Object 3: Dowsing rod

May 27, 2021


This object is a photo of a dowsing rod. It is a historical tool that was introduced during the 16th century and has been used as a tool to find the location of underground water pipes (Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia 2017). This object is relevant to this exhibition as it is still used in water companies today referring to old knowledge about how to handle the rod, although there is no modern scientific evidence that supports the drowsing rod method (Weaver 2017).

Dowsing is an activity whereby someone holds a stick or rod and walking around a site to wait until the rod dips, where water or metals are assumed to be found underground. This is a method of finding water pipes or metals underground, that was applied since the 16th century (Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia 2017).

Although, there is no clear scientific evidence for why dowsing works (Regal 2009), it looks the method has a consistent success rate when identifying underground water reserves (Betz 1995) and is used by farmers and water engineers.

The object is TOK relevant as the handling of a dowsing rod is old knowledge, but the knowledge around the handling never changed nor was it substantiated scientifically. Dowsing has remained as a pseudo-scientific discipline with surprising success rate. In this respect the object suggests that in pseudo- science there is no historical development of knowledge: old “knowledge” is similar the current “knowledge”, in contrast to the knowledge dynamics explained in relation to object 1 and 2.

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