“The Amazing Randi” exposes bomb detection fraud

The Amazing Randi knows all the tricks (Photo: thatsmyskull.blogspot.com)

It’s been said that a magician never reveals his secrets. In the case of “The Amazing Randi” and the current controversies surrounding crock bomb detectors unscrupulous companies are attempting to peddle for soldiers in Iraq, James Randi is happy to reveal exactly what’s going on. As you’ll see, the military should never invest in such hoax products; if they need to borrow money for something that works, that’s exactly what they should do. Soldiers and police in the field deserve no less, as they have given their lives to serve.

“The Amazing Randi” disproves the charlatans

As a stage magician himself, James Randi knows all the tricks. That’s why he’s the perfect choice to investigate fraud bomb detection devices. AOL News reports that Randi calls them “dowsing rod” bomb detectors, named after the old divining rod trick. Such devices have shown up in Iraq, and as Randi puts it, “There’s nothing inside, or some dummy device, like discarded circuit boards from a TV remote controller.”

Antennas swivel – is it a bomb or motion from my hand moving the device?

Devices like the ADE 651, GT200 and Quadro have drawn The Amazing Randi’s ire for their bogus nature. The New York Times exposed the first, which lead to the arrest of the head of the British company that manufactures them. The Iraqi government is going to sue the company, as well. Here’s what Randi has to say about these devices:

“They’re classic dowsing rods, which use an antenna that swings back and forth, allegedly pointing to where the explosives — or whatever the substance being detected — are supposedly located. The antenna responds to very slight movements of the human hand, making people think it’s being directed by the device, when in fact it is responding to their own movements.”

It’s the ideomotor effect

Randi tells AOL that this is “a subconscious reflex that triggers human movement.” It’s similar to the “mystic channeling” people achieve with Ouija Boards, facilitated writing and… dowsing rods.

What’s truly disturbing is that such quackery could creep over into something as serious as bomb detection. The Amazing Randi told AOL that he was once at Miami International Airport. He saw Homeland Security attendants checking bags with what he claimed to be “dowsing rods.” After questioning the security as to whether their methods were legitimate, Randi claims the security staffer said no, and that it “was unofficial.”

What’s the point, then?

Either you’re keeping people safe from bombs or you aren’t. Let’s not play at waving wands to make your job appear justified. Personal Money Store doesn’t wave a magic wand to help consumers with credit repair; we put you in touch with real sources that can help.

As for soldiers and police in the field, would they be happy to know that their bomb detector might be something out of a Cracker Jack box? Should America, Iraq, or any other nation be happy with that knowledge?

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(Image by Bernt Rostad, Flickr.com)

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