It didn’t surprise me that Isaan villagers fell for the “energy cards” that were advertised as a cure-all, paying Bt1,200-Bt1,500 per plastic card.
Far more puzzling was the Army falling for the scam involving “dowsing rods” (aka GT200 devices), which its manufacturer claimed could detect explosives, drugs and dead bodies.
On top of that, Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, then chief of the Forensic Science Department under the Justice Ministry, insisted that the rods were scientifically effective. Yes, the same newly appointed Senator Pornthip of the outlandish hairstyle. Security forces spent almost Bt1.4 billion buying GT200 devices. Meanwhile, the cost in lives and injuries caused by using the fake detectors remains unknown.
We were advised that the GT200 depended on the user’s static electricity and so might occasionally fail when the user was tired. PM Abhisit Vejjajiva thus recommended buying a model that came with batteries. (British businessman Gary Bolton, the GT200’s inventor, is probably working on the new model, in prison).
It’s one thing when poorly educated Isaan villagers are fooled in this way. But the Army? A medical doctor? An Oxford graduate? If it proves anything, it’s that education doesn’t always work.