Yesterday the number of people who responded to the call for mass protest against Mohammed Morsy is staggering. Many consider this the largest protest in the history of Egypt. But sadly there were news of deaths and injuries due to violence. Forty four cases of mob sexual harassment took place in Tahrir.
This is crazy. They are all kids on the frontline. Aged 9 and up. Average age by the look of it is 15. Kids lie to me about their age, say 12 when they are clearly 10 years old. Most are wearing surgical masks and eyes red from teargas.
By asking a few why they are here, they say their older brothers were injured or killed by police. It's not clear if this is meant literally or not.
The man in white hair who looks like Jor-El and appears in the projected screen, just like in Superman II, is called Timothy Trujillo and he is someone who is "a Mind-Body Healing Specialist with certificates in Acupuncture, Hypnotherapy, Reiki, and Reflexology."
Reiki, Reflexology and Acupuncture are types of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) that have no solid empirical evidence to back them. Their practitioners claim that certain power fields exist and that these therapies modify such fields. But these fields can't be measured and don't make much sense giving our current knowledge of biology and physics. Although there are papers that claim they do have an effect, very often these studies are flawed or the effect is due to the placebo effect. (I won't explain the placebo effect here, look it up, it's very interesting)
I may be biased against CAM but lets examine the evidence quickly for the sake of this blog post.
Practitioners of CAM usually resist any criticism of their methods and are unwilling to provide evidence for its effectiveness by conducting proper studies. Often the sensationalism, the grand claims by CAM practitioners and perhaps giving the patient more attention and time are the main reasons that draw the public to it.
Hypnosis is a form of an induced trance state where the subject is suggestible and relaxed. It is a real phenomenon and may have some effect but has very limited applications, not easy and doesn't work with everyone. The public perceive hypnosis as something magical or intriguing possibly due to the practice of stage hypnosis which is pure deception.
Last night in Mohamed Mahmoud I sat on top of a wall to watch the battle between the police and protesters and after 5 minutes of watching skilful kids throwing back tear gas canisters at the police. We were showered with 4 or 5 simultaneously. Suddenly, I heard a hiss behind me, so I jumped and tried to remain low to avoid the smoke, behind a utility box to avoid anything falling on my head and closed my eyes so it didn't hurt. But then another one landed 5 meters on my side and another one in front of me. At this point I realised that I have to leave my position as the smoke was so heavy my chest was burning and breathing was quite difficult.
Fortunately, I managed to walk to the side street by the AUC library where I held the arm of a guy and told him to help me walk few meters away. I was spent and started to sweat all over (this meant more gas being absorbed by the body). He asked one of the motorbike ambulance to take me away. This was a great experience, the guys on the bike ran so fast that fresh cold wind blew in my face. Also, leaving the area saturated with smoke reassured me and I started recovering on the bike. Before reaching one of the field hospitals on a side walk I told him to drop me off as I felt much better and thanked them for the ride. My wheezy chest wasn't clear till 30 minutes later.
Earlier, I was in the field hospital in Omar Makram. I wanted to see as many cases with neurological problems as possible. There was a professor of Neurology there who I had an interesting discussion about the effects of the gas.
Most of the cases that came with convulsions weren't suffering from an epileptic fit.