For once we have some news of rationality winning – although it took a while. Jim McCormick (pictured right), maker of the useless ADE-651 “bomb detection” device, was arrested yesterday in the UK on suspicion of “fraud by misrepresentation.” An export ban on the device will come into force next week. To which I add – about time!
It’s not as if this is new information. The ADE-651 is just the latest incarnation of a device that was previously called “The Mole,” and before that the “Quadro Tracker.” They’re all the exact same device and they have all consistently failed tests designed to see if they work. Back in October 2008 and again in November 2009, James Randi challenged the makers of the ADE-651 to apply for his million dollar prize to prove that it worked. Of course, as with all the other charlatans and quacks Randi challenges, they didn’t apply. Well, now we know why – the makers were selling these pieces of junk to the Iraqi government for $40,000 a pop or a total to date of $85 million! By my count, that’s over 2,000 not bomb detectors not detecting bombs in Iraq alone. Randi’s $ million must have seemed like small change. (I have to admit I am still a bit skeptical about this $85 million figure. It is the figure that is consistently being reported by all media, although they are probably just repeating each other, so we can’t be sure. Still, we have nothing else to go on right now. If it is confirmed it is certainly a massive fraud for such a piece of junk.)
The BBC reports that there are concerns that the devices have failed to stop bomb attacks that have killed hundreds of people. Actually, a little more than just “concerns.” There have been several successful bomb attacks in Iraq recently in areas where they were apparently relying on this bogus device:
And an attack in December killed over 120 people, prompting Iraqis to ask how the bombs could have got through the city's security.
Attention is increasingly focusing on the ADE-651, the hand-held detector now used at most checkpoints in Baghdad. [My bold.]
Get that? This useless device is used at most checkpoints in Baghdad in place of physical inspections of vehicles. Remember, this is a device that has no memory, no programming, no working electronics, no batteries and no known way it could possibly ever work. It has consistently failed to work in all controlled tests. And yet they go for $40,000 each! Over 2,000 of them.
Strangely, I find I do agree with one thing McCormick has to say about his product:
"the theory behind dowsing and the theory behind how we actually detect explosives is very similar".
Yes, dowsing and the ADE-651 are similar in that they are both complete bullshit.
Randi’s blog today has a post, Randi Responds to the Arrest of James McCormick, that includes a video of Randi explaining the history of this device and the JREF’s role in exposing it. (Although I don’t often recommend long video clips, this one with Randi is worth the time.) Astonishingly, the Quadro Tracker (which, to repeat, is the exact same product as the ADE-651) was tested back in 1995 and was described back then by the FBI as “a fraud.” Fifteen years later, McCormick gets arrested.
The Iraqi officer who appeared at a press conference with McCormick recently, Major General Jehad al-Jabiri, apparently said he did not care about the failed tests of this device. I join Randi in hoping the Iraqis investigate this Iraqi officer’s connection to the manufacturers of the device. Apparently it has been sold for $16,500 (still a rip off for something that does nothing), although it was sold to the Iraqi military for up to $60,000. Would the Major General’s bank accounts reveal kickbacks received from McCormick’s company? There would have been enough spare cash from that $85 million to pay off any number of intermediaries. Perhaps the threat of jail time (Iraqi jail – nice) would motivate the Major General finally to care if the damn thing works or not. One can only hope.
Praise should go to the JREF for doggedly exposing this fraud for at least the past 15 years, according to Randi. (Shame on the media and law enforcement for allowing it to continue, without criticism, for so long.) Don’t forget all the other frauds and charlatans who also refuse to take Randi’s $ million test because they know they would fail. (And ditto.)