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I learnt from Al-Masry Al-Youm and Youm7 that the army is exhibiting its Hepatitis C detection device (C-Fast) at the EgyMedica fair held at the Cairo Conference Centre.
The picture Al-Masry Al-Youm posted had written below it that the device detects the Malaria "virus" (Malaria is a parasitic infection and not a virus). I went to town with this on Twitter of course but decided that I had to see the invention for myself.
I couldn't help myself and went to the exhibition today. I was really worried on my way there about what they might do to me if they suspected that I have doubts about the device - further evidence of the marvellous scientific climate we are currently living in.
I went into the exhibition hall and was amazed by the medical devices on display; there really have been great developments in the various specialisations. I was interested in lots of things on display and chatted with the exhibitors. There were devices from Japan, India and everywhere in the world as well as devices manufactured or assembled in Egypt such as an ICU screen that displays ECG and pulse oximeter readings and which connects to any tablet or screen.
I reached the display of the Armed Forces' Engineering Authority and looked at the devices on display and discovered that they had corrected the caption which stated that the device discovers the Malaria "virus" - well, in Arabic, at least.
There was a group of people surrounding a young man's whose only job was to present and test the device. One man held a C-Fast device while another held a bit of plastic on which was written "Virus C". I understood that there is a Virus C sample in the bit of plastic.
The antenna really did move towards the bit of plastic. The man would move the bit of plastic and the antenna would move in its direction. I asked them, in front of the crowd, to do the experiment again while the man holding the C-Fast had his eyes closed. He agreed without hesitation and they did the experiment again in front of the crowd. The man moved the bit of plastic and the antenna didn't move in its direction. He moved it left and right and the antenna didn't move. In the end it moved to the left. I asked the man to open his eyes so that he could see where the antenna was and where the bit of plastic was - both in completely different directions.
I did this because I know that the device works according to the ideomotor effect, a psychological phenomenon whereby a subject makes unconscious physical responses to thoughts, i.e. the device user moves his hand very slightly and imperceptibly and the antenna moves towards the target. The device will not therefore work if the user is unable to see the moving target.
The young man responded to me saying that the device requires two weeks training and that he was only trained on it while his eyes were open.
I went to Brigadier Ahmed Amin Ibrahim, the device's inventor and requested that I be allowed to film the experiment. He agreed, but said I could only do so when crowd thins out a bit. He was very nice and I asked him some questions.
He told me that Gamal Sheeha, a respected scientist, has given his scientific backing to the device and has provided them with the clinical trials but that the device was invented and developed by the Armed Forces' Engineering Authority. I was very worried about asking questions that might anger an army brigadier general in camouflage and forgot most of my questions; the last time I saw someone wearing that uniform he was holding a stick and running after me in Qasr el-Aini Street. At the end of the day I'm only a doctor who's been practising for nine years - of course I wouldn't understand these things, and unfortunately there weren't any doctors at the exhibit who I could pose questions to as peers.
I asked whether the device is similar to the bomb detection device, and he said that it indeed is and works on the same scientific principle - electromagnetic waves. I couldn't bring myself to respond by saying that the bomb detection device has been proven to be a huge scam and that the businessman who conned Iraq is currently imprisoned in Britain.
Fifteen minutes later Ibrahim asked the two young men to repeat the experiment, which you can witness here:
I got angry of course and went back to the Brigadier and told him that they refused to do the experiment in full. I told him that I requested that they repeat the experiment with eyes closed. He said to me in a fatherly sort of way, "off with you. Who uses a device with his eyes closed?"