Volume 22 Number 92
                       Produced: Tue Jan 23 23:55:09 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Divining Rods (2)
         [Michael Slifkin, Jerome Parness]
Dowsing and Judaisim
         [Robert Kaiser]


From: Michael Slifkin <slifkin@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 1996 12:07:00 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Divining Rods

Contrary to Warren Burnstein's assertion that dowsing is an exploded
myth, I would refer interested readers to Physics World May 1995 p 21
and June 1995 also p21 in which two very eminent physicists (one a
former teacher of mine) refer to experiments carried out on the dowsing
effect and offer some partial physical explanations.  As pointed out by
Professor Reddish, professional human dowsers are widely used in
geological surveys and similar endeavours.

Professor M A Slifkin            userid: <slifkin@...>
Department of Electronics        telephone: +972 (0)2-751176
Jerusalem College of Technology  fax: +972 (0)2-422075
POB 16031
Jerusalem 91160  Israel          4Z9GDH

From: Jerome Parness <parness@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 1996 17:13:04 EST
Subject: Divining Rods

	In mj of Wed 17Jan, Stan Tenen wrote on the subject of divining
rods and as much as I tried, I could not keep myself from replying.
Stan, your arguments in things mathematical may be on solid ground (I
don't know, I am not a mathematician), but your arguments on the
interrelationships of the sub- and macro-atomic physical world leave a
lot of information out or are just plainly incorrect or unsubstantiated.
The associative relationships and logical (sic) jumps that you make are
so far from being anything close to a proven reality that I feel that I
must take this line of argument to task.  At the risk of sounding like I
am flaming (I am not), but this is use of pseudoscience to a
predetermined, observer biased end.
	Let us examine what you write closely.
	"There is much debate about this, but if the farthest out
speculations of (physicist) Roger Penrose and (cell biologist) Stuart
Hameroff, for example, have merit, than it is possible for our minds to
register sub-newtonian physical effects.  Penrose and Hameroff propose
that our consciousness interacts with the physical world at the quantum
mechanical level because of superconducting quantum switches in the
microtubules in the cells in our body. (I happen to know about this
because the topology of the microtubule system seems to be nearly
identical to certain aspects of the Hebrew alphabet.  Both microtubules
and the letters of the alphabet come in clusters of 27 and both are
involved in the geometry of "sphere" division.) This means that it could
be possible for a person (with a quiet and relaxed mind) to directly
sense distortions in the gravitational, magnetic or electric fields -
even fairly deeply buried in the ground."

	First let us be clear how speculative the arguments of Penrose
and Hameroff are - extremely.  They are in the realm of Crick's
panspermia theories of the beginnings of life on this planet and less
believable than Lynn Margulies' theories of Gaia, that the universe is
one organic, live being.  And they are just that - wild speculations.
	Since I did my PhD thesis on microtubules, I want to know where
you got the number 27 from.  Flagellar microtubules are arranged in a
9+2 arrangement, cellular microtubules are single 24nm diameter tubules
made up of linear polymers of tubulin, a protein that self assembles in
a circular manner into 13 protofilament containing hollow tubes.  These
cellular microtubules are the ones involved in cell division, the
"spheres" you mentioned in your posting. Nothing in the microtubule
literature that I know of denotes a cluster of 27. No one has shown them
to be quantum swithches for anything.  There has been only speculation,
as far as I know.
	You, and Penrose and Hammer, make a significant linguistic
mistake when you use the words quantum mechanical in the sense of
subatomic physics and apply it to biological phenomena that speaks of
quanta as the smallest unit of signal that a particular biological
process can respond to.  Let us use your examples:
	Microubules and the transfer of quantum information.  This idea
was already expressed in the late '70s by Gunther Albrecht-Buhler, then
at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories on Long Island.  His idea was
that since microtubules are polar polymers, i.e., the two ends of each
tube are non-equivalent, and since they are essentially two dimensional
crystals, a change in shape at one end will automatically be transferred
to the other end by a change in crystal shape, i.e., long range transfer
of information by a local change at the end of a crystal.  This is
macromolecular science, not subatomic quantum mechanics.  The minimal
energy necessary for the change in crystal structure has been referred
to as the quantum of energy necessary for this change to occur. His
thesis was that there was nothing "magical" about the number 13,i.e.,
the number of protofilaments that make up the walls of microtubules.
Polarity of the two dimensional crystal and the ability to transfer
binary information from one end of the polymer to the other demanded an
odd number of protofilaments.  And indeed in nature we do find
microtubules with 9 or 11 protofilaments.  None with even numbers of
protofilaments, and none with 27 either.
	Quantum tunneling of electrons, what you are referring to, can
occur in microtubules, but can in other proteins as well, and has
nothing to do with the number 27.  Quantum tunneling can result in a
transfer of charge, but it is the macromolecular nature of charge that
may eventually be sensed by the biological organism.  The significance
of electron tunneling to biological processes is not even close to being
established.  But it is being tested by the scientific process.  And
this is the point to which I will return at the end of this piece. The
jump you made in the above paragraph to the possibility of humans
sensing gravitational fields is merely wild speculation.  I have no idea
whether you are correct or not, and no one else does either.  The
intellectual demands of such statements are that they remain wild
speculations until someone proves that this phenomenon indeed occurs.
Otherwise your arguments sre built on a house of cards.

	"Even without the speculations of "new science", there are known
mechanisms by which dowsing and similar procedures might work.  Some
cells contain magnetic molecules and aggregates (at least in animals),
and these could interact with external magnetic and electric fields.
(Bird and animal migration might make use of this.)"

	Again, the flights of your imagination, though worthy of the
best science fiction writers of the day, have no basis in scientifically
proven reality. Cells which have been shown to contain magnetic crystals
exist in certain bacteria and in some migratory bird brain cells. I know
of no human cells to contain the same thing.  And people have looked!
It is unabashed speculation to take isolated aspects of biology and
place them in a possible normative human biological context. Another
floor to the house of cards.

	"It is not often realized, but the human body IS capable of
detecting single quanta.  It is possible to detect (and, in some cases
it may be possible to physically sense) a single photon impinging on a
retina.  (This has nothing to do with dowsing, but it does demonstrate
that we can "read" "subtle" quantum-mechanical signals.)"

	You are making a different mistake this time.  It is possible to
detect a single photon of light (smallest packet of energy that light
travels in/as), but not by human consciousness.  The readers of this
piece should be aware that the ability of a molecule, in this case
rhodopsin in the retina of the eye, to respond to a single quantum of
light in no way implies the ability of a conscious brain to respond to
that packet of energy.  There is a threshhold of the number of retinal
responses the brain must have in order to respond with conscious sight.
Otherwise you would be blinded by photoquantum information.  Anything
else said at the present time is not true, and is misleading.  In order
for what you say to be true one would have to place an "egoless,
expectationless" human being engaging in a "comptetent effort" to
consciously recognize a single quantum fo light energy in an absolutely
light free room completely arrayed with photodetectors to detect a
single quantum of light anywhere in the room.  And one would have to do
it with enough people and enough times in order to know that any
positive result is not related to statistical chance.  My guess is that
you would know rather quickly whether this is an impossible
physiological (macromolecular) process, though the controls would be
horrendous, including first detecting autoflourescent light quanta from
human beings which must occur at some finite rate.  But conceptually,
the experiment is doable. Do it, get someone else to do it, wait until
someone else does it, but until then, again, it remains wild

	I cannot deal with your anecdote about the wiring in your
ceiling to determine whether there were really any macromolecular clues
to finding what it is you wanted to find.  Rather, I submit that
anecdotes are proof of nothing except curious circumstances.  Anecdotes
in your case are no different than those who swear they saw the Virgin
Mary, had a conversation with Jesus, bumped in to Eliahu HaNavi on the
Lower East Side, had a dream in which they stepped on a nail and the
next day they did (It happened to me).  Curiosity leads, in the proper
hands, to proper examination to find out the "truth".  Which leads me to
my next point, and the main thesis of this piece. You confuse and
contradict, I believe, the logic of your lines of proof. In essence, you
blur the lines between two types of truth, that have no business being
blurred unless they have an event in common that levels the playing
ground for proof.  Let me illustrate from my own life.  I dreamt that I
was having a catch with my next door neighbor.  He threw me a pop fly
which I took running, looking over my shoulder.  The next thing I knew,
I had stepped on a nail. I awoke.  The very next day this exact story
happened to me.  What quantum mechanical evidence do you propose would
explain this.  What experiment do you propose I do to verify the truth
or meaning of this anecdote.  There is none.  what I believe the
significance of this event might mean in the cosmic scheme of things is
irrelevant to anyone else in their life in this world, unless i make it
my life's project to convince them otherwise, to believe otherwise.
That is religion and has nothing to do with macromolecualr living.
	Furhtermore, you write, "For an egocentric mechanistic
determinist of the old Newtonian physics school, dowsing is nonsense -
but, then, so is quantum mechanics (and, for that matter, so is
spiritual belief and trust in HaShem.)" 
       The first part of the statement is absolutely correct - for the
determinist dowsing is absolute bulldinky.  The latter two statements
are a) wrong and b) irrelevant.  First, quantum mechanics is nonsense
only to Newtonians who refuse to look at the scientific evidence of the
last century, yes even to the recent discovery of the existence of the
Bose-Einstein condensate, molecule of the year on the cover of SCIENCE
magazine.  You have to be living in the eighteenth century to have the
doubts such a determinist might have.  The argument of determinism with
quantum mechanics in the involvement in everyday life is: how does a
subatomic event make itself felt in the macromolecular world?  No
physicist in his right mind would deny the applicability of quantum
mechanics.  The question is the relevance.  Irrespective of these two
questions: applicability and relevance, no one denies the existence of
quantum mechanics as real, physical, measurable phenomena, unless one
denies the scientific method.  To equate that with questioning the
belief in Hashem is scientifically ludicrous.  There is no scientific
truth to the existence of G-d and there can't be.  G-d is an
existential, intuitive truth for most people.  The only people in the
world with something close to a "scientific", proof for the existence of
G-d are the Jews, and this comes with the belief (and I underscore
belief) in the historical presence of 600,000 "yotz'ei tzavah"
(certainly more than two million people if you estimate minimal numbers
for the women and children and erev rav) around Har Sinai.  Otherwise
there are no proofs for the existence of G-d, and "proof" and "G-d"
should never be equated.  The lines of logic and proof for disparate
systems of truth have been blurred.
	Furthermore, you write, " When a rationalist tests dowsing, they
may never be able to give up their rational expectations and,.  often,
they see no effect. "
     This is known in the clincal psychology of testing as the "observer
effect".  Much of the scientific process is designed to remove the
observer effect from the result.  Hence, good experimental design,
blinded observers, and the ability of others to repeat the experiment
are necessary to arrive at scientific truth. Yet you write in the next
paragraph, " To know what is true for you, YOU personally must do the
experiment."  If there ever was an unscientific method, it is that.  You
are proposing, it seems to me, that you decide for your self, based upon
your experimentation, what truth is.  Without holding this experiment up
to public criticism?  Without publishing method and result so that
others can know too?  Or disprove your notion of truth?  If there ever
was "observer bias", it is in this method that you propose.

	" Tests of psychic or quantum mechanical effects do not really
test the external physical system under review.  They test the
psychology and conscious will of the researcher who does the test."
Wrong, again.  They test the ability of the researcher to design a good
experiment, and pass peer review and public criticism.  And then to go
back again and do it better.  Most importantly, it tests the psychology
and conscious will of those who claim supranormal powers to be put to
the test.
	"[T]he entanglement of consciousness and physics in quantum
reality implies" that there will be physical, olam hazeh phenomena, that
may be found to underlie physiologic phenomena.  As such, they a priori
must be bound by the laws of scientific truth and by the ability of its
examination process to uncover such truth.  Any appeal to
other-dimensional capabilities have no grounding in the rules of this
process and should not be brought to bear in its examination.
	Views of reality have no place in this discussion.  Views of
reality only matter as a point of embarkation in scientific examination.
Mixing views of reality with science puts someone very shaky ground
unless you are willing to submit yourself to the rules of the
examination process.  One should believe nothing until it is proven by
the ground rules set a priori by the type of information you are trying
to achieve. The 13 Midot she'hatorah nidreshet bahem (13 rules of
biblical exegesis) are completely irrelevent to the scientific process.
Kabbalah is entirely irrelevant to the scientific process.  However, if
for some reason one decides to make them relevant, he/she had better be
ready to deal with the rules of proof for both!
	I am only sorry you won't get to read this until Feb 1.  Have a
nice vacation.

	Shabbat Shalom
	Jerry Parness


From: <KAISER@...> (Robert Kaiser)
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 1996 15:24:34 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Dowsing and Judaisim

	OK, I think its time to put this business about Jews believing
in dowsing to rest.  The Torah specifically *forbids* us from dealing in
witchcraft, necromancy, paranormal activities and the like.  Unless we
are under specific command from God to witness a miracle, if we start
believing in supernatural phenomenon we are on dangerous theological
ground.  We are also exhorted by the rabbis to use the rational
facilities of our mind in the Earthly domain to the greatest extent
possible.  With the exception of divine intervention, *everything* in
the universe is physical and theoretically explainable - even if we
don't yet have all the answers.  As such, it is a grave sin to corrupt
our minds with illogic and superstition.

	On January 12th, Stan Tenen wrote:
> Penrose and Hameroff propose that our consciousness interacts with the
> physical world at the quantum mechanical level because of superconducting
> quantum switches in the microtubules in the cells in our body. 

	Problem.  These guys MADE THIS UP.  There are no superconducting
quantum switches in our bodies, and every scientist I have ever met has
laughed out loud at these fantasies.  It is 100% wishing, and they offer
zero proof.  Years ago Penrose lost much of the respect that he had, and
any one who studies physics knows that he often wanders away from
reality - All they are talking about is pure guesswork with no evidence
at all to back any of this up.  They don't even claim that this is
certainly real; They admit that they are making a tenuous hypothesis.
Why should we put more faith in this than the actual authors do ?

> ...both microtubules
> and the letters of the alphabet come in clusters of 27 and both are
> involved in the geometry of "sphere" division.) This means that it could
> be possible for a person (with a quiet and relaxed mind) to directly
> sense distortions in the gravitational, magnetic or electric fields -
> even fairly deeply buried in the ground.

	This makes no sense.  Sentence two does *not* logically follow
from sentence one.  It also raises a valid question: Have you ran any
controlled tests to verify anything of what you are saying?  If not, you
can't make these unverified claims.  Another question: How does the
number 27 relate to people being 'relaxed' and thus allow people to have
paranoral powers?  It looks like the above paragraph is really the first
and last sentence of a chapter, with the entire middle deleted.

	James Randi has been offering a $10,000 prize to ANYONE who can
demonstrate ANY paranormal ability for years.  Since no one has taken
him up on his offer, he has now upped the prize to nearly $500,000.
Funny.  Not a single person has taken the challenge.  NOT ONE.  So where
are all these dowsers, psychics, and paranormalists?  Stan - you wrote
that you demonstrated *real* dowsing abilities.  Fine.  So why aren't
you showing it to anyone?  Couldn't you use the $500,000 ?  You could
donate it to a Jewish charity.  But I suspect this won't happen.  Why?
Not because you could have been dishonest.  In fact, I trust that
everything you told us was absolutely true.  But one person making a
lucky guess is actually an everyday, ordinary experience - not proof of

> Even without the speculations of "new science", there are known
> mechanisms by which dowsing and similar procedures might work.  Some
> cells contain magnetic molecules and aggregates (at least in animals),
> and these could interact with external magnetic and electric fields.

	This has nothing at all to do with dowsing.  The electic field
generated by a living person on the surface of the earth is tens of
thousands of times stronger than any difference in an electric field
caused by an underground object.  That's like looking for a firefly on
the surface of the sun.  The signal (firefly) gets overwhelmed by the
background (sun).

	Your story on your own personal dowsing is illuminating.  You
mean to say that you *guessed* where something was, and you were right?
That means...nothing at all.  Why?  You makes guesses every single day

	How about a *True* story of my own.  Yesterday, I was walking
down the street with a friend of mine, when I felt drawn to look at the
ground.  Right there, hidden under a little snow was a crisp dollar

	Now there are two responses to this:

(A) My brain has supercondcuting microtubules that cause the untapped
potential of an unknown mental-quantum mechaincial force to seek out the
electromagnetic-psychic properites of dollar bills.

(B) I found a dollar.  Usually I don't, but sometimes it happens.

	Which is the rational choice. (A) or (B)?  Do we relly want to
raise our Jewish children to laugh at (B) and think that (A) is a
rational choice?  If I found a dollar more often than expected by chance
alone, then we would be on to something.  That would indicate...fraud.
Consider which is more likely: That a man would prove wrong all the
known laws of the universe...or that a man would lie.

	The only way that (A) would be a rational choice would be if I
could demonstrate my ability in front of people who are making sure that
I'm not cheating.  If I can do that, then and only then would we be on
to something.  And skeptics all the most open minded of all people.
When confronted with extraordinary claims, they say "Great, show
me"...but then there is always a problem and it never seems to work when
someone watches.  Hmmm.

> So, for a person with the right personal psychology (egoless,
> expectationless, competent effort) dowsing can really work.  For an
> egocentric mechanistic determinist of the old Newtonian physics school,
> dowsing is nonsense - but, then, so is quantum mechanics (and, for that
> matter, so is spiritual belief and trust in HaShem.)

	Interesting.  According to you, the laws of the universe come in
two flavors: Flavor 'A' laws are not believed by anyone until they are
proved, like gravity, relativity, quantum mechanics, etc.  But you
postulate a second flavor of laws, 'B', that can only be shown by people
who already believe in them, but won't ever be seen by skeptical
thinkers.  I have studied the ethics of science a bit in my years as a
graduate student, and what you desribe is *exactly* what we are taught
is the major sign of fraud!  This is *not* a personal attack.  Rather, I
am just letting you know that what you describe is exactly the defintion
of scientific fraud!

	Consider: I claim that I have an experiment that allows me to
turn lean into gold, but it only works when I am relaxed and when no
skeptics are in the room.  Would you really believe me...or wouldn't you
actually think that something not kosher is going on?  Same principle.

> YOU personally must do the experiment.  When a rationalist tests dowsing,
> they may never be able to give up their rational expectations and,.
> often, they see no effect.  When a competent person who knows what they
> are doing dowses without expectations, they often find what they are seeking.

	You miss the point.  Every single person who claims to be able
to douse has been proved a fraud when a skeptic watches.  Every one.
And in the past year NOT A SINGLE MEMBER of the the world's dowsing
societies has even allowed a skeptic to watch in a controlled test.
Hmm.  It is the BELIEVERS that are refusing to test this, not the
skeptics.  I am game any time someone else is!

	We need to free oursleves from superstition and irrational
thought.  Unless you believe that God is deliberately hiding all these
paranormal phenomenon from all scientists, and only showing them to
frauds, criminals, and the like, the only other alternative is to admit
that there is no evidence that any of these super powers exist.

	And I can get you James Randi's e-mail address if anyone wishes
to show otherwise.  One would think $500,000 would be enough to convince
a dowser to demonstrate this is front of a scientific panal.

Robert Kaiser
State University of New York at Stony Brook
Dept. of Physiology & Biophysics


End of Volume 22 Issue 92