Calling all diviners

Australian Skeptics are again organising a major test of water divining, repeating an exercise last undertaken 11 years ago at the Mighty Mitta Muster in Mitta Mitta, northern Victoria.

Organised by the Borderline Skeptics with input from Australian Skeptics Inc and the Victorian Skeptics, diviners putting themselves up for the test will, depending on their results, be in the running for the Skeptics $100,000 challenge. (In fact, the amount for the Mitta event has been boosted by a further $10,000 from Borderliner Russell Kelly.)

The Mighty Mitta Muster is an annual event, held on the Victorian Labour Day weekend, featuring the usual range of events at rural shows – woodchopping, tent

2002 Test
pegging, stunt riding and egg throwing – but it hasn’t had a water divining test since the last time the Skeptics rolled up in 2002. (A previous trial was run in 2001, and a third was planned for a year later but was cancelled – as was the entire Muster – due to bushfires.)

At the 2002 event, 30 diviners put their skills to the test, but out of 20 bottles containing either water or sand (a 50/50 chance of being correct), the highest score was only 13, which is well within the realms of chance alone.

The excuses used post-trial to explain away the failures were many and varied. A video report on the event by Richard Saunders can be seen on YouTube.

2002 Test

The 2013 divining challenge will be held on March 10, and will again be conducted by placing water in plastic containers covered by paper bags. This water would be stationary like most artesian water, not flowing. The water used will be clean water drawn from the Mitta River on the morning of the challenge. Other paper bags will randomly hold containers with sand instead of water.

A protocol has been developed to give a definite yes/no verdict as to whether a diviner’s decisions are better than odds of about 1000:1 against chance – a figure that should be easily beaten by anyone with the real ability. If time allows, diviners can have more than one try at the test as the water and sand bottles will be moved around from time to time.

Any entrant who scores well above chance will have the opportunity for a further test, with the Skeptics’ ongoing $100,000 up for grabs.

Further information on the 2013 divining trial, including contact details where diviners can apply for the test, can be found here.