Miracle or Child Abuse? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   

In Russia, thousands of Muslims are flocking to see a baby who has verses from the Koran mysteriously appearing on his body:

I'd like to be very clear here: this is not pareidolia, our ability to see patterns in random objects. The verses are clearly there, and not just random. As one pilgrim said, "It's proof that Allah exists, that he is all-mighty..."

koranbabyHowever -- and perhaps this is just me here -- it seems far more likely that instead of an actual miracle, someone is maybe, y'know, writing the verses on the baby. The mother says the baby is cranky when the words appear, which (if she's being truthful) you might expect if someone is scraping or otherwise irritating the baby's skin to make the words appear. I'll note that the words fade with time, too, just as expected if this is a fraud.

If this whole thing is a fake (and the JREF has a million dollars on the line to say something about that) then I don't know what's worse: the parents or whoever is behind this doing this to the baby, or the crowd who simply believes it.

Oh, wait! I know what's worse: the reporter who did this story and the editor who approved it not injecting one single shred of skepticism into the report. There was no journalism here, no investigation. This was simple stenography, the credulous retelling of what is almost 100% guaranteed to be a hoax at best and a scam at worst. Not to mention child abuse.

People sometimes ask me what it's like to be a skeptic all the time. Maybe I should simply answer, "nauseated."