In late November of last year, I wrote a piece entitled "Is Anybody In There?" (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/tinted-lenses/200911/is-anybo...) about the curious case of a Belgian named Rom Houben. Houben was assumed to be in a coma for over 20 years as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident. One of his treating neurologists, Dr. Steven Laureys, claimed that Houben was actually misdiagnosed, and that he was now able to not only read and move his feet, but also to communicate lucidly and intelligently through the use of a computer.
Skeptics, including myself, pointed out that Houben's purported messages were obtained through the use of facilitated communication (FC), a controversial technique that has repeatedly failed under conditions of rigorous testing. The messages were also suspicious in that a person who was unwillingly locked into a non-communicative state for more than two decades was so articulate and forgiving of the medical staff who had dismissed him. FC proponents decried such skeptics as cold-hearted and unable to accept clear proof of the therapeutic value of FC.
In an interview with New Scientist magazine (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18209-steven-laureys-how-i-...), Laureys said that the doubts were inflicting renewed insult and injury on a man who had already been through so much hardship: "I am a scientist, I am a sceptic and I will not accept any communication device if it is not properly tested."