It started with a tweet: Wellington City Council receive the 2019 Bent Spoon Award

Submitted by Unifex on Mon, 12/02/2019 - 08:50

It started with a tweet.

The exchange was short, only a few messages long. It ended with them (^iain) saying they'd follow up with the Roading Team. This lead to an article a few months later about Downer using 'magic' rods. One of the things that got me about that article was one comment;

Wellington City Council spokeswoman Vic Barton-Chapple said "there is no additional cost to the customer" for the service.

How could you have an additional charge for something that has been demonstrated to not be real? The thing that the Council seemed to not want to acknowledge though, was that this had the potential to cost the contractor time and resources if the "dowser" guessed wrong. This would not have been itemised and the cost of getting it right would have been passed on to the Council and ultimately paid for by rate payers.

Today I was pleased to find out that the Council has not been forgotten for this activity. The New Zealand Skeptics Society has awarded the WCC their annual Bent Spoon Award. This award is for the "New Zealand organisation which has shown the most egregious gullibility or lack of critical thinking in public coverage of, or commentary on, a science-related issue."

While the the WCC was awarded it this year I think that Downer also need to be recognised given it was their staff that were actually using this. While they claim there is no additional cost for the "service" I am suspecting that they have no records at all to track the usage, let alone the reliability, of dowsing. Without this data, how can they honestly claim that there is no cost?