October 22, 2011

Even Kids Can Spot Adult Bull^!#$& ... And Publish It in a Medical Journal!

Though often adults find kids to lack intellectual rigor and devoid of rational thought, sometimes it's the other way around.

Take Emma Rosa, age 9, who debunked the idea of therapeutic touch back in 1998. She watched a TV program about nurses who practise “Therapeutic Touch”, claiming they can detect and manipulate “human energy field” by hovering their hands above a patient. Emma recognized this adult nonsense and conducted a scientific study for a 4th grade science fair to not only prove it, but also publish her results in a peer-reviewed medical journal JAMA. She found that 21 experienced practitioners of therapeutic touch were unable to no more than chance able to detect a human hand under their right or left hand hidden by a screen (so the therapist can't see).

There are other instances where kids have similarly debunked quack medical treatments, though not necessarily published in a scientific journal. Take Rhys Morgan, age 15, who after being diagnosed with Crohn's disease and while internet searching on this topic to educate himself, came across Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) that claimed to cure not only Crohn's, but also cancer, Aids, malaria, and basically most things short of actual death. Being 15, he was able to do his own research to evaluate this "amazing" treatment through which he discovered that MMS is in essence industrial bleach. Rhys has since campaigned hard to eliminate MMS.

Beyond quackery, I often see it in my ENT clinic where elementary school-aged kids offer utterly profound observations that go way beyond their years.

In a time when potential leaders and politicians are espousing claims in the media that lack rational thought and intellectual rigor (watch the news) and even the educational system is being attacked for teaching scientific principles like evolution in favor of Biblical explanations, I sometimes wonder if we need children like Emma Rosa and Rhys Morgan to come to our rescue even if we are adults who should know better.

A Close Look at Therapeutic Touch. JAMA. 1998;279(13):1005-1010. doi: 10.1001/jama.279.13.1005

The man who encourages the sick and dying to drink industrial bleach. Guardian.co.uk Wednesday 15 September 2010 07.30 EDT

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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