Friday, May 18, 2007

Hell must be full...

... and the damned are walking the earth.

A company named Homeland Safety International is marketing a dowsing rod called the SNIFFEX that is purported to detect explosives. Dowsing rods don't work. Not surprisingly, the SNIFFEX doesn't either.

There's something called the ideomotor effect that underlies the illusion that Ouija boards, dowsing rods and spirit pendulums actually work. Briefly (you're welcome), gadgets that are based on the ideomotor effect can only tell you things the operator of the gadget already knows. So the SNIFFEX will reliably point at explosives provided the operator already knows where the explosives are. Kinda useless, huh?

The company website says "90% accurate" [here]. But a US Navy test found it could not detect half a ton of explosive 20 feet away [here]. I'm going to side with the Navy on this one.

If Homeland Safety International wanted to honestly market the SNIFFEX, they could truthfully say something along the lines of; "It's a really cool pointer, it doesn't weigh much, and can be used to air dry socks."

Which brings us to Sniffextest here on blogspot. The author of Sniffextest says this:

"In 2006, I tested a widely promoted explosive detector called Sniffex. This may be the only double blind test of Sniffex on the internet. Operated by the president and vice president of the company, Sniffex failed every one of my tests. The company had no explanation and made no changes in ads or promotions. In my opinion, this lack of action is extremely dangerous and irresponsible. If you are considering using Sniffex explosive detectors, you should read this article."

I agree with him wholeheartedly.

I first learned about this on James Randi's site.


thejunkyswife said...

Wow...people are really stupid...

Pigasus said...

HSI executives are in the video operating the SNIFFEX when it fails over on So they should at least have serious questions about the how well the SNIFFEX works. So I don't know where ignorance ends and negligence begins.

The nightmare is someone gets killed or injured because they relied on the device.