by Emilio Porro
In most biographies written on Mr. Rocard, the works he produced near the end of his life on biomagnetism and dowsing are only briefly mentioned and with a tone of embarrassment. In the last of the four books he devoted to this subject (La science et les sourciers, Dunod, 1989), Yves Rocard engaged in a scientific exploration of dowsers’ sensitivity.
He was struck by this phenomenon in 1957, while he was setting up his first seismic sensor station. Pragmatic as he was, he grasped the reality of the phenomenon (the mason who worked for him was also a dowser, and he quickly told him where to dig a well). He was also surprised by the calm and quiet assurance of the mason, without any boasting, miles away from the usual practices of dowsers and other crooks of the “paranormal”. He quickly became fascinated in the subject, worked on it, and in 1961, he published a small book in which he described his early experiences. As he later admitted however, he published this too soon.
As was to be expected, the rationalist sect reacted vigorously and launched a vigorous attack against Rocard. For them, any reference to “biomagnetism” was already a sacrilege. Dowsers were put in the same basket as fortune-tellers or astrologers. Not taken aback by these attacks which he felt were childish and sectarian, Rocard persisted and resumed his research when released from his professional obligations after 1974. After a major bibliographic effort, he showed that there were magnetic receptors in human beings, making them sensitive to local variations in magnetic fields. The most sensitive subjects (for this sensitivity is unevenly distributed in the population) can detect very slight variations of even a few milligauss, provided they are not symmetrical to the person. These small variations in the local magnetic field are often associated with geological specifics (faults, for example) which are themselves regularly associated to the presence of groundwater.
Rocard’s thesis was very simple: the dowsers did not detect the water itself, but the magnetic field variations to which it was generally related. The physicist conducted numerous blind-folded experiments leading to an unequivocal demonstration that the dowsers’ ability of magnetic detection was not an artifact: the percentage of correct answers they gave (presence or absence of a magnetic field) was higher (sometimes considerably) than the percentage expected if they had given their responses at random. Certainly, these experiments were criticisable in regards of their detail. However, it is not always easy to work with human volunteers subjected to fatigue and other stimuli that may affect their magnetic sensitivity. Nevertheless, these experiments provided sufficient evidence for Rocard to spend the rest of his life fighting to open this new area of investigation to science. Furthermore, the magnetic receptive centres that he announced in 1981 through purely external means (measuring the reaction of a pendulum after an artificial magnetic stimulus) were discovered in 1983 with an electronic microscope: magnetite crystals are present in the eyebrows, neck, elbows, back, knees and heels.
In the case of dowsers, Yves Rocard did not really change his work method compared to his previous activities (apart from the fact that he had less professional and experimental facilities). His high credibility in the world of physics persuaded a number of people, including La Recherche, which published a very favourable article in 1981. To discredit it, the Rationalist Union went so far as to use fake helpers through a Belgian Committee for the scientific study of phenomena classified as paranormal. As interesting as Rocard’s works were in this domain, they were not as strategic as the determination of an airplane’s critical speed, the stability of the Tancarville Bridge or detecting nuclear explosions. In the case of dowsing, prejudice prevailed over the experimental method.
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Further Info on Yves Rocard – Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yves_Rocard
From a posting on the Facebook “Dowsing & Divining” Global Dowsing Hub – January 5,2015