Girl, 11, outwits touch therapists

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The Independent Online
THE SCEPTICAL mind of an 11-year-old has sent one of America's most popular fields of alternative medicine into a spin. It is touch therapy, where practitioners pass their hands over a patient's body, not in fact touching their limbs but allegedly connecting with the human "energy field" around them, writes David Usborne.

Choosing it as the subject of a science project, Emily Rosa conducted an experiment to see if the therapists were phonies. Her results were published yesterday by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Her approach was super simple. After recruiting 21 practitioners, she sat them behind a screen and had them put their two hands through holes to the other side. By flipping a coin, she decided over which of their hands she would place one of her own. Not touching, but within "energy field" range.

Then she asked the obvious question: over which of your hands is my hand hovering? If the therapists could really detect human energy, which is the claim that underpins their work, they would know.

But, oops, they did not. In fact, they got the answer right only 44 per cent of the time. The laws of chance alone would suggest that they would do better. "Since they felt my energy field less than half of the time, then you wouldn't think they had any special ability," Emily said yesterday.