New CSIRO head wants to make water divining easier for farmers

The incoming leader of our top scientific research organisation is promoting water-dowsing to Australian farmers.

The CSIRO has a new leader, Dr. Larry Marshall, who will take the reins in 2014-12.

Currently the managing director of the California-based Southern Cross Venture Partners, an outfit specialising in creating and growing Australian technology companies, Dr Marshall holds a doctorate in physics from Macquarie University. He has 20 patents to his name and has co-founded six companies.

The 52-year-old, who admits he hasn’t applied for a job in 25 years, suspects it was this combination of science and business that got him the CSIRO’s top job following a competitive global search.

“I started as a scientist, became an entrepreneur and learnt a lot about business the hard way,” he said.

Innovation Minister Ian Macfarlane, whose portfolio takes in science, welcomed Dr Marshall’s appointment.

Highlighting his commercial background, Mr Macfarlane said Dr Marshall’s arrival came at a time when the agency was embarking on a “significant new phase” in which the CSIRO would play an increasingly important role in the economy. This included strengthening links between business and science, he said.

The leader of CSIRO is chiefly welcomed by Australia’s Innovation Minister? What about our Science Minister? Oh that’s right, Australia’s current government has scrapped the ministry for science. Instead, our Prime Minister has appointed himself the head of a Science Council, with no minister responsible for science — and CSIRO left to the mercies of the “industry” portfolio.

So our federal government’s appointed head of CSIRO, Larry Marshall, himself seems to place much more emphasis on what is financially profitable than what is scientifically sound. He’s not been working as a scientist for a very long time; the past 25 years was spent as a venture capitalist.

And now, on the basis that charlatans can fool him, he wants to use his new position as head of CSIRO to fund research for water dowsing.

He’d like to see the development of technology that would make it easier for farmers to dowse or divine for water on their properties.

“I’ve seen people do this with close to 80 per cent accuracy and I’ve no idea how they do it,” he said.

“When I see that as a scientist, it makes me question, ‘is there instrumentality that we could create that would enable a machine to find that water?’

“I’ve always wondered whether there’s something in the electromagentic field, or gravitation anomaly.”

Dr Marshall believes the CSIRO can ‘push the envelope’ with such projects and contribute to improving agricultural productivity.

Really? Shouldn’t we reserve funding for technologies whose claimed phenomenon can pass a simple blinded controlled objective study, rather than assuming Larry Marshall has seen it and he can’t be fooled? (The Victorian Skeptics has a guide to dowsing among other educational materials.)

In an age when all of climate science shows that we are in for, among other catastrophic results, devastating drought unless we act now to reverse our damaging activities, Australia’s leading government science body will spend its precious attention on pseudoscience and fakery.

We are under the rule of one of the worst governments in Australian history, in terms of the scientific soundness of policy.

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  • DanDare2050

    I would like an attribution and context for that quote thanks. I grew up with Larry (in Sydney, not Queensland) and he has a PhD in physics and knows his science.

  • BoodaSRK

    How about you just sacrifice virgins on a mountaintop?

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  • david

    Sounds horrible. Where’s the original article/quote from though? Did he really say this?

  • John Stanley Hines

    Oh great, a head of CSIRO that believes in magic.

  • catweasel

    where is the quote about divining from? first refernence doesnt mention it and the second “quote” doent have a reference…

  • I think another point that should be considered is that while this guy believes in well debunked crap it’s not his fault he’s in this position. What I want to know is who hired him? And how the hell did he get through the selection process?

  • jeff hays

    The Australians continue to prove they are F’ud up in the head.

    • I don’t think you can describe a nation on the decisions of one idiot.

      What I’m wondering is if he’s going to dig his heels in and stand by what he’s said or admit to his ignorance and drop it.

      • Jacob Reiss

        Unfortunately this is representative of Australia’ recent failures in many fields.

        • Luke Nuske

          Please believe us when we, the greater public of Australia, cringe every time The Cretin (whom we regret voting into power) opens his stupid mouth. All of us wish for […] [mod: Your claim to have support from the greater public of Australia in your wish for violence is not only false, it’s needlessly hostile here. Please don’t do that.]