In 2017, UK water companies still rely on “magic”

Using divining rods to “find” water in the desert
This was drawn in the 1700s, but modern water companies still think this magic works
Paper discs disproved Ouija boards as far back as 1853
“I’m glad I won” — true family rivalry in the face of pseudoscience


Ten out of twelve UK water companies confirm use of water dowsing

Insert name of divine water company here
There’s a reason I took a screenshot of every response!

Water dowsing in use around the world

Update from Severn Trent:

Severn Trent water: don’t promote the use of divination rods, but won’t condemn their technicians for using them.

Update from Anglian Water

Anglian Water were the only company I tweeted who sent me a defensive tweet. Nice to see that they care about science though.
“No, that’s silly”, say Anglian Water about six different divination practices. Water divination, on the other hand, is worth a try. After all, finding pipes is “very difficult”.
Sending out a technician to perform water divining “doesn’t cost money”, say Anglian Water. I feel sorry for their technicians; apparently they aren’t being paid for the hours they work on the job. Their response also assumes that divination is a last resort, which certainly wasn’t the case for either Severn Trent or Thames Water.
I honestly can’t tell if Anglian Water are just trolling with us now
“We’re not saying there is scientific evidence for this”. That’s good, because there isn’t any.
I’d like to point out here that James has a PhD in microbiology, and a Masters in extreme patience in the face of flippant customer service.
If the company reputation is threatened with evidence of wasting money and time on pseudoscience, just post a GIF telling everyone to calm down. This is their official Twitter account, remember.
Yorkshire Water, another company admitting to using divination, quietly supporting their fellow dowsers.
Seriously? The official Twitter account for Anglian water is describing their own techniques as “water magic”?
Although the title of the article reads “Why dowsing makes perfect sense”, the article itself contains lines such as “ Yet despite many anecdotal reports of success, dowsing has never been shown to work in controlled scientific tests” and concludes “ I am still slightly disappointed that the scientific explanation stands up so well”. The article is about the joy of fooling our brains and how easy it is to fall prey to confirmation bias. Sadly, Anglian Water seem to have misinterpreted this message.

Smaller UK water companies

Do not have a Twitter account:




Dr Sally Le Page is a biologist and science YouTuber.

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Sally Le Page

Sally Le Page

Dr Sally Le Page is a biologist and science YouTuber.

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