including actual information. If I’m not, shame on the paper for being brain dead. This is awful.

Dowsing does not work. It never has, it it’s been tested and tested and tested and tested and tested….

It fails, fails, fails, fails, fails…

UPDATE (6-Nov-2014) Cheers to Peter Robinson, a DN reader, who decided to tell the Courier how ridiculous this story was. 

  9 comments for “U.K. paper posts the year’s worst story on dowsing (UPDATE: Dowsing is pseudoscience)

  1. RT
    November 4, 2014 at 7:11 PM

    Quite apart from their dubious ‘scientific’ claims, the gentlemen don’t even know the basic historical facts of the plague.

    The plague that killed 30 to 50% of the English as well as continental European population was the Black Death, which happened firmly in fourteenth century, in the years beginning 1347. The plague that happened around 1660 was the London plague, and killed about 110,000 people in London. Last I checked Tunbridge Wells is still not in London.

    Worth also emphasising that there appears no evidence (at least according to the article) that the gentlemen found anything, or did anything other than wander around a field with some old coat hangers, no doubt preparatory for some pints in a pleasant Tunbridge Wells pub. Their claims to have found something are completely uncorroborated by anything other than their own supposition.

  2. spookyparadigm
    November 4, 2014 at 7:17 PM

    You know, D&D books just aren’t that expensive. They can help when you make up stories about grisly buried treasures, medieval battles, and being a wizard with magic wands and strange powers.

  3. Colonel Tom
    November 4, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    Correctly me if I am wrong in my understanding of this “news”, a couple of guys said there were bodies buried, no one checks, and this counts as a successful dowsing event. Speaking as the grandson of a fairly successful dowser, this has to be one of the worst articles ever published!

    I attribute the family success on their powers of observation and experience, near surface water often leaves visible surface signs. The willow branch is just showmanship.

  4. The Rook
    November 4, 2014 at 7:23 PM

    From my reading of the article, it doesn’t seem like anything has been done so far to verify the dowsing group’s claim of discovered mass grave. All we really have are three dopes with dowsing rods, no actual grave pit.

  5. Peter Robinson
    November 5, 2014 at 2:18 AM

    The rag site on which this story is posted comes from a stable that has form. They claim:

    ‘Local World is a local media business that brings together Northcliffe Media and Iliffe News and Media.

    Our vision is to transform regional publishing by providing first class local content across both print and digital platforms.’

    Clearly failing in this vision on the ‘first class’ content part, unless they really mean first class bs. The East Grinstead Courier recently published a piece about the Scientology gathering at Saint Hill (believe this is the International Association of Scientology Annual Gala) which was wholly uncritical, and read like a puff piece straight out of scifiology PR department.

  6. Jeffie T.
    November 5, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    I also sensed the presence of a plague pit and ancient walls, using the magic of Google Earth, satellite view.

  7. Chris Howard
    November 5, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    The real world equivalent is called attending seminary.


  8. Sawdust Sam
    November 6, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    Not entirely true. The 1660s plague may have been particularly bad in London, but it certainly hit parts of the rest of the country. Spondon, near Derby in the East Midlands (for the benefit of non-UK readers, about 120 miles from London) has an area that is still known as the ‘Lousy Graves’ (http://www.spondonhistory.org.uk/category/geographical/streets/lousy-graves-lane). The villagers of Eyam in the Peak District (even further north) voluntarily sequestered themselves when the plague reached them via fleas hitching a lift in a bundle of cloth – it’s a fascinating story of self sacrifice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyam).

  9. Bill T.
    November 10, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Classic modern journalism, as far as I can tell. It’s ‘way wasier and much less expensive to fill your columns with such as the subject drivel than to actually get on the streets and find, research and vet news stories.

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