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Off in the distance
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May 2016

The Bellinghman
Date: 2010-01-22 15:05
Subject: One heck of a chicken is eyeing up its perch
Security: Public
It looks as though this story - Useless bomb detector sold worldwide risks lives - is finally getting mainstream attention.

To summarise - the Iraqi security forces have been gulled into paying up to $40,000 per item for a woo device that supposedly 'dowses' for explosives or whatever.

Of course it doesn't work.

When one fails to detect a bomb (as will be the case in Iraq), people get blown up. People get mutilated. People get killed.

What gets me is that not only is there a guy making serious amounts of money out of selling these useless objects, but that there are people around the world who have been convinced to buy them.

People - this is an attempt to use magic. And when it comes to the hard, physical world, magic doesn't work. On soft, psychological aspects, it may do - the human mind is a complex thing, and belief in something can have amazingly strong effects, to the extent of affecting one's physiology. But it won't work miracles - the strongest belief that one can fly without using wings won't going save one falling off a cliff.

This is almost as shameful as promoting homeopathy for curing AIDS.
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User: beckyl
Date: 2010-01-22 15:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Dibbler's dragon detector springs to mind.

Frankly, that's horrific. Really, truly horrifying. I'd hope for prosecution, compensation to those who have bought it, and some kind of jail term for something like 'reckless endangerment.'
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Sheep with a guitar
User: sbp
Date: 2010-01-22 15:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Snap :-)
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Sarcasticia Nitpickerson
User: tisiphone
Date: 2010-01-22 15:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, compare that to the $150,000 full-body airport scanner, which also doesn't work.
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User: vatine
Date: 2010-01-22 15:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The belief in magic is strong. It is also appealing. Especially when coated in technobabble (as the high-tech dowsing rods marketing tend to be). What gets me is that several iterations of them have demonstrably been no better than chance at detecting explosives under controlled circumstances over the last 10-odd years and they're STILL on the market.
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Tony Finch: passport
User: fanf
Date: 2010-01-22 16:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
He has been arrested on suspicion of fraud. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6997859.ece
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2010-01-22 16:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

(But these fraudulent devices have been hawked around the world for a decade and a half. We really could do with some way of stomping on outright quacks a lot earlier.)
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Earth-bound misfit
User: captainlucy
Date: 2010-01-22 17:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"...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..."

Because a few LEDs flashing on and off are obviously going to make all the difference when a 2,000 IED goes off in that truck you're standing right beside.
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User: jon_a_five
Date: 2010-01-22 17:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The only benefit is you might scare a bomber into detonating his device before reaching his target. And you could do that with a cobbled together box with switches and lights from Maplin for a tenner.
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