Saturday, 23 January 2010

Non-electronic 'bomb dowsing wand' is a dud, unsurprisingly

One of these stories that makes you check the date to make sure it isn't April Fools Day. But the only fools in this are the lunatics who bought this 'device,' with terrible consequences. In Iraq, even the surreal and comic comes with a hefty amount of spilled blood and sufferring:
Hundreds of people have been killed in horrific bombings in Iraq after a British company supplied "bogus" equipment which failed to detect explosive devices.

The head of the company, which has made tens of millions of pounds from the sale of the detectors, has now been arrested and the British Government has announced a ban on their export to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Just another example of con-men trying to make money, albeit with the added nastiness that the result of their snakoil routine is people being killed. But then it gets deeply weird:
Mr McCormick, who served with Merseyside police before becoming managing director of the company ATSC, said that his "highly successful" ADE series was based on a similar principle to dowsing – the belief that certain types of woods can detect water underground.

He claimed recently: "We have been dealing with doubters for 10 years. One of the problems we have is that the machine does look a little primitive. We are working on a new model that has flashing lights."


The "bomb detector", a small hand-held wand, with a telescopic aerial on a swivel, is used in dozens of checkpoints in Iraqi cities including Baghdad. It is claimed that it had failed to detect two tonnes of explosives used by suicide bombers to murder 155 people and destroy three ministries in October last year. There was a similar alleged shortcoming when 120 people were killed in another series of bombings in December.


However the device has some defenders in Iraq. Major General Jihad al-Jabiri, the head of the Interior Ministry's directorate for combat explosives, said: "Whether it's magic or scientific, what I care about is detecting bombs. I don't care what they say. I know more about bombs than the Americans do. In fact, I know more about bombs than anyone in the world."
I can make an ineffective, non-electronic device. I can produce it for a lot less than Mr McCormick. True, it will be made out of lego ("Modular!" "Customise it!" "Comes in a avariety of colours!") but I'll throw in the flashing lights for free.

Dunno what is more reprehensible, really - someone selling this crap, or the derilection of duty thsat lead to it being bought.
1 - "Head of bomb detector company arrested in fraud investigation," by Kim Sengupta. Published in The Independent,23rd of January, 2009. (

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