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[James] Randi Responds to the Arrest of James McCormick

• James Randi Educational Foundation / Jeff Wagg
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Saturday, 23 January 2010 09:06

In a refreshing news item, the BBC and others are reporting that Jim McCormick, inventor of the ADE 561 Bomb Detection Device has been arrested and charged with fraud.

McCormick sold $85,000,000 worth of these devices that he claims work on the same principle as dowsing rods, except that they detect bombs instead of water. James Randi has offered a $1,000,000 prize to anyone who can demonstrate successful dowsing of any substance under controlled conditions. When McCormick was presented with this offer, he did not reply. The devices were "programmed" with cards that supposedly told the device what to look for. A BBC investigation showed that the cards contained nothing more than retail security tags (RFID), which are often found on garments, books, compact discs, and other merchandise.

James Randi said:

The accompanying video expresses my thoughts on this rather important issue.

The intemperate language is, I hope, acceptable, and emphasizes my disdain for pompous "authorities" who base their opinions on folklore and superstition.  I know I'll not hear back from the General I refer to, because, as I say, he's running…  When we turn on the light, they run…  Enjoy the video, and let us have your comments, please.

McCormick is now out on bail but his devices are still in the field, doing nothing. Several recent bomb attacks in Iraq have left hundreds dead, and it is hoped that this arrest will shed some light on the dangerous practice of marketing "woo-woo" instead of technology.

JREF associate Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack presented the JREF's findings to the military in October and former JREF President Phil Plait wrote this article in November, 2009 excoriating the device.

The JREF $1,000,000 challenge is still unclaimed. The offer remains open to anyone who can demonstrate dowsing or any other paranormal claim under proper observing conditions. More information can be found at

Further reading:

Guardian UK: Boss who sold bomb detectors to Iraq arrested over fraud

The Economic Voice: Head of bomb detector company arrested for possible fraud

Times Online: Head of ATSC 'bomb detector' company arrested on suspicion of fraud

Skeptic's Dictionary: Quadro QRS 250G "Detector"