Druid, Where’s My Car Crash?

The modern world has given us all manner of road safety initiatives, from speed cameras to road bumps, all the way down to that 70s Green Cross Code advert where Alvin Stardust told some girls they’re out of their tiny minds. Look it up on youtube, I’m not even kidding.

Still, having 70s glam rockers with chipmunk names yelling patronising insults at children isn’t the stupidest method employed in an attempt to promote road safety, given that reports from Austria this week suggested that druids have been working with local road safety authorities in an attempt to mitigate the dangers of accident blackspots.

As the Metro explains:

“Austrian authorities say druids have been so successful in dealing with motorway accident blackspots in one area that they plan to extend the project nationwide.  As well as using quartz standing stones to restore the area’s ‘natural energy’, the druids have come up with a cheaper modern-day option – burying plastic slates with magnets in the ground.

Arch druid Ilmar Tessmann was called in as a last resort after a high number of fatal accidents were reported on a straight stretch of motorway near Salzburg.  He said the crashes were caused by radiation from a nearby mobile phone mast disrupting the area’s normal ‘terrestrial’ radiation.  Installing the monoliths has successfully counteracted that, he claimed.”

The Metro reports that the rate of accidents has decreased from 6 per year, to zero in the 2 years since the druids have been applying their magic. Scientists, surprisingly enough, are somewhat skeptical, with a range of questions springing to mind. Namely:

  • Where is the proof that electro-magnetic radiation affects car accident rates? What frequency of signal is responsible – is it a narrow band, or a wide band. If the latter, why aren’t radio signals, and even light, equally at fault?
  • Why do disruptions in terrestrial radiation cause accidents?
  • What do the magnets do? And the plastic, in fact?
  • How can it be shown that it was the intervention of the druids which was responsible for lowering accident rates? Given that a reduction of 6 crashes per year down to 0 could well be explained by more mundane events – natural statistical variation, changes to the conditions before that stretch of road, etc.

Still, the Metro doesn’t offer any of these questions, naturally. In fact, what it does offer is a picture of the druid, all bearded and in a woolen cloak, squatting with a dowsing rod, captioned “Druid Ilmar Tessmann tunes into the energy waves and apparently helps to reduce the number of fatalities at an accident blackspot“. Which is interesting, because the druid pictured isn’t actually Ilmar Tessman. I know, because I looked at Ilmar’s website, and he’s actually a reasonably elderly, non-bearded man. Who doesn’t appear to be squatting. And isn’t wearing a cloak. Or holding a bent coat-hanger. A bit of Metro fail, there, then.

While Tessman’s site is in German, which I don’t read at all, I was able to locate and pick out some of the test cases for roads he used his magic on. One such blackspot was a crossing on the B92 Görtschitz valley road in Carinthia.

  • In 1994, there was an accident in which 2 people were seriously injured
  • In 1995, 1 person was injured
  • In 1996, the magic stones were added to the road, and in that year there were no human injuries, but a few accidents where deer got hurt.
  • In 1997, there were no accidents
  • In 1998, again there were no accidents.
  • In 1999, there was an accident were someone was seriously hurt. However, as Tessman explains, this occurred because when he examined the magic stones he found they were covered in dust and soil, which had blocked their energy. Presumably mud can stop the radiation from mobile phone masts, or perhaps stop the magnetic force coming from the magnets in the stone or plastic. Obviously.

Now, of course, without being a fluent German speaker, it’s tough to get to the bottom of all of the stats Ilmar presents, and I’ve invited him onto the show to discuss his findings, language-barrier permitting of course. But, as has been said many times before, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs, and so far all I can really find are statistically-insignificant variances, plenty of special pleading, and some uncritical and sensationalist headlines.

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  1. #1 by Mathew Partridge on May 28, 2010 - 12:50

    Hahahaha bloody awesome, I will have to remember to keep a crystal in my trouser pocket to stop my mobile from giving my balls cancer and to stop the b/f from crashing his car when I’m a passenger

  2. #2 by Mike on May 28, 2010 - 16:36

    I prefer the Joe Bugner ad tbh


  3. #3 by Jon d on May 29, 2010 - 11:46

    Doesn’t sound that bad in the first place compared to what we im britain think of as dangerous roads like the cat & fiddle or the woodhead pass.
    I can see a case for blocking mobile phone signal to road users if that was actually possible but it doesn’t have anything to do with modifying the earths magnetic field.

  4. #4 by Michael Gray on May 29, 2010 - 12:04

    Matthew, it is well known that only Gypsies have crystal balls, not Druids.

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