Madeleine McCann, the Observer, and their special magic quantum DNA box (with secret energy source)

October 7th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in media | 66 Comments »

Madeleine McCann is a 4 year old girl who went missing from her parents’ holiday hotel room in Portugal 5 months ago. Danie Krugel is an ex-policeman in South Africa who believes he can pinpoint the location of missing people anywhere in the world.

He does this using his special magic box, which works by something to do with “quantum physics”, “complex and secret science techniques”, a secret energy source which nobody is allowed to know about, and a strand of the missing person’s hair or some other source of DNA. His secret method can miraculously pinpoint the missing person’s location anywhere in the world on a map, using their DNA and international GPS technology, so he says.

This might sound ridiculous to you, but today Krugel is featured in a completely serious news story in the Observer newspaper about the hunt for Madeleine McCann, where they report – in all earnestness – that he has found traces of her body on a beach in Portugal. This is not a quirky story about an optimistic eccentric. There is no mention of his top secret quantum technology; instead they explain that “forensic DNA tests” by Krugel have revealed traces of Madeleine’s body in a specific location.

To avoid any ambiguity I’ve reposted their article in full below, because as we know from their recent and entirely bogus front page MMR scare, news stories like this can sometimes disappear from the Observer archives, unannounced and without trace.

Psychics telling your future at the fairground are fine. When it comes to newspapers printing horoscopes, I couldn’t care less. But exploitative misreporting of this scale on this subject is contemptible. You’re as capable as I am of reading about Krugel’s work, and so are the Observer, but still this reputable UK newspaper is presenting magic quantum box tomfoolery as serious DNA evidence on the whereabouts on a little girl who has disappeared and may well be murdered.

Or maybe Krugel’s onto something – I’m perfectly prepared to be convinced – in which case perhaps the Observer could run us through the evidence for his magic quantum box. And while they’re getting that piece together, maybe Krugel would like to apply for James Randi’s excellently passive aggressive one million dollar prize for anyone who can prove their paranormal abilities.

EDIT:

Okay, to be fair, a friend of mine who works as king geek in a forensic science lab points out that the Observer have at least led the field in being unbonkers on the “real” “McCann DNA evidence” “story” a month ago.

observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2165453,00.html

And more than that, it seems the Observer are in excellent company.

Here’s another totally straight faced piece in the Telegraph:

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/08/nmaddy108.xml

And the tabloids have picked it up too, although at such length that you can at least tell, with their coverage, that there is something fishy about the Krugel device. Even so, according to The Sun “Krugel has scoured Pria da Luz in Portugal and the surrounding area for clues using hi-tech equipment he developed which uses a person’s DNA to track them down.”

In The People Krugel says: “The technology I use picks up a trace using DNA and complex and secret science techniques. The trace was strongest in one area. The machine was highlighting the same co-ordinate and it kept drawing me back there. It left me convinced Madeleine was there. I’m convinced Madeleine’s body is in Praia da Luz. Too much time has been spent accusing Kate and Gerry and not enough searching for Madeleine.”

According to the News of the World “his method uses DNA fragments and Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite technology to find missing persons, alive and dead.” The story also appears in the Daily Mail.

Here’s your man Danie Krugel.

Danie Krugel

And here he is discussing his invention in a South African documentary on his work. “If you get a signature sample of something… let’s call it organic or non-organic… a very small sample. I have developed a method to use that small sample and to create data that I use to search for its origin. So you transmit and you receive.” [Interviewer]: “Is there anything metaphysical involved? Are you psychic?” Krugel: “I‘m a Christian and I put it clearly… this is science, science, science! That is what is so fantastic about it. It is tied to the science we hear but people didn’t realise it… it’s just science. That’s it.”

Science, science, science! That is what is so fantastic about it.

Forensic DNA tests ‘reveal traces of Madeleine’s body on resort beach’

Mark Townsend and Ned Temko
Sunday October 7, 2007
The Observer

Traces of Madeleine McCann’s body were found on a Portuguese beach weeks after she was reported missing, during tests by a former detective renowned for locating abducted children.

Forensic analysis by retired South African police superintendent Danie Krugel claimed to reveal Madeleine’s body had either been temporarily buried or was still beneath the beach at Praia da Luz, the resort from where she disappeared on 3 May.

Based on a combination of Madeleine’s DNA sample and GPS satellite technology, Krugel’s findings were taken so seriously by Portuguese detectives that officers twice searched the beach.

Article continues
Krugel, of the University of Bloemfontein, claims that his technique is able to locate a missing person anywhere in the world using only a single strand of hair. He became famous in South Africa after helping a television crew locate the whereabouts of five South African girls who went missing during the Eighties. Last July the retired detective spent four days in Praia da Luz following a request for assistance from Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann.

‘He clearly identified an area of the beach where Madeleine may have passed through or was buried,’ a close friend of the McCanns said yesterday.

Krugel’s report of his findings to Portuguese detectives eventually led to British officers being asked to bring in sniffer dogs to supplement the search for Madeleine. The subsequent reaction of the dogs to Kate’s clothing – the so-called scent of death – led to the couple being declared formal suspects over the death of their daughter.

The results of Krugel’s investigations come amid mounting concern that the Portuguese-led investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine has stalled with an increasingly exhausted core of ‘half-a-dozen’ CID officers awaiting potentially crucial final forensic results from laboratories in Birmingham.

Reports in the Portuguese press claim that the original team of more than 200 police who were involved in the frantic early days of the investigation has now been whittled down to a small core who have been working without holidays and are ‘completely exhausted’.

The inquiry, increasingly managed by UK-based detectives, appears once again to be focusing on trying to find a missing child rather than on the role of Madeleine’s parents in their daughter’s disappearance.

www.carteblanche.co.za/Display/Display.asp?Id=3233

Secret Science Tested

Date : 03 December 2006

Ruda Landman (Carte Blanche presenter): “Can you remember when the fax machines first became part of the office set-up? When the computer replaced the typewriter? The first time you used an auto teller, the first cell phone call you made? It wasn’t all that long ago, yet at the time it was mind boggling.”

Today it is the most common thing to do. You probably don’t even think twice about it.

Ruda: “Now imagine this: A person disappears, you find a few strands of hair left on a brush, you put those hairs into a gadget and that points out on a map where in the world that person may be.”

That’s exactly what a group of Bloemfontein businessmen claim they are able to do.

Steering the project is Danie Krugel, former police superintendent and current Director of Health and Safety at the Central University of Technology of the Free State.

Danie Krugel (Inventor): “If you get a signature sample of something… let’s call it organic or non-organic… a very small sample. I have developed a method to use that small sample and to create data that I use to search for its origin. So you transmit and you receive.”

Ruda: “Is there anything metaphysical involved? Are you psychic?”

Danie: “I‘m a Christian and I put it clearly… this is science, science, science! That is what is so fantastic about it. It is tied to the science we hear but people didn’t realise it… it’s just science. That’s it.”

Given the massive potential of the invention, Danie refuses to divulge exactly how it works. He says the energy source is his most precious secret.

Meanwhile in the Mirror they’re even more detailed on the science:

www.sundaymirror.co.uk/news/sunday/2007/10/07/i-know-where-maddy-body-is-98487-19909854/

I KNOW WHERE MADDY BODY IS

EXCLUSIVE THE SEARCH FOR MADELEINE DAY 157

Expert pin-points spot on Algarve beach

He accuses police of ignoring his report

By Nick Owens Nick.Owens@Sundaymirror.Co.Uk 07/10/2007

Danie Krugel Danie Krugel

 

Related Articles

Desperate Kate and Gerry McCann have hired a professional “bodyfinder” who says he has pin-pointed the exact spot where their daughter Madeleine is buried.

Scientist and former South African police colonel Danie Krugel secretly flew out to Portugal to meet the couple before spending a week tracking the four-year-old’s DNA trail.

Using cutting-edge technology, Krugel led Portuguese police to an area of beach 500 yards from where she vanished.

Detectives took his finding so seriously that they sealed off the entire area.

But in what could turn out to be yet another astonishing bungle, Portuguese police never bothered to dig at the spot.

Now, as sacked police chief Goncalo Amaral is off the inquiry and a new officer, Carlos do Carmo – dubbed “Portugal’s Robocop” – takes over, Krugel is heading back to reinvestigate.

A source close to the McCanns said last night: “Kate and Gerry are pleased he’s returning. They worked with him before and want to see his leads investigated.”

The former South African detective has an amazing 90 per cent success rate in tracing missing people.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Mirror, he said last night: “I’m preparing to fly to Portugal again because the investigation seems to have come to a halt.

“I’m convinced Madeleine’s body is in Praia Da Luz.”

The McCanns turned to him in July to spend a week investigating Madeleine’s disappearance after being deluged with emails from members of the public recommending him as a “genius”.

He said: “Gerry sent me a strand of Madeleine’s hair for DNA purposes, which had been removed from her coat.”

Krugel became a household name in South Africa when he created a DNA tracking device which solved a 19-year mystery about the whereabouts of six schoolgirls snatched by a paedophile.

He told last night how he used the same method to track a potential burial spot for Madeleine on the beach in Praia da Luz.

The area was sealed off and Krugel suggested sniffer dogs be brought in to further pinpoint the spot where they needed to dig. Yet ironically, when the dogs arrived they were used by cops to turn the finger of suspicion on to Gerry and Kate.

Portuguese police were more excited about the dogs’ reaction when they searched the McCanns’ Ocean Club apartment and hire car.

It means the area on the beach has still not been searched properly by officers and no dig has ever taken place.

And it came amid new reports from Portuguese newspaper Correio yesterday claiming police believe Madeleine was buried on the beach in Praia da Luz soon after her death.

Krugel added: “After I conducted my investigation I gave the police a map pinpointing the spot I think Madeleine is. And I handed over a 2,000 word report on what they should do next.

“I said sniffer dogs should be brought in to start the search. But I warned that this alone was not enough as dogs are only a success in missing person hunts three out of four times.

“That is why I also suggested a fingertip search of the area and a dig of the spot I located. But if this has not been done, the police really need to start from scratch and investigate that area again.”

He added: “Too much time has been wasted accusing Kate and Gerry and not enough has been spent searching for Madeleine and following up on leads.”

Krugel’s device apparently combines quantum physics and global positioning technology to pin-point a body on a map.

His invention has already helped solve the riddle of a man reported missing by his family.

South African cops had no clue where he was – until Krugel was called in.

He used his DNA expertise to track down the body to a hospital mortuary where he had lain unidentified for days after being knocked down by a car.

Krugel claims his invention works much like a metal detector but tracks minute DNA traces rather than metal.

Krugel landed in Praia da Luz with his machine on July 17 and embarked on a four day search – with the blessing of Portuguese detectives. He said: “I had a meeting with Kate and Gerry where I explained exactly how my technology works and what I was going to do.

“They knew a lot about my work already because people had posted messages about me on the Find Madeleine website.

“The police were fully aware of the work I was about to do.

“I set off with some colleagues and we conducted an extensive search of Praia da Luz using the machine.

“I scoured many different places across the resort and spent time near ports and other exit points in Praia da Luz.

“We spent 16 hours a day searching everywhere – nothing was left unsearched.”

Under Portuguese law Krugel is forbidden from revealing the exact spot as he has mentioned it in a police statement. But sources close to the investigation told the Sunday Mirror that it is a spot on the beach in Praia da Luz near where Gerry regularly went running.

Krugel said: “The technology I use picks up a trace using DNA and complex and secret science techniques. Every day the trace was strongest in this one area.

“The machine was highlighting the same co-ordinate and it kept drawing me back there. It left me convinced that Madeleine was there.

“My machine has a 90 per cent success rate, so I am convinced this is the place where Madeleine is buried.”

Krugel added: “The Portuguese police took my findings seriously at first, but now the work seems to have stopped. In the short time I have had with Kate and Gerry it is clear they are really concerned that the search for Madeleine is getting put to one side because of rumour and speculation. To them, all that matters is that the search for their daughter should go on day and night.”

Krugel’s DNA-tracking machine was first featured on South African TV. Respected news programme Carte Blanche introduced Krugel’s invention last year showing how it helped recover the remains of six children killed by a paedophile in the late-1980s.

The police knew they had been abducted and murdered by paedophile Gert van Rooyen and his female accomplice Joye Haarhoff.

But where the pair had buried the children was one of the biggest criminal mysteries in South African history – until Krugel was called in.

He used his machine to track down an area near to Van Rooyen’s home and in a dig of the area he pinpointed human remains which were found buried deep underground.

The programme claimed that DNA evidence recovered from the skeletons found in the dig proved the bones were those of the missing children. Krugel – head of health and safety at the Central University of Technology in the Free State – is regularly drafted into help in missing children enquiries by South African Police.

The McCanns’ decision to fly Krugel to Praia da Luz is one of many steps they have taken to conduct their own search for Madeleine, missing now for 157 days.

As “arguidos” – suspects – Kate and Gerry retain the right to request that certain investigations are carried out.

Krugel said: “Kate and Gerry are right to try anything at all to find their daughter.

“You can’t just rely on the police and they have done all they can to think of other ways of looking for Madeleine.

“I have told them I am ready to return to Praia da Luz or wherever they need my help.

“All that matters is to keep searching and to keep trying to find this little girl.”

moonflake.wordpress.com/?s=krugel

www.randi.org/jr/2007-08/081007reason.html#i4

www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=13&art_id=vn20070802104403549C501923

www.news24.com/News24/Columnists/Guest_Column/0,,2-1630-1647_2156231,00.html

Etc.

Sigh.


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66 Responses



  1. Simon Howard said,

    October 7, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    Who can doubt a moustache like that?

  2. hairnet said,

    October 7, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    I was stood in wh smiths thismorning looking at the groaning mass of sunday papers thinking about which one was to be mine. For the last 5 yeas it has automatically been the observer, but with their mmr twaddle i chose the tlegraph instead, thnakyou to the observer editor for validating my choice.

  3. r_bray said,

    October 7, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    “this is science, science, science!”

    Well that’s alright then.

    Now when I sit my geology exam in four days can I use the same argument?

  4. Beej said,

    October 7, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Ye gods. You could (I did) easily walk away from a casual reading of that thinking that actual DNA had been found.

    Simon, the moustache is splendid but it’s the hair that seals the deal.

  5. RS said,

    October 7, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Oh for fuck’s sake. Surely there needs to a be clear out of Observer journalists, or at least some serious retraining over how to cover science related stories.

  6. Acleron said,

    October 7, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    “uses quantum physics”
    This alone should have alerted any respectable journalist to a probable fraud.

    A quick internet search reveals that Kruger’s claims vary over time, another symptom of a fraud.

    One claim is that body’s can be located to within metres. This should be easily proved without having to disclose the technical details of its workings, why has this not been done.

    Journalists who peddle this hurtful nonsense are either easily misled, in which case they should find a less demanding profession or know full well that this is fraud and publish it to sell their newspapers.

  7. csrster said,

    October 7, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    I feel your pain, Beej.

    I feel ever so slightly soiled at having taken the headlines this morning at face value.

  8. rongraves said,

    October 7, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    The Obs seems to be becoming a cross between the Daily Mail and National Enquirer. I don’t think there’s any doubt the hacks know this is complete bollocks – it’s the editors responsible for seeing such dross gets into print who need emptying out.

  9. zeno said,

    October 7, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    I did think it was bogus when they mentioned ‘DNA sample and GPS satellite technology’ and I immediately thought of dowsing. Thanks to Ben for investigating this further.

    How can the Observer be made to ‘see the light’ and perhaps even apologise for their gullibility and insensitive reporting?

  10. bazzargh said,

    October 7, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    I only bought the Observer today for “Stop Making Sense”, didn’t think that was an editorial guideline.

  11. jackpt said,

    October 7, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    FFS * infinity:

    They’re all at it.

  12. Skeptico said,

    October 7, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    “Krugel, of the University of Bloemfontein, claims that his technique is able to locate a missing person anywhere in the world using only a single strand of hair.”

    – Sounds like a testable claim. He should apply for Randi’s $ Million.

  13. Beej said,

    October 7, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    Well, I’ve had a moan to the Observer’s reader’s editor, I’ll see what he’s got to say – that headline is shocking.

  14. CYvonne said,

    October 7, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    I gather he’s been invited several times to apply for Randi’s $ Million. Strangely silent apparently.

    What really annoys me is that it is very easy to quickly read the Observer article and especially the headline as a serious story. At least the Sunday Mirror gives enough detail so you can work out that nothing has been found, that Krugel isn’t a forensic scientist and that the device has never been tested by anyone else.

  15. Ed Yong said,

    October 7, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    It made me chuckle to realise that Krugel is essentially saying that he’s a real life version of the little girl from Heroes who can track anyone in the world with her mind.

  16. j said,

    October 7, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    I only bought the Observer today for “Stop Making Sense”, didn’t think that was an editorial guideline.

    Yep, and previous week was ‘sign o the times’ – are they trying to tell us something?

    At any rate, it’s rumoured that after their autism/MMR fiasco, “The Scott Trust got involved [and] editor Roger Alton had to go to before them and receive six of the best like a naughty schoolboy.” I wonder if anyone will get ‘six of the best’ for this little gem…

  17. Despard said,

    October 7, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    @15: omg spoilers! Some of us are still following series 1 on terrestrial TV, thank you so very much.

  18. marcdraco said,

    October 7, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    It’s not really worth bothering watching – the whole thing is an anticlimax of epic proportion. All about making money from a flagging idea.

  19. le canard noir said,

    October 7, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Did not buy the Observer today, but read my friends (coughs).

    What really annoyed me was this story “Windscale radiation ‘doubly dangerous'”

    www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/oct/07/nuclearpower

    If I had not narrowed by blog down to silly quackery I would be writting about this utter rubbish. Its rubbish at so many levels that it is stinging my eyes.

  20. Dr Aust said,

    October 7, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    At any rate, it’s rumoured that after their autism/MMR fiasco, “The Scott Trust got involved [and] editor Roger Alton had to go to before them and receive six of the best like a naughty schoolboy.” I wonder if anyone will get ’six of the best’ for this little gem…

    I heard from somewhere that the Guardian and Observer were in discussions about whether to merge to produce essentially a “7 days a week Guardian”.

    Might I suggest that, if this is true AND it comes to pass, rather few of the Absurder editorial and science staff are likely to be “required” in the new merged regime?

    The Grauniad is hardly exemplary in science and technology reporting and editing, but it is light years ahead of the Absurder, which has comprehensively lost the plot in virtually all areas other than UK politics and sport. Did anyone else note that the Absurder thought Britney Spears worthy of a staggering three pages in the main news section today?

  21. Andrew Clegg said,

    October 7, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    Dear Ben,

    Please get something based on this printed next Sat even if you have to tone it down a little to get it past the Guardian-Observer ‘close ranks’ effect.

    Cheers,

    Andrew.

    PS “secret science techniques” — gotta get me some of those!

  22. Robert Carnegie said,

    October 7, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    The sacking rumour seemed to be short-lived, I thought. As for the abuse of “Maddie”, it’s a shameful little industry and most of the press has dirty hands, but that doesn’t excuse this particular piece.

  23. Diotima said,

    October 8, 2007 at 7:22 am

    Yes I was stunned by this endorsement of snake oil, but recalled that the Observer featured the Barefoot Doctor for many years; this led to the best online bear-baiting I have ever followed in the Guardian online, when the BD was available to answer your questions. Hilarious questions, which annoyed Roger Alton so much that he forced Observer/Guardian hacks to write pseudonymously saying how much the BD had helped them. This whole discussion has been wiped from the Observer/ Guardian site. This is a shame as it helped me through a terrible asthma attack one night—so the BD did some good; wild laughter is a great source of relief. The Observer has gone very cool on the repulsive BD after his involvement in a sex with patients scandal. I’d guess that Roger Alton has forgotten his phone numner now.

  24. outeast said,

    October 8, 2007 at 8:45 am

    I saw the headline and assumed it was a bona-fide story – never got as fasr as the meat, so thanks for drawing this comedic gem to my attention!

    When I saw the headline I was mildly – and morbidly – curious as to how DNA rather than, say, blood or skin tissue would be found, but I assumed it was a subeditorial curiosity rather than woo.

    What a load of bollock, though!

  25. muscleman said,

    October 8, 2007 at 9:04 am

    Thanks for that Ben, I claim early morning tiredness (awake between 3am & 6am) for wondering vaguely about how much dna from a buried body must get diluted and how he was teasing specific sequences out of all that contamination…

    I needn’t have worried, it was all done by quantum woo. Must get me some of that.

  26. wilsontown said,

    October 8, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Yes, I must see if I can use the phrase ‘secret science techniques’ in a published journal article…

  27. muscleman said,

    October 8, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Well you can’t get away with claiming patent or commercial secrecy in your methods section and still get your paper published. After all if you want to tell the world about your work, the world asks that you tell ALL. Something else the purveyors of various forms of woo don’t seem to get about the difference between science and them. It is also why pesky scientists are always asking ‘how does that work then?’, they are conditioned to a world where that is a normal and expected question.

  28. wilsontown said,

    October 8, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Actually, in my own field a lot of work is done with industry data that is proprietary. A fair amount does get published in circumstances where no-one but the authors has been able to see the original data. So commercial secrecy is claimed, and the papers get published. I agree that this isn’t the right way to do it, but it does happen.

    hawk-handsaw.blogspot.com/2007/08/personal-perspective-on-industry.html

    I’m pretty sure you couldn’t get away with talking about ‘secret science techniques’, though. Even if these guys come perilously close:

    www.badscience.net//?p=494

  29. ShatterFace said,

    October 8, 2007 at 11:10 am

    ”Who can doubt a moustache like that?”

    Didn’t harm Nietzsche’s reputation.

    I saw the headline but didn’t but the paper, so like many others I thought there might be something to the story.

    Clearly there isn’t.

    Bullsh*t is one thing, shameful bullsh*t is another.

    If a TV exec can be forced to stand down over a trivial bit of editing to a documentary promo that he had no responsibility for, then someone should go at The Observer.

  30. Chris Hunt said,

    October 8, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Why can’t he use his magic DNA box device to locate a decent barber?

    Sad to see that the Observer has sunk so low – tosh barely worthy of the Daily Express (which has had Maddy on the front page every day for as long as I can remember).

    “The subsequent reaction of the dogs to Kate’s clothing – the so-called scent of death – led to the couple being declared formal suspects”

    Could these dogs not be retained by the Observer to detect the so-called scent of bullsh1t in their science reporting?

    “Krugel – head of health and safety at the Central University of Technology”

    Sounds like one step above caretaker to me. Probably one step too many…

  31. NoneMoreNegative said,

    October 8, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    @ 29/Chris:

    What with his special secret science, I’d think that should be:

    “Krugel – head of health and safety at the Central University of New Technology”

    *ahem*

  32. non_sceptic said,

    October 8, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Have a look at www.daniekrugelfacts.com

  33. Citizen Deux said,

    October 8, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…

    The sheer desperation of people in a circumstance like this will inevitably unearth all manner of “predators”.

    Whether it is the repugnant Sylvia Browne or this South African tehcno-gypsy, misery always attracts.

    The lack of strong science training continues to rear its head in our society – leading us to ever more ridiculous claims.

  34. Dr Aust said,

    October 8, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    Diotima wrote:

    Roger Alton… …forced Observer/Guardian hacks to write pseudonymously (to Guardian online) saying how much the Barefoot Doctor had helped them

    Is that really true, Diotima? How deeply disheartening.

    One would really like to believe that there is a market for one broadsheet daily, and one Sunday, with a commitment to getting the facts right and providing sensible analysis, rather than generating “entertainment” (e.g. spiritual healing claptrap, or three pages of Britney-balls).

    And if true I am especially disappointed in Roger Alton, as I already was over the MMR garbage, and here again with the Krugel-shite. Alton’s standard pitch is that the Absurder is about “a very high standard of journalism” – a line that has been growing ever thinner of late. I would have expected better of Rog, given his quarter century on the Guardian. Incidentally, Alton’s dad was a semi-legendary figure around Oxford Univ, a real English gent of the old school, so Rog should have “doing things properly” in his bones.

    One suspects the Absurder is in trouble again (hence the Grauniad merger talks) and that Alton is on the outs some time in the next 12 months. He is 59 and must be a short bet for early retirement in the near future.

  35. Bolly said,

    October 8, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    The Barefoot Doctor online chat:

    talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?50@barefoot@.77468140/314

    :)

  36. mark townsend said,

    October 8, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    I share a name with one of the observer journalists, but i would like to point out that is all i share with him.

  37. stever said,

    October 8, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    As a long time reader I actually find the recent antics at the Observer really depressing.

    basically keep the monthly mags and free cds, and bin the ‘news’ section.

    Lets hope there is a full retraction of this utter shite next week.

    has anyone sent a complaint letter yet?

  38. j said,

    October 9, 2007 at 12:27 am

    As a long time reader I actually find the recent antics at the Observer really depressing.

    basically keep the monthly mags and free cds, and bin the ‘news’ section.

    yeah, it’s getting to the point where the Observer inverts the old joke about playboy – ‘I only buy it to read the articles’.

    In the case of the Observer, I feel that I need to defend myself by making clear that I only buy it to listen to the DVDs, look at the (food) pictures in the mags, etc :)

  39. jodyaberdein said,

    October 9, 2007 at 6:44 am

    Well, we could all send him a strand of hair and ask to be located at a specific time GMT?

    Actually with the postal strike this may well never work.

  40. csrster said,

    October 9, 2007 at 9:16 am

    Did anyone ask him why his magic woo box only detected where Madeleine supposedly had been and not, for example, her current whereabouts?

  41. Dr Aust said,

    October 9, 2007 at 9:26 am

    I have invented a new term for Mr Kruger – although perhaps someone else may have coined it already.

    “Corpse dowser”.

    Suggest if the Absurder‘s article had said “psychic corpse dowsing” rather than “forensic analysis” it would have read (and been read, more importantly) quite differently.

  42. ShatterFace said,

    October 9, 2007 at 9:56 am

    “Corpse dowser”.

    Genius!

    If we use this term enough the Absurder might begin to feel some sense of shame.

  43. Andrew Clegg said,

    October 9, 2007 at 9:56 am

    I noticed one of the papers this morning had a headline along the lines of “Police confirm accuracy of DNA tests”, which while referring to a completely different set of tests (samples from back of hire car I think) could put entirely the wrong idea in the minds of the inattentive after the weekend woo-fest.

    Andrew.

  44. Diotima said,

    October 9, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Dr Aust: well I read this in ‘Private Eye’ and so the source is probably Francis Wheen. Certainly the hilarious online dialogue with BD includes a few glutinous messages of praise for the said fraud. Alton himself erupted in fury when a reader questioned the wisdom of publishing BD’s ramblings. You can find a couple of interesting pieces by a genuine doctor, Neville Goodman; in one he gives an account of trying to get the Observer (‘a broadsheet not a tabloid’) to justify its decision to publish such dangerous nonsense. The feeble defence is ‘He [BD] is very popular’.

  45. Diotima said,

    October 9, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    Bolly: thank you so much. I had thought this gem had been erased. Once again reading some of the better efforts (‘I have just suffered a compound fracture. . .’)has eased my asthma—another success for the Barefoot Doctor! While he was still being published in the ‘Observer’ I had though of writing him a faux-naive letter asking whether I could give up the medication which I take for atrial fibrillation and try manuka honey/kidney massage /chanting instead. But frauds like the BD have considerable sensitivity in the area of being set up.
    Samuel Johnson said of Rousseau that he was so vain that he would have consented to being hanged in public as long as his name were prominently displayed on the gibbet. And the BD is a fine example of this overwhelming vanity. He also thinks that he is a sex God.

  46. Trez75 said,

    October 9, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Perhaps his box uses “Homeopathy-Quantums”?

    Take traces of DNA in the air & sea, which are so minute in number as to be undetectable (to sniffer dogs and police officers who have better things to be doing than following the theories of a quack). Then run through a compound of water, sugar (and maybe a Q-link pendant for good measure) in order to establish a location of a missing body.

    The secret technical details are out :)

  47. BrickWall said,

    October 9, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Also wonder why his technique doesn’t pick up everywhere someone has ever been as we shed suitable DNA samples left right and centre.

    It must be an amazing piece of kit too to be sensitive enough in its DNA “fingerprinting by magic” not to get confused with the little girl’s parents or siblings either.

    Just announced this year’s Nobel Physics award and surprised to see it wasn’t him! Perhaps forgot to get his friends in Florida to nominate him!!

  48. Trez75 said,

    October 9, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Ahhh, its the Homeopathy/Quantum principle that it doesn’t matter that the water into which the Homeopathic remedies are placed (i.e. not placed) have probably been in contact with hundreds of thousands of other substances previously. Perhaps his woo-box has some kind of “ion cleansing device” built into it which can automatically filter out “foreign” DNA traces?

  49. moonflake said,

    October 9, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    The claim in the last article that Danie’s device found the remains of the 6 missing girls in the Van Rooyen case is an outright lie. He and local journalists found human bone fragments, amongst pig, dog, cat, chicken and other detritus, in an abandoned lot near Van Rooyen’s house (that was once a dump), after digging for days in two football field sized areas. Tests of the fragments identified most as male, some as female, of unknown origin, belonging to humans who had died at an unknown age, an unknown amount of time ago, of unknown causes, and too degraded to match to DNA samples of the girls. I would be surprised to dig anywhere in the occupied world and not find something similar.

    Danie also claims his device finds living people, so it doesn’t really have anything to do with corpses. He also claims his device can find diamonds and oil. Finally, he is able to extract DNA from hair clippings found in shaving razors, i.e. the kind that has no root attached. He has also only very recently begun claiming it’s all quantum. It would all be rather funny if people like the McCanns weren’t falling for it.

  50. Bogusman said,

    October 9, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Ah the barefoot doctor. Mercifully I had forgotten all about him but this thread has reminded me. He once appeared on BBC London (Vanessa I think) and I emailed a complaint while he was on the air. To his credit the producer emailed me back immediately and asked exactly what I was upset about. When I replied that he was giving air time to a dangerous lunatic who could kill his listeners if they were to take im seriously I didn’t hear any more…..

  51. misterjohn said,

    October 9, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    I find it somewhat disturbing that even though the McCanns are doctors, they are willing to believe an obvious charlatan. It’s true that the loss of a child under any circumstances affects the parents’ mental state, but there remains some rationality, surely?

  52. pv said,

    October 9, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    misterjohn said,

    October 9, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    “I find it somewhat disturbing that even though the McCanns are doctors, they are willing to believe an obvious charlatan. It’s true that the loss of a child under any circumstances affects the parents’ mental state, but there remains some rationality, surely?”

    Maybe one should be suspicious rather than disturbed.

  53. Robert Carnegie said,

    October 10, 2007 at 1:55 am

    Don’t believe that the McCanns really have anything to do with White-Man-Science Witch-Doctor. The McCanns are a giant newspaper Not-True Zone. I’m not quite convinced they exist at all.

  54. Steve Senior said,

    October 10, 2007 at 10:45 am

    I don’t know who is the bigger fuckwit – Danie, for using Madeline to peddle his lies, or the various editors who approved these stories.

    Actually I do. It’s the editors. They are all cretins.

  55. john barleycorn said,

    October 10, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    The barefoot doctor chat linked to above is truly hilarious and a thumping good read!

  56. Diotima said,

    October 10, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Yes John barleycorn: the dialogue with BD restored my faith in human nature with its impressive niagara of dark cynicism. Many thanks to the person who pointed that this thread was;’slightly agressive’ and suggested that contributors should all ‘form a circle and begin a healing chant’. You saved my life at 4 a.m.I assure you that reading this ended one of the worst asthma episodes of my life. Perhaps Glaxo-Wellcome could get out and patent/fund dark or medium dark cynicism?

  57. Dr Aust said,

    October 10, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    I like the idea of “dark cynicism”.

    Any relation to “dark matter”, as in Phillip Pullman’s excellent His Dark Materials

    Dark times indeed.

  58. Dr Aust said,

    October 10, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    Just read some of that Barefoot Doctor link – truly a resource to treasure, thanks Bolly.

    Perhaps someone ought to mirror it somewhere in case the Graun get wise to its renewed fame and take it down?

    I always thought they missed a trick calling him the “Barefoot Doctor”. In the light of his later infamy I think it should have been

    “Tantric Sex Machine”

    or more allusively:

    “Tao-er of Power”

    Taking Barefoot as an example, perhaps Danie Krugel could be re-christened the “Barefaced (lying) Detective”.

    But only if he shaves off the HairBear ‘tache.

  59. Aletheia said,

    October 11, 2007 at 10:38 am

    It’s not the only link to Pullman. His Dark Materials features a *quantum bomb* that uses snipped off hair, placed in a mysterious box, to locate someone in another universe. Remind you of anyone? Of course, Pullman’s writing FICTION…

  60. cvb said,

    October 11, 2007 at 11:11 am

    That barefoot doctor post is truly outstanding. Not being an Observer reader I was not aware of this tosspot. When was his column excised?

  61. Ambrielle said,

    October 11, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    I too, was unaware of that BD thread. Fantastic! I wish I’d known at the time.
    I like the “Darkness Remover [i]candle[/i]” which he apparently peddles. :D

  62. Dr Aust said,

    October 11, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    Nice spot Aletheia. Which of the trilogy is that in?

    Do you suppose we could persuade Pullman to sue Danie “corpse dowser” Krugel for stealing his idea?

  63. pv said,

    October 11, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    “Tao-er of Power”

    Haaa ha ha… :-)

  64. Cunningham said,

    October 12, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    Many years ago Viz did a spoof column called “The Barefaced liar”
    It was hilarious.

  65. Robert Carnegie said,

    October 13, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    It’s just sympathetic magic. Same as voodoo. Probably in Macbeth. Take some of the victim’s hair or nail clippings and you can voodoo the person. So it doesn’t really belong to Pullman. Now if Dr Detecto markets an alethiometer, they’ve got him without a leg to stand on.

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