Danie Krugel

One of the events that got me interested in Scepticism was the appearance of a certain Mr. Danie Krugel on our local South African media with a device that he claimed could do all kinds of wonderful things through quantum physics.

In the blogosphere there has been some extensive discussion and eventual debunking of his claims, e.g. here and here. I do not want to intrude much on the space of their debunkings apart from saying that I pretty much agree with most of the things they say and both those bloggers probably know more about the science involved than I do.

What I would like to comment about (which I believe has been discussed on the blogosphere (but I assume you, the reader, comes here to read my point of view on these topics :p)) is the latest development on this topic. Mr. Krugel has managed to obtain a report, signed by a number of scientists and academics, verifying the veracity of his claims and the effectiveness of his device.

The report can be found here.

Right off the bat the problem with the report is a lack of information. There is literally no information about the testing conditions, or even how the device responds to the tests besides the mention of the movement of a needle.  No mention is made of who chose and prepared the samples that were tested on, whether Mr. Krugel or anybody else was allowed to handle the samples. If the contents of the samples were hidden from view when being tested. If the experiment was properly double-blinded, etc. etc.

The problem we have is this: The results of this report that Mr. Krugel gets are either due to one of the following 4 factors:

(1) The device is genuine and performs as specified.

(2) The device is fake and the panel members are lying about its performance.

(3) The device is fake and the panel members have been fooled into believing in the performance of the device.

(4) The report itself is faked.

Because the report contains very little information about the actual test procedure (and what it contains seems to indicate that there was sufficient room for trickery) it is very difficult to believe the veracity of the report.

Let’s deal with these options one by one with the information we have at hand.

(1) The device is genuine.

Unfortunately (as has been debunked by various other sources) the “science” stated as the reason for the functioning of the device does not work as Mr. Krugel explains. This is not how quantum physics works. See also my blog post on Quantum Awareness for just one problem about the explanations of Quantum Physics being observable on a macro level.

(2) The device is fake and the panel members are lying about its performance.

While this is a possibility (and once again choosing to use a number of panelists from the University where Mr. Krugel works (in a non-academic post) does cast some doubt about the panelists impartiality), I find it difficult to believe that these academics would willingly put their names to a fraudulent document.

(3) The device is fake and the panel members have been fooled into believing in the performance of the device.

Here it’s once again it is the sparsity of the report that is the problem. It appears as if the device and the tested substances where all within sight of Mr. Krugel as he was testing it. It also appears as if the device had been held by various people. Really there is too much possibility for some sleight of hand to make the device appear to work.

(4) The report itself is faked.

This is the least likely possibility but the fact that only 5 of the 10 panelists signed their names to the document, plus the fact that the document contains at least on glaring grammar error, does cast a little bit of doubt on the veracity of the report. I do find it rather unlikely that it was faked though.

So, after examining all 4 possible options, what is my verdict?

To me it appears as if the report is in fact designed not to prove anything about this device. The experimental design is of such a nature that it isn’t possible to confirm that the device actually works. One wonders why this is so. Surely a proper double-blinded test, with well designed controls, would once and for all prove that this device works? The lack of such a test is telling.

I suppose we will see what the Media and Scientific communities make of this report, if anything. If that happens I will be sure to have a look at everything again.

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2 Responses to Danie Krugel

  1. Thanks for the post – very interesting. I suspect 3 is the most likely explanation but 4 is also a possibility. If EITHER 2 or 3 is true, I find it depressing that academics would put their name to utter pseudoscience. I’m going to get on their asses and email them.

  2. darthfishy says:

    Unfortunately it seems having a PHD (or any other qualifications for that matter) is not a defense against believing in pseudoscience. The academic department where I work was quite excited about the “What The Bleep Do We Know Movie” a while back 😦

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