One hundred and ten years ago, Wilhelm Roentgen, a German scientist, announced the discovery of an invisible sort of radiation that could capture photographs of bones and organs within a living human body. Many scientists first regarded the discovery of “X-rays” as a hoax, but after putting Roentgen’s claims to the test, they were quickly convinced that it was one of science’s most significant breakthroughs. Only six years after his discovery, Roentgen was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Physics.
A young girl from Saransk, Russia, now claims to have X-ray vision, which she claims allows her to see inside people’s bodies and make diagnoses that are often more accurate than doctors’. Natasha Demkina, dubbed “the girl with X-ray eyes” in Russia, is gaining a following of patients, doctors, journalists, and others who believe in her skills.
In March 2004, the producer of a Discovery Channel episode on Natasha requested the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and the affiliated Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health (CSMMH) to scientifically investigate the young woman’s claims. In response, CSICOP research colleagues Ray Hyman, Ph.D., and Richard Wiseman, Ph.D., and I designed a preliminary test to see whether her abilities deserved further inquiry. After Natasha, her mother, her agency, and the producer agreed to the test requirements, we all traveled to New York to shoot the exam on the City College of New York campus.