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George Hanson - Society for Psychical Research Vol. 51, No. 792, October 1982 – 07 Dowsing: Soviet research



Type of Spiritual Experience


We have included this because it was in the paper, but we have a description by a Soviet scientists which shows the Soviets to be far in advance of this

A description of the experience

Originally published in the Journal of  the Society for Psychical Research Vol. 51, No. 792, October 1982, pp. 343-367. DOWSING: A REVIEW OF EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH  by GEORGE P. HANSEN* 


   The Soviet bloc countries have also pursued research in dowsing for some time. Vasiliev (1965) mentions that such work was done as early as 1916. 

Relatively little has been translated into English, and that which has contains few details. 

   Four brief summaries, Ostrander and Schroeder (1971), Bakirov and Sochevanov (1976), Sochevanov and Matveyev (1976), and Williamson (1979) indicate that the Soviets approach the subject from a biophysical standpoint. In fact much of the Russian literature on dowsing uses the term biophysical effect (BPE). Ostrander and Schroeder present numerous findings and conclusions of Soviet investigators, but virtually no details are given of experimental procedure, which devalues the results given. Bakirov and Sochevanov give a brief history of the recent research and development of dowsing in the Soviet Union and show that it is being used to find ore deposits. No experimental details are given; although a 12 item bibliography (all Russian) is included. Sochevanov and Matveyev record numerous conclusions of various investigators present at a conference on the subject. Williamson discussed several published Russian articles indicating that dowsing is used to supplement geophysical methods: In one region 1,120 wells were said to have been dug on sites located by dowsers. Again, almost no details were given. 

   The proceedings of the Second International Congress on Psychotronic Research included several papers on dowsing. Apostol and Dumitrescu (1975) presented an abstract on their work. They found that the electric potential between dowsers’ palms was correlated with a number of variables such as galvanic skin response, magnetic field, soil temperature, and atmospheric pressure. They found that the ‘dowsing area’ (an undefined term) was correlated to geophysical anomalies and that its extent showed a diurnal variation. Miklos, Moldovan, Kun-Stoicu, and Levin (1975) presented results of a ‘Wedding Ring Test’ which used a dowsing procedure to determine the sex of an unborn child. The experimenter held a pendulum (a wedding ring suspended from a folded hair) over the hand of the expectant mother. The pattern of the swing was used to predict the sex. Only 15 cases were run under the experimental conditions; ten successes were obtained, too few for statistical significance. 

   Boleslav and Boleslav (1970) briefly review the literature of biological effects of electric and magnetic fields. They mention, in passing, their own experiments with a coil of wire; showing that dowsers were sensitive to the field when the coil was vertical but not when it was horizontal. They claim too that their experiments indicate that dowsers are sensitive to electromagnetic frequencies in the broadcasting bands but give no details. They also claim that turbulent or atomized water emits an unknown undulation that is similar to electromagnetic radiation. A discussion of this idea ran to several pages but remained obscure.

   Naumov and Vilenskaya (1972) produced a bibliography on parapsychology, including a section on dowsing. The bibliography was quickly translated and published by the U.S. government. The portion covering the biophysical effect includes 25 items of apparently scientific work and 27 items of popular literature.  Another section deals with the electric and magnetic fields of living organisms, and a section on foreign work also lists several studies of dowsing. 

   Wortz, Bauer, Blackwelder, Eerkens, and Saur (1977, 1979), employees of AiResearch Manufacturing Company, reviewed the Soviet work in parapsychology, including dowsing, but concluded that much of that available suggests a poor understanding of physics and a failure to deal with the psychological processes involved. In fact the presentations of dowsing investigations in the Soviet bloc leave much to be desired. The work translated offers little more than additional anecdotal material. The actual sophistication of experimental methodology is vague because the translated reports are so brief. 

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