PHOTO by Susan Gerbic
Linda Rosa, RN
Loveland, Colorado, USA
Linda Rosa, RN, has been one of few voices to speak out against pseudoscientific practices in the nursing profession. For her exposé of the growing nursing practice Therapeutic Touch, she received the James Randi “Skeptic of the Year” Award in 1995. (Her daughter, Emily Rosa, received the same award in 1998.)
Rosa founded several other organizations before the Institute for Science in Medicine. She co-founded the Front Range Skeptics in Colorado, followed by the National Therapeutic Touch Study Group, which documented the checkered history and pseudoscientific beliefs of that prominent and growing nursing practice. In 2001, she co-founded Citizens for Science in Medicine, a group that denounced the findings of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy (WHCCAMP). She served on the board of the National Council Against Health Fraud, and with Larry Sarner, she co-founded Colorado Citizens for Science in Medicine. In 2005, she worked with a team in successful opposition to an anti-fluoridation election in Fort Collins, Colorado.
In 2001, Rosa co-founded Advocates for Children in Therapy, an organization that opposes the use of “Attachment (Holding)Therapy,” a pseudoscientific mental health treatment of adopted and foster children for the unrecognized diagnosis of “Attachment Disorder.” She worked as the organization’s executive director for ten years. For revealing the radical and unethical basis of Attachment Therapy, she received the 2002 Scientific and Professional Integrity Trophy from the Science and Pseudoscience Review Special Interest Group of the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy.
Rosa worked six years in South America, volunteering as nursing supervisor for the Hospital Amazonico in Pucallpa, Peru, and working in a Shipibo village in the Amazon basin on an ethnogeographic study. She was also co-founder of the South American Explorers Club, producing its magazine and running its first headquarters in Lima, Peru. The British publication Who’s Who cited her as the first woman to be president of an explorers’ club.
In recent years, Rosa has been working in Colorado in home health care. She also served as the Institute’s Executive Director for its first four years.
Rosa has bachelor degrees in nursing and anthropology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
- "Night of the living naturopaths," Science-Based Medicine, 2012 Jan 26.
- "Pat Schroeder’s endorsement of Rage Reduction Therapy: the cult of the celebrity strikes again," Science-Based Medicine, 2010 Oct 8.
- “Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy is not ‘evidence-based’: comments in response to Becker-Weidman and Hughes” (with JA Mercer, RS Pennington & M Pignotti), Child & Family Social Work, 2010 Feb; 15(1):1-5. [Abstract]
- “Hands licensed to kill,” Swift, 2008 Dec 24. A team at the University of Connecticut went fishing for any statistical evidence that Therapeutic Touch might have an effect on human cell cultures.
- “Using Daubert to aid the injured: a case of Therapeutic Touch” (with LW Sarner), Quinnipiac Health Law, 1999-2000, 3(1):25-35. With Daubert v. Dow Pharmaceuticals (1993), the US Supreme Court established a new standard for the scientific testimony of experts in federal courts, requiring such testimony to be scientifically valid. That standard puts practitioners of unscientific interventions at a distinct disadvantage in malpractice cases.
- “Attachment therapy parenting methods” (with JA Mercer), Report to Advocates for Children in Therapy, 2003 May.
- “Colorado rebirthers convicted; new state law passed to protect children” (with LW Sarner), National Council Against Health Fraud Newsletter, 2001 Mar-Apr.
- “A close look at Therapeutic Touch” (with E Rosa, LW Sarner & SJ Barrett), Journal of the American Medical Association, 1998 Apr 1; 279(13):1005-1010. Reports original research conducted by 9-year-old Emily Rosa on a popular, pseudo-scientific, nursing intervention, testing the claim that TT practitioners can sense a “human energy field.” The study concluded: “To our knowledge, no other objective, quantitative study involving more than a few TT practitioners has been published, and no well-designed study demonstrates any health benefit from TT. These facts, together with our experimental findings, suggest that TT claims are groundless and that further use of TT by health professionals is unjustified.”
- “Therapeutic Touch: skeptics in hand to hand combat over the latest New Age health fad,” Skeptic, 1994; 3(1):40-49. A detailed account of the dubious history — and even more dubious science — behind this alternative practice then growing in popularity in nursing schools and hospital staffs.
Attachment Therapy on Trial: The Torture and Death of Candace Newmaker, with Jean A. Mercer & Larry W. Sarner (Praeger, 2003). Candace Newmaker was an adopted girl whose mother, a registered nurse, sought out Attachment Therapy, a fringe form of psychotherapy, for the girl and was present at her death by suffocation during that therapy. This text examines the beliefs of the girl’s mother and the therapists, showing that the death, though unintentional, was a logical outcome of this form of unvalidated and brutal treatment.
In the News:
- “Energy at work,” by Kate Jaimet, Canadian Nurse, 2012 Sep; 108(7):33-36. [Abstract]
- “Colorado is nearer to promoting naturopathic pseudomedicine-aided by the Colorado Medical Society," by Kimball C. Atwood, Science-Based Medicine, 2009 Feb 20.
- “FDA issues warning to Greeley inventor,” by Rick Sallinger, CBS News [Denver], 2008 Jul 28.
- “Another state promotes the pseudoscientific cult that is ‘naturopathic medicine,’ Part 1,” by Kimball C. Atwood, Science-Based Medicine, 2008 Jun 13.
- “Therapy or quackery? Attachment disorder treatments wrapped in controversy,” by Bill Reed, Daily Press [Colorado Springs], 2008 Jul 1.
- “FDA warns VIBE company that it’s not in compliance,” by Marisa Beahm, The Reporter-Herald [Loveland, Colorado], 2008 May 31.
- “Why Therapeutic Touch Should Be Considered Quackery,” by Stephen J. Barrett, Quackwatch, [revised] 2008 Feb 3.
- “Trusting nurses with our lives,” by Sandy Szwarc, Junk Food Science, 2007 July 6.
- “State ignores naturopaths’ ‘quackery’,” by Kimball C. Atwood & Carl E. Bartecchi, special to The Rocky Mountain News [Denver], 2005 Sep 19.
- “Preserving our precious fluids,” by Leon Jaroff, Time, 2005 Apr 27.
- “Therapeutic touch and postmodernism in nursing,” by Sarah Glazer, Nursing Philosophy, 2004 Jan 7; 2(3):196-212. [Abstract]
- PC, M.D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine, by Sally Satel, Basic Books, 2004.
- “A different way to heal: healing touch,” Scientific American Frontiers, PBS, 2002 Jun 4.
- “Nursing irrationality,” by Sarah Glazer, Spiked, 2001 Oct 11.
- “‘Rebirthers’ who killed child receive 16-year prison terms,” by Larry W. Sarner, Quackwatch, 2001 Jun 19.
- “Therapeutic Touch,” by Steven P. Novella, The NESS, 1998 Oct.
- “Touch therapy: fact or fiction?” by Marla Miller, Nurseweek, 1998 Jun 7.
- “Emily’s little experiment,” by Michael Lemonick, Time, 1998 Apr 13.
- “‘Therapeutic Touch' flunks a test; girl's science project casts doubt on popular but controversial treatment,” by Susan Okie, The Washington Post, 1998 Apr 7.
- “11-year-old’s study debunks touch therapy: journal prints her data from science-fair project,” by Gina Kolata, The New York Times, 1998 Apr 1.
- “Beyond Science? Healing touch,” Scientific American Frontiers, PBS, 1997 Nov 19.
- “Further notes on Therapeutic Touch,” by Kevin Courcey, Quackwatch.
- “Attachment theory, evidence-based practice, and rogue therapies: using and misusing the concept of attachment" (with JA Mercer, R Pennington & LW Sarner), Wisconsin School Psychology Association, La Crosse, Wisconsin, 2008 Oct 29.
- “Is it snake oil or medicine?” FDA-Sponsored workshop (with LW Sarner), Denver, Colorado, 2005 Sep 21.
- “Therapeutic Touch,” MIT, Ig Nobels, September 1998.
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