Armpit Reading

Useless Superpower: In the 1970s, Chinese researchers investigated reports of children who had the unusual ability to read with their armpits. The kids supposedly could describe what was written on folded pieces of paper tucked beneath their armpits. And not just their armpits. Some kids could see with their ears, hands, or feet.

After careful study, the researchers concluded that, yes, the children did seem to have this ability.

Edmonton Journal - Feb 15, 1980

The researchers published the results of their study in Nature Magazine, which is a Chinese journal not to be confused with the British journal Nature. Thanks to the U.S. military's translation service, you can read these articles in English. They're posted on the website of the Defense Technical Information Center. Here's a sample:

Wang Qiang and Wang Bin sat in the middle of the room and the observers sat in front and behind them. The lamp in the room was not very bright. They began with pieces of paper that had been written on before the test. They were placed in the ears of Wang Qiang and Wang Bin and the two girls were allowed to hold it in with their hands. After a little while, both girls said that there was no image and wanted to test it under their armpits.

Therefore, other pieces of paper were written on in another room by Shen Hanchang and Zhu Chiayi. The papers were folded twice and squeezed through the shirt from the backs of the subjects and placed under their armpits. The two girls held the sample against them with their hands. Besides the two writers, no one else in the room knew what was written on the paper.

After 2 minutes 40 seconds, Wang Qiang said that she "recognized" it. Everyone told her not to speak but to write it down on the side. She wrote a "3" and also wrote "blue". They opened the paper and found there was a "3 6" written with a blue ball point pen. The "3" and the "6" were separated some distance and thus she had recognized one half.

I jokingly referred to armpit reading as a useless superpower, but the Chinese researchers would disagree. They concluded their study with this remark:

Research on this type of special physiological phenomenon will not only have a deep and far reaching influence on medical science but will also influence the semiconductor industry.
     Posted By: Alex - Sat Feb 27, 2021
     Category: Forteana | Freaks, Oddities, Quirks of Nature | Human Marvels | Science | Eyes and Vision

Mother used to tell us that she had eyes in the back of her head when she would scold us for something we had done and we were sure that no one had observed us. And we believed her!
Posted by KDP on 02/27/21 at 11:34 AM
I keep an open mind about the possibility of a wide range of things which can't (yet) be proven by science, including some things that are routinely lumped in with, and dismissed as, ESP, but the skin sensing/reading numbers written on paper is way too far over the line for even my self-imposed sense of credulity.
Posted by Phideaux on 02/27/21 at 02:44 PM
Many important questions come up here, such as: Do the children lose this ability as they age? Since it took nearly 3 minutes for Wang Qiang to read the paper, does that mean she has only semiconducting armpits? Why was the lamp in the room not brighter?
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 02/27/21 at 05:24 PM
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