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Dowsing for oil – from The Wisconsin engineer Volume 69



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Smith, Robert (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer  Volume 69, Number 1 (October 1964)

Use in Oil Industry

  Recently dowsing has become quite popular in the oil well drilling industry. H. E. Thomas (who is Branch Area Chief, Pacific Area, Ground Water Branch, Water Resources Division, U. S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California) states in a publication approved by the Director, U. S. Geological Survey:

 "The petroleum industry, which has developed methods of scientific divination to a high degree (without, however, adopting the term 'divination' as pertinent to those methods) has conclusive evidence that those methods produce a higher proportion of successful wells than are obtained by alternative methods. In the decade 1946-55, about 55,000 new-field wildcats (holes in unproved areas) were drilled in the United States.

Of those located by scientific techniques 12.3 %, were successful; the proportion rose to 15.5% for those using geological, geophysical, and geochemical techniques to the litollost (this means dowsing).

By contrast, only 4.I% of the holes Iocated on non-scientific bases were successful . From this record it is easy to see why 19 out of 20 ‘wildcats’ for oil are now located on the basis of scientific 'signs'."

This use of divination in the oil industry is generally called doodle-bugging. Kansas farmer Walter Nelson has become moderately wealthy because of his oil-finding ability. Nelson, relying chiefly on his doodlebug, has drilled nine holes in the past two years, has struck oil in all of them, and all but one are now producing profitably.

The source of the experience

Scientist other

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps