(Investigator 113, 2007 March)

Leylines are alleged to be invisible but significant energy lines traversing the planet rather like the lines of latitude and longitude.

They are detectable only by diviners who in some countries consider them important in locating former ancient and historical building sites no longer extant. In Germany they are known as Erdstrahlen or E-rays, and are assumed to be caused by water veins or some mysterious unknown energy. Dowsers consider the E-rays to be dangerous and the cause of various kinds of sickness.

Psychic archaeologists are one of the lesser known genre of diviners and date back to about 1907, when a Frederick Bond allegedly divined and drew up site plans of Gladstonebury Abbey which had been demolished several centuries earlier.

Although there are some well established alignments in and around some of the ancient stone circle monuments indica-ting that the megalithic peoples may have built "leylines", their existence today is confined to the mind of the believer. They are not real, they have been investigated and found wanting. They belong to the old discredited ideas kept alive by believers in the paranormal.

Psychic Archaeologists specialize in this type of dowsing. One who visited Australia in 1984 at the invitation of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works to conduct a site survey for them, was an American, Karen Hunt.

According to Mrs Hunt's Master Of Arts thesis submitted to the Indiana University in 1981, "Electro- magnetic photofields are those invisible, but detectable, three-dimensional patterns left in the space once occupied by man-made structures, which in most cases have been destroyed. EMPF's are also created as a result of man changing the environment such as making a pathway, roadway, or digging a grave or other sub-surface feature."

It is a pattern detectable by very simple means and is measurable as to size and delineation.

Using two bent wires held parallel in the hands two inches apart, Mrs Hunt walks across the ground until the wires swing apart, indicating the presence of a photo-field, when they swing back together it indicates that the field has been traversed.

Depending on the number of paces taken before the wires swing back together, it would indicate a fence, a grave, or a building. When surveying a site, if the wires move sideways it indicates a right angle, and continuing on around the photo-field Mrs Hunt alleged she can map out each corner showing where a building once stood.

Mrs Hunt's claim that her "electro-magnetic photo sensors" (L-shaped dowsing rods made from metal coat hangers) work similarly to a proton magnetometer, a complex instrument used to measure magnetic field strength, shows an ignorance of the operation and electronics of the instrument.

Her report to the MMBW indicated that there were 129 buildings and structure patterns on the site, sets out their uses, and includes detailed drawings.

Mrs Hunt's EMPFs bear no resemblance to electromagnetic fields as understood by physicists. Electromagnetic waves are travelling waves which travel through space at the speed of light and require a transmitter with a continuous source of energy, something that long gone buildings and former environmental changes do not have.

Her putative results are contradictory and unreasonable as she claims that the EMP sensors can detect pre-existing structures on the site, and yet disturbances of the area leave these pre-existing patterns intact.

The suggestion that the patterns are made by some man-made objects (as in leylines) and not by others is totally inconsistent. Her thesis also shows an ignorance of basic physics, the scientific method, and the scientific verification of theories.

That her theory was accepted by an Arts Department of a university does not give it scientific respectability.

It is worth noting that one of the first steps in Mrs Hunt's field procedure is to obtain all available information regarding the buildings and structures which once stood on the site. Armed with this prior knowledge and a little guesswork, the only function of the "electromagnetic photo sensors" would seem to be to impress the credulous.

When Mrs Hunt's drawings of the former buildings at the MMBW site at Point Cook were given to Australian and American architects for an assessment, they expressed the view that the sketches looked more like American buildings than Australian Colonial buildings.

Back in America Karen Hunt was challenged by skeptic James Randi to prove her claim for a substantial prize. While at first Ms Hunt agreed, she later reneged.

The fallibility of leylines can be demonstrated by taking a large scale local map and draw a straight line between any two randomly distributed points, somewhere along the line it is almost sure to bisect a building, a significant site or feature. You can read into that what you will.


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From: Edwards, H. A Skeptic's Guide to the New Age, Australian Skeptics Inc.

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