Pseudoscience is a set of claims that is presented as scientific, yet does not follow a valid scientific method, nor has evidence, plausibility, and testability. It is usually characterized by vague, exaggerated claims and an over-reliance on the confirmation bias as opposed to evaluation by other experts. I have always known of pseudoscience, and I have always dismissed it as illogical and harmless. I had always thought of it as a type of for-profit, phony "science". However, after reading about the tragic case of Candace Newmaker, a 10 year old child who received pseudoscientific care for her behavioral problems in Colorado in 2000, I found out that pseudoscience can be deadly.
Candace received a treatment called "rebirthing therapy" which was premised on the notion that children's behavioral problems are due to difficulties forming attachments to their parents that stem from birth. Candace's mother paid $7,000 and flew from North Carolina to Colorado to get the controversial treatment provided by Watkins and Ponder.
During her rebirthing session, which was taped, the two therapists tried to simulate birth contractions. The tape showed them first wrapping Candace up in a multitude of flannel blankets. Then, instructing Candace to try to come out of her flannel "womb" and afterwards making it more difficult for her to do so. They blocked her, retied the ends of the sheets, shifted their weight around and ignored her cries for help at least 34 times. Even though Candace complained of being nauseous, needing to poop, and a lack of air, they continued the session. At one point she could be heard vomiting, and seven times she said she felt like she was dying. Once she was unwrapped, she was discovered to be blue and without a heartbeat.
To think that people could do such a thing to a 10 year old child is absolutely disgusting. At least pseudoscience forces actually scientists to think so critically, as to safeguard against such drastic human errors such as this ridiculous "rebirthing therapy".