Napa Valley Winemaker Marc Mondavi Serves as "Water Witch" During California Drought

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Several California residents are turning to an ancient practice called dowsing to help find water during the severe drought. Janelle Wang reports. (Published Wednesday, Jul 2, 2014)

    Several California residents are turning to an ancient practice called dowsing to help find water during the severe drought.

    The practice, also known as "water witching," resorts to using items like copper rods and prisms. It's a method Napa Valley winemaker Marc Mondavi uses.

    "Well, they've helped me find a lot of water in California," Mondavi said. "I'm not just doing Napa Valley, I've done wells throughout northern California. I've gone as far as Mexico."

    Mondavi said his services as a "water witch" are in demand as California's historic drought continues. He charges $500.

    "There's no guarantees," he said. "Although I'm more than 95-percent successful."

    Skeptics point out that the Earth is more than 70 percent water, so finding it is not difficult.

    One of those skeptics is James Underdown, who heads the Center for Inquiry and the Independent Investigations Group in Los Angeles.

    "Through the years we've tested many dowsers," Underdown said. "None of them have been successful in a scientifically controlled test."

    Underdown said that when it comes to the movement of dowsing rods, there is a "down-to-Earth" explanation.

    "There's something called the ideomotor effect, which says, that the unconscious mind can effect the muscles and move muscles without one being conscious of it."

    Underdown said it is the same effect that moves a planchette across a Quija board.

    Mondavi, however, questions his skeptics.

    "It's not a science," he said. "Scientists don't understand this. Therefore, they don't believe in it."

    Meanwhile, Underdown's group is offering a $100,000 challenge to anyone who can prove this version of paranormal ability.