Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thailand Continues To Use "Bogus" Detectors

The United Kingdom has placed an export ban on a bomb (and/or drug) detection device, the ADE651, which under analysis proves to be a complete sham. The ban is only effective for Iraq and Afghanistan however, so other countries continue to be free to purchase the expensive pieces of empty plastic.

I described the ADE651 in a previous post. Now I see there is even a blog dedicated to exposing this device. But here is an interesting (I think) update:

In Thailand, similar dousing technology devices are still in use for the detection of illegal drugs! Detection equipment called the Alpha6 and the GT200 are said to be able to detect 70% of drugs (or bombs in Iraq?), slightly more than 2/3. Maybe the same number of red herrings?

By how much are the Thai authorities being ripped off? The Alpah6 is cheap (Bht400,000, £7,500, USD$12K) but is supposed to detect only drugs, whereas the more expensive GT200 (Bht900,000-1,200,000, £22,500, USD$36k), it is asserted, can detect both drugs and explosive.

They have even ordered more for Phuket!

But here is an interesting alleged quote used in that forum discussion - I don't know whether it is a fake or not:

"an officer with the Phuket Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, says that procurement procedures mean that it would take around one month to sort out the kickbacks."

Ha ha. Scary.

But do they detect wishful thinking, one wonders. Or greedy, lying salesmen and greedy, corrupt politicians and officials?


As I said on the previous post, these "molecular resonance" devices actually 'work' on the same principle as water dousing, according to the maker of the ADE651, Jim McCormick. Such a method is exactly as reliable as homeopathy: which is to say they don't work at all. These things are merely something the desperate, confused, vulnerable and gullible stretch for when real equipment (or medicine) has reached its limit. Which is to say, it works at the level of the placebo effect. It only has subjectively positive results if you believe it works, and that type of 'working' is unable to be measured or confirmed by any test or trial anyone can devise. Which, I repeat, means they don't work at all.

This "glorified dousing device" is sensitised to whatever it is you want it to detect; specific types of explosives, or certain drugs, and it is claimed that "under ideal conditions" it can detect such substances from up to a mile away.

It is allegedly 'powered' (it doesn't need power) from static electricity generated by the body as the user walks along. Never mind that such static electricity generation requires a certain type of friction, such as walking over a carpet (zap! when you touch a doorknob), and you would not generate any measurable or usable quantity of static electricity by walking over gravel or dust.

The bits of plastic and tin used in Thailand are also made in England. I wonder if maybe they come from the same backyard shed in Somerset where the utterly sleazy looking Jim McCormick was churning out his ADE-651. McCormick has recently been arrested for fraud over his ADE651 device by the way.

Never believe anyone with eyebrows like this:


I said in the previous post that it beeps. It doesn't beep, in fact it is a piece of wire that swivels on a mount of plastic in a plastic hand-held holder. As shown in the BBC video (which I didn't watch completely last time, sorry!) it merely swings towards the suspect material (spooky, mystic, weird) - but in reality it swings with subtle, perhaps unconscious, movements of the wrist and shifts of body position. Wishful thinking. Auto-fulfilling prophecy. Magic. Divine intervention. Nothing.

While the articles from the Bangkok Post do not mention the English ban on the ADE-651 nor its ineffectual performance nor the arrest of McCormick, the timing of these Thai articles in interesting - exactly one week after the BBC broke the story. Methinks the Narcotics Control Board protesteth too much.

If you watch the BBC video on the second link, there you will see how "dousing rod" technology is pseudo-scientific rubbish in general and these types of devices in particular are useless and fraudulent.

In 1995 the FBI called a similar device, the Quadro Tracker, "a fraud" and warned in 1999 against buying "bogus explosive detection equipment." Note that one of the devices the Thailand military claim is effective is called the QT200.

Mmmm. QT200 = Qaudro Tracker?


As I said in the earlier post, it is a worry and a disappointment that in this advanced scientific age, supposedly intelligent people who are in roles responsible for the lives of the public as well as other military (in the Iraq and Afghanistan cases) can continue fall for such plainly fake technological snake-oil, even to endorse and promote its effectiveness and continued use once the con has been exposed and the "technology" demonstrated to be non-existent.

But of course, if there is money to be shifted around corrupt officials, it sounds like a great deal - I'll buy that for a million dollars (or Baht)!!


About 8 years ago, New Scientist published an article about a swabbing type device, obviously not turning much of a sceptical (i.e. scientific) eye on the technology, which was being developed at the time in bloody Geelong, my home town!

Funnily enough, I have had my bags swabbed once by what seems to me now to be such a device. This was when I was leaving Melbourne Airport several years ago. The swab was tested in a large accompanying analyser. As I hadn't stored any of the drugs they were looking for in my bags for several days (joking), the results were "negative". As I not seen the device there since, I presume it was only being tested at that time and the Airport Security (or whomever) decided not to purchase it.

But I wonder how "bogus" and "fraudulent", or just plain inadequate this type of detection device is compared to the completely useless but profitable dousers that have been imported into Iraq and Afghanistan as well as, now we see, even Thailand.



Paula said...

Uh oh... Some of my relatives have eyebrows like that!

savannah said...

*sigh* i am no longer surprised by the actions/venality of human beings. xoxoxo

expat@large said...

Paula: I was thinking of myself actually!

Sav: *sigh* back at ya!

Dick Headley said...

Oh well....back to genital x-rays.

DanPloy said...

' is a worry and a disappointment that in this advanced scientific age, supposedly intelligent people who are in roles responsible for the lives of the public...'

Anonymous said...

Along the same lines as this scanner... At Aldergrove airport in Northern Ireland a few decades ago, a new explosives detector was installed. It was a frame or archway through which all air passengers had to pass. Those who set off the buzzer were taken to one side and frisked by security personnel.
However, setting off the detector was a completely random matter. Because the detector was just a pressure point on the floor. So if you happened to step on it, you set off the buzzer.
But the airport had decided that a fake detector was better than nothing, would hopefully have a deterrent value, and would do till the proper security equipment turned up. It worked till people eventually copped on.

expat@large said...

Dick: OMG it's like a penis, only smaller.

Dan: the fact this guy was chiropracter automatically means he is not qualified to make any logical or informed scientific decisions.

Black: these things are pretty expensive for pretend scanners. But so long as all the local officals get their cut...

rockstar69 said...

They've still got the "bomb residue" swabs in Oz airports. I cop a wipe about three times a year on average!!

marke said...

Expert marketing. Huge margins (because there is f*** all inside the plastic) allow huge "purchase commissions", and the rest of it is just a vaguely plausible story to give everyone in the procurement chain something to believe in, and so pretend to themselves it's not just greed! No surprise at all that they’ve successfully marketed them into Thailand, I’ll be keeping an eye out in a few other likely countries around here.

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