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The Little Bomb-Detecting Device That Couldn't

timothy posted 1 year,9 days | from the oh-ye-of-little-faith dept.

The Military 217

theodp writes "Widely deployed in Iraq and promoted by military leaders, BusinessWeek reports the ADE 651 bomb-detecting device had one little problem: it wouldn't detect explosives (earlier Slashdot story). 'The ADE 651,' reports Adam Higginbotham, 'was modeled on a novelty trinket conceived decades before by a former used-car salesman from South Carolina, which was purported to detect golf balls. It wasn't even good at that.' One thing the ADE 651 did excel at, however, was making money — estimates suggest that the authorities in Baghdad bought more than 6,000 useless bomb detectors, at a cost of at least $38 million. Even though ADE 651 manufacturer James McCormick was found guilty of three counts of fraud and sentenced to 10 years in prison in May, the ADE 651 is still being used at thousands of checkpoints across Baghdad. Elsewhere, authorities have never stopped believing in the detectors. Why? According to Sandia Labs' Dale Murray, the ideomotor effect is so persuasive that for anyone who wants or needs to believe in it, even conclusive scientific evidence undermining the technology it exploits has little power."

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217 comments

I haven't played golf in several years (2, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280073)

But, back when I did, I can tell you: a functional golf ball detector would've been very handy.

Re:I haven't played golf in several years (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44280225)

But, back when I did, I can tell you: a functional golf ball detector would've been very handy.

Real duffers come back to the clubhouse with more balls than they started with.

Re:I haven't played golf in several years (3, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280267)

Do some of those have stripes on them?

Re:I haven't played golf in several years (3, Funny)

rts008 (812749) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280341)

No, most of the duffers do not have stripes. ;-)

Re:I haven't played golf in several years (1)

ls671 (1122017) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280551)

Golf caddies do just that, and more. Back when I did, they were available on almost every golf course.

I knew it (5, Insightful)

lesincompetent (2836253) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280101)

James randi too was amazed at how basically all dowsers keep believing they have their special powers even after they've been thoroughly debunked.

It has a deep tradition it seems (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280557)

Some people don't even think it is special powers, just a thing you do. My grandpa did the dowsing thing to decide where to put the various wells on his property. Not because he thought he had special powers, it was just how he'd learned you select your well spot. Anyone could do it. He figured it worked since every time he'd drill that spot, and before long have a functional well.

For him it wasn't magical or special powers, it was just the standard process. Get Y shaped stick, walk around, it signals where the well goes, put it there.

Re:It has a deep tradition it seems (4, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280657)

That's the ideomotor effect. You know, possibly subconsciously, where the water is likely to be (read Blink! by Malcolm Gladwell) based on experience. So when you walk to that spot, the stick points down.

I've had well drillers dowse for wells before. I didn't give them any crap for their show. Because they had a track record for finding water. Why? Probably 30 or 40 years drilling wells. But even if they think its the stick, that's fine with me. Same as with the baseball players with the lucky socks.

Re:It has a deep tradition it seems (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44280737)

It also depends on where you live. In the area where I live, you are 100% guaranteed to hit the local aquifer. When we were digging a well, we asked the local extension office for basic info before getting a contractor. They said to not pay for any locating services because you don't have to worry about missing the aquifer and code compliance is free by law. In fact, when you are digging for other things, you have to get approval as well so you don't accidentally contaminate the aquifer.

Re:It has a deep tradition it seems (5, Interesting)

master_kaos (1027308) | 1 year,8 days | (#44280831)

I was a skeptic to, but my grandfather was one (they called it water witching around here). There were a few locally, but my grandfather was the most known and best, everyone within a half hour radius would call my grandfather when they needed a well dug out (and this was 30+ years ago). He would use any standard stick that was laying around. He never charged the people money (people were a lot more neighborly back then instead of just looking out for themselves), so wasn't like he was out scamming them, very religious so not a liar.

Not once did he screw it up, he hit water every time. I was a skeptic to before I seen it, and it didn't seem like it would work for just anyone. I tried it along with a lot of my relatives, and it wouldn't do a thing, my one uncle it did it a bit.

It was funny one time this guy tried digging a well on his property twice kept getting dry, my grandfather went out and did the dowsing told him here this is where you got to dig(they guy didn't like my grandfather for some reason, and was a major skeptic), the guy ignored my grandfathers advice, dug up 3 more spots in the following 2 years, kept hitting dry again. Finally fed up he called my grandfather back to confirm the location, grandfather goes back, exact same spot detects water, guy digs there and sure enough hits water.

Re:It has a deep tradition it seems (5, Interesting)

black3d (1648913) | 1 year,8 days | (#44280977)

Right, which is the exact ideometer effect that's being discussed here. There are other (subconcious) cues at work which lead him to believe where the water will be - or just pure coincidence. Aside from the obvious fact there's no actual mechanism at work, it can be easily disproven. Take a dowser out until they find a spot "with water", then blindfold them and drive them around to re-test various random spots including this one. The vast majority of the time, they'll get it wrong - suddenly not able to detect water at the spot they previously said it was at, or detect water in places they previously said it wasn't. Also fun is taking them to an area known to be entirely over a natural aquifier and watch them wander around until they "find" water in some exclusive spot.
 
Map-based dowsing is even easier to disprove - again, aside from the obvious lack of any mechanism (ie, it doesn't really need proof, but just to satisfy the idiots out there we have to go through it). Give a map-dowser a map without orientation or contour lines and suddenly their "abilities" go away. Give them a fully-detailed map but blind-fold them, and similarly, they're no longer able to "detect" where the water is.
 
In all cases, it's either fraudulent, subconcious, or simply luck. Likewise, stories about "other people" are steeped in grandeur. A guy who gets it right "a couple of times" is suddenly a legendary dowser, and every re-telling by both others and himself get better and better each time.

Re:It has a deep tradition it seems (3, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281569)

In plenty of places, you can put a well wherever you like and it'll work. I'm quite sure that's the case on my grandfather's property. There's a lot of homes there with their own wells, there's presumably a big aquifer or the like underneath (I've never bothered to check to see what). So the reason dowsing worked was that any spot was fine.

He did it just because he believed it was how it was done. Of course each time it 'worked' and as such he kept doing it.

What I found interesting about the thing was that it was a 'common man' kind of thing for him and others. He wasn't a huckster that went around dowsing for people, he did it himself, for his wells, and just using whatever Y shaped stick he'd come across. To him, it wasn't mystical, it was just a process one did like so much else in farming and ranching and it was something anyone could, and would, do.

I think that might have something to do with why dowsers keep believing in it. There seems to be a real strong cultural thing that dowsing just works, and so they believe that must be the case.

Re:It has a deep tradition it seems (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44281629)

I don't need to use dowsing for anything here. Sycraft-fu is master_kaos. You should really use two different browsers to keep your names straight.

Re:It has a deep tradition it seems (4, Insightful)

dcollins (135727) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281073)

"... very religious so not a liar."

Yeah, because that obviates any concern that someone might be self-deluded into believing in magical things.

(Btw, I also have relatives said to be wonderful dowsers... and I don't believe it a bit from them either.)

Re:It has a deep tradition it seems (4, Funny)

GrahamCox (741991) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281725)

very religious so not a liar

Can you explain the logic of this part of your statement? I can't discern any.

Re:It has a deep tradition it seems (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44281215)

"... very religious so not a liar."
My experience is that religious people are the biggest liars and scammers.
Perhaps it has to do with not having to be responsible, their god forgives them anything.
 

Re:It has a deep tradition it seems (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44281643)

[citation requested]

In the case of my grandpa (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281533)

I imagine anywhere on his property would have worked. In total he ended up putting in 4 wells in different locations, spread around, for different purposes. Seems like a safe bet there was an aquifer or the like below all of it. I'm sure he could have chosen any spot, and he already knew the area he wanted it in. He just dowsed for the specific spot.

Re:It has a deep tradition it seems (2)

symbolset (646467) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281647)

There is something to this. If you have an approved mechanism for intuitively detecting bombs they you have probable cause to terminate a prospective bomber, and if your intuition is right more than half the time on average, you're a hero. Since some few are more accurate with intuition and some less, and the metrics are classified, you are free to open fire indiscriminately anywhere anywhen.

Um, no. That is not how we win the hearts and minds of the people. Since the goal isn't to develop a subject colony but to let the people develop their own governance and withdraw, it would be better if we were more moderate with our weapons so that the locals might be our friends after.

Disagree, it's corruption + military (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44281485)

These are sold to countries with corrupt military. I think they just give a kick back on the sale to senior soldiers and the lower ranks use them because they are ordered to.

It *isn't* that the low ranks using them are self deluded that they work. Because low rank bomb detection soldiers don't make the purchasing decisions, and the high rank military that do, don't go looking for bombs.

So it can't be self delusion.

Look at the countries that buy them, and you can see its likely just corruption.

Re:I knew it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44281199)

They used the wrong approach and spent too much. What works is to buy tons of golf balls then have them dropped all over the roads. Open a bunch of road-side stands with a sign "Learn golf and earn a dollar". The stands would be setup up like kids cool-aid stands. Each person that approaches gets a cheap golf club and a dollar. Solves the local employment problem and finds bombs.

but Perfect for America security theatre (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44280127)

Nobody can prove your claims to the contary for the make belive threats you countered

Re:but Perfect for America security theatre (2)

Fuzzums (250400) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280271)

Shoot first, drone first, water board first and THEN ask questions.
Who needs theatre?

Re:but Perfect for America security theatre (4, Funny)

amiga3D (567632) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280497)

I like to yell "halt" before I shoot. It's easier if they aren't moving.

But remember kids (-1, Troll)

DarkOx (621550) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280155)

All those FDA approved food additives are are fine.

The scanners the TSA uses are safe and effective.

Putting millions on subsidized healthcare and ensuring even more of the incidental costs are hidden from consumers will reduce healthcare spending.

There was no coup in Egypt ...

Re:But remember kids (2)

rikkards (98006) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280269)

You forgot Cancer Screening saves lives.

Re:But remember kids (0)

Arker (91948) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280413)

All those FDA approved food additives are are fine.

The scanners the TSA uses are safe and effective.

Putting millions on subsidized healthcare and ensuring even more of the incidental costs are hidden from consumers will reduce healthcare spending.

There was no coup in Egypt ...
 
 

One of those, the third one specifically, stands out as not fitting the theme.

You do realise it's the *same government* that has given us the TSA, the FDA, and the many other ruinous mistakes in every area it's involved in that you expect is magically going to take charge of health care and make us all better?

Surely you jest.

Re:But remember kids (4, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280501)

All those FDA approved food additives are are fine.

The scanners the TSA uses are safe and effective.

Putting millions on subsidized healthcare and ensuring even more of the incidental costs are hidden from consumers will reduce healthcare spending.

There was no coup in Egypt ...

One of those, the third one specifically, stands out as not fitting the theme.

You do realise it's the *same government* that has given us the TSA, the FDA, and the many other ruinous mistakes in every area it's involved in that you expect is magically going to take charge of health care and make us all better?

Surely you jest.

This is also the same government that put a lander on Mars with a sky crane and created the internet. And how come the FDA doesn't get credit for making food and drugs in the USA among the safest in the world?

Re:But remember kids (2)

Arker (91948) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280529)

Actually on re-reading I believe I misunderstood the OP and responded erroneously to it.

You then misunderstood us both. Ah well. One of the few times I wish slashdot had a delete button. Hopefully the whole thread will be modded down now.

Re:But remember kids (4, Informative)

jythie (914043) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280541)

Selection bais. If people do not like something, the failures define the thing. If they like something, the success define it. Many people like reality to match books and movies and such, nice and simple with clear right and wrong, works and doesn't work.

Re:But remember kids (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281671)

There's also designating actual successes as failures and vice versa. The FDA, for instance, blocked approval of thalidomide until more studies were done, limiting the number of victims in the US. When I bring this up, people sometimes try to explain to me how that was a bad thing. I think it boiled down to cyclical reasoning about how it was bad because the market should have been allowed to take care of it, because the market always takes care of these things more efficiently than the FDA.

Re:But remember kids (1)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280713)

>This is also the same government that put a lander on Mars with a sky crane and created the internet. And how come the FDA doesn't get credit for making food and drugs in the USA among the safest in the world?


Because according to WingnutWisdom, the government can do nothing right and should be looted to enrich well placed scoundrels. Of course if they had even a passing relationship with reality, they'd learn some science and some compassion, and stop being wingnuts.

Re:But remember kids (2)

SnarfQuest (469614) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281625)

This is also the same government that put a lander on Mars with a sky crane and created the internet.

Isn't this the same government that couldn't handle English/Metric conversions on another Mars craft?

Re:But remember kids (1)

Quasimodem (719423) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280655)

Health care insurance doesn't mean the government actually takes out your gall bladder, they just pay for having it taken out with taxpayer money. The government is good at spending taxpayer money, but not half so good as the insurance companies are at siphoning off profits. But then, who ever heard of a government making money?

Re:But remember kids (1)

arth1 (260657) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281041)

Health care insurance doesn't mean the government actually takes out your gall bladder, they just pay for having it taken out with taxpayer money. The government is good at spending taxpayer money, but not half so good as the insurance companies are at siphoning off profits. But then, who ever heard of a government making money?

The problem here is to allow the siphon that private insurance companies invariably mean. Pay for the healthcare without the overhead of insurance companies. But no, that's against the law in the US, because that would be the government outcompeting private companies.

As for governments making money, there are plenty of examples. All in countries were governments aren't barred by law from making money.
(But then comes a wind from the right, and some populist right wing politicians tell how much better everything will be with privatization. He gets the votes, and the government sells its profitable businesses. Service goes down, prices go up, and everybody is happy. Er.)

Re:But remember kids (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280515)

All those FDA approved food additives are are fine.

I'm not sure what you're referring to, but in case you didn't know, lots of the fraudulent stuff you buy to imbibe, inhale, or apply in the USA is on the market precisely because the FDA *doesn't* have jurisdiction over them.

nothing new... (5, Informative)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280163)

In Ramadi '05 we had these cool spray kits.
It was a little plastic case with several sprays and swabs with some instructions for various kinds of explosive testing.

One day we caught these dudes out on the desert who would dig up UXO's and sell them to local insurgents who would use them for IEDs.
Lat Long: 33.16845,43.635263
We had been trying to catch them for a while but they were on motorcycles... try catching a motorcycle in an up-armor hmmwv.

When we caught them, they didn't have any explosives on them. So we though, hey... why not try out this kit?

They tested positive for 2 kinds of explosives. So we detained them, shipped them off to the detention facility with all the appropriate paper work and evidence... as best we could since we aren't investigators by trade.

So we are back at the OP, thinking how bad-ass we are. Then we get the idea to play with the kit some more. We tested our hands, HESCO barriers, lunch meat, hmmwv windows... everything tested positive. Guess the kits didn't really work as advertised but every unit had one.

Of course, maybe our kit was bad. Or maybe we didn't use the kit correctly. Or there was really explosive residue on everything.

At least the kits weren't WHY we detained them. They were going to be detained anyway. But the Military being dazzled by salesmen or shiny new stuff is nothing new.

Re:nothing new... (5, Insightful)

bfandreas (603438) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280223)

This bomb detector thing was a mixture of greed, negligence, incompetence and corruption. I can't even begin to imagine the mindset that enables somebody to make money by directly endangering lives. Every aspect of this war stinks.

Re:nothing new... (1)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280363)

It serves the same purpose as telling your sleepless and scared toddler that their blanket is actually an anti-monster device. So that they'll shut up and go to bed.

Re:nothing new... (5, Funny)

mooingyak (720677) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280389)

It serves the same purpose as telling your sleepless and scared toddler that their blanket is actually an anti-monster device. So that they'll shut up and go to bed.

I told my daughter that the monsters had nibbled on her while she was sleeping and reported to me that she didn't taste good. It worked about as well as you might imagine.

Re:nothing new... (1)

Shavano (2541114) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280511)

There's a difference when you know there are no real monsters and/or bombs under the bed.

Re:nothing new... (1)

Shavano (2541114) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280505)

Is there another war you are thinking of that doesn't/didn't stink?

Re:nothing new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44280563)

Is there another war you are thinking of that doesn't/didn't stink?

Maybe this one? [imdb.com]

Re:nothing new... (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280265)

We tested our hands, HESCO barriers, lunch meat, hmmwv windows... everything tested positive.

Hmm, everything you mentioned but one is something is in a combat environment where roadside explosives are not uncommon, and where weapons are fired on a regular basis. Sounds like detecting explosives on such items would be normal.

But lunch meat? Well, once you remember that many explosives are nitro-compounds (nitrate, etc.) and lunch meat contains nitrates as preservatives ... and that the CIA is putting nitrates in your koolaid to keep your, shall we say, libidos, from running amok...

Re:nothing new... (3, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280329)

Ahh. the salt peter myth.

No, I "broke one off" there many a time my friend.

The kits tested for nitrate-based and some others I don't remember. Octyl-based? Wished I still had the little hand-out.

We had a VBIED there later on. So I can see residue then. But not before. We DID fire our weapons all the time, but not over the lunch meat! There are nitrates in lunch meats, but if lunch meat causes a false-positive then your kit isn't really worth much.

Re:nothing new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44281513)

if lunch meat causes a false-positive then your kit isn't really worth much.

The TSA spent $30 million on bomb detection puffer machines that would trigger on chocolate bars and peanut butter sandwiches. Probably 90% of the magic stuff people sell you doesn't do what it's supposed to do. In most cases, it's not because the people selling the stuff are trying to pull a scam. It's just because 90% of everything is useless crap, and because nobody really gives two shits if it works anyway.

Anyhow, your kit made you feel better about arresting someone you were going to arrest anyhow. It also probably gave some anonymous pencil pusher someplace a reason to sort a piece of paper with the suspect's name on it into the "evidence-supported indefinite detention and interrogation" pile. At no point did any of those thousands of kits ever detect an actual bomb, and never made anybody the slightest bit safer. But at least it did something, so it was worth something.

Re:nothing new... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44280299)

Nice to know that the people we hand guns to, whom we pay to protect our freedom with their very lives, are so fucking stupid that they can "detain" people based on the results of a fake fucking bomb test kit.

I wonder if the men that are rotting away in a secret prison find it as humorous as you did? No wonder so many american soldiers are putting their guns in their own mouths, probably trying to get more oxygen flowing to their underutilized brains.

Re:nothing new... (-1, Flamebait)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280335)

I'd really like you to put your name on this post so we can have a discussion.

Re:nothing new... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44280619)

Note: I am not the same person, he was being a jerk.

Now why would you want an ac to put their name out there when you have not said your (real) name either?

Re:nothing new... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44281133)

I'd really like you to keep going back to war until somebody shoots you in your empty skull. Let's see which one happens first, amerikkkan.

Re:nothing new... (1)

arth1 (260657) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281335)

So we are back at the OP, thinking how bad-ass we are. Then we get the idea to play with the kit some more. We tested our hands, HESCO barriers, lunch meat, hmmwv windows... everything tested positive

Ah. We had the same problem with exploding cans of lunch meat. No, really, after being transported on a Hercules and stored in heat for a couple of days, we would often enough hear a "pop" or "pffft". And if we didn't clean the "savory juices", the stench would start.
The guys who smuggled in pizza made a fortune.

Re:nothing new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44281531)

See, why can't they just test the stupid things? You know, hold them up to a known bomb, then up to a trash can, and note that it doesn't detect shit.

Re:nothing new... (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281641)

Didn't they use to caim that the government added salt peter to the food to limit the soldiers proclivities?

Re:nothing new... (2)

able1234au (995975) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281723)

Two old WWII Vets are talking... One says, "You know that Salt-Petre they put in our food to stop us thinking about sex? i think it is starting to work".

That's peanuts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44280193)

$37B USD on littoral combat ships
http://nation.time.com/2012/10/05/the-navys-new-class-of-warships-big-bucks-little-bang/

F-35 performance specs lowered
http://australianaviation.com.au/2013/01/f-35-performance-specs-lowered/

Not to mention stuff that no one wants.
M1 tanks.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/28/abrams-tank-congress-army_n_3173717.html

Thank you... (2)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280209)

According to Sandia Labs' Dale Murray, the ideomotor effect is so persuasive that for anyone who wants or needs to believe in it, even conclusive scientific evidence undermining the technology it exploits has little power."

That explains a LOT about how the US Congress thinks/works.

Re:Thank you... (4, Insightful)

jd2112 (1535857) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280233)

According to Sandia Labs' Dale Murray, the ideomotor effect is so persuasive that for anyone who wants or needs to believe in it, even conclusive scientific evidence undermining the technology it exploits has little power."

That explains a LOT about how the US Congress thinks/works.

...And those who elect them.

I wish (3, Insightful)

Going_Digital (1485615) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280229)

If only people would believe the evidence then we wouldn't be lumbered with all the paranormal and supernatural ideas so widespread in our society today. There are clearly enough stupid people around though to make these cons pay.

Re:I wish (1)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280355)

If we paid attention to evidence or lack of evidence, then we wouldn't be in Iraq to begin with and wouldn't continue to be in Afghanistan a dozen years later.

Re:I wish (5, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280745)

I don't know what you are talking about. There is loads of scientific evidence on the oil reserves in Iraq.

wtf (4, Informative)

Flozzin (626330) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280257)

Why do we get this story about once every 3 months? This has been shoved into the ground. Let's finally bury it for god's sake.

Re:wtf (2)

Tom (822) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280409)

This one actually had an informative bit in it. I didn't know the guy responsible is in jail. I'm very happy that he is.

Re:wtf (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44281333)

No kidding. Last time it was about Kenya and before that it was supposed to detect drugs in school.

Elephants (2)

edxwelch (600979) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280281)

It says in the article the device can detect bombs,guns, ammunition, drugs and elephants.
My question is: Why are Iraqis trying to smuggle elephants through checkpoints?

Re:Elephants (1)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280617)

And no elephants were smuggled through. The device is a success!

Re:Elephants (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44280647)

It says in the article the device can detect bombs,guns, ammunition, drugs and elephants. My question is: Why are Iraqis trying to smuggle elephants through checkpoints?

They were trying to cross the Alps, but got a little lost on the way.

My question is: How do you "smuggle" an elephants?

Oh, no, sir, that's not an elephant. It's just a big dog. Let me show you...
Roll over, Fido! Good dog... Play dead!... Fetch!...
See? Just a big dog... Can I go now?

Re:Elephants (3, Funny)

Quasimodem (719423) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280697)

They hide guns and ammunition in their trunks.

I'm glad someone went to jail for this (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44280297)

What amazes me is how long it took.

What needs to happen now is that the people who paid for it using public money, used public money to cover their arses, et cetera, need to be thrown in the slammer for being incompetent.

Re:I'm glad someone went to jail for this (1)

arth1 (260657) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281077)

Here in the US, the incompetent are called "victims". There's no shame to being ignorant, and, sometimes I think, no concept of shame at all. And the black-and-white thinking that dictates that if this guy was guilty, the buyers were therefore innocent.
Sure, the guy is guilty, and deserves 10 years in the locker. But so does every single buyer. You have to be seriously retarded to fall for a scam like this, and seriously retarded people should not be charged with buying military equipment.

No ifs and buts, there is enough guilt to go around here.

I have a device... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44280301)

that promised to help locate the negro brain. I've been all over the USA and it hasn't pinged once. I'm surprised there hasn't been any rioting yet. The Jewish masters of the coloreds must be keeping them on a tight leash. The Satmar sect in New York, which controls all the other Jewish sects, probably doesn't want to risk everything coming undone (they sponsored the NAACP in its early days), so they had their people put muzzles on Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. On an unrelated note, I advise all of you to do a google search about the crimes that the Satmar sect condones within their own community. They are no different than the muslims, in oh SO MANY ways.

It wasn't a bomb detection device (3, Informative)

jonfr (888673) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280305)

This was not a bomb detection device, this was just a scam and nothing else. But corruption does not care about such facts and never is going to.

Re:It wasn't a bomb detection device (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44280393)

"This was not a bomb detection device, this was just a scam and nothing else."

The fact that it's still going on after the guy was tried and in prison shows that it was long con.

Is this the real reason? (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280351)

The real reason they continue to use these isn't because they somehow have convinced themselves that it works. It's probably not even directly a scam insofar as they're shoving money to some business cohort through the military industrial complex. I would suspect that what this is really about is that it's far cheaper to stick a device in a young man's hand and convince him that it's there to protect him, so that he'll actually continue to actively do his job, and have him wind up being blown up -- than it is to spend money on any sort of real device. The man is disposable. The worthless device is the placebo to motivate him to feel safe in doing his job. And when he dies, it was a far cheaper investment than the amount that any sort of real device would cost to produce, purchase, train on, and deploy.

In the US, we have the TSA (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44280359)

This article mocks the Iraqi for buying this crap, but the TSA has spent a fortune on similar devices...

Re:In the US, we have the TSA (1)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280601)

Yeah, but the TSA got to look at scanner porn in the meantime. And yet, we would have been better off had they just bought every TSA agent a subscription to "Jugs" and left the flying public alone.

10 Years, 38 Million Dollars (1)

Ken McE (599217) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280383)

That's about the sentence you'd get here for robbing a convenience store, even if you didn't hurt any one. How many people did he kill? Except of course he's getting the equivalent of 3.8 million a year to do his time. Who says crime doesn't pay?

This is not because they're stupid (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280401)

The 'bomb' detectors' work great. Sure, they have a high rate of failure, but all those false positives are a great reason to riffle through somebody's stuff looking for any old 'contraband' you're after.

Effectiveness of fake bomb detectors (5, Interesting)

Firethorn (177587) | 1 year,8 days | (#44280917)

Now, while they're technologically incapable of their purpose, I wonder if they might actually be somewhat effective in real life? IE a different type of placebo?

It says that they're being used at a number of checkpoints. Now, one of the things I know about is that the insurgents/terrorists tend to observe such places before they target them. Often at some distance, but eh.

The ones doing the observing are often no more educated than those working the checkpoint, often less. So they see the operators using their 'bomb detector' in all seriousness. They think 'crap! They'd find our bomb, time to figure out a different plan!' and either delay or go elsewhere. So the end result is that they still have fewer attacks against that checkpoint.

Er, what about (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280435)

"Use the Force, Luke!"

magical thinking (2)

Tom (822) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280437)

Read "The Golden Bough" and you'll find why this works. It's the same reason magic and religion used to be big things (and guarantee their providers a work-free life):

In a situation where forces you can't control determine your survival, you will grasp at any straw that gives you the illusion of control. It's a normal human reaction. It works even if you know about it. You want to believe, at least unconsciously.

It's probably the oldest scam in the history of mankind.

Re:magical thinking (2)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280575)

... religion used to be big things (and guarantee their providers a work-free life)

What do you mean "used to"?

Just as effective as fake surveillance cameras. (2)

vovick (1397387) | 1 year,9 days | (#44280611)

There may be valid reasons the Iraqi forces are using these fake detectors. If the look of these devices makes some clueless criminals afraid of smuggling explosives, they are serving their purpose in preventing crime.

They could have been bought a lot cheaper (1)

sirwired (27582) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281251)

If the idea was to intimidate people through the use of "security theater", there are cheaper ways to do so. Fake surveillance cameras are cheap. These bogus bomb detectors were not.

Also, it sounds like you are making the common mistake of assuming the bad guys are morons. They can read the internet too; this $hit's been splashed all over the New York Times... if they know the devices are bogus then they'll target checkpoints that have them, knowing they don't work.

And believing you are screening for explosives when you are doing nothing of the sort is worse than useless. There ARE viable means of detecting explosives, but if you think your bases are already covered you are never going to deploy them.

No surprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44280649)

They cost so much, that if they do not work then someones head is on the chopping block...

So, the state is imprisoning people for fraud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44280679)

Why is it that the state can claim I will get rich off of their numbers racket (lottery), and they don't go to jail. My thinking is that he just didn't pay off the correct people in government to be able to get away with this particular level of corruption. I mean defense contractors are fleecing the public all the time, but they at least have the smarts to know who to pay off. Drug companies sell dangerous habit forming pharacuticals to people who would be better served with exercise. But they pay lots of taxes (bribes) , so they don't go to jail. Common street dealers know who they need to pay off. This guy just didn't know who to pay off. I kind of feel sorry for the guy. He had a great idea and chutzpah, but through no fault of his own, he just didn't know who to buy off. They should have a public commision that will show up and aspiring criminal and politicians how the game works, and which wheels need to be greased. Maybe our president could get on it. I mean it is totally not fair that someone who could have made a great governor, CEO, or even senator should be rotting in jail.

Re:So, the state is imprisoning people for fraud? (1)

witherstaff (713820) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281123)

It's all about scale. HSBC money laundered trillions of dollars and had to pay a few billion bucks in a fine with no criminal charges. Liberty Reserve laundered a few billion and the guys running it got arrested. If this guy had charged more so it was 380 million then perhaps he'd be better off? Wasn't there just a story about the pentagon paying 1 billion for rewriting a payroll system that they didn't use? I doubt anyone went to jail for that one (Yes, different country, but scale is important)

Placebo Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44280691)

It's got the all powerful Placebo Effect on its side. Seriously, just thinking about a bomb detector would make anyone who has dark intentions seem more jumpy, thus distinguishing them from the rest of the lackluster bunnies.

don7l (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44280895)

From a technical Romeo and Juliet tteth into when big picture. What but many find it hand...don't 4.1BSD product,

Good (1)

musth (901919) | 1 year,8 days | (#44280931)

...651 bomb-detecting device had one little problem: it wouldn't detect explosives...

Good.

And in other news... (3, Interesting)

sirwired (27582) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281227)

Shocker: In the face of conclusive evidence understandable to anybody with an IQ higher than a kumquat, people still believe in:

Ponzi schemes
Homeopathy
Dowsing
Young-earth creationism
Psychics

Never underestimate the stubbornness of otherwise-rational people.

Authority Testing (2)

karit (681682) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281279)

So did the authorities actually test them?

They have sample explosives for bomb dogs to find surely they could test the detectors in the same way. Its not an expensive test process.

Re:Authority Testing (1)

mister2au (1707664) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281613)

To save you actually reading:
- yes, they tested them
- those authorities that knew how to test (i.e. blind tests) knew they didn't work
- those that didn't know how to test properly fell for the Ideomotor Effect

Disassembly of the devices showed they had NO active components - hence the lack of a power source (supposedly run on static electricity !!)

But more importantly, one can infer that there was a lot of corruption in the sales processes to a number of third-world and war-torn countries ... hardly an incentive for them to find they don't work and not buy them when you'd miss out on your kickbacks.

Re:Authority Testing (2)

SnarfQuest (469614) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281711)

Simple test. Have their representatives check a shipment and guarantee they are working. Then, lock them in a room with 20 boxes. Five of the boxes contain explosives set to go off in 10 minutes. They are given 7 keys. Unlocking a box locks the key in place, and disables any explosive it may contain. Prove the detectors work.

It ain't the meat it's the motion (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281371)

Even though ADE 651 manufacturer James McCormick was found guilty of three counts of fraud and sentenced to 10 years in prison in May, the ADE 651 is still being used at thousands of checkpoints across Baghdad. Elsewhere, authorities have never stopped believing in the detectors. Why? According to Sandia Labs' Dale Murray, the ideomotor effect is so persuasive that for anyone who wants or needs to believe in it, even conclusive scientific evidence undermining the technology it exploits has little power.

It has nothing to do with the "ideomotor effect" and everything to do with the stream of money that is still bouncing back and forth to some contractor somewhere and some congressmen, somewhere else. I wonder if they even bothered to hold a "show-and-tell" for military brass and congress-people, where the bomb-detecting robots performed perfectly under controlled conditions.

It's an example of the corrupt reverse of what economists call the "velocity of money". As long as that money's flowing, and a little bit sticks to the hands of everyone who touches it along the way, then there is no incentive to do too much to rock the boat.

Considering most retiring high-level military brass ends up as "consultants" to defense contractors or lobbyists for defense contractors, and as long as the people getting killed are not the sons and daughters of privilege, we cannot expect some lieutenant colonel somewhere is going to care enough to make the people above him mad about slowing the velocity of money.

There are people out there right now who are enjoying the profits from building faulty facilities in Iraq where enlisted people were electrocuted in showers. The worst that could possibly happen is that the company changes its name and carries on. In the case of the showers, Haliburton didn't even have to change its name. Hell, they didn't even have to be low bidder on those contracts because they were no-bid.

There are not many people more cynical than the ones who populate the military/industrial complex (and now, the intelligence/industrial complex). And now with the increased prosecutions against whistleblowers, we'll probably hear less and less about these failures.

Missing the point (2)

runeghost (2509522) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281483)

The point of this device, just like drug sniffing dogs, is not its ability to actually detect what it's supposed to be looking for. Its purpose to give the police, military, or other arm of the state a plausible excuse to detain and/or search anyone they want.

Pretty damned good pay for time in! (1)

pla (258480) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281521)

$3.8M per year for ten years. Get out, retire young. I would take that deal in a frickin' heartbeat.

Hmm...

Hey, Uncle Sam, I hear you need some replacement bomb detectors. Have you taken a look at my brand of detectors that work by the difficult-to-disprove tachyon flux method? Sure, they cost 50% more, but I guarantee at least one of us won't regret your buying them as I sip mohitos on my private beach a decade from now...

Re:Pretty damned good pay for time in! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#44281553)

$38 million. Even though ADE 651 manufacturer James McCormick was found guilty of three counts of fraud and sentenced to 10 years in prison in May

what about the idiots that forked out the money to buy these... so you imprison a person for your own stupidity!!! there is your "free country" in hindsight..

I asked my Dad what's that lure supposed to catch? (2)

karlandtanya (601084) | 1 year,8 days | (#44281567)

as I was a 9-year old kid going through his tackle box before our fishing trip.
His answer "Fishermen".

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