From time to time, a news article surfaces in which pseudoscience and the occult are responsible [yet again] for the death of an innocent person through "harmless alternative medicine" and the like. A famous example would be the young girl [Candace Newmaker] who was killed in 2001 in a session of "rebirthing therapy," a dangerous pseudoscience that runs on the dubious assumption that being psychologically "reborn" will "cure a child of behavor problems." FYI, the scientific community has condemned rebirthing therapy as "dangerous pseudoscience." The girl's death was more than a tragedy, it fulfilled the criteria of NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE!! The child's parents could find no solution to their little girl's behavior problems in legitimate medical science, so they made the decision that would seal Candace's doom, they contacted pseudo-medical "therapists" that practiced rebirthing therapy in a desperate hope that it would cure their child. They were most likely aware that rebirthing therapy is ineffective [as demonstrated in experiments using the scientific method that proved that it was as effective as a placebo - a placebo is a non-treatment that causes some alieviation of symptoms because the subject simply BELIEVES that they will be healed, yet these effects are usually only mild and temporary, if a treatment is no more effective than a placebo, then it is not a legitament medical practice]. The child was given standard rebirthing therapy. In otherwords her entire body was wrapped very tightly in a blanket while a 4 adults SAT on her!
Poor Candice REPEATEDLY screamed through her blanket prison that she couldn't breathe and pleaded and then begged to be let out. Not far into the therapy the 10 year old little girl began to emit hysterical shrieks, screaming that she was going to die. All the while she was being crushed by the four adults under a total weight of 673 lbs [305.9 kg]. Her desperate screams were interpreted by the "therapists" as normal behavior during rebirthing therapy.
The whole treatment lasted only seven minutes, yet by the end the end of this horrifying ritual, the girl was dead. The therapists didn't believe her cries that she was dying until finally Candace went silent. 30 minutes later interpreting the therapy as a sucess, the therapists unwrapped the girl. Only to find that she had vomited on herself and died of suffocation at some point during the "therapy."
The dangers of "New age medicine" the "Occult" and other popular pseudosciences are VERY REAL and if you engage in them, please know that you are RISKING YOUR LIFE!!!
Poor Candace. Victim of the horrors of pseudoscience. May your death serve as a lesson to others that science goes through peer review for a reason and that to reject science is to risk everything. May you rest in peace sweetheart.
I could give many more examples of tragic and preventable deaths through pseudoscience, but I will give only 1 more.
Reading through the March/ April 2010 issue of Skeptical Inquirer, I came across an article that was baffling, horrifying, and unbelievable at the same time. It was entitled "James Arthur Ray: New Age Guru and Sweat Lodge Culprit." Well... I had no idea what a "Sweat Lodge" was but the article detailed a scandal that looked quite interesting. So I searched the internet for further details.
Heaven knows WHAT inspired 60 people to pay Ray nearly $10,000 to spend a session in a crammed, superheated tent, but they did. And, typical of the insantiy of the "new age occult" the "sweat lodge treatment" didn't end until 3 people were dead and 17- 20 people had to be sent to the hospital.
I am anxiously awaiting to see if the multi-millionaire new age fraud will take responsibility for the harm he inflicted upon these people and their families. But, I don't have very high hopes. Given the fact that most "psychics" and "new age gurus" are cowardly and unaccredited scam artists, I seriously doubt he will take the blame, like he should. [Since according to the SI article, he guarded the door of the "Sweat Lodge" to make sure "no one got out until the treatment was over."]
For more information on this tragedy please consult this CBS article: