theodp writes "Widely deployed in Iraq and promoted by military leaders, BusinessWeek reports the ADE 651 bomb-detecting device had one little problem: it wouldn't detect explosives (earlier Slashdot story). 'The ADE 651,' reports Adam Higginbotham, 'was modeled on a novelty trinket conceived decades before by a former used-car salesman from South Carolina, which was purported to detect golf balls. It wasn't even good at that.' One thing the ADE 651 did excel at, however, was making money — estimates suggest that the authorities in Baghdad bought more than 6,000 useless bomb detectors, at a cost of at least $38 million. Even though ADE 651 manufacturer James McCormick was found guilty of three counts of fraud and sentenced to 10 years in prison in May, the ADE 651 is still being used at thousands of checkpoints across Baghdad. Elsewhere, authorities have never stopped believing in the detectors. Why? According to Sandia Labs' Dale Murray, the ideomotor effect is so persuasive that for anyone who wants or needs to believe in it, even conclusive scientific evidence undermining the technology it exploits has little power."
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