Einstein is said to have dabbled in dowsing, soldiers have been known to use coat hangers to detect enemy mines, and now it appears that real estate investors are gravitating to dowsing techniques.
This ancient practice may well be the most common and accepted part of the psychic field because it shows results on a fairly consistent basis.
For Ron Warmoth, a recent trip to the high desert above Hesperia--to locate underground springs, possibly ore and/or natural gas on a property purchased by a client--was all in a day's work.
The mild-mannered Los Angeles-based psychic, who has been dowsing professionally for 15 years and prefers to maintain a low-key business image, is considered unusual in the field because he is interested only in the practical applications of his psychic abilities.
He cannot say with certainty why or how dowsing works, but he would like to help dispel the hocus-pocus aspects of his work. He attributes no magical powers whatsoever to fork sticks or the assortment of Y-shaped rods, pendulums and other props normally associated with divining techniques, though on occasion he does use some of these props as aids to concentration.
"One problem with being a dowser," Warmoth said, "is that the field has been open to crackpots and self-deluded individuals misguided by a false sense of power."
Warmoth claims that dowsing, though traditionally associated with "water witching," is used successfully in locating archaeological finds and in making predictions for business expansion. His own experience also includes ESP (extrasensory perception) assistance to law enforcement agents in cases of theft, robbery and homicide.
To demonstrate to an interested visitor how he works, a field trip to Hesperia was planned by one of his clients, Dr. Dolores Fisher, a Los Angeles physician who has used Warmoth's services on several occasions to determine whether certain properties under consideration were worth purchasing.
Warmoth and the doctor wanted the reporter to experience the vigorous tugging of a forked stick held firmly in the hands, to help understand the scope and enduring fascination of such an experience.
A desert property where Fisher has built a weekend retreat, was selected. The land there sparkles like an emerald patch on the semi-arid landscape--the result of abundant water supply located by Warmoth.
"Ron located several potential drilling sites on this property, and the water I get from the wells is ample to carry out my plans for the cultivation of tree crops," she said. In addition to her interest in agriculture, Fisher is experimenting with wind power conversion to electrical power and other energy-saving devices.
"Yes, I do give a lot of credence to psychic phenomena but I judge psychics only on the quality of their work ability," she said, adding that ESP is now "well beyond the kindergarten stage. But unfortunately the dowser's image is not benign because the field has attracted scores of fraudulent people."
When people accept decisions made for them by computers, they are sort of doing the same thing as people who use dowsing services, she remarked. Warmoth's batting average for his brand of prospecting is about 95% correct.
Warmoth likens dowsing to doing research in one's inner library. "Dickens and Edison are said to have used this technique (sometimes referred to as the Universal Life Force) in their creative process," Warmoth noted.
"One popular theory on why it happens," Warmoth speculated, "is that one can tap into the electro-magnetic forces of the brain much like one turns on the ignition in a car. The car is the vehicle that gets you somewhere, but you still have to be able to drive it.
"There seems to be a shift of consciousness when this happens, an altered state. Perhaps it can best be explained through electronics. The human brain is the most powerful energy-generator known. Its workings are similar to a vast computer, storing information and making complicated deductions, with the capability of being interconnected with other brain computers. What we can't get from our own subconscious reservoir comes from a broader computer scope."
A well-established psychic for most of his adult life, Warmoth attributes development of his psychic potential to his mother, who played psychic "guessing" games with him as a child. "I later questioned the validity of these abilities--I was skeptical until I began to explore the practical applications of ESP and to realize that most of us possess it to one degree or another--a sixth or seventh sense, if you will," he said.
Warmoth works in a disciplined and single-minded fashion. Over-complication can interfere with the process, he said. "I never take my powers too seriously," he explained. "I usually go cold on an assignment and pick up the details as I go along, and I find there is always a solution and sometimes the solution for a client is to do nothing at all."
When Warmoth looks for water, he concentrates on specific questions. It is important, he says, to know at the start whether the water on a particular property is potable and within a reasonable drilling depth.
"You must program your mind on exactly what you are searching. When you can't get the answers, you move into a different gear that somehow hooks onto a sort of think tank in the skies," he suggested. "For me, it is similar to scanning a piece of microfilm--that is how it relates to my conscious mind."
Warmoth does a lot of consulting with clients by telephone and a lot of it is trouble-shooting. The biggest problem, he says, is that most investors wait until it's too late before they come to the "witch doctor."
He believes it is a genetic trait for humans to have some belief in unexplainable phenomena. The working middle-class is the hardest segment of the population to accept ESP. "They are more provincial, more narrow," he said.
"My most receptive repeat clientele is made up of highly successful and well-educated people who are open to new ideas, who have traveled a great deal and are willing to take risks on the chance that something successful will result from a new, though unfamiliar experience. But they're not expecting miracles.
"The lower cultural echelon is also more apt to express faith in extrasensory activities because they either fear it or want to believe in it. All religions are based on the supernatural and the mysteries, so it is not so strange to have these feelings."
Warmoth explained his fascination for the desert:
"The cradle civilizations seem to have sprung from the desert where man relied a great deal on intuition in order to survive. If we observe nature we learn how built-in these instincts are in animals; how turtles and bullfrogs go for miles to locate water holes without the aid of maps or compasses, and how birds know where to fly on their own built-in radar system. Modern man has not had to use this tool of survival in more recent times."
Warmoth insists that his clients use conventional geological sources in addition to his services. "The more input the better. I am not a geologist and I do not use electronic soundings. But when I tell a client where to drill, I'm usually 90% to 95% correct."
Rancher Bill Wheeler of Missoula, Mont., showed Warmoth a narrow vein of silver and Warmoth told him there was a heavier one nearby. "I have been on several properties with him and he can tell where a gold or silver vein is just by walking over it," Wheeler said. "He's like a human metal detector.
Oil producer Jim Ebert of Bakersfield tested Warmoth by giving him a map showing 15 sites where geologists had already tested for oil. "There was no way Warmoth could have known the results of the test drillings.
"He selected six and said the others were dry, and he was 100% correct," Ebert said. The oilman has since become a client. "I have used Warmoth because I like to extend my odds, to heighten my possibilities of achieving success."
Toxic waste dumps are a matter of great concern to Warmoth. "There is hardly a community that doesn't have some type of waste problem," he said. "Every year, U. S. industries dispose of more than 250 million gallons of hazardous chemicals in some 30,000 sites around the country, and it is estimated that as many as 90% of these dumps are leaking and their poisons will eventually find their way into the water and food supply."
Warmoth said underground shafts and caves act as subterranean viaducts carrying radiation and fumes from the original sites to unsuspecting residents living miles away. Dowsing may be an effective means of determining the safety of a location and pinpointing areas that have been contaminated, he believes.
When Warmoth dowses a construction site, he gets a contractor's map, has it blown up to the largest possible scale and sets up his dowsing program of questions.
Some of the things he said he asks are: "Is the area soil original, or has it been landfilled from some other place? Is the soil contaminated? Has the water table been poisoned? Are there any natural springs on the property?
"If so, have they been polluted? If it is a hillside property, I check to see what is above it, whether there is drainage from other properties or sewer lines running across the property. I answer these questions with the pendulum, using a yes or no method as I explore the map."
To work successfully with soil pollutions, the dowser must also be well versed on different kinds of toxins that leak into the soil. He usually works with a soil tester for a more detailed examination.
Warmoth "dowses" daily stock market averages and reports them in his monthly Business Predictions Newsletter. But when asked about "dowsing" the real estate market, he said it was highly experimental.
"There are too many variables that affect values and which make it a great deal harder to 'hit' ."
Drilling even the most shallow oil well can be costly. Warmoth is the first to admit that often a dowsing prediction may be proven wrong.
"But then, isn't a doctor just as vulnerable when he misdiagnoses a patient's condition and a second opinion is called for?"