The American Military is making fun of a bomb diving rod.

Despite major bombings that have rattled the nation, and fears of rising violence as American troops withdraw, Iraq’s security forces have been relying on a device to detect bombs and weapons that the United States military and technical experts say is useless.

The small hand-held wand, with a telescopic antenna on a swivel, is being used at hundreds of checkpoints in Iraq. But the device works “on the same principle as a Ouija board” — the power of suggestion — said a retired United States Air Force officer, Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack, who described the wand as nothing more than an explosives divining rod.

So a diving rod which is being critiqued as a Ouija board is less effective. Really? What if I said, no it probably will be just as effective. Before you start thinking, “Christian are you smoking something? Have you lost it?” I would reply think about it. Take a moment and think on how this scheme could work.

Ok, thought about it? So how could it work? Probabilities.

In the book “Financial Modeling of the Equity Market”, page 94.

It is however, somewhat disappointing and discouraging that the portfolios relying upon mean-variance optimization do not perform much better that the portfolio using naive equal weights.


In practice, for forecasts with large estimation errors (which is unfortunately not uncommon), it is well known that equally weighted portfolios often outperform mean-variance optimized portfolios over time.

The issue is that the military and they state it in the article have no real way of finding explosives, because if there was they would be using it. So they have to rely on random checking. And it is here the problems begin because random is not random among humans. Humans have biases and as such will make wrong decisions.

After all why on earth do I get pulled over in security every second time I fly and others have NEVER been pulled over? There is a pattern, and hence the “random” is not random. Whenever I get pulled over I say, “You know you are wasting your time because I get pulled over so often that I would not even dream of doing anything funny.” Their usual response is, “this is random.” I say, “sure it is, I work in statistics, probabilities, and random and this ain’t random!” It is at that point they look at me, shut up, and grunt through the procedure knowing that I trapped them!

One time at a Swiss border the completely took apart my car to find, drum roll, NOTHING! The Swiss border was pissed because they spent 20 minutes looking for nothing and that I was being friendly and smart assed about it. I have found what bothers security people the most is being friendly, cooperative and smart assed about their judgements. BECAUSE you question their ability to do their jobs without being hostile. They feel like you outsmarted them, meaning somebody clued into the patterns and hence is fooling them.

So like the portfolio, humans are showing biases that will not be encountered with the “diving” rod. In other words the Iraqis are searching in a truly random manner and most likely are find more bombs than the “experienced” American Military personal.