Divining rods are being used to find important infrastructure in Wellington on the ratepayer-funded clock.
Downer Group said the practice was one tool used to find underground water supplies while on contract to Wellington City Council and the firm had defended dowsing as being “used quite widely”.
“Farmers and the waste industry also use this practice to locate underground water sources,” Gary Sue, Regional Manager of Wellington Transport Services at Downer wrote in an email to NZ Skeptics Chair Craig Shearer.
“It’s not fool-proof but I am told it does work.”
My God. I am glad I don;t have shares in Downer. A senior manager believes in divining rods. Do they also believe in voodoo dolls?
A Downer employee was spotted using dowsing to find a pipe on the streets of central Wellington in January, Shearer said. The spot was then marked with spray paint.
“It just makes the company look silly and promotes the belief in magic things.
“It’s kind of like how the hell would this work? I guess the dowsers feel that they are somehow in tune with the earth. It’s just magical thinking.”
Jordan Williams of the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union said the practice was “absurd”.
“Having contractors dig up pavement on the basis of vibrating sticks risks significant waste of ratepayer resources.”
However Wellington City Council spokeswoman Vic Barton-Chapple said “there is no additional cost to the customer” for the service.
Of course there is an extra cost. If Downer staff were not wasting time on quackery, then they’d be more efficient at finding waterways through actual science.
“Downer has told us they do not have a specific policy on the use of dowsing.
“They do not actively promote this practice however, from time to time, their teams may use this practice if it is safe, there is no additional cost to the customer and when used in conjunction with technology and service plans.”
This is like a company saying they don’t have a specific policy on the use of telekinesis.