Tuesday, February 16, 2010

GT200 Update

For some background, here's my first post on the GT200. Following up...

The Science Ministry here in Thailand has conducted tests on the widget. It failed. It seems that extreme caution was followed in minimizing loss of face (sia na), red faces (na daeng), stepped-on-shoes, and so on. Phase I of this delicate operation consisted of banning the public and press from the actual tests.

Face-saving phase II consisted of some twisty phrasing on the part of the prime minister. He said the device "detected" concealed C4 in only 4 of 20 tests, for a 25% success rate. Ignoring the PM's cruddy math, if this $30,000 dowsing rod performed no better than random chance, it can't be said to have "detected" anything. As us farangs say, even a broken watch is perfectly accurate twice per day.

The PM also says that existing GT200s will have to be used in conjunction with other devices, again avoiding hurting the feelings of sensitive generals.

One can really sense the divide between scientists and politicians here. Most of my compadres would like to see all the culprits investigated and outed, with the failure of superstition on vivid display, an opportunity for public education properly exploited. On the other hand, I imagine the politicians saying, "Look, we've canceled future purchases, now it's time for you guys to shut up and go back to your labs." I've no doubt as to who would win this little battle.

Pseudo-scientist Pornthip, mentioned in my original blog on the subject, offered the following piece of warped logic upon learning of the GT200's failure: ""I know it's not scientific equipment, but forensic scientists can use it effectively."

Through the entire hoopla, not a single company rep appeared in the media to defend the GT200. It's funny how a company with such amazing salespeople can have such lousy post-sale support, isn't it?

By the way, there are perfectly legit bomb detection devices out there. They're hugely expensive, require real training, electricity, and upkeep, and can't detect all bad substances known to humanity at a distance of four kilometers. They work, however:

Note: I'm not sure of the source of the Harry Potter image. It's the sort of thing that amplifies quickly via mass e-mailing amongst Thais.

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