Natasha Demkina claims to have X-ray vision. When she was 10 years old, she told her mother that she could see what looked like a vacuum cleaner hose, two beans, and a tomato inside her. Demkina was too young to know the names of bodily organs, but her mother believes she was talking about her intestines, kidneys, and heart. It wasn’t long before Demkina was diagnosing diseases and identifying injuries. She says that she can easily switch from her regular vision to what she calls medical vision. Medical vision allows her to see a colorful picture of a person’s insides for a split-second.
Demkina often got headaches and was emotionally exhausted after viewing patients, but she was eager to help. Hoping to pay her way to medical school, she started seeing patients for 400 rubles each in her parents’ tiny apartment.
As news of her gift spread, people came from all around Russia to consult with the young prodigy. They even gathered in groups outside where she lived. For most of them, doctors had been unable to diagnose their problems. Demkina was a last-ditch effort.
Stories of Demkina’s diagnoses run the gamut from finding kidney stones to detecting pregnancy. During one test, she was able to diagnose a doctor’s stomach ulcer, along with its exact location. She also identified the internal screws and plates within a woman who had broken her leg. And she refuted another doctor’s diagnosis of a cancer patient, correctly diagnosing the problem as a small cyst.
People were so impressed by Demkina’s abilities that scientists all over the world invited her to their labs. She did tests in England, the United States, and Japan.
In perhaps the most famous of these experiments, Demkina failed. She was given descriptions of 7 different medical problems and had to correctly match these problems with 7 patients. She needed to get 5 out of 7 to pass the test, but only correctly diagnosed 4 of the patients. Demkina’s supporters say that the statistical chance of correctly guessing 4 out of 7 is so unlikely (about 2%) that it was actually a success.
To be fair, some say extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. A 2% chance may be low, but as proof of X-ray vision, it doesn’t cut it. Others say that no proof will ever be enough to change the minds of skeptics. In the words of the priest and philosopher Thomas Aquinas, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
Whether you buy into her abilities or not, Demkina has won a place in the hearts of the many patients who have come to her for help.