Friday, June 25, 2010

James Randi's $Million Dollar Challenge Comments

The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has commented on my scientific investigations of what dowsing rods can and cannot do.  It is obvious from these and other writers, that the only solution is to take Randi's "$Million Dollar Challenge."  While the phrase sounds concrete and well established, it is not.  Read the following link of an individual who did try to take the challenge, but who had enough brains and determination not to accept the conditions:

My rules are simple, conclusive, and immediate.  My "$million challege" is much more direct:

One test,
Performed One time,
for One $million dollars cash or certified cashier's check, made out to me.
But held by One neutral party,
One neutral referee to determine if the test passes or fails, and pass the check or cash to the winner.

As Mr. Randi has proclaimed for years, he is in no danger of losing the money (remember, cash or cashier's check only).and he is equally certain that my testing will prove yet another failure.  As such, he can put his money back in the bank when the referee declares me the loser (as he says).

No bank notes, no promisary notes, stocks, options, etc. 

Cash on the barrelhead. 


Thursday, May 27, 2010

High Cost High-Tech Science Still Not on the Battlefield

"Insurgents can exchange old artillery shells and egg timers for $800,000 robots all day long." 

Pretty much says it all, doesn't it?  The $400 Billion Future Combat System is still not shaping the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan is it?  And iRobots robbies on the front lines?  Classified I guess.  After 4 years and millions in funds, the 3 Foster-Miller robbies  turned their guns on their trainors (Don't argue with me:  Argue with Popular Science and

I'll make my bi-annual challenge to DARPA to accept my challenge for their map-reading robbies.  It is:

(1)  Give me one Model 1903 Springfield mounted with a 6X scope and 26 rounds of ammunition (assuming 25 robbies start out).
(2)  Give me $250 to buy legal and non-explosive equipment from any hardware store.
(3)  I'll donate $250 of my money for the same purpose.

Let me represent an amateur opponent to the robbies.  Count up how many cross the finish line, how many break down on their own, and how many are stopped by impediments.  This experiment would be the least likely to succeed because I am a civilian, and only one determined opponent. 

Again, I am sending a challenge to DARPA to accept my offer (

For your reading plesure look over the link below on the applications of dowsing rod LOW-technology from the Journal of Borderlands Research.  From my perspective, there is a hell of a lot more potential countering low-technology weapons with low-technology solutions.

Here's the link to the URL published on Journal of Borderlands Research that summarizes my fourteen YouTube videos and two papers:

DARPA and DoD are also welcome to test the technique described in the paper themselves.   As those who are familiar with me eady know, I am not saying do away with hi-tech research.  I am saying it is high time we begin, however late, to research the low-cost low-technology methods, so effective in Iraq and Afghanistan, and make that technology work to save our soldiers lives.

Taffy B.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Taffy and the Dowser

After returning to graduate school in geology in 1974, Taffy lucked out and got summer work with the county's Public Works Dept.  As it happened, a contractor paved all the roads in a subdivision, but did not mark the water shut-off valves.  Given a shovel, pick, and metal detector I was told to go find them all and file the data.  "Piece a' cake" I thought to myself.  But I was wrong. It was very difficult and very time consuming.

I went to the water treatment shack and met Earl, the operator.  Earl sat in the corner, behind a grimy desk, with a dozen or so porn magazines scattered about.  "How's it goin' college boy?" he said with a wolfish grin.  "Hard Earl, real hard," I said.  "I'll be by later this afternoon and help you out." True to his word, he drove up that afternoon, obviously enjoying a sweating, frustrated college boy.  He told me he'd watch me suffer enough and decided it was time to show me a better way.  He took out two welding rods, bent them at 90 degrees and proceeded to locate the line and shut-off valve.

As a teaching assistant in grad school, I had to grade about 30 or so three-page papers (per class) on the required reading, Water Witching U.S.A. by Evon Vogt and Ray Hyman (University of Chicago Press, 1979,  260 p.).  I laughed at Earl.  With the same grin he handed me the rods and drove off.  Under normal circumstances I would have tossed them in the nearest bush, but the summer job was rapidly coming to a close, and I wanted to be hired next year and get a good reference.  "Economic pressure" they call it.

Although I hid them in the back of the truck, I packed them along with my other equipment.  Over the next few weeks I gradually switched more and more to the dowsing rods, increasing my success rate dramatically.  The director was happy, Earl grinned, and I kept my mouth shut back at school.

Over my working career I quietly kept notes on what dowsing rods could and could not do.  I'd locate pipelines or flowlines made of plastic when other techniques couldn't.  I always did it alone and if anyone asked I'd make up something like "Oh, I got it from an old aerial photo" or "I used Thermal IR imaging."  My inquisitor, interested only in the pipe, tank or line would utter an uninterested, "Oh" as he/she turned and walked away.

But the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq changed my attitude and many of the findings are now published on YouTube.  Sure, they're unpopular with most DoD and DARPA groups.  So unpopular that they won't be tested.  OK, they're the ones in charge.  Of the hundreds of articles I've read on high-tech solutions to low-tech problems few have proved lastingly successful.  Let's start giving low-tech solutions a try.  After all, as the Counter Insurgency Commander told a group of soldiers about the Tamil Tigers, "Fight a guerrilla with a guerrilla." 

Monday, March 29, 2010

DARPA - More futuristic unmanned vehicles on the way!

True, some of DARPA's unmanned vehicles may be on the way, but at what cost, what feasibility, and what purpose?  As an outsider, at least to this outsider, the fatal flaw is glaring:  what will unmanned vehicles do when faced with true opposition?  An opposition that is just as angered and just as determined as we would be if our country invaded.  An even more disturbing question is whether or not the $multiple-billion robots will be of assistance to the troops in the field, even when ready. 

Tremendous sums of money are being spent on this and other technologies (you know the ones, robot insects, cloaking uniforms that make the user unseen to the enemy, etc.).  Eight years in Afghanistan and seven in Iraq.  What has JEIDDO to show for it?

I'm writing Johanna Jones ( with my yearly request to participate in the unmanned vehicle program - as an opponent.  My purpose is to determine if the robot vehicles can stand up to one person armed with:

  1. A Model 1903 Springfield rifle fitted with a 6X scope and 26 rounds of ammunition (of my choosing) for a 25 vehicle field.
  2. $200.00 cash, from DARPA for purchasing legal and non-explosive materials at hardware stores or the Internet.
  3. $250.00 my own money for purchase of more items listed in point #2.
  4. The DARPA team is allowed Thermal, Middle and Near Infrared scanning equipment to find my location.
  5. DARPA will allow me only 24 hrs. to prepare.
The research programs from original idea to field operations is drastically different in insurgencies, as illustrated in the triangles below.  Simple, true, but to the point - yes.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Small Wars Journal Posts Low-Tech Methodology

In 1543 the great surgeon Vesalius published De Fabrica, illustrating the muscle and tendon structure with great accuracy.  When it was published he commented, "Not long ago, I would not have dared to diverge a hair's breadth from Galen's opinions."  When he finally did diverge, he commented "I still distrust myself."

Why?  Galen, the great Roman physician had been dead for 1500 years.  He was not allowed to work on human corpses, so he extrapolated from animal surgery.  Vesalius was right, of course, and he knew it.  He was also a practical man interested only in the physical world and how it was arranged. If he contradicted Galen he knew he would have to retract his work then face prison or execution.

And that's part of the problem.  Publishing low-tech methodology is a sure ticket for making yourself a bullseye with the high-tech crowd.  And for the most part, they are right:  more educated, more time with defense contractors, degrees in physics or engineering.  Furthermore, why bother testing something that has been disproved before?  Have a good belly-laugh then get back to the real tasks, like robots, electronic insects or drones.

But this is where the dreaded empiricism steps in.  Like all science, it demands an author publish methodology for others to duplicate - and maybe find out you're wrong.  But then again, the skeptics may be wrong too.  Here's the link for the interested:


Saturday, January 30, 2010

"In This War It Looks Like the Flintstones are Beating the Jetsons"

So said a Marine in an Engineering Battalion in Iraq.  And he's right of course.  Now in our ninth year in Afghanistan, and soon to turn the corner of the eighth in Iraq, those companies, congressional districts, universities, and the ever-expanding defense agencies are crowing as loud as they can hoping that you just behave live a herd of lemmings and continue to throw $hundreds of billions at them in some vain hope that one of their discoveries will strike it rich and stop the IED/landmine threat.  All the while ignoring everyone else.

To make matters worse, several other factors contribute to the urgency of the landmine/IED problem:
  • Guerilla groups ignore Landmine Treaties; they are now planting them at a rate 25 times faster than they [mines] are being cleared;
  • High-tech equipment is quickly neutralized by a combination of low cost, rapid research, and network of individuals willing to defend their homeland at any cost,
  • Civilian casualties, particularly those caused by drones, turns the local populace against the US and its allies,
  • US DoD and DARPA agencies, and their hundreds of kin, myopically pursue a high-tech approach.
  • The above agencies, when confronted with low-tech solutions to their high-tech equipment, refuse to acknowledge even the possibility that a low-tech solution exists,
  • And by far the most serious:  the urgency, quantity needed for the footsoldier in the field, weight, complexity, and effectiveness is unaddressed.  No one, it appears, is accountable for the $billions spent.
Reading Press Releases of High-Tech Equipment:

Learn how to the read the "new" equipment announcements that splash across the national press.  Don't be misled by spokespersons who work for either the DoD or the company making them.  Here are some examples:
  1. When a news items splashes the word "Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)" automatically ask yourself, "How effective is it in wet soil (e.g., the fields along the Tigris or Euphrates)?  Like your morning coffee, water turns microwaves into heat, and does not creat a reflection.
  2. When they tout a new metal detector, ask yourself two questions:  (1)  Why are they relying on metal detectors when most IEDs and landmines are now made out of plastic? and (2) Metal cans litter the highways and streets of Iraq and Afghanistan - detectors cannot see below these surface items.
  3. Ask proponents of bees and plants for IED detection why Insurgents might not use insect or plant killer to keep ground troops off balance.
  4. Ask DARPA why it ignores opportunities to let an armed opponent participate in the robot races.
  5. Taffy Bowen Electromagnetic Research  Society (TBERS) does not sit by and allow these topics to go unchallenged at the level high-tech equipment will meet in the field.
Old and New Threats:

PROBLEM 1:  Trip Wires.  One of the deadliest forms of IED/landmines.  Our preliminary tests are highly successful.  In our "Dowsing Rod Science" series, Part 12 will demonstrate the ease of locating something as thin as fishing line, and as thick as 8 mm tape ribbon.  We urge testing, and have so far been ignored.  Part 12, an enhanced study of trip wires, will go online in a week or so.  A link will appear in this column.

PROBLEM 2:  Drones. The current favorite.  Proponents crow at every available opportunity.  The US is no longer the only user of these weapons, and must be ready to defend its own troops against this growing threat.  TBERS's challenge is to foil the drone's intention.  Only in the planning stage, TBERS is developing methods to identify flight patterns, then launch environmentally-friendly ways to cause abortion of the mission.

PROBLEM 3Chemical Sniffers of all types, combing the battlefields, looking for just the right nitrate compound to identify IEDs, landmines or UXOs.  We're keeping out of that one.  Too high-tech for us, we're leaving that one alone.

PROBLEM 4:  Robots.  TBERS personnel are willing to act as a counterbalance to a test of Robots in the field.  Email us for details.

We'd be happy to work with any and all, but save any insults for someone else.