by Roy and Ann Procter
This article was originally published in two parts in vol 40 nos 282 & 283 of ‘Dowsing Today’, the journal of the British Society of Dowsers.
Report of a Research Project into Effectiveness
This paper, presented at the International Congress in Manchester on August 31st 2003 shows that, statistically, our way of healing sick houses works: we use dowsing for diagnosing the problem and what to do about it, and then bring in spiritual healing techniques for effecting change.
As most dowsers accept, it is very difficult to prove that dowsing is valid for non-physical targets, let alone for healing purposes and we have moved further into this dilemma by testing the results of work using our method.
Our research looked at multiple scores before and after healing, set out in such a way that as much objectivity as possible was achieved, and we outline how this was done in this paper in terms hopefully understandable by non-statisticians. The results were evaluated by a skilled statistician, and you can download her report, including all the complicated statistical expertise that went into it, HERE (PDF file), or view it as a web page HERE .
Significance of energies of place: background to healing
Many dowsers are aware of different ‘energies’ at different locations. They sometimes give a characteristic feel to a place. In many cases this ‘feel’ can affect the mood and health of those living in places where the energies are unhelpful (generally referred to as Geopathic Stress). Commonly, dowsers are asked to check the energy patterns of a house. On finding energies deleterious to the health of the inhabitants, the dowser may recommend moving the bed or favourite chair to a position not influenced by the negativity, or even moving house. Other dowsers seek to block, or divert the energy lines. Some, like ourselves, seek to alter the quality of the energies so that there is compatibility between the energies and those living or working in the building.
Our introduction to these matters occurred well over 20 years ago through meeting Bruce MacManaway. We subsequently attended sessions where he taught us to identify these ‘earth energies’ by dowsing, usually with a pendulum, and to correct the quality of deleterious energies to beneficial by driving iron stakes into the ground at very precisely established positions: “Miss it by a tenth of an inch and you are useless,” he said!
Having found out how to detect and ‘correct’ these energies from Bruce, we were surprised to be contacted by people we did not know asking us to work on their houses! So we did as taught, and people felt better.
Over the years these requests grew more and more frequent. With Roy still in full time employment and Ann working too, it became more and more difficult for us both to find enough time to visit those requesting help. By this time, we had become Healer Members of the National Federation of Spiritual Healers and were familiar with both ‘hands on’ and ‘distant’ spiritual healing.
So we thought to try distant spiritual healing with the aid of a sketch map to help support those involved until such time as we could arrange a visit. Initially this was a ‘first aid’ treatment, but as we found that the healing stayed done, no visit was required. We seemed to have discovered that distant spiritual healing processes could be directed to a house rather than just people. So we developed our present method of focussing spiritual healing on to carefully selected points, using map dowsing techniques to establish these points, instead of physically banging in poles.
We have been using this remote method for many years and we seldom need to visit places now at all. The numbers of enquiries for this work have steadily increased, almost all by word of mouth. Although we do not actively advertise our healing work, we are now responding to about 600 cases a year.
We were overloaded in 1998 because of an article in the Sunday Times which elicited 800 enquiries, 600 of them requiring work. This indicated a great interest in these matters, which we find continues to grow. We deliberately cut down our responses for a while in order to concentrate on writing our book (Healing Sick Houses). Now the interest continues to increase and we know there are many more dowser/healers doing this work, some trained by us. Enquiries are not confined to the UK. We have worked on places in all five continents. The feedback that we get is positive and we receive many letters of grateful thanks. As to payment, this is all on a donation basis. We suggest that people send us something within their means which represents how they value our work.
Origin of our research project
We keep a detailed record for each client. Over the years, these files have come to occupy many archive boxes under the bed in our spare room. In order to get ‘The Establishment’ to accept alternative health processes, there is interest in research work to establish the validity, or otherwise, of various alternative therapies. Thus we thought that the large amount of data within our files might be of use in this context. We thought that we might be able to find a student who could be encouraged to use our data as a basis for a PhD study or similar. However, the various feelers put out to friends at universities did not find a suitable response. Nevertheless, we mentioned these ideas to people on our dowsing courses and Dr Vicky Wass became interested. At that time she was a tutor in statistics in the Business School at Cardiff University.
New trial designed
Discussions with Dr Wass quickly revealed that it would be difficult to analyse the data in our files in a way to produce results meaningful to ‘The Establishment’. Any such report would be dismissed as anecdotal and of limited credibility. Therefore she proposed that a properly organised trial be set up and, given her expertise in this area, we had confidence that a scientifically credible assessment of our healing work would be the result.
The trial was based on four questionnaires sent out at intervals to 150 respondents. No external funding was sought for this research programme. Dr Wass donated her time in developing the questionnaires, analysing and reporting the results. Ann sent out the questionnaires at appropriate intervals together with stamped addressed envelopes for return directly to Dr Wass. We also conducted the overall administration of the trial and bore the cost of all postage involved.
(All four questionnaires are appended to the research report).
1. Data collection
In the early months of 1999, a sample of 150 households, who had requested diagnostic dowsing and healing for adverse symptoms which they believed could be associated with geopathic stress and/or discarnate presences, were invited to take part in a questionnaire survey. Every British resident who requested the service during this period was asked to take part – i.e. we only selected out requests from abroad (four in number) because of the complications of return postage. The purpose of this survey was to collect information from which to evaluate the effectiveness of the dowsing and resultant healing work.
2. Survey design
The survey comprised a series of self-completed questionnaires which were distributed to a member of the household over a period of six to eight weeks during which time each respondent completed four questionnaires in total. The first questionnaire was completed before any dowsing or healing had been undertaken. At Questionnaire Two, the sample was divided into two groups where the first group received treatment but the second did not until later. The healing was done for all respondents before they received Questionnaires Three and Four. Thus a panel of respondents was followed through the course of the work and information was collected about the respondent, the household, the house and the nature and progress of the symptoms which were the basis of the inhabitant’s request for assistance.
Each respondent was required to score (on a scale of one to five) the general health and well-being of a specified member of the household (the same person throughout the survey) and 26 specific personal and house-related symptoms. Both the frequency and intensity of these 26 specific symptoms were measured.
All four questionnaires can be found on the research paper.. They were all essentially the same except for slight administrative variations reflecting the stage of the survey each time.
For many of the responding households there were factors which influence their health and symptoms other than negative earth energies. Since this survey was not conducted under laboratory conditions, and thus in isolation from these factors, we had to find a way of controlling these alternative factors statistically. The approach was two fold. First, detailed information was collected which included information on some of these other factors (for example, use of alternative therapies, effects of medication etc). Secondly, the tests were based on the comparison of averages and the averages were calculated from a sufficiently large number of respondents so that the effects of outlying results (for example a severe deterioration after the healing as a result of chemotherapy) were minimised.
3. Data quality
The information collected in the questionnaires comprised self-reports of general health and of the intensity and frequency with which 26 specific symptoms were experienced. The same questions were asked in each of the four questionnaires and required a contemporaneous health assessment at each point in time. Thus the respondent was not required to assess any changes in their health over time. The measure of change was generated from each respondent’s four contemporaneous assessments. Responses relied upon the subjective assessment of respondents about their symptoms, as opposed to an objective measure (heart rate, blood pressure etc), and were therefore subject to effects of differences in individual expectation and judgment. This element of subjectivity precludes an analysis based upon comparisons between individual people.
Consider, for example, two respondents who, in objective terms, suffer equally from the same medical condition and experience a similar level of benefit from healing. The first respondent is rather more stoical with respect to personal pain and suffering than the second respondent and consequently indicates that her general health is ‘fair’ in the questionnaire before healing. After healing, the respondent is optimistic and enthusiastic about the results and indicates an improvement in her general health to ‘very good’. The second respondent on the other hand is of a more anxious and complaining disposition and initially indicates that her general health is ‘very poor’. This second respondent records a more modest improvement in her health following healing to ‘poor’.
Clearly the responses of the two individuals cannot be reliably compared with each other due to the influence of subjectivity. The progress of symptoms for each nominated individual in the household are recorded over time and it is the ‘before’ and ‘after’ intervention responses which can be compared. This method controls for the effects of individual subjectivity in the cross section of respondents, with the qualification that the underlying personalities of the respondents remains unchanged throughout the period of the survey, i.e. the stoical respondent remains stoical and vice versa. The measure of effectiveness of the healing is one based upon changes in reported health indicated by individual respondents and is thus relatively independent of difference in their personalities which might affect interpersonal comparisons of responses.
In short, by using a panel surveying the same respondents and measuring differences over time rather than differences between respondents, the subjective effects of different personalities are ‘fixed’ and do not distort the results.
The sample for this research was drawn directly from 105 households which requested dowsing and healing work for problems which they believed to be associated with negative earth energies or discarnate presences. This is not a random population sample. It is a sample selected by application and is selected on the basis of households who, in the first instance, are experiencing some sort of difficulty, most usually ill health. Secondly, they believe in the possibility that the effects of negative earth energies might be contributing to their difficulties, and thirdly believe in the possibility of ameliorating the effects of these negative earth energies through dowsing and healing. Given the high response rate, and the apparent similarity between those who did and those who did not complete all the questionnaires, we can be confident that respondents are broadly representative of inquiring households.
The reasons for requesting dowsing and healing are various, as are the methods by which households were referred for assistance. The main means of referral was through reputation and ‘word of mouth’. Most enquiries (90%) were the result of referrals by friends or therapists who had direct experience or knowledge of dowsing and healing in relation to the effects of negative earth energies. The other significant route was through various articles written and talks given by us over the years. As a result, our work has snowballed as satisfied clients told others about our work and passed on our information leaflet. An article in the Sunday Times (March 1998) overwhelmed us with 800 enquiries, many of them wanting work done immediately!
All respondents described adverse personal symptoms while only 48 respondents were able to describe any symptoms specifically related to the house, for example cold damp rooms, unexplained noises etc. Over 40% indicated a formal medical diagnosis for their personal symptoms with cancer, ME and chronic fatigue figuring strongly among the physical diagnoses and depression among the mental diagnoses. Emotional and ‘psychic’ symptoms were less commonly reported.
The symptoms reported by respondents were broken down into four main groups as follows:
- Physical 88
- Psychological 74
- Emotional 35
- ‘Psychic’ 37
Over three quarters of respondents had received, and in some cases continued to receive, other forms of treatment for their personal symptoms. Although alternative and complementary treatments were the most widely used (by 55% of the respondents), the difference was not that great. Orthodox medical treatments were used by 41% of respondents.
Self-completion postal questionnaire surveys attract notoriously low response rates; all the more so where the respondents are required to complete four questionnaires over a period of time. The accuracy and reliability of survey data are undermined by attrition or non-response because, in general, non-respondents differ from those who do respond and in ways which are unknown and which therefore cannot be controlled. Where non-response is large, the resulting level of bias is unacceptable and the findings of the survey cannot be generalised beyond those achieved for the respondents.
150 respondents were each asked to complete 4 questionnaires over a period of about 2 months. Thus there were potentially a total of 600 questionnaires to be returned, and each respondent had four opportunities to opt out.
The actual number of questionnaires returned was:
- Questionnaire 1) 129 (86%)
- Questionnaire 2) 119 (79%)
- Questionnaire 3) 110 (73%)
- Questionnaire 4) 105 (70%)
Our statistical expert described the response rate as remarkable, substantially better that most other surveys of this type. One reason for this is that, through their application for treatment, respondents self-select themselves into the sample by reason of their sympathy with, and confidence in, dowsing and healing as a treatment for their symptoms. Nevertheless, we felt very gratified that so many people had taken the trouble to fill in their questionnaires and return them as requested.
Sorting out the data
How then did respondents evaluate their general health and wellbeing prior to treatment? At the outset each respondent was asked to rate their overall health and wellbeing according to the following categories: ‘very good’, ‘good’, ‘fair’, ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’. In addition, each respondent was asked to provide more detailed information about their health and wellbeing in the form of scoring the intensity and frequency with which they experienced 26 specific health and house related conditions. The test of effectiveness of the healing is based upon a statistical comparison of responses before and after healing.
This was the chief purpose of this investigation and is completed for the sample for the general health question and for each of the 26 questions which relate to specific symptoms. The intensity and frequency with which the reported symptoms occur are recorded separately. The timing of any improvement over a period of eight weeks from the intervention is also able to be assessed.
These are aggregate analyses in that they provide an overall indication of the effectiveness of the healing across the whole sample. It may be that the healing is more effective at treating particular sources of negative energy or at treating specific symptoms.
From the detailed information collected about the sample, respondents can be categorised according to household characteristics and diagnosed problems and any patterns of differential effectiveness in treatment investigated. The analysis of all this data belongs to the expertise of Dr Vicky Wass, and is largely beyond our comprehension.
The placebo effect
A vital consideration when designing a project of this kind is the placebo effect. A placebo response is one which is generated from an inactive intervention. In medical trials it might be achieved by giving a dummy pill to a control group. It is not the same as no treatment. Placebo responses are observed to be a powerful and widespread phenomena. They are normally explained as the fulfilment of an expectation of a beneficial effect of the treatment on the part of the patient. The therapist believes in the power of the treatment and communicates this to the patient who thus learns to expect a successful outcome. Placebo effects are an empirical fact of life. In the medical literature they are treated as an error of observation to be eradicated from the data in order to achieve a ‘true’ measure of the effect of the treatment. A great deal of emphasis is placed upon achieving net outcomes after the removal of any placebo effects. A treatment is effective only to the extent that it achieves a positive net outcome, that is an outcome which is superior to that of a placebo.
The potential for a positive placebo response in the healing we are doing is considerable. Application for treatment is self-selected and highly motivated. If not in general severe, the adverse symptoms experienced by applicants are often of an intractable nature and had proved immune to other treatments. Application for treatment often involved, in the first instance, a telephone conversation with one of us where acceptance, sympathy and comfort were offered (provided the moment was not TOO inconvenient!). Good intention engenders hope and, if expectation grows with hope, then applicants would have had high expectations that the treatment would be successful. Our interest is largely directed towards gross outcomes, that is an improvement in health, rather than in whether this was a ‘true’ or a placebo response. However, for reasons of convention, curiosity and the considerable potential for a placebo effect, the survey was designed to incorporate a test for placebo effects.
At Questionnaire 2, respondents were randomly allocated to an experimental group where the dowsing and healing had been done and a separate control group where it had not until later. The allocation was double blind in that neither the respondent nor the researcher knew whether the work had been done. A comparison of outcomes across the experimental and control groups provides a measure of the placebo response. So the survey design was based upon the classic method: the pre-healing responses at the second questionnaire stage comprised the control group, and the post-healing responses comprised the experimental group, and the test of effectiveness comprised the comparison of results between the two groups. Unlike the traditional control group, respondents were themselves used as their own control group. The reason for this is a simple one. It would have been inappropriate to withhold a potentially beneficial treatment from certain households in order to provide a control group, most especially since those households had specifically requested that they receive the treatment.
These are shown in Figure 2. At Questionnaire 4 stage, a month or more after healing, 85 of the 105 respondents showed, by their filling of the questionnaires, that they experienced some improvement in health. “This is a pleasingly high number!” quoth our statistical expert! At the Questionnaire 2 stage, within a week of healing, 48 reported benefit, which included 15 who had not yet received healing. These latter could be said to have benefited by placebo influences, although with spiritual healing, we do sometimes find that effects are felt outside time, and the very act of asking for it sets healing in motion.
So, you can see we have gone to a considerable amount of trouble and expense to show that our way of healing sick houses works. Of course we know it works, otherwise we would not be continuing to give so much time and energy to our clients in our seventies. We have masses of positive feedback from clients from the thousands of cases we have treated to date. If you want not to believe this kind of feedback we understand it is called ‘anecdotal evidence’ and doesn’t have much validity. In Ann’s profession as a psychotherapist, feedback called ‘case histories’ ARE valid to illustrate points in a presentation. For this reason we put some personal stories from clients in our book. Do statistics cut more ice? After all that effort we do hope so. However, as Laurence J. Peter said, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still”. So we will see how our research is received by people whose scientific paradigm finds it difficult to stretch to the underlying concepts applied to this work.
As most dowsers accept, it is very difficult to prove that dowsing is valid for non-physical targets. We have moved further into this dilemma by testing results, first by dowsing for diagnosing the problem and what to do about it, and then by using spiritual healing techniques for effecting change. Terry Ross, one time President of the American Society of Dowsers, in his book The Divining Mind, would include the healing aspect of the work in his ‘Seven Steps’. Level Five involves ‘Making changes: the diviner goes from observer to effector’. But when teaching people to do this work we find it best to make a clear distinction between receiving relevant information at the diagnostic stage by dowsing and moving into the proactive stage of healing to effect changes.
We offer the research based on OUR way of working, whose effectiveness we have now shown statistically. We do not for a moment think this is THE way; indeed it is more than likely that each dowser/healer doing this work will do it differently! However, you have now been given the advantage of a proof of validity which we hope will further enable your work in this field. If you are interested, and have the mental stamina to digest it, you can viewthe full report, with all the complicated statistical analyses, HERE (Also avaiable for download as a PDF HERE).
© Roy & Ann Procter 2003
Some of this article is in the words of our statistical expert, Dr Vicky Wass, but she has not been able to share with us in presenting the paper (at the BSD 70th Anniversary International Congress) as she has become extremely busy with a young family. We warmly acknowledge her expertise in developing this trial and thank her for her work and dedication in analysing and reporting the results. We are also grateful to Grahame Gardner for hosting this research on britishdowsing.net.