Monday, March 08, 2010

No, Marie, there is no Santo Papa's ghost

Sister Marie Simon-Pierre had been diagnosed with Parkinson's.

In 2007 Simon-Pierre could barely move her left side, could not write legibly, drive or move around easily and was in constant pain. Her disease worsened after [Pope John Paul 2's] death, and her order prayed for his intervention to ease her suffering. Then after writing his name on a paper one night, she woke up the next day apparently cured and returned to work as a maternity nurse with no traces of the disease.

Mirable dictu! Well, it was wonderful to relate and was of course held as a miracle ... until the nun's disease returned.
[O]ne of the doctors charged with scrutinising the nun's case believed she might have been suffering from a similar nervous disease, not Parkinson's, which could go into sudden remission. A report on the paper's website went further, saying that the 49-year-old nun had become sick again with the same illness.

Don't you just love these post hoc ergo propter hoc stories? Mr. G rubbed a crystal on his belly for a week. On the seventh day the abdominal pain was completely gone. Hallelujah! Crystals work wonders! This should be yet another cautionary tale for anyone who's into so-called complementary and alternative medicine (SCAM) including religion-based cures. Simon-Pierre's "miracle" reminds me of a Lourdes "confirmed" miraculous healing some half a century involving a woman who had Budd-Chiari disease. Turns out doctors back then didn't understand enough of the disease to know that it could go into natural remission. The woman eventually died of the same disease. And the part about the possibility of a misdiagnosis is a big deal. Doctors and diagnostics are not perfect. Misdiagnosis is a not an infrequent event! Everyone will be led astray if we think that the person has X which is incurable when in fact he's down with Y which can go into spontaneous remission. Anything he was doing at the time of the remission will be touted as a miracle cure.

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