Monday, May 21, 2007

Frauds or Dupes?

There's a device called Sniffex. It's sold in the USA by Homeland Safety International and manufactured in Bulgaria by TASC Ltd. It claims to be able to detect nitrous oxide based explosives (gunpowder, Semtex etc) and munitions from a distance of 100 metres. It looks pretty slick too.

It consists of "telescoping antenae", and a casing in which 2 pairs of magnets either side of "container 19" which react with nitrous oxide radicals and "excites the radicals specific to the modulation of the magnetic field."
How does it work?
It detects the interference between the magnetic field of the earth, the explosive, the device itself, and the human body which allows the device to penetrate and locate even small amounts of explosives through concrete, soil, and metal barriers.

This would be great news, if Sniffex were anything other than plain old dowsing rods. It would be great if it worked.
When the owner of this blog received some promo mail about Sniffex he was dubious about its claims and started writing to the president of Homeland Safety suggesting that perhaps Sniffex had not been adequately tested and arranging to meet at the Seventh Annual California Safety and Security Conference in Annaheim, California.
He had the president and sales manager of Homeland Safety (previously called Sniffex Inc). He got them to try a double blind test.

The results are on these blogs, along with videos of the tests and subsequent corrspondence. For a perfect example of how easy it is to test products like these. For examples of the confusion and incomprehension of believers when faced with the truth. For examples of excuse making when the truth does not want to be faced, I urge you to read the blog and watch the videos. Especially these two.

The first is Sniffex being demo'd to the public in front of a known sample of munitions.

The second is Sniffex failing in front of blinded samples.
Are the president and sales manager frauds? Do they knowingly sell a worthless (no, dangerous) product? Or were they simply duped by the product and the ideomotor effect of dowsing. After the tests and the correspondence I think they went from dupes to become frauds.
Thanks to James Randi's weekly commentaries "Swift".

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At 5:47 pm, Blogger Geoff said...

It's so frustrating... If only I weren't obsessively honest, it would be so easy to get rich through fraud. (I can't play poker, either: I am incapable of bluffing convincingly.)

At 1:38 am, Blogger Lumpy said...

Thanks for helping spread the word about this product that might end up getting people killed. I have the full written report about the testing conducted in those videos, as well as some additional info on the blog I created.


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