WATER diviners say they can be a farmer’s salvation.
Armed with their metal rods or sticks, they cross paddocks, seeking a gravity-like pull towards underground streams.
But the Australian Skeptics say it doesn’t happen and on Sunday will test would-be diviners who can prove their talent beyond doubt on the path to $110,000.
Skeptics member and Charles Sturt University psychologist Dr Krissy Wilson said the controlled conditions of the challenge at the Mitta Muster meant anyone who could divine water would do so on the day.
Dr Wilson said the skeptics had been trying for years to find someone who clearly had some sort of psychic ability.
“The divining competition started in 2001 when we had our first challenge,” she said.
“Divining is popular in rural areas and a lot of people believe they have the gift.”
Dr Wilson said there were people who claimed they could find all sorts of things like gold, “dead bodies, you name it”.
“That would be fantastic,” she said.
“If someone really had this skill we could live in a much better world.
“Unfortunately when you test under controlled conditions, it tends not to work.
“Sometimes it’s unconscious movements of the elbows moving the rods,” she said.
“You don’t actually realise that you’re doing, but that does happen.”
Dr Wilson said many diviners walked towards stands of trees or thick grass, where there was more chance of finding water than in a bare paddock.
“Some people charge money for the service and believe they can do it, ” she said.
“But when you put them through a scientific process they’re not successful.
“We’ve got a lot of money to give to somebody who shows they can actually do it.”
Contestants who score beyond “chance” will be eligible for another challenge at a time, place and under conditions agreed between the skeptics and the contestant.
Dr Wilson will be at the muster from 10am to oversee the initial tests for would-be diviners.