Woo Bombdetectors - The End Of Dowsing For Death
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April 29, 2013: Original article talks of a company that essentially sold dowsing rods to the militaries and governments of the world, marketing them as devices to detect bombs and IEDs, smuggled goods such as drugs or ivory or truffles, and even hidden people such as a stealthy fugitive or the victims of human trafficking. What supposedly made these dowsing rods different from the old supposedly-water-detecting conman tool was basically some sort of insertable card in the handle that was attuned to the "frequency" of the substance you wanted to detect.

Like the old confidence game dowsing tool, these didn't work either, and the insertable cards were bunk. The founder of the company was eventually arrested and most of his millions (and real estate) confiscated, but he made a ton of money before that happened. He also likely contributed to many deaths, since Iraq had spent $80 MILLION on his fraudulent devices and was using them instead of proper searches that could have found suicide bombers before they detonated.


Game and Story Use

  • Aside from the usual trouble of fraud, you have the increased danger of people using this nonsense in a war zone or minefield. That's insanely dangerous!
    • If you want to characterize a confidence artist in your game or novel as especially immoral, a scheme like this one will definitely get the point across. They're not just getting rich, they're doing so directly off the deaths of others. Even a gun runner probably won't stoop this low.
  • That is, unless psychic powers or divination in your setting works, and empowers these devices. That could be an interesting way to handle the detection of serious threats or hidden objects. Dowsing Rods are often relatively small and lightweight, and with a few interchangeable cards you could effectively be equipped with a mine detector/metal detector/gieger counter/air quality monitor/motion tracker/etc, all-in-one. Too good to be true, unless magic is real in your setting.
    • This would also explain why they don't work for most people - if you don't have (correctly attunded) psi powers, you might as well be holding a Gameboy.
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