Efficacy of "Facilitated Communication" Not Confirmed

Several months ago major news sites reported that a Belgian man, paralyzed for 23 years and supposedly in a vegetative state, was interacting with caregivers through the use of "facilitated communication."  James Randi and other skeptics raised questions about the validity of the technique.

Faculty from the Department of Neurology at Liege University Hospital are now reporting that subsequent controlled studies have failed to confirm the initial findings.
Dr Steven Laureys, one of the doctors treating him, acknowledged that his patient could not make himself understood after all. Facilitated communication, the technique said to have made Houben's apparent contact with the outside world possible, did not work, Laureys declared.  "We did not have all the facts before," he said. "To me, it's enough to say that this method doesn't work."

In the recent studies a facilitator, who helped the patient type answers on a computer screen, was not present when the test objects and words were presented to Mr. Houben.

Links at NPR and The Guardian.

Previously on Neatorama: Is This Man Fully Alert and Communicating - or Not? (with video of facilitated communication).  Photo credit AFP/Getty Images.

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Are the "major news sites" reporting this now that it's proven to be bogus?

They really dropped the ball on that one. Next story: Man Bends Spoons with his Mind.
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As with felixthecat's analogy, many of those who practice this probably believe it works. That doesn't make it defensible, but at least a bit more understandable in terms of the poor quality of the public understanding of science.
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"Facilitated Communication" is totally bogus. In every properly constructed test where the information being requested of the subject is NOT shared with the "facilitator", the subject's "response" is virtually always invalid/incorrect.

At best, the claim that the "facilitator" is simply "steadying the hand(s)" of the subject is purely wishful thinking. At worst, it is outright deception. Either way, it is worthless.

A great demonstration of the properly blinded test was included in an episode of Law and Order called "Cruel and Unusual": http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0629222/
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