Yet more skeptics have spoken out: Randi, Orac, and Novella, on the case of the Belgian man who is claimed to have awakened from a persistent vegetative state, and is even, supposedly, writing a book about his 23 years trapped in an unresponsive body.
It’s possible that he has recovered to some degree, but the evidence hasn’t been shown. Supposedly, he was diagnosed to have some functionality with a poorly described brain mapping technique (one summary I read in Nature suggests that it was looking for areas of the brain that lit up in response to external stimuli, but there’s more to consciousness than that), and then the media is going ga-ga over Houben’s reported words…but he isn’t saying anything! It’s all done with this bogus “facilitated communication” nonsense, which is thoroughly unconvincing. There are videos of him tapping out answers with his eyes closed, guided by an assistant staring intently at the keyboard.
Here’s a simple test. He’s being asked questions in English and answering in Flemish. Find a facilitated communicator who doesn’t speak Flemish and have him or her do the same routine. I know what the result will be: either Houben will suddenly start answering in English, or the font of words will dry up.