A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?

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Offline graham.d

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I read in last week's NY Times that a British company (ATSC UK Ltd) has been selling a device to the Iraqis that is supposed to detect bombs, guns, drugs and pretty well anything that needs detecting. The contract was worth, accordingto the NYT, $32M in 2008 as the devices sell for up to $60,000 each. The device is known as an ADE 651 and ATSC reportedly says it uses "electrostatic magnetic ion attraction". In practice it seems to work like a divining stick and has no power supply. The James Randi Educational Foundation has "publicly offered ATSC $1M if it could pass a scientifiv test proving the device could detect explosives... no one from the company has taken up the offer".

This may be a case of the buyer beware but this is clearly, in my opinion, not a device that is based on any sound science and should not be used. Iraqi, Major General Jehad Jabiri seems to believe in it though, so it must be of benefit to him somehow. I guess he does not have to be the guy doiing the so called detection though.

Would this company be in any way liable should someone be killed because this device failed to detect a bomb? I would suppose not as it would be down to the user. I would be interested to see exactly what the company claims for the device though as they may be liable to some sort of fraud perhaps. The NYT says that the company claims it can find "even contraband ivory at distances up to 1km". But I guess it would be up to the customer to complain, which maybe unlikely.

Any thoughts?

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Offline Bored chemist

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You are right- it does look like outright fraud.
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Offline JP

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It probably depends on the local laws and the claims they make about their magic wands.  In the US, for example, you can sell all sorts of junk medicine as long as you put a disclaimer on that it hasn't been evaluated by the FDA.  This is another good example of why scientific literacy is important even for non-scientists, since it could save the millions spent on these devices as well as the lives lost due to the bombs they fail to detect.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/world/middleeast/04sensors.html

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Offline Don_1

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This 'magic wand' produced by ATSC & Global Technical is identical in all but the label to one manufactured previously by Quadro of Sth Carolina.

There are test results by Sandia here. Although it doesn't look like these were very comprehensive test, I think the claims by the manufactures to have produced the equivalent to the 'wonder cure-all elixir of life' are so fantastical as to put off any serious and meaningfull evaluation.
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.

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Offline lightarrow

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The NYT says that the company claims it can find "even contraband ivory at distances up to 1km".
If I could have some little doubt, reading this I don't have anylonger  [:)]

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Offline graham.d

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I'm glad to see this company has been finally called to task over this and the MD is being questioned by police. He is an ex-police officer as well. It has taken years though!

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6997859.ece

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Offline yor_on

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Now Graham?
How can this possibly be a fraud?

I read your article and as I saw the explanation for why those unfamiliar with the science behind thought it to be a fraud, and furthermore, the ingenious solution to that problem I realized that this had to be a state of the art 'explosives sniffer'

"Mr McCormick told The Times that his device was being criticised because of its crude appearance.

He added: “We have been dealing with doubters for ten years. One of the problems we have is that the machine does look a little primitive. We are working on a new model that has flashing lights.” "

Yes, this will work...

"BOMB DISPOSAL EXPERT. If you see me running, try to keep up."

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Offline Don_1

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Ah! Now we're talking hi-tech.

With some flashing lights, all it will need are some Phirips style functions and specifications and it will go like a bomb!

Hmmm, perhaps not the best choice of words.
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.

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Offline yor_on

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Maybe 'hit the roof' would be better?
"BOMB DISPOSAL EXPERT. If you see me running, try to keep up."

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Offline alanturing

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Belive or not but they have a site dedicated to ADE 651!

I have readed almost all their sciencific explination and understand nothing. Is there someoane who can explain what is that? Is this possible?

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Offline RD

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Offline Madidus_Scientia

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #11 on: 26/02/2011 03:33:00 »
What's more dangerous, those who sell this kind of stuff, or the lack of critical thinking abilities of those who buy it?

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Offline Geezer

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #12 on: 26/02/2011 06:36:26 »
I thought they had been shut down already. Considering how intrusive the UK government has become in recent times, I'm amazed that they are still in operation.

There was a prog on the telly about it recently. I was not paying much attention, but I seem to remember seeing some high-up UK army johnny, who had been hoodwinked by this, squirming and trying to defend his position - presumably on the grounds that he didn't know the difference between science and a hole in the ground.
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force æther.

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Offline RD

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #13 on: 26/02/2011 12:16:45 »
They should have bought some "X-ray specs" : they're a lot cheaper and just as effective.
« Last Edit: 26/02/2011 12:33:14 by RD »

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Offline Bored chemist

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #14 on: 26/02/2011 14:43:39 »
Belive or not but they have a site dedicated to ADE 651!

I have readed almost all their sciencific explination and understand nothing. Is there someoane who can explain what is that? Is this possible?
I can explain it.
They are simply telling lies.

It is not possible.
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Offline CliffordK

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #15 on: 06/03/2011 02:54:01 »
Whew..
There's a long Wikipedia Article
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADE_651

The first thing I usually do when I buy a new "nifty gizmo" is to check to see if it works.
If something is supposed to detect explosives, explosive residue, and etc.

Pull out some ammo, a grenade, dynamite, TNT, whatever.  And, see if it does what it is supposed to do.  False positives are annoying.  False negatives are deadly. 

Although, a wand with blinking lights and various beeps and squeals can be a good deterrent.  I'm sure you could build an equally effective device out of a toy store light-saber kit.  :)

Most precision instruments also have some kind of a calibration routine.

Anyway, it sounds like a disjoint between the purchasing agents and the field technicians, and overall very poor communication, and training.

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Offline grizelda

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #16 on: 06/03/2011 09:13:59 »
It's a wide-open field: the current state of the art involves sending a few mules out in front of you.

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Offline Bored chemist

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #17 on: 06/03/2011 12:46:13 »
It seems to me that, rather than the mules, we should use the directors of the company that makes the product. They can use their product to find a safe path if they like.
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Offline CliffordK

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #18 on: 06/03/2011 13:27:04 »
It seems to me that, rather than the mules, we should use the directors of the company that makes the product. They can use their product to find a safe path if they like.
They could just be extradited to Iraq, to be tried in an Iraqi Military Court. Perhaps the Iraqis would accept a plea for leniency.

It sounds like a most unique device.  According to the notes... it is called an ideomotor effect.  The device doesn't do anything.  The swivelling antenna essentially points where one points it...  which is probably why there were complaints of it picking out perfumes and women.

See halfway through this article.

http://ohpmartin.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/hello-world/


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Offline Bored chemist

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #19 on: 06/03/2011 18:30:52 »
It seems to me that, rather than the mules, we should use the directors of the company that makes the product. They can use their product to find a safe path if they like.
They could just be extradited to Iraq, to be tried in an Iraqi Military Court. Perhaps the Iraqis would accept a plea for leniency.


I suspect the effect would be rather similar, but in one case, at least a few mines would be cleared.
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Offline alanturing

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #20 on: 14/06/2011 14:15:30 »
Belive or not but they have a site dedicated to ADE 651!

I have readed almost all their sciencific explination and understand nothing. Is there someoane who can explain what is that? Is this possible?

how can this be?

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Offline CliffordK

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #21 on: 14/06/2011 22:10:19 »
Belive or not but they have a site dedicated to ADE 651!

I have readed almost all their sciencific explination and understand nothing. Is there someoane who can explain what is that? Is this possible?
how can this be?
It is fancy, official looking packaging.
But, the basic idea is that it will point wherever you point, whether it is conscious or not.

The way it works is that the antenna is on a swivel.  You drop your hand and it swivels towards what you are pointing at.  If you know where to look, then it will take you there every time.  If you don't, then you'll never find it.

It is a pure scam of the worst kind.  I'd hate to be charged to finding improvised explosive devices with something like this.  The perpetrators should be sued for billions of dollars for every false negative that leads to lethal consequences.
« Last Edit: 14/06/2011 22:11:53 by CliffordK »

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Offline steelrat1

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HEDD1 Explosive detector real or a dangerous fake?
« Reply #22 on: 15/06/2011 14:40:40 »
please have a look at this site link
HEDD1 its states that its an explosive detection device and designed to protect
people from hidden threats.. i work with explosives / pyrotechnics and this device looks like its a divining rod with as much science behind it as a Y shape Twig
they call it Pre-initialized magnetic interference.. so I'm asking you guys what do you think?

http://www.unival-group.com/unival_pdf_downloads/hedd1_manual_2010.pdf

most concerned that this is a genuine company that is selling this!
also if you think it works , i like an explanation please.

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Offline Don_1

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HEDD1 Explosive detector real or a dangerous fake?
« Reply #23 on: 15/06/2011 15:06:31 »
Would C4 or any other explosive have an effect on a magnetic field and even if it did, would a simple car ariel be a means to detect any such reaction?

I'm no chemist or explosives expert, but this does, as you suggest, smack of a divining twig.

I would rather put my trust in a well trained dog.
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.

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Offline imatfaal

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HEDD1 Explosive detector real or a dangerous fake?
« Reply #24 on: 15/06/2011 15:43:07 »
I am not sure if it is the same thing - but take a look here

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=26976.msg285562#msg285562

The forum members were pretty scathing
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Offline steelrat1

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HEDD1 Explosive detector real or a dangerous fake?
« Reply #25 on: 15/06/2011 16:27:12 »
it sounds like it is the same product,under diffrent management

see link  to Unival group - David Vollmar  an expert in blast protection, any one fancy asking him a question? on the link..
http://www.armedforces-int.com/askexpert/           (under electronic Warfare)

Armed Forces International its a military suppliers directory offering the latest military news, contracts and tender, information

anyway
it amazes me how theses people can get away with it.. and unfortunatly lots of Pen pushers behind their .Gov Desks dont know enough about science and tech to dismiss this rubbish but just see a cheap price tag !
« Last Edit: 15/06/2011 16:36:09 by steelrat1 »

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Offline imatfaal

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HEDD1 Explosive detector real or a dangerous fake?
« Reply #26 on: 15/06/2011 16:47:05 »
This sort of thing gets me so riled - per one of the posters in other thread; put that scumbag in his baseball cap in the middle of mine field, if he gets out then we might start to take him seriously.  If one person dies because of a misguided confidence in these snakeoil devices I hope they find some way of prosecuting the directors!
There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.  John Von Neumann

At the surface, we may appear as intellects, helpful people, friendly staff or protectors of the interwebs. Deep down inside, we're all trolls. CaptainPanic @ sf.n

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Offline SeanB

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #27 on: 15/06/2011 21:39:06 »
I can provide that minefield, and the nice thing is that it will be a real test for him. Angola and Mozambique are near to me, and both have large no go areas with mines in them. We will have to give him water though, and a GPS so he can walk for the 2 days to the nearest town.

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Offline Airthumbs

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #28 on: 08/07/2011 01:03:54 »
Wake up folks, this is how the arms industry works.  It's not about ethics or morality, it's all about the money.
Wholesale death makes a lot of money especially if you supply the guns, bullets, and bullet proof vests to both sides.  The trick is not to make it obvious or the general public will begin to cotton on!! 

Time for a change?  Stop making things that kill people! I've said it before and I will say it again as sometimes repetition seems to sink in a bit more, STOP MAKING THINGS THAT KILL PEOPLE!

Make other things, solar panels, wind generators, space ships, better medicines, anything else, cor blimy!!
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (Einstein)

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Offline imatfaal

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #29 on: 08/07/2011 10:01:03 »
AirT - I would be delighted if this was how the arms industry worked.  If you had read the thread you would have realised that this detector is a complete fraud and had no chance of ever working.  Arms based on mystical and mythical forces would be a distinct improvement over the sort that kill people.
There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.  John Von Neumann

At the surface, we may appear as intellects, helpful people, friendly staff or protectors of the interwebs. Deep down inside, we're all trolls. CaptainPanic @ sf.n

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Offline Airthumbs

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #30 on: 08/07/2011 14:50:03 »
AirT - I would be delighted if this was how the arms industry worked.  If you had read the thread you would have realised that this detector is a complete fraud and had no chance of ever working.  Arms based on mystical and mythical forces would be a distinct improvement over the sort that kill people.

I agree totally Imatfall, I missed the fact that it does not work!!
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (Einstein)

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Offline CliffordK

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #31 on: 09/07/2011 00:13:38 »
Wake up folks, this is how the arms industry works.  It's not about ethics or morality, it's all about the money.

Well, unfortunately it ISN'T everything that is working.

How many M-16's did the USA send to Vietnam with so bad of problems with jamming that some soldiers chose to use captured AK-47's?  It would seem to me that if guns were the "answer", then choosing guns that actually worked would be a priority.

Out of 8 helicopters sent for a single mission under President Carter, four or five of them failed before the mission was scuttled without the enemy firing a single shot (partly due to equipment failures, partly due to poor planning and execution).

And, whoever had the bright idea of covering troop transports with canvas while making bullet proof limos for the country's leaders?

There continue to be reports of vastly over-priced items sold to the government and military.  Some may be valid due to low volume, or certain specs, but often the government is just getting fleeced. 

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Offline Airthumbs

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #32 on: 09/07/2011 00:22:53 »
Do weapon detectors that work actually exist?  The technology is there, the electronic noses, electromagnetic sensors. 

I suppose the point is, it would be good if you do find yourself in a life/death situation, too have something that actually works, would be more then ideal!
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (Einstein)

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Offline CliffordK

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #33 on: 09/07/2011 01:40:21 »
Do weapon detectors that work actually exist?  The technology is there, the electronic noses, electromagnetic sensors. 

Yes,
They've been using them for decades in our airports.

Yet, none of them are handheld (well, except for those wands at airports), and the old basic stand-by, the "pat-down".  And don't forget our furry friends.

Miniaturization technology will come.

I would just rather not trust my security to a Ouija board.

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Offline Airthumbs

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« Reply #34 on: 09/07/2011 06:05:25 »
Speaking of AK47's you should watch this very short clip.  It is fake but I find each time I watch it the moment the chimp lets some rounds off has me in stitches...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhxqIITtTtU&feature=topvideos_film

Thanks for the info on the weapon detectors that do work!  Maybe they should use them to detect weapons after they stop making them....  [;D]
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (Einstein)

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Offline graham.d

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A weapon detector; how do companies get away with selling this?
« Reply #35 on: 10/07/2011 10:27:39 »
Whatever one's views on the arms industry, the sales of these "magic" detectors that end up putting people's lives at risk should not be condoned by anybody with an ounce of morality. However, it is part of the free market economy that anyone can sell anything they like and "let the buyer beware". I am not wholly sure where the law stands on this.

To go back to the arms industry in general, I don't think the huge overpricing and any lack of functionality is quite in the same league of deliberate deception and dishonesty as the above "bomb (and anything) detector", but the commonality is in the naivety and depth of the pockets of the potential buyers. This exploitation is condoned by successive governments in some countries (the USA, UK, France and many others) because it is a source of significant revenue. If the issue of the actual non-working of the detector had not been revealed it would not have surprised me if the company had managed to get a "Queen's Award for Exports".

Of course exploitative arms sales are not just limited to exports but are also pursued domestically. These are also condoned by governments and the respective armed services who, basically, are just not set up to get a good deal. The armed forces always want "the best" in terms of performance and assured quality and no politician is ever going to put himself in a position to be seen to argue to the contrary. The whole chain of supply then is geared to quality and life testing, that is mostly unnecessary, but enables the price of products to be elevated by factors of 5x, 10x or 20x. This is right down to every semiconductor component, nut and bolt. As more complicated components are built up these factors are effectively further multiplied up. This is without any alleged bribery and corruption and any subsequent employment by arms companies of retired politicians. I would bet that China could produce competing equipment less than 1/10th of the price. However the "free market economy" does not stretch that far yet.

As Clifford mentioned, some of the sophisticated stuff doesn't work well either. The AK47 is successful because it is dirt cheap to make, can be simply understood and disassembled and reassembled in minutes by anyone with a few minutes training, and is reliable and repairable. The major arms manufacturers must hate it.
« Last Edit: 10/07/2011 10:29:33 by graham.d »

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Offline RD

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Mr McCormick [of "ADE 651" fame ] is currently in on trial ... http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/british-businessman-sold-golf-ball-1750300

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Offline imatfaal

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There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.  John Von Neumann

At the surface, we may appear as intellects, helpful people, friendly staff or protectors of the interwebs. Deep down inside, we're all trolls. CaptainPanic @ sf.n

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Offline CliffordK

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Is there any reprimand for the person that signed the $40 Million (£26 Million) purchase order?  Who tested the device for efficacy?

In fact this was posted on TNS in 2009...  Why does the complaint claim that the devices were sold to the British and Iraqi military between 2008 and 2010 (one assumes inclusive).

Although, if Mr. McCormick's device lead to the death of anybody, he should be charged with homicide (pre-meditated?  negligent homicide?)  Without a doubt, there will be lawsuits following this decision.
« Last Edit: 23/04/2013 18:19:25 by CliffordK »

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Offline graham.d

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Got him at last! He still claims it works apparantly. It does beg the question that if he continues to claim it works, does he really have to prove it? It could be said that if he actually believes it works that he was not engaging in deliberate deception in selling it. How does the law stand on this? There are plenty of companies who make unrealistic claims for their products that could be said to be a matter of opinion.

Whatever the case, he hopefully can't continue selling this product.

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Offline CliffordK

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It should be easy enough to have him prove the effectiveness of the device in a double blinded experiment, where the experiment is set up, but neither he, nor anybody present at the test knows the true location of the explosives. 

One could, of course, set up the experiment where his life would be on the line.  He would have to correctly identify 5 IUDS, and pick up 5 tokens from locations in the test without bombs.  Correctly completing the task and he survives.  A mistake, and he blows himself up.

There may be an effect that some operators who believed in the device would have heightened awareness of various environmental cues.  But, of course, it isn't the device detecting the explosives, but rather the people detecting it.  And there is always a risk of both false positives and false negatives.

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Offline dlorde

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In fact this was posted on TNS in 2009...  Why does the complaint claim that the devices were sold to the British and Iraqi military between 2008 and 2010 (one assumes inclusive).

Although, if Mr. McCormick's device lead to the death of anybody, he should be charged with homicide (pre-meditated?  negligent homicide?)  Without a doubt, there will be lawsuits following this decision.
These devices and ones like them have been sold to police and military around the world - Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, etc. They make huge profits (cost a few dollars to make and sell for tens of thousands) and everyone down the line gets a cut. I heard one high ranking military officer (in Pakistan?) is awaiting trial for corruption over this.

The poor grunts at the sharp end, at control points in places like Iraq, apparently continued to use them despite lacking confidence in them because it meant they didn't have to get up close and actually search vehicles by hand, which could be extremely dangerous for them. They were effectively passing on the danger to the areas they're supposed to be protecting. There seems little doubt that many bombs have got past the control points and have claimed lives because of the reliance on these 'devices'. It's quite likely that Western forces have been caught up in these events.

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Offline evan_au

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It works on the placebo effect: If you think it's a bomb detector, you won't take your bomb there....

And if you think it might find you, you might look extra tense, and an observant operator will look more closely at you, causing you to get even more tense...

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Offline CliffordK

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It works on the placebo effect: If you think it's a bomb detector, you won't take your bomb there....
And if you think it might find you, you might look extra tense, and an observant operator will look more closely at you, causing you to get even more tense...

Except, if one looks it up on the internet and learns that it is 100% bogus.
Then one can be relaxed and just drive through the checkpoint.

Good criminals will try to learn all they can about technology they must evade.

Of course, then it may end up being a "random search" policy, but then the terrorists that are caught would just blow themselves up early.

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Offline graham.d

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Clifford, I think you missed my point. I know it would be easy to prove the efficacy of such a device (or lack of it) scientifically but I just wondered where the law stands on whether he is committing a crime by selling something like this unless it can be proved, beyond reasonable doubt, that he knew it did not work and was committing an act of deception. There are plenty of "snake oil" salesmen (and companies) out there, where the consequences of their deception is, admittedly, not so great, but where nothing is done to prevent them promoting their wares and accepting the idea of Caveat Emptor.

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Offline dlorde

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I think he can be done for fraud if he claims that it does something that it does not do. It is his responsibility to ensure the product performs according to the claims he makes for it.

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Offline graham.d

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Yes, you may be right. I am just thinking of people who sell lucky charms or magic crystals or, when it comes to it, a lot of products that are advertised on the media. How can people claim that their washing powder washes whiter that other powders or their brand of toothpaste, shampoo, baldness cure etc. are in someway superior to others (or in the case of baldness cure, work at all). Maybe it is down to exactly how they word their ads.

In this case I hope the bloke gets a significant time in prison and has his ill-gotten wealth confiscated (though I doubt this will happen).

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Offline CliffordK

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First of all, the government was scammed, not individuals, although as I've mentioned a few times, I believe the government should have done their independent tests before investing millions of dollars or pounds in a wonder-device.

In many cases, companies are forced to add a disclaimer. 
WONDER SHOCK TREATMENT,
not for medical use.

In this case, I consider the device as a critical safety device. 
If an airbag doesn't function properly, a company would be forced to recall it and replace it with a functioning device.  However, in this case, the technology doesn't exist to make these devices function properly, at least not without making a CT scanner or fluoroscope the size of a tunnel.  Perhaps he should be forced to replace every handheld device with a fully functional CT scanners and  fluoroscopes.

No doubt the company would declare bankruptcy before doing a recall.

It isn't clear how many deaths and injuries were caused by his device.  (Were any saved by the device?)

Now, one might say that these devices were in fact extremely effective as a deterrents.  Kind of like putting in a dummy camera system that doesn't monitor a store, but would-be thieves would think twice before committing a crime, not that it prevents all crimes, as cameras, of course, only monitor crimes.

One could possibly approach a military official, and rather than telling him that it is a "bomb detector", readily admit.  "I have a dummy bomb detector that I think would work as a deterrent for use in your low risk checkpoints".  Then sell it for a "reasonable price".  If one told the soldiers, eventually the secret would get out to the enemy.  Nonetheless, being a dummy detector, it should not replace other methods of searching at the checkpoints.

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Offline dlorde

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Now, one might say that these devices were in fact extremely effective as a deterrents.  Kind of like putting in a dummy camera system that doesn't monitor a store, but would-be thieves would think twice before committing a crime, not that it prevents all crimes, as cameras, of course, only monitor crimes.
Except that the bombers would know it was useless the first time they tried to smuggle a bomb past it. Which they have done. Many times.

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Offline CliffordK

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Well, certainly the insurgents would likely try to learn as much as they could about such a device.  Perhaps even try to steal one.  And, so it is only effective until everyone knows it is a joke. 

Of course, many bombers blow themselves up, so they may not report their findings back to their buddies.