Flera tidningar (Ab, Exp, DN tex) har i veckan rapporterat om Rom Houben som legat i koma i 23 år. Som genom ett under har läkare nu upptäckt att han varit vaken hela tiden och nu kan han alltså kommunicera med omvärlden (Se film här eller här).
Skeptikern, James Randi, grundare av James Randi Educational Foundation, skriver på sin blogg:
This is yet another obvious example of abysmal, practiced, purposeful ignorance by medical personnel – including Dr. Snyderman and her staff who prepared this piece. I cannot understand how anyone, professional medical person or layman, can continue to believe that the farce known as ”Facilitated Communication” [FC] represents anything other than a fantasy that was begun back in 1977, when an Australian woman named Rosemary Crossley came up with the idea that autistic persons could express their thoughts via a keyboard when their hand was ”supported” by what she called a ”facilitator.” In 1989, Douglas Biklen, a sociologist and professor of special education at Syracuse University, eagerly took up her cause, and as a result vast sums were donated to SU by friends and family members of autism victims – money that was simply wasted in futile ”research.”
James Randi har gjort sig känd för sin envisa kamp att avslöja scharlataner och lurendrejare, och för sin belöning på 1 miljon dollar till den som kan upprepa paranormala förmågor under kontrollerade former. Han skriver om tekniken som används:
The ”facilitated communication” process consists of the ”facilitator” actually holding the hand of the subject over the keyboard, moving the hand to the key, then drawing the hand back from the keyboard! This very intimate participatory action lends itself very easily to transferring the intended information to the computer screen. In the video you have just viewed, it is very evident that (a) the ”facilitator” is looking directly at the keyboard and the screen, and (b) is moving the subject’s hand. The video editing is also biased, giving angles that line up the head of the subject with the screen, as if the subject were watching the screen.
Most skeptics believe that the only one doing the communication is the facilitator. The American Psychological Association has issued a position paper on FC, stating that ”Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that facilitated communication is not a scientifically valid technique for individuals with autism or mental retardation” and describing FC as ”a controversial and unproved communicative procedure with no scientifically demonstrated support for its efficacy.”
Det hela skulle alltså kunna vara ett rent påhitt, där offret är komatosa Rom Houben. Ser man på tv-inslagen känns det ju inte osannolikt.