Sunday, May 13, 2007

Introduction

Note: If you only have time to view one clip, please see the *second* clip at THIS LINK (CLICK HERE). It runs about 5 minutes and tells much of the story.

This article contains video clips of the tests I performed of Homeland Safety International's (HSI) Sniffex explosive detector. These tests were conducted April 26-27, 2006 in Anaheim, California at the Seventh Annual California Safety and Security Conference. The conference was held for emergency response and law enforcement personel and HSI had an exhibitor's display booth at the meeting.

I asked the president of the company, Paul Johnson, and the Vice President for sales, Lee White, if they would allow me to do a double blind objective test of Sniffex using smokeless powder samples and table salt "controls". They agreed and, to their credit, cooperated fully with the tests which took about four hours. I saw nothing to suggest that they tried to "cheat" or in any way influence dishonestly the test results. On the other hand, several of Mr. Johnson's requests and remarks during the course of the testing suggest that he is not familiar with scientific method and double blind testing.

This blog is mainly about the video and audio clips I obtained during the test. I apologize for the less then ideal visual quality of the clips. I had to conduct the tests and document them at the same time which means that some of the time, I could not point the camera accurately or hold it perfectly steady. Still, a careful examination of the video and audio provides an accurate description of the tests.

For a much more comprehensive look at the history and an analysis of Sniffex, I strongly recommend that you read this excellent blog, done by another author:

"QUESTIONS ABOUT SNIFFEX" (this is a clickable link)

The author of that blog was also kind enough to post the full text of all emails and letters which I exchanged with Sniffex/Homeland Safety International about these experiments.

Following the complete failure of Sniffex to detect 90 grams of smokeless powder explosive and four loaded 9mm. cartridges, I expected some followup. I made several attempts to find out what additional investigation or tests Homeland Safety International had made to account for and correct the failure of their Sniffex detector. These attempts are documented on the blog linked above. The only thing resembling an explanation I received was a copy of brief email from "the inventor" saying the amount of explosive was small (it wasn't) and they should try more tests with the same gun powder. Although I offered to retest Sniffex with any amount of any explosive they liked, nobody contacted me to repeat the tests.

To this day (May 2007), Sniffex is advertised worldwide as an effective explosive detector suitable for such diverse tasks as screening aircraft luggage, large sports events, and even land mines. The evidence I obtained is that it would be extremely dangerous and totally foolhardy to use Sniffex at all for the detection of nitrocellulose/nitroglycerin based explosives. There is nothing I have found on the internet or elsewhere that suggests that Sniffex would be effective at finding any explosives of any type and there is much evidence to show that it is not.

The video clips run in length from just under a minute to just over five minutes each. The eight clips total about 27.5 minutes and cover the essentials of demonstrations and experiments which took about 4 hours in real time. I hope anyone considering risking their life and limbs using Sniffex to detect explosives will take the time to see and hear them all.

At the end of the blog, you will find some disclaimers about trademarks, some information about me, and an explanation of how the videos were obtained.

Note: The video clips are stored in Youtube. Youtube sometimes experiences short delays. If the clips do not appear, please be patient or reload the blog page.

I welcome official comment from Homeland Safety International (HSI), the manufacturer or the inventor of Sniffex and I will be happy to post any text or video of reasonable length that they provide me in response to the information below.

To contact me, simply leave a comment in the blog which includes your contact information and I will be in touch with you. To write a comment, please click on the link COMMENTS which appears after each posted segment. The link is in small type but you can find one at the end of each post directly after the time stamp on the post. Comments are moderated to avoid spam so expect some delay between writing and the appearance of your comment on the blog.

9 comments:

Pigasus said...

I hope there is a special circle of hell for hucksters and charlatans who would endanger emergency services personnel in the name of making a buck.

Anonymous said...

Any recommendation for detection of explosive product reliable according to your experience ? Hidden under road or in the motorcycle !

My name Smartchai
E-Mail : smtuchinda@yahoo.com

Blog Owner said...

I regret that I can't recommend a specific detector. However, if you use the protocol in this report or something even more cautious to test a detector, you have a start on how to check one. If a screening test like the one here is failed, that's the end. If it's passed, it's just the beginning. Before you trust someone's life to that detector, you'd better make sure you know the rate of false negatives over a wide variety of conditions! Obviously nobody has tried proper testing of dowsing rod type detectors because it's very obvious when you do that they do not work. That was easy. Proving that a good detector does work as advertised is much more difficult.

john lichtenstein said...

Great report!

I love the conversations with the hotel staff.

bobycochin said...

hope you already knew the device
this is real stuff .

Blog Owner said...

Hi Bobycochin. I have no idea what you're saying. Dowsing isn't "real stuff" and Sniffex is a proven fraud whose providers have been found guilty by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US. In addition, people have died as a result of the use of other dowsing rods to look for explosives in Thailand. It's on Youtube live and very gory.

瘋狂的 said...

書山有路勤為徑,學海無涯苦作舟..................................................

Blog Owner said...

From here on, I will not be posting messages not in English. Please use Google Translate if this is not one of your languages. Thank you.

Pär Larsson said...

http://www.slate.com/id/2274797/

"Divining rods" still being used in Iraq. Journalists from Washington Post don't even know how fraudulent they are, even after the recent exposure of fraud by Mr. Ernesto Londono, working for the same publication!
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/02/AR2010110203290.html