A disillusioned dowser

There are plenty of dowsing failures. Even dowsers of long standing will sometimes not get the results that they expect. Some people take up dowsing immediately, perhaps after watching a dowser at work, who then encourages them to “have a go”.  But for others it can be harder. The consensus amongst dowsers, seems to be that the vast majority of people can dowse if they put their mind to it, which means they have to learn and practice, but that a significant minority, (sometimes put at around 10% of people) simply cannot dowse at all.

The following article is a letter written to the BSD by a particularly frustrated beginner, named Mr Gunning. He had obviously read several books on dowsing and had purchased some devices. The books must have suggested that he start with some simple search exercises, referred to as “parlour tricks”. However, he was not achieving any success and he expressed his evident frustration in his letter, see:


The letter provoked many written replies from members of the Society, and these were published on the following issue of the journal:


One cannot help thinking that some of the replies were quite patronising. Furthermore, the language used was sometimes incomprehensible and unhelpful to non-dowsers. For example, what are interrupters and there was mention of “evil spirits”!  However, there are several points which the writers stress as being important to the practice of dowsing and therefore worthy of note: being suitably relaxed; having a real need to know the answer; beware of being too over-confident; maintain humility; find something of personal interest to dowse for; and then practice. Some respondents suggested that, the ability to dowse with any degree of success, might only come after six months or more of trying. Sadly, Mr Gunning was obviously offended by many of the replies and presumably never attempted to dowse again.

Finally, the story is worth reflecting upon when one considers many of the experiments which have been conducted to “prove” whether dowsing actually works. In particular, whether the subjects of such experiments are seasoned dowsers, or perhaps more likely, college students simply handed a dowsing device.  Then how is such an experiment is conducted, is the procedure artificial, or more akin to a real-World situation? And we have not even mentioned the attitudes and abilities of the experimenter in charge.