January 26, 2010

Flashing Lights of Death!


I'm not kidding. In this article from the Times Online (via Norm) the jokers who sell this fraudulent "bomb detector" which is molded plastic with an antenna that is connected to, um, nothing. It's basically a dowsing rod which is, in effect, a stick. So Iraqis are dying from bombs that have gone through checkpoints of uniformed men waving magic sticks at them. No, really.

But that's not the funny part. The funny part is this comment from company spokesman Jim "Out on Bail" McCormick:

"He added: 'We have been dealing with doubters for ten years. One of the problems we have is that the machine does look a little primitive. We are working on a new model that has flashing lights.'"

Oh, flashing lights! That'll look nice as the bombs drive past...

James Randi has more to say on this, of course. Funnily enough, McCormick's company hasn't taken him up on the offer of one meeelion dollars to prove that his magic sticks work.

4 comments:

Rob T. said...

He's got it all wrong -- the device doesn't need flashing lights -- it needs SOUND EFFECTS! Then people will believe it works!!! (facepalm)

Jim said...

Rob,

Yeah, little light saber noises might do the trick with some random scary beeping.

Michael Taylor said...

I have to fight this same battle periodically at work. It really amazes me how many people believe this country folk magic.

http://freephilosophicaldiscussions.blogspot.com/2007/08/folk-magic.html

I was up in arms about this on Facebook last year and I was really taken back at how many otherwise rational people jumped up to defend dowsing.

Jim said...

Michael,

Yup. That's why Michael Shermer's added chapter in the paperback for Why People Believe Weird Things is titled Why SMART People Believe Weird Things.

Thanks,
Jimb