Hi Jeffrey,

> I'm skeptical that Einstein ever said this.  I have just searched
> the Einstein archive at

> http://www.alberteinstein.info/

> for the word "dowsing" and did not find a single hit.
> Maybe he said it, but without a real citation with date and page
> number, or a facsimile of the letter - I'm very dubious.

Einstein didn't say it, but it does appear he wrote it in a
letter in February 1946. For context, Mr. Peisach sought Einstein's
views on his (Peisach's) deceased father's papers. Peisach senior
was a physician in Germany who had learned to use a dowsing rod
for diagnostic purposes and had become interested in the influence
of radiation from water and mineral veins on health. Here was
Einstein's initial reply (translation courtesy of Tell Ehardt and
the German Department at Villanova University):

4 February 1946

Mr. Herman E. Peisach                                 
32 Flax Hill Road
South Norwalk, Conn.

Dear Sir:

I am a novice in this field that we are discussing. However, I would
like to have you send me the reports. Even if I have no connection with
scientists in this field, a recommendation from me could perhaps be
effective, so that this subject could receive more attention.

Very truly yours,
A. Einstein

- - - -

After Peisach forwarded the reports to Princeton, he received the
following reply:

Dear Mr. Peisach:                                  15 February 1946

I read with great interest the reports from your father and I think
that they deserve attention. To publish them in the daily press would
have little effect. However, if you send these reports to a medical
journal, you will have to re-write some of the other aspects that
are not really pertinent to this matter.

I know very well that many scientists consider dowsing as they do
astrology, as a type of ancient superstition. According to my conviction
this is, however, unjustified. The dowsing rod is a simple instrument
which shows the reaction of the human nervous system to certain factors
which are unknown to us at this time. 

That the same circumstances can bring forth nervous difficulties in
breathing appears entirely plausible. However, I do not think there
is any connection with the occurrence of cancer. This latter
connection, if true, would not be easy to prove with supporting

If you submit the carefully revised reports to a medical journal you
may attach a copy of my letter, so that this matter will receive the
attention I feel it deserves.

Very truly yours,
A. Einstein

- - - - -

I firmly believe that Einstein recognized that there was nothing
special about the material construction of the dowsing device, be
it metal, forked sticks, pendulums, what-have-you. To suggest that
~only~ metallic dowsing rods work actually undermines a dowsing
proponent's argument. *Any* device that magnifies the dowser's
minute muscle twitches (whether voluntary or subconscious) will

When people say they believe in dowsing, what they are really
saying is that they believe in a human sixth sense -- for instance,
the ability to detect minute fluctuations in electromagnetic
fields. I think it would be very exciting if it could be
conclusively shown that some individuals can repeatably
demonstrate such an ability in a scientifically controlled and
statistically valid experiment. That, to this day, no one has
succeeded in doing so should at the very least raise an eyebrow
in those who are so sure that dowsing really works.


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