nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Conscious" Comatose Man a Hoax

Thanks to Quackwatch for bringing this side-splitting story to a close.  A Belgian man, in a persistent vegetative state for 20 years, was reported to be capable of "facilitated communication."  His doctors reported that scans showed signs of consciousness.  With the assistance of a facilitator, the man was able to type sentences on a keyboard with one finger.  The job of the facilitator was to guide the man's hand over the keyboard.

The story was widely reported in the news, the media unquestioningly accepting the fact that a second "conscious" person was doing the guiding.  This was the point where I couldn't help laughing, sad as it is that this man is in a coma.

CNN's story "Trapped 'coma' man: How was he misdiagnosed?" is still available online.  So much for getting the facts.

Did the media lose their capacity to question a seemingly impossible result?

It took an outside group to test the man, with the facilitator present, but not able to see the keyboard, to establish that no consciousness was involved: the typed result was nonsense.

Next time you read a story in the newspaper, remember this one--my number one pick for the Brain Dead Media Award.

Doc D

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