Iraq police suckered by fake bomb detector

Ben Goldacre on a hilarious, but tragic, example of obvious bogus science and how the Iraqi police were taken in, to the tune of £19m ($32m):

A British company called ATSC is selling a device which can detect guns, ammunition, bombs, drugs, contraband ivory – and truffles. The ADE651 uses “electrostatic magnetic ion attraction” and can detect these things from a kilometre away, through walls, under the ground, under water or even from an aeroplane three miles overhead.

ATSC’s device is handheld. You simply take a piece of plastic-coated cardboard for your chosen target, which has been through “the proprietary process of electrostatic matching of the ionic charge and structure of the substance”, pop it into a holder connected to a wand and start detecting.

There are no batteries and no power source: you hold the device to “charge” it with the energy of your body. Then you walk with the wand at right angles to your body.

If there is a bomb on your left, the wand will drift to the left, and point at it. Like a dowsing rod.

Various investigators have taken to travelling round Iraq with weapons to see if the police, “equipped” with these magic bomb detectors, find them — and they never do. Maj-Gen Jehad al-Jabiri from the country’s interior ministry says, “Whether it’s magic or scientific, what I care about is it detects bombs”. When it failed to detect bombs which were in front of him, Jabiri said that the person handling it needed more training.

Possibly Related Posts:


You may also like...