He’s interested in the development of technology that would make it easier for farmers to dowse or divine for water on their properties.
“I’ve seen people do this with close to 80 per cent accuracy and I’ve no idea how they do it,” he said.
“When I see that as a scientist, it makes me question, ‘is there instrumentality that we could create that would enable a machine to find that water?’
“I’ve always wondered whether there’s something in the electromagnetic field, or gravitation anomaly.”
To make sure I read him right, I checked out the audio of the interview (my emphasis in bold) – here’s a transcript:
Lucy Barbor: If you were to come up with an example of the sort of research project, in terms of water, you’d like to see the CSIRO carry out, beyond what it has done already – what might that look like?
Larry Marshall: If you look at what we’ve done already, coming up with better ways to manage water, to quantify – for example – the project in the Murray Darling basin. Exactly where the water is, how much of it there is, how it can be extracted and the economics and logistics of that.
I think we need to do more of that, and we are, we’re across many other water deposits now, both in Australia and globally.
Beyond that, this is a little bit ‘out there’, but something that has always fascinated me, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen farmers find water, and as a scientist I can’t explain how they do this, but there’s a number of tricks when people dowse for water, and I can tell you, I’ve seen people do this with close to 80% accuracy.
[Questions – where, when? How often? Under what conditions?]
No idea how they do it. But when I see that as a scientist it makes me question, is there instrumentality that we can create that would enable a machine to find that water? It’s those kinds of projects I think we need to push the envelope to see what we can do.
Remember our mission, fundamentally, is to do whatever we can in terms of creation of technology and support for the land to enable our farmers to be globally competitive.
Barbor: So are you talking about a more scientific, machine approach to water divining or divining for water?
[A slight uplift in her voice, indicating incredulity]Marshall: Well again, that’s a little bit out there, but it’s something I’ve always wondered whether there is something in the electromagnetic field or in gravitation anomaly, whether there’s something that would enable you to more efficiently detect water.
Barbor: So can we expect to see some research dollars being invested in that particular area?
[Again, a slight uplift of voice, indicating incredulity]
Marshall: Well I think, first of all, I’m going to take the very good advice of my more level-headed scientists, who probably understand a lot more about this than I do, but it’s definitely a question that I’m going to ask.
I think one of the questions I would now ask is: how did the new Head of the largest scientific and industry research body in this country reach these views without at least showing a modicum of skepticism? Did the CSIRO know he was keen to say these things?
I guess we can chalk it up to yet another example of “you never know what people are going to believe in without sufficient evidence”. Or that the years and years of efforts to demonstrate what dowsing can/cannot do (from James Randi in his Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural, to more recently, Professor Chris French) across a number of situations still needs replicating… just so these kinds of statements are less likely to happen.
Or maybe I’m too optimistic that the skeptical really can make a difference. Excuse me while I go be depressed for a while…