Design and Violence



Fraud and magic

Devices very much like the one seen here were marketed and sold at high prices to armed forces around the world as being capable of detecting any number of chemicals, drugs, and explosives. They were bought for as much as US$60,000 each for use in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. After concerns were repeatedly raised around the device’s capabilities over a number of years, a case was brought against the company producing it, resulting in a conviction for fraud and a ten-year jail sentence for the company’s founder Jim McCormick in 2013. The device displayed in the exhibition is a fake bomb-detector constructed from a novelty golf-ball finder — we purchased the same golf-ball detector as the fraudulent manufacturer and made our own. Like the original, it contains no working parts, relying completely on the power of suggestion to the user. Variations on the ADE-651 are still in use around the world today.

Image courtesty Todd Frantom [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons