Carl Sagan is rolling in his grave
Just what we need: HCN endorsing pseudoscience (HCN, 11/22/10). Sam Western exhibits a pathetic lack of critical reasoning in his puff piece about Vern Bandy's supposed dowsing abilities. Bandy's claim to have accurately dowsed thousands of wells is apparently supported only by his own records. As the son of a well-driller, it is hardly surprising that he has an eye for geology. That he attributes his skills to dowsing perhaps just shows the human capability for self-deception, just as many athletes believe their skills will disappear if they don't wear their lucky shirt.
How about a controlled experiment? Blindfold Bandy and see if his abilities are unchanged, or stash water on a site and see if he can detect it. James Randi, who debunks paranormal claims, has offered a million dollars to anyone who can prove paranormal abilities under rigorous testing. This prize has been available for 45 years; it remains unclaimed -- and they have tested many dowsers.
Pseudoscience is doing immense damage to the world, from climate change denialism to anti-evolutionism. I expected more from HCN.