Phony Bomb Detectors Responsible for 300+ Deaths This Month Alone

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Remember James McCormick? He’s the enormous piece of shit who took a novelty golf ball finder and repackaged it as a bomb detector, then sold them for tens of thousands of dollars each to gullible and corrupt governments in war-torn countries like Iraq and Saudi America, making about 50 million pounds. He was tried and convicted on charges of first degree shitness in England in 2013 and is serving ten whole years in prison.

Despite the fact that everyone with any sense has known from the start that these machines can’t even find golf balls let alone explosives, drugs, and the many other things McCormick lied about, the Iraqi military continued to use them up until this month.

If you think ten years in prison is fair for McCormick, you should know that the reason the Iraqi government finally admitted they were bogus and stopped using them was because they were probably responsible for allowing a 550-pound bomb on a truck to pass through at least six checkpoints before it was detonated, killing nearly 300 people. It was the largest death toll in the city in the past decade. That’s 300 people who were killed by the joint effort of some suicide bombers, a corrupt government, and James McCormick himself.

So now the devices have been formally banned, but they’ll probably continue to be used throughout that country and others, because McCormick sold these devices in places where safety standards and urgency aren’t exactly upheld. I wouldn’t be surprised if the devices are still directly leading to deaths years after McCormick gets out of prison for selling them.

For the record, the devices are nothing more than dowsing rods. You may be more familiar with dowsing rods as supposedly magical pieces of metal that point to water or gold. It’s just the ideomotor effect, which is the phenomenon in which you subconsciously make movements with your body based on something you’re thinking. It’s also how Ouija boards work, and if you don’t believe me, try this at home with your friends: use an Ouija board to summon the ghost of your choice. At some point, blindfold your friends and then secretly flip the board upside down. You’ll find that suddenly your friendly neighborhood demon can’t get out a single legible word.


Having one specific stupid belief, like believing in dowsing rods, may never have a negative effect on you. But if we don’t teach all people to be skeptical of this shit, and teach them about these phenomena that make it so easy to fool ourselves, stupid beliefs can have a definite, serious death toll. I wouldn’t mind seeing McCormick tried for gross negligence manslaughter in addition to his fraud sentence, just to keep him off the streets until he rots to death in prison.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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