My Grandmother’s Magic Disk

We will have my grandmother’s funeral today. She turned one hundred and one last August. She taught English, and told me to speak quietly in order to get a crowd’s attention. Her life began with the introduction of electricity and ended with us having a video conference with our cousin on a cellular telephone. I used to go to her house all the time for sleepovers while growing up. She had so many fun and interesting things to play with, including a magic disk which could answer yes or no questions.

It looked like a thick plastic cylinder measuring two or three inches across as well as in height. The top and bottom sides had a metal depression into which A ball would fit. The ball had a chain attached to it, forming a pendulum.

If you imagine the disk divided into four sections, the north and south sections said YES, and the east and west sections said NO. Interestingly, on the other side, the disk had BUY and SELL written on it. This would supposedly allow someone to get advice on the stock market. This item came from the golden age of spiritualism.

My grandmother gave me simple instructions. To use it, just think about a question with a yes or no answer, then pick up the chain and allow the ball to swing. She explained it in a very simple way; your mind knows the answer, and the muscles in your arm move the chain. She never got into any supernatural theories.

I don’t even know how she ended up with it. The family story goes that her sister used a divining rod to find water on her farm, but my grandmother had a down to earth outlook on life mixed with a sense of humor. She would have regarded it as a fun curiosity.

This item has a name. We call it a dowsing pendulum. I know that skeptics will point to studies which show inaccurate results, and I would certainly never advise buying and selling stocks on its recommendation. Still, I will fondly remember going to my grandmother’s house where I could ask her magic disk questions and seemingly get responses. I’ll probably never see it again.

RIP Ruth Talbot 1916-2018

Siri vs. a Dowsing Pendulum

Just for fun I decided to use a dowsing pendulum to predict the results of the NFL divisional playoffs. Which will have better results, dowsing or Siri? I didn’t have my grandmother’s magic disk, but I followed her instructions. Siri uses Yahoo Sports to source its data.

Game Dowsing Siri Winner
Eagles vs. Falcons Eagles Falcons Eagles
Patriots vs. Titans Patriots Patriots Patriots
Steelers vs. Jaguars Jaguars Steelers Jaguars
Vikings vs. Saints Vikings Vikings Vikings

To my shock, I picked all four of the games correctly. Many picked the Steelers to defeat the Jaguars. The Saints came from behind and almost beat the Vikings, but the Vikings scored an unexpected touchdown in the last seconds of the game and won. I know that statistically I had a one in four chance, but it did feel eerily magical when the Vikings scored that touchdown.

I dowsed on Friday night, but have the idea to write this article while watching the Eagles game, so didn’t publish the results beforehand. Make of them what you will. A believer would say that I have tapped into my natural abilities, and might even suggest that my grandmother has amplified my powers. My grandmother would attribute them to coincidence and probably tell me to get back to more serious work. If nothing else, I’d say that it shows that we will never tire of trying to find ways to predict sporting events.