PHOTO by Susan Gerbic

Linda Rosa, RN

Founding Fellow
Executive Director

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 history and pseudoscientific beliefs of that popular 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. 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 brutal pseudoscientific mental health treatment inflicted on adopted and foster children.  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 grew up on a dairy farm outside of Crandon, Wisconsin. She has bachelor degrees in nursing and anthropology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Rosa worked six years in South America, volunteering as nursing supervisor for the Hospital Amazonico in Pucallpa, Peru, after assisting with an ethnogrographic study in a Shipibo Indian village in the Amazon. She was co-founder of the South American Explorers Club, producing its magazine and running its first headquarters in Lima, Peru.  She was amused to see that the British publication Who’s Who cites her as the first woman to be president of an explorers’ club.

Rosa is now retired from nursing. She served as the Institute’s Executive Director for its first four years and continues to manage Advocates for Children in Therapy and Colorado Citizens for Science in Medicine, as well as do freelance writing.

Selected Publications:

  • The Dyer Trial,” Children’s Healthcare is a Legal Duty Newsletter, Volume 3 & 4, 2016.
  • “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.
  • 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.

Selected Books:

book cover
Attachment Therapy on Trial: The Torture and Death of Candace Newmaker, with Jean A. Mercer & LW 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]

Selected Presentations:

The Online Linda Rosa:

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