Shazam: Magic Military Weapons! Who's Buying This Stuff?

Shazam: Magic Military Weapons! Who's Buying This Stuff?

A cheaper, prettier and equally effective device
A cheaper, prettier and equally effective device
We reported on this phenomenon nearly two years ago–governments purchasing idiot devices for obscene amounts of cash. Last month the  New York Times finally reported on the ADE 651 (beware, the company's sloppy website is laced with misspellings), variously described as a 'remote portable substance detector,' a 'dowsing rod,' and even a 'magic wand.'

Thousands of these Mickey Mouse devices have been ordered by various security agencies, at a cost of up to $60, 000 each. Boy, are we in the wrong business!

It seems absurd that these contraptions are still finding buyers in the form of official government contracts, especially in the wake of the Dept. of Homeland Security's embarrassing Sniffex debacle–a useless box which is alarmingly still being marketed as the Sniffex PLUS. The absurd MOLE, nowadays masquerading as the GT200, is also still trumpeting its own awesomeness, despite being discredited by Sandia Labs five years ago.

According to the ADE 651 website:

Using ATSC's proprietary application of electrostatic ion attraction, the ADE651™ provides detection of programmed substances with unprecedented sensitivity. It can detect substances at long range to levels as low as simple contamination. It can quickly and effectively scan a large search area targeting a specific group of substances in all types of environments.

Is it just me, or does 'electrostatic ion attraction' remind you of those other idiot devices which are supposed to cure asthma and hayfever?

Contrasting with descriptions of 'electrostatic ion attraction', according to PROSEC, their official Middle East distributors, the working principal is based on 'electrochemical (Thermo-Redox) detection.' Whatever the hell that is. It seems they can't even decide which Star Trek fictional process to credit with powering the magical ADE 651–which by the way can apparently detect stuff from a moving aeroplane at an altitude of 3 miles!

Always quick to take action, our hero James Randi immediately put the screws on Cumberland Industries, who manufacture this device, by issuing a direct invitation via the famous JREF $1M Challenge. In short, the JREF are saying: if this device does what you guys say it can do, come and collect your cash–otherwise take it off the market pronto!

They have seen fit to add this to the end of what is normally a very respectful challenge:

No one will respond to this, because the ADE651® is a useless, quack, device which cannot perform any other function than separating naïve persons from their money. It’s a fake, a scam, a swindle, and a blatant fraud. The manufacturers, distributors, vendors, advertisers, and retailers of the ADE651® device are criminals, liars, and thieves who will ignore this challenge because they know the device, the theory, the described principles of operation, and the technical descriptions given, are nonsense, lies, and fraudulent.