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Sun, 26 Sep 2004

Girl with x-ray vision?

I just read in The Guardian (page 3, September 25, 2004) about a girl, Natasha Demkina, who allegedly has "x-ray" vision, and can see inside people and diagnose lots of disorders.

Is that so? First of all, there must be some kind of particle or energy that reflects from or is emitted from body parts of the object that can pass through any obstructions, like skin and other organs, along to Natasha. This is not unheard of, ultrasound could be an example. But these particles or energy would have to be detected and interpreted by some previously unknown sensors in Natasha, rather than just passing through her as well. This I won't accept on good faith.

Want my real opinion? Bollocks. Natasha made a good living back in Russia from her abilities. She said she was saving up for her medical studies. OK, let's see some evidence that she saved up her money and didn't just spend it all on other stuff.

Being realistic, I see a motive to lie. If there is a motive to lie that might explain something that is otherwise previously unseen and unexplained, Occam's Razor says that lying is exactly what is going on. With an ability like this, an absolutely extraordinary explanation and/or demonstration in a double blind scientific test is absolutely necessary to show that it is not merely a hoax, and the test must be repeated succesfully a couple of times by different teams. It turns out that CSICOP did a test, but it wasn't too successful (the test wasn't invalidated despite text-messaging happening during the trial, which might obviously help her cheat, and was expressly forbidden anyway).

Still in doubt? I'm not. I'm just sorry so many people are wasting their time and money on this when it could all be spent so much better.

To get a different perspective on this case, picture this: give a 16 year old girl an ultrasound scanner and an x-ray machine, and let her loose on the general public. Do you think she would be able to diagnose a lot of disorders?


posted at: 02:23 | path: | permanent link to this entry