The Wellington City Council in New Zealand is looking for water pipes that may be buried underground. But for some reason, and with taxpayer money, the company they contracted with is searching for the water with dowsing rods.
And if you don’t know what a dowsing rod is, then congratulations, you know just as much about them as so-called experts. In theory, the copper rods “work” by vibrating when the user is directly over water. No scientific study has ever shown these contraptions to work.
When asked if [contractor] Downer was concerned about the public perception ratepayer money was being used on a technique considered pseudo-science, [general manager of business excellence & reputation Brooke Dahlberg] said “no”.
Wellington City Council, which is responsible for the use of its ratepayers’ money was contacted by Newsroom and asked whether it had discussed the issue with Downer’s, how it felt about ratepayer money being used for pseudo-science and if any mechanism was going to be put in place to stop it happening in the future.
Its response was: “We have spoken with Downer, and we are happy with the response they have given you.”
The company isn’t concern about using pseudoscience, and the government doesn’t care. Meanwhile, the taxpayers get nothing in return for their cash.
Louis Houlbrooke of the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union said the practice was “absurd”.
“Having contractors dig up pavement on the basis of vibrating sticks risks significant waste of ratepayer resources.”
What’s next? Using a Magic 8 Ball or an Ouija board to accomplish the same thing?
It could be worse. The Iraqi army spent $60 million for dowsing rods to detect explosives. (It didn’t work.) The devices were eventually banned by the prime minister.
It looks like the leaders in Wellington haven’t learned their lesson.