Michel Eugène Chevreul (1786 – 1889) was a French chemist whose work with fatty acids led to early applications in the fields of art and science. He is credited with the discovery of margaric acid and designing an early form of soap made from animal fats and salt. He lived to 102 and was a pioneer in the field of gerontology.
Chevreul was a determined enemy of charlatanism in every form, and a complete sceptic as to the "scientific" psychical research or spiritualism which had begun in his time (see his De La baguette divinatoire, et des tables tournantes, 1864).
His research on the "magic pendulum", Dowsing rods and table-turning is revolutionary.
In his paper "De la baguette", Chevreul explained how human muscular reactions, totally involuntary and subconscious, are responsible for seemingly magical movements. In the end Chevreul discovered that once a person holding divining rods/magic pendulum became aware of the brain's reaction, the movements stopped and could not be willingly reproduced.
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