The Mountain Express, a newspaper in the liberal bastion of North Carolina, Asheville, ran an article on one of those alt-med quackeries, “medical intuitives”. These are people who claim to be able to see inside you and diagnose diseases, and the newspaper article was completely unquestioning. A reader, Robert J. Woolley, wrote in to complain, and listed some of the claims made.
Specifically, Teresa Eidt claims, “I was shown a cancerous ulcer on the internal wall of [a massage client’s] abdomen,” and “I scan the body system by system.” Kimberly Crowe is said to claim “that when she placed her hands on people, she could see things in their bodies.” Rachel Frezza claims that her ability in this regard was objectively tested: “Frezza was given no information about [10 patients] or their conditions. Only by accurately reporting the conditions did she pass the course.” Tammy Coffee is quoted as saying, “I see the physical body like an X-ray machine, like I have a camera and I am going inside the body … I will look through, for example, the entire small and large intestine.”
The editor’s reply reveals the problem.
Editor’s response: Mountain Xpress does not endorse therapies, and since we are not health professionals ourselves, we are not in a position to evaluate the efficacy of any healing modalities. In this case, we’d also note that medical intuitives do not diagnose illness; there is a legal restriction on their activities. Xpress does share stories about the many modalities for health that are practiced in our region, letting readers know what practitioners are doing and saying as part of covering the entire wellness scene in Asheville. The “Medical Intuitives” article is one of those stories.
I’m not a medical doctor either, but I’m capable of asking questions, like “How do these abilities work?” and “Have your diagnoses been objectively tested?” and “I’ve been to a real doctor, and have had one discrete biological anomaly identified…can you tell me what it is?”. Real doctors can tell you what their procedures do and how they work, and can show you medical literature in which their procedures are constantly evaluated by universally assessable criteria.
Why can’t the Asheville Mountain Express do that? Do their journalists even bother to ask questions?
If I set up a Nasal Manipulation shop — it’s a new health modality I just invented, in which I promote wellness by bopping people in the nose and relieving their brains of excess pressure by the vigorous expression of nasal blood and realignment of facial bones — would the Mountain Express reporter come by for a treatment and write a blandly positive article on me for the paper? I could use the money.