From ArticleWorld

Dowsing is the practice of locating water, metals or hidden objects with the use of a stick or similar tool. The stick is carried over a piece of land and any unusual movements are noted. Its practitioners are called dowsers. It has been categorized as a pseudoscience by most as scientific tests have all failed to reveal any connection.


Dowsers use a stick, a forked branch of a tree, or bent pieces of plastic or metal. When a pendulum is used, the process is called radiesthesia. Some dowsers do not use any pointing device. The most commonly used apparatus is an “L” shaped brass rod called a divining rod. The latest innovation in this field is an electronic dowsing rod called long range locator.

The apparatus is waved over land and atypical movements felt by a dowser signifies the presence of water or metal beneath the earth surface. Some even assert their ability to dowse maps. Uri Geller, a magician, claims to have dowsed for oil and mines. Many dowsers declare their success rates to be over 90 percent but have been unsuccessful in proving it under scientific tests.

Scientific Analysis

No concrete proof of correct dowsing is present in science. It is regarded as a mystic belief in the supernatural by scientists. Tests have been conducted in scientifically controlled conditions but the conclusion is that it is nothing but coincidence. Dowsers themselves have been unsuccessful in satisfactorily explaining it’s nuances. They make ambiguous references to auras and magnetic fields.

Skeptics ascribe the movement of apparatus during dowsing to the established ideometer effect.

Dowsing has a cultural connotation too. The objects to be detected vary with regions. Dowsers commonly look for Leylines (lines connecting historical monuments) in England, whereas in Germany, detection of earth-rays is popular. In USA, dowsing is mainly done to locate oil and precious metals.


Dowsing has been in existence for thousands of years. Its earliest purpose was divination of God’s will, fortune telling and to divine guilt in trials. It was considered a dark art, almost satanic, in the Middle Ages. The usage of dowsing rods to divine guilt was stopped in 1701.

Dowsing, in its contemporary sense, had its roots in Germany. In the 15th century, it was first used for location of metals by Germans. Slowly, it spread to England and then to rest of Europe. The Divining Hand, a book on the history of dowsing, was published by Christopher Bird in 1979.