Michael R. Lynn
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Divining rods and public opinion
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Jacques Aymar's spectacular feat of detection made him an instant celebrity; and it immediately sparked a huge controversy. The reason for the dispute centered around the fact that Aymar had tracked down the killers with a divining rod, a forked stick usually used in the dowsing trade to find underground springs and ores. The discussion sparked by Aymar's solution to the double murder provides a unique perspective on the creation of public opinion during the early stages of the age of Enlightenment. Several dowsers appeared during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, allowing some continuity to the debate over its validity. During the 1770s, the debate picked up steam again with the appearance of Dauphiné's other famed dowser, Barthelemy Bléton. Bléton received his most active individual support from a minor savant named Pierre Thouvenel.

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