False Argument #30, Or, MiracleQuest Continues: The Case Of Kayla Knight, Pt. I

False Argument #30 is a two-tier one coming from the chaplain and PhillyChief:

Well I think we can start by reviewing everyone who refused medical treatment instead of prayer and were healed. That list would be….. strangely unavailable.
-PhillyChief

Maybe all those who were healed by prayer never bothered reporting it to the newsies. I wonder why they kept their lights hidden under their bushels? It seems like their testimonies would be powerful stuff. Still, it seems strange that not even one person appears to have stepped up and told such a story.
-the chaplain

Now, there's certainly some non-committal posturing on chaplain's behalf here, but someone who's looked into this stuff for even a microsecond has to wonder: Are chaplain and PhillyChief merely being rhetorically successful? Are they taking themselves seriously? Or have they really not looked into this stuff for more than a microsecond?

Although I certainly don't expect either of them to think any miracle story on the news is actually credible, that's a different story, and .22 seconds on Google disproves their claims. Accordingly, a rational person has to wonder: Are the chaplain and PhillyChief reliable? Like John Evo said about my last little soiree with PhillyChief: Is he even doing any research? Is the chaplain? Or are they just voicing their opinions?

In a move my agent is probably not going to like*, I'd like to thank chaplain and Philly for the perfect opportunity to introduce a case I've been looking into for some time now – a case where standard medical treatment was refused and was "reported to the newsies" and that the chaplain and PhillyChief must have missed in all their robust distaste for religion – the case of Kayla Knight. When I say "looking into," I mean with the full investigative rigor of somebody conducting a real-world, publishable analysis, too: Personal cross-interviews, analysis of pertinent documents, research and cross-checking of facts. As the title implies, this introductory and very general post won't be my only one about this case, rest assured.

In May of 2008, Kayla Knight was eleven years old and living in Whitehouse, Texas, when she was diagnosed with a large brain tumor. The tumor was discovered in the advanced stages of development via X-ray at their local emergency room, where Knight was admitted with complaints of recurring headaches that were increasing in severity. Emergency room staff suggested that the Knight family see a neurologist "immediately." Amy Knight – Kayla's mother – found a neurologist in Tyler who would accept Medicaid, and a subsequent CAT scan and MRI appeared to confirm what the family feared most. Kayla was sent to a specialist outside Dallas for further confirmation.

In Dallas, a doctor who asks to remain unnamed confirmed the tumor's presence and that it had grown significantly. This doctor has specifically stated a desire to steer clear of any media circus. The initial prognosis was grim, with Kayla being offered an operation that had a roughly 95% chance of killing her, or the option of doing nothing and likely dying in as little as two weeks.

Amy and Kayla went home to think on it. The next morning, Kayla told Amy she'd rather live the last of her days enjoying and loving her family than caught up in a medical whirlwind, and they took the matter to their local church, Whitehouse First Assembly. Led by pastor Michael Fleming, over a dozen people prayed for and laid hands on Kayla, who essentially resigned herself to fate.

Long story short (for now), a subsequent MRI from the same doctor revealed something strange: The tumor had completely disappeared. Accordingly, the doctor was quite confused, and a third MRI again confirmed the tumor's absence. This was reported on KLTV 7 News, an ABC affiliate. Still, the little information that does exist about this case is scant, with over 95% of it coming from Christian bloggers claiming "proof" of miracles who simply copy-and-paste Clint Yeatts original KLTV transcript adding nothing new to the discussion. That is what motivated me to dig deeper and contact involved parties for myself. I testify that I've held private discussions with Amy Knight and other involved parties in this case, in which information has been disclosed that is not in the traditional reports.

And yes, we'll get to it.

I fully concede the possibility that future evidence could prove this case to be fraudulent or erroneous. Although I will certainly continue ongoing research, the point (for now) is, False Argument #30 tells us there are no reported cases where people have denied medical treatment and lived to make the news.

PhillyChief and the chaplain are of course free to deny the credibility of the Knight case, and that's what I fully expect them to do as skeptics. That's all they can do, because miracle claims aren't falsifiable – but I'll bet Kayla doesn't mind.

NOTE: Apparently this post reminded the chaplain who was correct, and she has amended her claim: "I read about Kayla Knight's story recently, but had forgotten it. I'll amend my comment accordingly: one person that I know of has stepped up to tell such a story." the chaplain, May 17, 2009 4:18pm

30 Comments

  1. nal says:

    Here’s the news report:
    http://www.kltv.com/global/story.asp?s=8699200&ClientType=Printable
    There are significant discrepancies between the news report and cl’s post.
    If the picture in the link shows the MRIs from Tyler and Dallas, I would say the MRI in Tyler is a POS, even to an untrained eye.

  2. cl says:

    Please, go ahead and read nal’s link. Let CLR = cl’s report, and let LNR = linked news report.
    Both CLR and LNR report headaches.
    Both CLR and LNR report a large brain tumor.
    Both CLR and LNR report an initial ER visit that suggested a specialist be seen.
    Both CLR and LNR report that this specialist was in Tyler.
    Both CLR and LNR report subsequent MRI testing in Dallas.
    According to what Amy Knight told me, the news report omitted quite a bit between that visit to Dallas and the night in church, but so I can be clear, nal – what do you claim the discrepancies are?
    And, is your argument that the medical documents are fraudulent? If so, on what evidence?

  3. nal says:

    1) CLR reports CAT scan, LNR does not.
    2) LNR suggests tumor gone on initial (and only) MRI in Dallas. CLR suggest two MRIs in Dallas.
    If you have additional information that wasn’t covered in the LNR, fine. I wasn’t implying that your information was false only different. You sure are touchy.
    cl:
    And, is your argument that the medical documents are fraudulent?
    nal:
    Absolutely not. My argument is low quality MRI equipment in Tyler. My evidence is the two images.
    /POS=Piece Of Shit

  4. cl says:

    nal,
    You’re correct that LNR didn’t mention the CAT scan. I didn’t notice that. That is from my notes from personal discussion with Amy. You’re free to deny it; I’ll be sure to double-check it, though, and thanks for keeping me on my toes. Sorry if I came across as touchy, it would have been perfectly fine if you were making either of those claims. I thought you were, because I said that the post was introductory and that I’d conducted personal interviews with Amy and others. That’s where the “multiple MRI” thing comes from. And I’ll note that my other four points of similarity went unchallenged, so that makes me feel a little bit better. Stay tuned for the whole story as told by Amy Knight.
    In general, if at any time I disagree with you, it’s nothing personal. You seem like a pretty reasonable debater to me and that’s always a plus. For others I can’t say as much. Cool?
    “My argument is low quality MRI equipment in Tyler. My evidence is the two images.”
    Do you deny that Kayla had a tumor to begin with? And I knew what POS stood for – I get called that all the time!

  5. nal says:

    cl:
    Do you deny that Kayla had a tumor to begin with?
    nal:
    I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of the tumor. If the diagnosis of a tumor was based on the Tyler MRI (if indeed that image is an MRI – it may be a CT image) then, due to the miserable quality of the Tyler image, an error in the tumor diagnosis would be a reasonable conclusion. Medicine involves a lot more guess work than doctors admit to.
    I would be concerned that there might be some other cause, masquerading as a tumor, that may reappear. There must be a lot of pressure, from without and within, on the family to accept the miraculous removal of the tumor story. If there were, in fact, some other cause, I hope that pressure doesn’t her family’s judgement and jeopardize the girl’s health.

  6. cl says:

    I think your position is reasonable. Still, at the very least – whether we believe they are credible or not – we can agree there *are* claims exactly like the ones Philly and the chaplain denied, right?

  7. the chaplain says:

    Hey, CL – why don’t you inform nal that, after reading your post, I said,“I read about Kayla Knight’s story recently, but had forgotten it. I’ll amend my comment accordingly: one person that I know of has stepped up to tell such a story.”?
    What’s the matter? Does informing your reader(s) that I amended my statement fuck up the image of me that you want your reader(s) to hold?

  8. cl says:

    Geez, slow down… I was going to make that an official note just like I did with John Evo’s concession.. so touchy! I don’t want my readers to hold any ‘image’ of you. You’re perfectly free to challenge my arguments.

  9. the chaplain says:

    There is too little information available for me to be interested in discussing Kayla Knight’s case right now, including the degree of credibility that is warranted. I’ll wait and see what unfolds.

  10. While you’re doing all this personal, upfront investigation and reporting, cl, do us a favor and be sure to include all your research into spontaneous regressions and remissions of tumors. OK?
    I’d be real interested in knowing how may of them occur after the entire church lays their hands on the victim…err…patient.

  11. cl says:

    I could point out that my detractors don’t seem to do their homework all day long. As you may or may not have seen over at Philly’s, the chaplain’s last smirk along these lines already drew some of it out:
    “As to the role that intercessory prayer may have played in the spontaneous remission of her cancer, I’ll reserve judgment until further credible evidence is proffered.” (chaplain)
    “You have not provided any evidence for your claim of spontaneous remission. Dr. Ralph Moss notes that the majority of patients he’s studied who experience spontaneous cures of cancer do so after acute injections which stimulate immune response, and it is consensus that early-stage remissions are far more common than late-stage remissions. I do not recall Amy answering in the affirmative to either of these questions when asked.” (cl)
    Despite her claims to rationalism and a scientific outlook, chappie just forages ahead here without a lick of evidence for her assumption – when in fact – her assumption is already challenged by the existing evidence. Is that rationalism? Science?
    Sounds more like faitheism to me.

  12. No, just a combination of human nature and common sense, mixed with a healthy dose of Occam’s Razor.

  13. cl says:

    SI, chaplain provided zero evidence for her claim of spontaneous remission. Will you really state that making claims without evidence entails rationalism?
    If so, no wonder we disagree so much!

  14. the chaplain says:

    Dr. Ralph Moss notes that the majority of patients he’s studied who experience spontaneous cures of cancer do so after acute injections which stimulate immune response, and it is consensus that early-stage remissions are far more common than late-stage remissions.
    How large a a majority was Dr. Moss referring to in his statement? 55% is one thing, 85% is substantially more persuasive. An indefinite majority is not as persuasive as you wish it were.
    I do not recall Amy answering in the affirmative to either of these questions when asked.
    If you want me to retract my common sense inference on the basis of what you recall about your interview, you’re asking for, dare I say it, a lot of faith on my part. Your evidence is flimsy. Furthermore, what specific questions did you ask Amy?
    Until I see more evidence – I hope yours will be based on extensive notes and not just your recall, and which will include other sources in addition to yours – I will stick to my common sense, Occam’s razor answer that Kayla experience spontaneous remission or something of the sort that can be explained via natural causes.

  15. cl says:

    So, when something is unexplained, it’s automatically natural? That’s a hoot!
    It’s fine with me if you want
    to be superstitious while maintaining a pretense of an evidence-based disbelief system, but remember, when the cause of something is unexplained – as Kayla’s case remains – all appeals to knowledge of causality are superstitiousness.
    Hey… there’s seat for you in the back, right next to the guy speaking in tongues!

  16. the chaplain says:

    And your alternative to a natural explanation would be…?

  17. cl says:

    I’m not offering one. The case is unexplained.

  18. I’m confused.
    It’s the natural worldview – naturalism – that says that in the natural world, some things just remain unexplained. We presume that we are not in a perfect state of knowledge, and we keep looking. We allow science to do its job, but in the meantime, we are patient, and resigned to certain level of ignorance.
    It’s the supernatural worldview that says – when confronted with something apparently unexplainable – Goddidit. Then you stop looking.
    Cl, you’re the one pushing supernaturalism here, not Chappie, so your attempt to reverse the roles here is – laughable. When you say:
    “I’m not offering one. The case is unexplained.”
    you put yourself strictly in the naturalistic camp while telling us we should keep our minds open to a supernatural explanation.

  19. cl says:

    Don’t tell me about what naturalism or supernaturalism necessarily entails because I have an opinion, too. I find the fact that you assume I falsely dichotomize them amusing.
    “It’s the supernatural worldview that says – when confronted with something apparently unexplainable – Goddidit. Then you stop looking.” (SI)
    That paragraph is as bad a caricature of theism as “atheists eat babies.” No, when something is unexplained one doesn’t just say that God did it – and no – even when one thinks that God probably did something, one doesn’t stop looking, either for said phenomenon’s real-world agencies, or said phenomenon’s implications to other areas of life. Inquisitiveness and rationalism are not intrinsically atheist, SI. That’s the doorway to bigoted thinking.
    I applaud your first paragraph, but your mistake is to assume that those who reject metaphysical naturalism cannot proceed rationally in life, and look how far off the original post you are: Aside from asking them to believe that chaplain’s original claim was factually incorrect, not once did I tell the reader that they should do or think anything in this post. I’m not fully convinced of anything yet. I appreciate the suggestion about looking into spontaneous remission, and I told you it would be discussed.
    That chaplain’s original (non-amended) claim was false is not disputable, and this post has achieved its goal.

  20. cl says:

    I said, “That chaplain’s original (non-amended) claim was false is not disputable, and this post has achieved its goal.”
    PhillyChief’s, too. His best argument so far was that one person doesn’t constitute a list, but Kayla’s is not the only case like this I’ve heard of. It is the one where I’ve been most fortunate in terms of being able to speak directly to those involved.

  21. Well, good luck with that one, cl. When you’ve confirmed the supernatural remission of Kayla Knight’s tumor, drop me a line. I’d love to see your evidence.

  22. cl says:

    I’m still trying to understand you. Is it that you’re just out to get me, so you don’t read carefully enough? I’m not trying to prove anything here. I’m going to discuss her case. About the only conclusion I can firmly draw so far is that her case is certainly not consistent with the literature on SR. But please, by all means stay tuned.

  23. John Morales says:

    Or have they really not looked into this stuff for more than a microsecond?
    Although I certainly don’t expect either of them to think any miracle story on the news is actually credible, that’s a different story, and .22 seconds on Google disproves their claims.

    1. .22 seconds is 220 000 µseconds.
    2. I have spent some time looking into this. There is only one source (the kltv story) and multiple references by Christian sites and blogs.
    3. On what basis is this story, as you claim, credible?

  24. cl says:

    The question about “time looking into this” wasn’t related to the number of sources. I noted my own frustration that the entirety of coverage was Christian bloggers parroting KLTV.

    On what basis is this story, as you claim, credible?

    If you mean to ask on what basis did I claim this is a genuine miracle, I don’t recall claiming that it is. I really don’t know, as I’m not even done talking to the people involved yet.

  25. John Morales says:

    Ah, OK. Not that reports are rare.
    Why didn’t you just point out that the Catholic Church claims rigor and scrupulousness in their canonisation process?
    E.g., the recent beatification of “Mother Teresa” is based on just the type of miracle claimed for Kayla.
    And there are a lot of Saints…

  26. John Morales says:

    Ah, OK. Not that reports are rare.
    Why didn’t you just point out that the Catholic Church claims rigor and scrupulousness in their canonisation process?
    E.g., the recent beatification of “Mother Teresa” is based on just the type of miracle claimed for Kayla.
    And there are a lot of Saints…

  27. cl says:

    Why didn’t you just point out that the Catholic Church claims rigor and scrupulousness in their canonisation process?

    How would that prove my point, or even help it?

  28. John Morales says:

    How would that prove my point, or even help it?

    Because your point clearly is that there are such reports, as evidenced by your introductory quotes from the Chaplain and PhillyChief.

  29. cl says:

    Because your point clearly is that there are such reports, as evidenced by your introductory quotes from the Chaplain and PhillyChief.

    Chaplain said, “it seems strange that not even one person appears to have stepped up and told such a story.” As you and I have apparently agreed there are such stories, correct? If so, my argument stands, right?

  30. John Morales says:

    cl, indeed, your argument stands.
    There are such stories.

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