Iraq still embracing the magic

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Feb. 23 2010 6:02 PM

Iraq still embracing the magic

Oh, FFSMS. After countless tests showing them useless, articles about them being useless, challenges from Randi and others to prove they are not useless, and the company head arrested for suspicion of fraud because they're useless, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki has ordered that the (useless) magic wand dowsing rod bomb-sniffers should still be utilized.

FFSMS.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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At least al-Maliki wanted them tested. Still. This angers me:

The survey, ordered by Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, found the British device, known as ADE651, generally worked. However some of the gadgets, found to be ineff­ective, would be replaced.

A government spokesman later said only 50% of the devices worked.

"Replaced?" With what, fairy dust? Unicorn horns? And I'd love to know how those tests were done. I bet it would've been cheaper to send a dozen of the wands to Randi and let him take a look. And if they did work, not only would Iraq get the wands back, but Randi would include a check for a million bucks which they could use to buy more of the kits.

I have to say, it's been a good year for skeptics, but we clearly have a long way to go. Thailand and Iraq are both relying on provably worthless junk to find bombs, and what will happen instead is that those bombs will find people. Hundreds of them, thousands. That's what happens when we turn their backs on reality and instead rely on superstition and antiscience. It's way too late in this world to do such a thing, and when people in power do it, a lot of lives will be lost.

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