The Locator Locates! (Danie Krugel)

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Sentinel (August 04, 2007, 19:48:13 PM):
Hark! Herewith my vision of the future...
Mefiante (September 19, 2007, 12:43:13 PM):
Last night’s 3rd Degree programme on e–TV featured a rebroadcast of the piece on Danie Krugel by Charlene Stanley & crew from a little more than a year ago. The report apparently won some journalism prize or other and this fact was, of course, taken to mean that the report is actually good, responsible coverage of the issue. The programme followed its customary format with a live lead-in by Debora Patta, followed by the report. In her lead-in, Patta gave the reason for the rebroadcast (the prize), before posing the question whether this was revolutionary or a hoax, a question not pursued any further. Unfortunately, we don’t have the necessary means, otherwise we would have recorded the episode for subsequent closer scrutiny. However, we took down some notes while the programme was on air, so here’s a brief outline thereof with occasional comments.

After the rolling of the title, the viewer is informed via subtitles of the shocking missing-persons statistics in SA, especially those of children. The narrator (Stanley) suggests that it would be wonderful if these people could be located by using a few strands of their hair. She goes on to say that “some inventors” in Bloemfontein have cracked just this problem: tracing the source of a sample of “signature material.” We may easily be mistaken in this, but both Dr 'Luthon64 and I seem to recall that it was at around this point that DNA was first mentioned in the original broadcast a year ago, but there is no mention of it this time. Dr Matie Hoffman, a physicist of undisclosed affiliation, is shown, saying that there is no known way such a device can work as described. Hoffman speaks for less than 15 seconds and his words mark the only moment of scepticism in the entire report.

Next up is a shot of Danie Krugel toying with a radio-controlled helicopter, about to take off in a grassy field. His voiceover intones gravely that one hundred years ago flight was thought to be impossible, just as now his technology is thought impossible. Bad analogy, Danie: scientists had at that time already figured out many of the basics of fluid dynamics; that’s why they kept on glueing wings with an airfoil cross-section on their experiments. They knew theoretically how flight should be achievable, while there is no known science, past or present, that can account for what you’re claiming. Anyway, Krugel intones a dire warning to offenders that they can run but not hide because he’ll be onto them.

Danie then goes on to describe how the Leigh Matthews case was the turning point for him that prompted him to adapt some “navigational equipment” to human hair, which equipment he had previously used for locating minerals. He says that using a “proper hair sample,” its source can be traced in a “very short time.” A testimonial is then provided by one Pierre Honnibal whose son disappeared. Krugel allegedly found him in “20 minutes” and this convinced Honnibal that Krugel’s canonisation is a mere matter of time. Honnibal’s endorsement is followed by a further endorsement, this time from an investigator named Erasmus speaking Afrikaans, while subtitles give an English translation. Erasmus asserts in no uncertain terms that Krugel “helped” him, and that while he doesn’t know how Krugel’s technology works, he is totally convinced that it does work.

The next section then reports on some impromptu testing of Danie by Stanley and her crew. The first test involves a crew member hiding in the vicinity of a small hill. They take a cutting of his hair. The viewer is told that the target’s cell ’phone is left behind and that he only has a small video camera and a GPS to be used for later verification of his position identified by Krugel. Meanwhile, Krugel himself is located “about four kilometres away,” taking measurements after the hair sample has been handed to him. Stanley tells us that Krugel won’t allow them to film him during the test. There is no mention of any safeguards against cheating, e.g. a third party watching and relaying information to Krugel.

The second test again involves a crew member hiding in a coffee shop in downtown Bloemfontein. Krugel is told that the target is somewhere in a suburb called “Pelissier,” while actually in a neighbouring suburb called “Fichardtpark.” We are shown a tuft of hair held between a thumb and the first forefinger joint (presumably cut from the target’s head) and it is clear that very few, if any, hair roots are included. This is handed to Krugel who takes a few measurements, allegedly “gets a signal” and eventually locates the target to within a few hundred metres, though it isn’t reported just how long the procedure took. A picture of a map is shown indicating Krugel’s prediction and the actual location of the target but it is shown too briefly and indistinctly to conclude anything useful. This time no comments are made about what equipment the target had, and again no mention is made of any safeguards and/or controls against cheating by Krugel.

The next test involves a “smaller version” of Krugel’s equipment, deployed in the search for an infant who had been hidden earlier under a blanket in a house. A hair cutting is given to Krugel who then locates the child but again many important details are simply skipped over in favour of the wow-factor. The fourth test is a real case in which a domestic servant had stolen jewellery and other goods from her employer and then disappeared. Krugel is shown inspecting a bucket of dirty water, presumably the remains of a mopping operation of the servant’s quarters. We are told that Krugel finds “three strands of hair.” He then sets his gear up at night, supposedly “to give the suspect enough time to get home.” Or maybe to line up his ducks – take your pick. Next thing, Leon Rossouw appears. Rossouw is a private investigator and occasional partner to Krugel, and he specialises in locating people using their cell ’phones and the cell infrastructure, an important piece of information that is simply omitted in Stanley’s report. Rossouw investigates for the “next few days,” and eventually finds the suspect “about 200 metres” from Krugel’s pinpoint.

Mefiante (September 19, 2007, 12:44:25 PM):
… Continued.

The fifth and final test is again a real case in which four teenage girls went missing in Bloemfontein. Pictures and a hairbrush are given to Krugel who “asks around” if anyone has seen the girls, but without any success. Why, one wonders, would Krugel need to “ask around” if he has this magnificent invention? After all, it is almost a certainty that there would be at least some hair on the girl’s hairbrush Krugel was given, a point that wasn’t raised at all. The girls turned up later that evening at a shopping mall (so they couldn’t have been all that missing). They were asked where they had been between 14:00 and 16:00 that day, which was when Krugel did his location shimmy. It turns out that the girls weren’t far from the place Krugel had identified. It wasn’t made clear whether the girls had been moving around during the period in question, nor what other attractions besides shopping malls there were in the area, nor whether any of them had cell ’phones.

At the end of the report, Charles Nqakula, SA’s Minister of Safety and Security, is shown saying how magnificent Krugel’s invention is, how criminals must beware, how much this will do to advance respect for SA’s science in the world, and how they are “collaborating closely” with the inventors. Oh, and Nqakula briefly mentions getting DNA from hair as the signature material.

Now that we have listened fairly dispassionately to what Stanley and Krugel would have us believe, we have the following urgent request to anyone who wants to put Krugel to the test: get two or three performing magicians to help design and observe the tests because they know what to look for and how to avoid being tricked. Because as long as reporters like Stanley pretend that (a) their “experiments” and “tests” are credible, and (b) that they have done their job properly by airing a single physicist’s dissenting voice, they are lying to both the public and to themselves.

moonflake (September 19, 2007, 19:08:26 PM):
Thanks for the summary - I never caught the original 3rd degree show, or this rescreening, and unlike that paragon of journalistic integrity, Carte Blanche, they don't seem to think it's worth offering online transcripts. So it was interesting to see that they didn't really do anything different in their piece than CB did in theirs... Susan Puren must be mightily miffed at being passed over on this one, seeing as her stories might as well have been filmed from the same outline.
Mefiante (September 19, 2007, 20:55:58 PM):
The Stanley report on Krugel predates the first of the two Carte Blanche inserts by about four months and is the first TV report we're aware of that covers the topic, apart from it possibly giving Carte Blanche the impetus for their efforts. What puzzles me is that 3rd Degree's Debora Patta can be such a bloodhound when challenging social or political injustices and abuses, and simultaneously such a puppy in matters where confrontation is equally apropos. As I hint at in my summary, the situation is portrayed in such a way that the casual observer would be tempted to think that the orthodoxy is reluctant to acknowledge, let alone accord due recognition to, the lone genius inventor for whose claims there are heaps of substantial evidence. That is, the man is Galileo Krugel.

Sad, such ignorance. :(



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