There’s a lot of dowsing involved in the first couple of hours of the new Legend of Zelda game.
Now, Skyward Sword (a prequel to much of the franchise if I’m not mistaken) can speak for itself but seeing as I’ve only seen the first couple of hours of story and gameplay and have already heard the word dowsing six times in twenty minutes I should probably have a little mumble about it.
For those of you with little experience of the topic, dowsing is essentially the supposed ability to track down desirable objects (mostly water, but as I was informed last time I wrote on this topic, some go as far as to say they can use it to find information), usually with objects known as dowsing rods, which are essentially no more able to track objects than what your own finger could do if you spun yourself around to play spin the bottle with the earth.
Save for the ideomotor effect, which gives the impression that the rods are moving by themselves, when in reality it would seem that they are being controlled by the user without intention.
I’ve had this conversation with myself in regards to real life and also in regards to generation IV of the Pokémon series, and in regards to the former, some applications of this form of woo (especially for tracking down explosives in the middle east) are tasks that have a responsibility that should be inapplicable for a practice that has no objective proof of validity.
Zelda gets a pass because it’s Zelda and because the dowsing is done by magic, but in regards to real life, magic is the only mechanism by which such a fanciful claim could hope to find a mechanism.
And as much as it would be nice to be able to track down princesses using a sword and the spirit that lives inside it, the real-life dowsers unfortunately aren’t as creative as that when it comes to their applications.
I’m not saying that there’s a reason they haven’t tried this outside the fact that it’s an idea invented for a fantasy game but it would be rather easy to test if they were to try it.
But really, there isn’t much of an advantage that dowsing has over just looking for something, and from the way link seems to be going about it in Skyward Sword, he’d probably have just about the same result looking for giant lumpy hedgehogs with trees on their backs if he just looked for them.
I’m looking at them now and they’re really not hard to spot.