Respectful Insolence

In terms of promoting woo and quackery, there is one person who stands head and shoulders above all the rest. True, she doesn’t just promote woo and quackery, but she does have a long list of dubious achievements in that realm, including but not limited to unleashing Jenny McCarthy and her anti-vaccine crusade plus Suzanne Somers and her “bioidentical hormone” and cancer quackeries on an unsuspecting American public. She’s also subjected us to both Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz to the point of actually launching them on their own shows, promoting the mystcial mumbo-jumbo wish fulfillment that is The Secret, and basically providing the most influential daytime TV platform for all manner of pseudoscience on a regular basis. Indeed, she’s been running a veritable war on medical science. There’s no New Age woo too woo-ey or quackery too quacky for Oprah.

Actually, I didn’t used to think that that was the case. I thought that Oprah probably had limits, that there were some forms of woo that even Oprah wouldn’t promoter. True, after she started promoting The Secret, I was probably deluding myself to think that, but I nonetheless did. On Wednesday of this week, I learned that I was totally wrong in thinking this. Oprah has no shame, as I discovered when she did a show featuring faith healer John of God, entitling it Do You Believe in Miracles?

The stupid, it burns so bad.

I didn’t actually watch the entire show when it aired, but I found clips from the show on the Oprah website, along with a long writeup describing the show. Let’s put it this way. If the rest of the show was anything like what’s on the website (and there’s no reason to believe it is not), Oprah has once again pulled a classic bit of promoting nothing but the rankest quackery. Her feature appears to be a completely credulous treatment of faith healing, complete with the obligatory “skeptic” who sees what the miracle worker can do and becomes a convert. Before I get into this more, take a look at this nauseating video, which shows segments from the show. The first segment is an interview between Oprah and Susan Casey, editor-in-chief of O Magazine, the latter of whom traveled to Brazil to bask in the presence of the alleged “holy man.” The segment took the form of the classic “spiritual journey narrative.” To whit:

While at the Casa, Susan was also searching for her own healing. After her father suddenly passed away two years ago, Susan experienced a “tsunami of grief” that she says she couldn’t escape from. She wondered if John of God could help heal her grief.

When she first met with John of God, she says all he did was look her in the eyes. “I thought, ‘That was it?’ I was expecting a lightening bolt, where there’s a big flash of insight. And they just said, ‘Come back later.’ It’s basically, ‘Take a blessing and come back.’”

Susan met with him a second time, and again, he didn’t spend any time with her. What he did do was look at a picture of Susan and her father. He then told Susan to sit in the “healing room,” a room in the Casa reserved for meditation and prayer, for three hours. Susan says she was surrounded by hundreds of people in the healing room, all of whom were praying and meditating with their eyes closed.

“Three hours went by like 20 minutes,” Susan says, “and it was blissful–it was like I was floating.”

In her own state of meditation, Susan says she was able to speak with her father. “It was very real,” she says. “More of a vision than I had ever had before. … I got this feeling like I shouldn’t be sad, that everything was okay.”

While Susan acknowledges that the whole experience sounds skeptical, she says she’s “not a woo-woo person,” and that the Casa helped her find healing.

They all say they aren’t “woo-woo” people, don’t they? In fact, if you hear someone on a show about a faith healer say they’re a skeptic or “not a woo-woo person” you can be pretty sure that she either has just said or is about to say something that proves she is a woo-woo person. In the video, Casey goes on and on about how after meeting John she felt as though a “cloud had lifted” and how she felt “lighter.” She describes sitting in the “healing room,” where she was floating and talking to her dead father. She then describes a scene in which she and other supplicants are sitting and praying, not allowed to cross their legs (which apparently for some reason would ruin he “energy” being channeled) and how she feld during that. it is also in this segment that I saw perhaps the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen on Oprah’s show. Oprah looks at her editor and, in all seriousness, says, “You know this sounds very woo-woo to me.”

Oh, Oprah, you skeptic you!

More hilarious is the answer. Casey says that she can’t be woo-woo because she spends her time around people with surfers who surf 100 foot waves, and they’re “very linear” and “focused” in their thinking. Uh, Casey. Have you ever noticed that a lot of surfers are into a lot of woo? At the very least they’re at least as prone to woo as anyone else. This isn’t as though Casey was hanging out with Randi, fer cryin’ out loud! In any case, it would be churlish of me not to be happy that Casey seems to have found a way to overcome her grief at the loss of her father, but medicine and science this is not. It is, contrary to Casey’s claim otherwise woo-woo, and Casey is anything but a skeptic. In fact, she appears to have been in such a state of mourning that she may have even been in a state of clinical depression at the time. Indeed, she describes having the feeling that she would “never feel joy again.” She had such an emotional need for something to shake her out of that state that she latched onto John of God. Whatever happened, it’s quite obvious that Casey is was not neutral and, unlike a real skeptic, turned off her critical thinking faculties (if they were ever on in the first place) when she traveled to Brazil.

Next up we have a “skeptic.” His name is Dr. Jeff Rediger, and he is presented thusly:

Dr. Jeff Rediger is a psychiatrist who traveled to the Casa seven years ago as a skeptic. His goal was to collect lab reports, radiological exams and photos of people who reported that they were physically healed by John of God and to see if the healings could be documented.

Like Susan, he witnessed several physical surgeries while he was there–an experience he says changed the way he thought about the world.

“Some people who I spoke with were able to remember the events going around them completely, and some people seem to enter a sort of altered state during these surgeries,” he says. “When I was assisting in one of the surgeries, [John of God] cut this woman’s cornea. She didn’t flinch. She didn’t try to pull away from him. I can’t explain that. I heard some people use the term ‘spiritual anesthesia.’ I have no way to understand that.”

Well, science and skepticism would be a good start. Unfortunately, in the video I don’t see a whole lot of that coming from Dr. Rediger. One thing that irritated the hell out of me about this segment was how the producers blurred the blood when John was doing his “psychic surgery.” It made it impossible for me to make any judgment regarding whether there was any fakery involved. Looking at the blood and bits of tissue, I wasn’t convinced that this really was human tissue. In any case, everything in the video was a rehash of the sorts of nonsense that John of God has been doing for over a decade. Indeed, several years ago, ABC did a special on John of God with a similar lack of skepticism; the only difference between Oprah’s puff piece and the earlier special was that the earlier special was a whole hour and didn’t feature Oprah as the host and didn’t bother to interview someone like James Randi, who would have informed the producers that everything John of God did was nothing more than hoary old carny tricks, in particular the old “forceps up the nose” and “cornea scraping” tricks.

The latter trick apparently fooled Dr. Rediger completely, as he breathlessly describes a woman whose cornea Rediger said that John of God cut. Unfortunately, the camera angles used made it impossible for me to judge of John was doing what he claimed. In the only close-up, it was clear that the knife never touched the eye, and when John actually appeared to be doing something, the camera never actually focused on the woman’s eye. It was almost as though the Oprah producers were complicit in the fakery, because they seemed almost to be making a conscious effort not to show a camera angle that would allow viewers to judged whether the procedure actually being done was what John of God claimed. Personally, I’d have loved to see an ophthalmologist allowed to have a close-up view of John’s activities. Never trust a psychiatrist to do a surgeon’s job or judge “surgery.” This strikes me as particularly true when Rediger is shown in a video clip apparently bleeding from the chest, apparently after having viewed John do his cornea scraping bit. He expresses fear and is concerned that the bleeding doesn’t stop as soon as he thinks it should, pointing out that he doesn’t have a bleeding disorder.

Let’s just put it this way. I don’t think Dr. Rediger is much of a skeptic. Just Google his name, for instance, and you’ll quickly find his website. Here are some choice quotes:

  • “We live in a culture that has advanced enough that we can send the person with a medical problem to the medical doctor; a person with an emotional problem to the psychologist, and a person with a spiritual problem to the priest, minister or rabbi. Yet The Initiative for Psychological and Spiritual Development is founded upon the belief that, beneath and behind all the masks and appearances that we present to the world, there is something more, and that whatever healing potential exists comes from this place.”
  • “Many of us benefit every day from the advances made in medicine and biological psychiatry. But these disciplines as they are currently conceived are only part of the story. They are rooted in an overly materialist understanding of the body and the brain. We will be limited in our capacity to help people until we can enlarge our vision and understanding of the true nature and needs of the human person.”
  • “The next evolutionary step for both medicine and psychiatry is to explore and point the way towards what it will take to develop a rich, vital life of courage, faith and love. This means that we need to allow the capacities of mind and heart to stand on their own terms, and not be reduced solely to the language of biology and physics. And then seek to understand these hidden capacities, and how to cultivate them.”

It sounds to me that not only is Dr. Rediger not a skeptic, but rather he is a believer in mind-body dualism and “spirituality,” so much so that he heads something called the Initiative for Psychological and Spiritual Development.

Yet another segment describes a breast cancer testimonial for a woman named Lisa, who was apparently diagnosed with breast cancer at age 37, her mother having died of the disease. Before I go on, I suggest that you take a look at another woman with breast cancer who appeared on Oprah’s show a couple of years ago after having chosen the New Age idiocy known as The Secret to treat what she described as “stage III breast cancer.” The woman’s name was Kim Tinkham, and she chose a regimen that involved acid-base quackery and The Secret. Two years later, she popped up on YouTube in an interview, where it turns out that she almost certainly didn’t have stage III breast cancer but rather grade III ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is noninvasive and doesn’t always progress to fully invasive cancer. Read the testimonial of Hollie Quinn. Read one of my oldest posts, which was about how breast cancer testimonials can easily deceive because of most people’s lack of knowledge about breast cancer. It’s nearly six years old and still as relevant today as it is was then. Lisa underwent the “forceps up the nose” operation by John of God. Her testimonial is described in this video and this segment on the Oprah website:

Doctors recommended a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, but Lisa refused. Desperate to find an alternative treatment, she traveled from her home in South Africa to Abadiania to see John of God. While at the Casa, Lisa volunteered for a visible surgery–a nasal probe.

“My heart was beating very fast [during the surgery]. And then I sort of felt him turning this instrument, and I remember a crunching sound and thinking ‘How far can this thing go back?’ because it felt really far,” she says. “I wouldn’t say it was painful. It was more like shock.”

When she left Brazil, Lisa says she followed the guidelines she had received from John of God, such as abstaining from sex and alcohol for 40 days. She later had a biopsy and, unfortunately, her tumor was still malignant.

“It’s never gone away, meaning I’ve never been out of the cancer realm,” Lisa says. “I was told I was at a fourth-stage diagnosis.”

Even though Lisa did not experience a physical healing at the Casa, she says she has no regrets.

So basically Lisa decided to forgo effective therapy and travel to see a faith healer, who did her no good. Now she has a stage IV diagnosis. Indeed, I wonder if she has large cervical nodes on her left side. Her neck looked very odd during this interview, as though it’s assymetrical with a bulge on the left side. Lisa is the true price of quackery like that of John of God. Quacks and faith healers hold out the hope of cure without that nasty surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Believe me, I understand why patients might want to avoid surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, but they are all we currently have that actually works against breast cancer. Magical thinking leads to outcomes like that of Lisa.

Perhaps the most disgusting segment of all is this one, which introduces John of God. In it, Oprah’s voiceover describes John as “persecuted,” “misunderstood,” and “working tirelessly,” after having exulted about how “millions upon millions” of people have traveled to Brazil to visit him. The images are even more disturbing. John of God seems to have a proclivity for women’s breasts. In one scene, his is shown apparently making an incision on a woman’s breast, her nipple chastely blurred out, and squeezing something out of the breast, which the woman described as “something black coming out of my heart.” More important is this key statement: “He urges those who come to see him to continue all treatments prescribed by their own medical doctors.” Assuming that most of these people actually do that, it looks to me as though John of God is the classic case of a quack faith healer doing nothing and then taking credit for what science-based medicine can do. As Robert Caroll, Joe Nickell, and James Randi have documented, it’s pure quackery. As for all the testimonials, it’s almost always true that they consist of people who either (1) never really had the disease in the first place; (2) still have the disease, as Lisa does; or (3) can’t be tracked down and may well be dead.

As Oprah’s show winds down toward its end in May, I can only say: It’s not a moment too soon. Her reign of woo needs to come to an end. From just one show, Oprah has probably spurred thousands more people to trek down to Brazil to seek out John of God and potentially be harmed. Unfortunately, as Oprah ends her show, she’s starting up her very own cable channel, from which she can promote this sort of “spirituality” 24/7. I don’t know which is worse.

ADDENDUM: There are some defenders of John of God infesting the comments who are going nuts because I didn’t actually sit down and watch the entire episode of The Oprah Show entitled Do You Believe in Miracles? However, I did examine everything on Oprah Winfrey’s website on John of God (a.k.a. João Teixeira de Faria), which includes:

  1. Do You Believe in Miracles? (A long writeup of the show)
  2. Who is John of God? (video)
  3. Face-to-Face with John of God (video)
  4. Science and Miracles (video)
  5. Lisa’s Search for a Cure (video)
  6. A Leap of Faith: Meet John of God by Susan Casey (the long article featured in O Magazine)

If this is not representative of what Oprah Winfrey is promoting about John of God, please demonstrate why it is not. Also, please explain why Oprah’s website links to these credulous paeons to John of God:

Seriously. These are the other sources Oprah recommends for additional reading on John of God.

Comments

  1. #1 davep
    November 20, 2010

    Replying to Calli Arcale@69

    “It’s not so much the believing as the promoting that I have a problem with”

    I don’t get this. Why believe in something that isn’t worthwhile to promote?

    Calli Arcale@69 ” — especially promoting what appears to be an obvious and dangerous fraud in a dramatically unbalanced way.”

    The problem with this is that some people don’t see it as a fraud.

    “2) Anybody can make any claim they want, and believe whatever they want. Everybody else is free to criticize it if they perceive a problem with it. This is the wonderful thing about free speech, and also about science. Christian beliefs get criticized too, and I think that’s healthy. Could probably do with more of it, really.”

    This is the “postmoderning” perspective I was talking about earlier: everybody can say whatever they want and everybody’s claims are equally valid!

    But we aren’t aren’t interested in claims as a result of “free speech” per-se. We are interested in *verifiable* claims”: claims backed-up by evidence.

    Actually, religious beleifs have more “protection” against criticism because (among other reasons) it’s “impolite” and socially unacceptable to do so!

    “I don’t give myself a free pass, actually, which is why I tend to put a bunch of disclaimers into my discussions of my faith. I believe what I believe. I can’t prove it, though, and so I don’t think it would be fair of me to demand you believe it too. Supporters of woo tend not to be so relaxed about their particular sacred cows, though. They rarely acknowledge that doubt is reasonable. Indeed, they’ll often regard doubt as a personal threat.”

    No, you don’t actually (which is why I’m able to discuss it). There’s stll some degree of inconsistency between what you (as an example) allow for yourself and what you allow for people who believe in things you don’t approve of.

  2. #2 Carlos Vidal
    November 20, 2010

    Science has seriously underestimated the power of the placebo effect. It is because of the placebo effect that quackery works often enough to give a great living to those who practice it, Homeopathy is a good example. Oprah knows that when people believe in “something greater than themselves” things happen. This is because of the placebo effect goes into action. Without question faith reinforces and augments the placebos, therefore many people get better or at least feel better

  3. #3 martin
    November 20, 2010

    Casey`s article is a hoot. On page 6 she meets a woman who not only was cured of cancer by JOG, but gave birth to a child although she had no uterus nor ovaries – another of JOGs miracles.

    “In a calm and measured tone, Janete told me that she had given birth despite having previously undergone a complete hysterectomy. “Janete had no tubes, no uterus,” Heather would elaborate for me. “The doctors said it had to be a psychological pregnancy, but then they did an ultrasound. She was already five months along.

    And yet I was being asked to believe what science would flatly deny: that a pregnancy could occur in the absence of an egg.”

    Casey finds it hard to be believe at first, but then she swallows it – hook, line and sinker, as always. The uterus-free woman had a proof with her – her daughter.

  4. #4 Nick
    November 20, 2010

    The placebo includes the bias of the researchers, the desire of the subjects to please the researchers and to get well, non-specific effects of receiving medical intervention and attention, and other artifacts of the research process. People like Carlos that seem to think that the placebo effect is a miracle catch-all that cures diseases. The fact is, beyond the bias of researches and artifacts, there is very little legitimate effect to the patient at all. It might make the patient feel some non-specific effect, but if they have a real illness- that illness is not going away w/ a placebo (beside the natural course of the disease).

    In fact, I would argue that postponing care is far more dangerous for a serious illness than some non-specific effect produced by a charlatan. And somehow, I don’t think people are going to spend huge amounts of time and money to go to John for the average ear infection or minor cut. They have cancer, MS, etc.

  5. #5 Kristen
    November 20, 2010

    Sastra

    I think this is what happens to a mind that is in love with its own omnipotence, and calls it “having faith.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Indeed, one definition of faith” is: “a belief that is not based on proof.” But “faith” can also be defined as: “confidence or trust in a person or thing.”

    I think the word has been hijacked by people who think faith=willful belief in everything that sounds vaguely ‘spiritual’. Blind faith is not the same as faith and is not encouraged in the Bible:

    Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps (Proverbs 14:15)

    I am not looking for validation of my beliefs. I am just pointing out that these people who are always talking about faith and using christianity as an excuse for stupidity don’t know what they are talking about. They claim to speak for christians but have never cracked open the Bible farther than Psalm 23 and John 3:16.

    Callie is not one of them, she and I both believe in God and are reasonable. The two are not mutually exclusive.

    The Bible also says “gifts of prophesying…will be done away with (1 Corinthians 13:8)” after Christs apostles died. So really modern day prophets (and yes, this includes the Pope) are all “either lying or mentally ill (thank you Tim Minchin)” and trust in them is contrary to Bible teaching. Fundamentalists and “holy men/women” are hypocrites that don’t know what being a christian means, they just know what tradition has taught them.

    If you think the Bible is a collection of stories and fairytales that is your right. But there is some wisdom to be learned from those stories even if just the collective wisdom of our ancestors.

  6. #6 Bob
    November 20, 2010

    Funny that you cite Paul in an attempt to provide prophesying has been done away with after the apostles. Paul never met Christ and was not an apostle. Why they hell did he have that strange gift? How about the writer of revelation? John the revelation writer wasn’t a apostle and never met christ. The upshot of all these verses that decry charlatans is that the writers seem to think the rules don’t apply to them, but apply to people with other doctrines. It is basic religious doctrinal strife. On a side note, the New Testament is full of this doctrinal strife, a good percentage of Paul’s letters are written by fake that is inserting his doctrinal prospective into Paul’s mouth to win a religious debate.

    “If you think the Bible is a collection of stories and fairytales that is your right. But there is some wisdom to be learned from those stories even if just the collective wisdom of our ancestors.”

    This is equally interesting and true in one specific respect. The Bible is interesting literature (Ecclesiastes is almost ancient existentialism and the only intellectually honest theodicy) but is hardly unique in comparison with other ancient works. There is nothing about the bible should set it apart from these other great ancient works. The Bible should be regard in the same way as Homer’s magnificent works or the Aeneid.

    So when people say the bible is “collective wisdom of our ancestors” (actually the vast majority of us aren’t jewish, so actually its not) and then proceed to ignore all the wonderful ancient literature and set apart the bible- it shows them to be basic religious ideologues rather than knowledge seeking people.

  7. #7 Kristen
    November 20, 2010

    Funny that you cite Paul in an attempt to provide prophesying has been done away with after the apostles. Paul never met Christ and was not an apostle. Why they hell did he have that strange gift? How about the writer of revelation? John the revelation writer wasn’t a apostle and never met christ.

    I am not going to argue with you except two points in which you are mistaken: As to your former point on Paul; he lived and prophesied before the apostles died which is in harmony with what I wrote. As to your later point: the authorship of “Revelation” is to this day disputed. Some schools of thought regard “John of Patmos” and “The apostle John” as one and the same, but others that they are different persons.
    (actually the vast majority of us aren’t jewish, so actually its not)
    I was speaking of the human race in general. I do not ignore “the wonderful ancient literature” (there is much to learn there, but it was not the subject of my comment), but you hypocritically dismiss the Bible categorically.

    You are unreasonable. I tried to write a very well-thought-out post and you simply attack, without really knowing what you are talking about. I am not willing to argue with you. My comment stands on it’s merits. I am an expert in the subject and welcome criticism, but you could try to be respectful, or at least civil.

  8. #8 Pablo
    November 20, 2010

    What “wisdom” do we actually _learn_ from the bible?

    As far as I can see, the bible says a lot of things. Some of them we have reached a consensus that they are probably good things. Others we all agree are really stupid.

    But given that, the bible tells us diddly. If you read something in the bible, how do you know if it is wise or not? If you have to rely on external reference to determine whether what the bible says is wise or not, then the bible isn’t telling you anything unique.

    Consider this great trade-off: is “an eye for an eye” a good idea? Actually, the bible is a source of both positions. If you want to support “an eye for an eye,” you could use the bible to do that (ignore the NT if you want – the Jewish people do). If you don’t like “an eye for an eye” then go with Jesus.

    So what does the bible teach us? Whatever we think is best…

  9. #9 Bob
    November 20, 2010

    None of the gospels were written by actual first-person apostles. Period. The Gospel of John was written as late as 100 AD, far too late to have actual “apostles” living. We have known this for a very long time, and even the Catholic Church has adopted this perspective (the Jesuits teach it quite readily). Again that biblical quote is hypocrisy in the highest order.

    And are you really attempting to suggest that modern scholarship is split on the writer of Revelation? There is no doubt John the Apostle, John the Evangelist and John of Patmos were three separate individuals. This is clear from both the language of the texts and the respective time periods the works were written. The Book of Revelation was written between 70AD and 100 AD- far to late for actually living apostle to have written the text. But again, intellectually dishonest individuals want to force the evidence to conform to their beliefs.

    And where did I “dismiss” the bible? I said it should be thought of in the same class as Homer and mentioned my affinity for Ecclesiastes. Great books of myth and legend. Robert Price has a wonderful talk about this subject.

    Last point: Clearly you are only skeptical about selective things according to your tastes. That is fine. But don’t expect others to toe the line and act as if this worldview is logically consistent.

  10. #10 Kristen
    November 20, 2010

    I respect your position, Pablo. I have a great deal of respect for you in general. I disagree, (Jesus said “love your enemies”).

    Bob, you are asserting theological conjecture. We simply will never know these things 100% for sure.

    Which is all beside the point I made in my original comment, which was pointing out the ridiculous hypocrisy of some including the man who is the subject of Orac’s post.

  11. #11 Pablo
    November 20, 2010

    I respect your position, Pablo. I have a great deal of respect for you in general. I disagree, (Jesus said “love your enemies”).

    So?

    Bill and Ted said, “Be excellent to each other.”

  12. #12 Chris
    November 20, 2010

    Kristen, yes the Bible has bits of wisdom, though mixed in with attitudes of the ancient era (like slavery). It has been a long time, but when I took confirmation classes at the post chapel a long time ago, the chaplain did talk about the other documents from ancient times to compare and contrast (for instance the Babylonian geocentric beliefs). There are some uncanny similarities between the several versions of the Bible and some other ancient texts.

    You have perhaps heard of Aesop’s fables? If you read ancient legends, myths and stories you will find several themes that are repeated. If you click on the links of the Aesop’s fables there is some discussion on origins in India and elsewhere.

    One thing that is very true… con-artists are not new and there have been warnings through out history in just about every culture. Remember a fool and his money are soon parted. And if you are a fool, I have a bridge for sale. Any interest in that bridge yet, William and klm?

  13. #13 Kristen
    November 20, 2010

    Bill and Ted said, “Be excellent to each other.”

    Good advice. :D

    Pablo, I get your point. My point was simply that there are gems in there. It is not entirely bad advice or good. Some of the Proverbs are quite profound, and the Song of Solomon is a beautiful love poem. Wisdom can come from anywhere, we need to use our thinking abilities to decipher it all. No matter where it comes from.

    Chris, I am glad you commented. There are so many interesting similarities between different ancient religions. I find Babylonian culture particularly fascinating. When the Bible is put in the context of history and compared to archeology there is so much to learn (as there is from other ancient texts). I do agree that the similarities give one pause.

    I have been studying this my whole life. I think I may have come across wrong. I have thought about and read about many, many other subjects to give me context. I have not just read the Bible and decided it is authority on all things.

    I have learned the hard way in the past that the mere mention of the Bible on this blog is inviting a flame war. I am not a troll, so I will not continue the OT discussion. Sorry for the derailment (I am not being sarcastic). Carry on. ;)

  14. #14 Chris
    November 20, 2010

    Kristen:

    I have learned the hard way in the past that the mere mention of the Bible on this blog is inviting a flame war.

    Have you seen the latest National Geographic? I’m sure there is a flame war on that already. ;-)

    Now a wee anecdote: When I was in 8th grade I had pneumonia. I was out of school for over a month. But this was back in the day where there was no internet, and very little television. Even worse, I was in the Panama Canal Zone where one Amercican Forces and Television Service” only started to broadcast at 3pm on weekdays, and the Panamanian stations typically played soap operas during the day (either novelas, or dubbed American soaps like “Dark Shadows”).

    Needless to say, I read lots. In addition to keeping up with school work, one of the things I read was a series of books for older children on the Bible Old Testament from World Book Encyclopedia (which came when my parents bought a humongous Bible from them). I read through all of the stories, and it even had some books not included in the Protestant bible. It was the story of Saul and David with the statement that witchcraft was an abomination that started me to be wary of psychics, tarot card readers and the like.

    Hence the bare beginnings of my skepticism.

    (Then during the teen chapel meetings my doubts about “Army Chapel Protestant” and religon were started when the Major running the meeting about cults started with the Baha’is. Huh? Many of my friends were Baha’i, and it did not seem to be a cult to me! Oh, rats… already have two links, but there was, and still is, a large population of Baha’i in Panama. According to one friend whose family was formally Jewish, his parents joined because they thought it meshed better with science.)

  15. #15 Pablo
    November 20, 2010

    Wisdom can come from anywhere, we need to use our thinking abilities to decipher it all. No matter where it comes from.

    If we have to “use our thinking abilities to decipher it all,” then that’s where the wisdom is coming from.

  16. #16 Sastra
    November 20, 2010

    Kristen #78 wrote:

    I am not looking for validation of my beliefs. I am just pointing out that these people who are always talking about faith and using christianity as an excuse for stupidity don’t know what they are talking about. They claim to speak for christians but have never cracked open the Bible farther than Psalm 23 and John 3:16.

    The Christians who believe that John of God is performing modern miracles would probably insist that their faith is a reasoned faith, and that the Bible does not preclude God working in the world today. Their hope and trust isn’t in the healer: it’s in the Source of his healing abilities. And so on and so forth.

    Once you accept that there is something very wise, noble, humble, and virtuous about making a “leap” of hope for something beyond this world, I think it is very hard to justify where to draw the line in the world between what is reasonable and what is not. With God all things are possible: believe, believe, believe. The Christian belief system is ultimately based on a belief in the sorts of miracles which a secular skeptic ought to reject. That’s the whole point of a special revelation and a transcendent deity. Balancing this foundation with an attitude which assumes secular skepticism as a default is going to be a bit tricky.

  17. #17 buddyB
    November 20, 2010

    Healthy skepticism is good. No where did Dr. Rediger endorse JOG. He simply stated several times that it is all something he cannot explain, and that something appears to have happened to some of the people. He gave only recognition, not proof, not endorsement. He is searching to understand that is all. An attitude like his would have saved all those witches in Salem…

  18. #18 Calli Arcale
    November 20, 2010

    Okay, allow me to apologize for responding in kind to the believer who visited the thread. It appears I have caused a thread digression, and I’m sorry.

  19. #19 Chris
    November 20, 2010

    buddyB:

    Healthy skepticism is good. No where did Dr. Rediger endorse JOG. He simply stated several times that it is all something he cannot explain,

    Except there were those who already had an explanation. These people were ignored, and in the case of the ABC Primetime infomercial in him was cut down to a nonsensical sound bite.

    Go back and click the links in the part where Orac says:

    Assuming that most of these people actually do that, it looks to me as though John of God is the classic case of a quack faith healer doing nothing and then taking credit for what science-based medicine can do. As Robert Caroll, Joe Nickell, and James Randi have documented, it’s pure quackery.

    Again I say, there have been con artists for thousands of years and in every culture. We must remember Carl Sagan’s saying that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Obviously not a credo not familiar to Dr. Rediger.

  20. #20 haffin
    November 21, 2010

    I think those of us who know the “surgeries” are hogwash won’t be effected by this kind of thing. Those who are gullible will believe it from wherever they see, read or hear it.
    I am interested, though, in how he effects someone mentally.
    Nearly the whole world’s population of human beings believe in God, life after death, spirituality, etc., I think I’d like to know more about how this guy gets people to become so happy and peaceful.
    As biofeedback has been proven to assist with lowering stress levels, therefore blood pressure, we know our minds CAN effect our health.
    If meditation is Spirituality, fine! I believe in it. I, for one, would love to be calmer, healthier and therefore, happier.

  21. #21 jw
    November 21, 2010

    Even if you don’t believe in the “woo” what does it matter if others do? If it heals those in pain as believers or not, or doesn’t heal anyone, who are we to judge.

  22. #22 Composer99
    November 21, 2010

    jw, that is true up to the point where the practitioner of woo is engaged in what can be demonstrated to be fraudulent practice.

    There is something morally wrong with treatments that don’t work while entailing long, expensive trips to remote parts of Brazil on the part of the ill and the desperate.

    There is nothing objectionable, I would think, with acting to prevent such rank exploitation of other people.

  23. #23 Chris
    November 21, 2010

    jw:

    If it heals those in pain as believers or not, or doesn’t heal anyone, who are we to judge.

    Because it does not heal those in pain. What part of “fraud” did you not understand?

    There are those of us who have had family members harmed by false promises. If you had a loved one with treatable cancer go to a charlatan and later died due to delaying treatment, would you think you’d be able to judge? Sure, what’s the harm with faith healing? Since earlier this year we buried a family member who missed appropriate treatment by going to a naturapath, does that give us more right to judge? Or should judging frauds like João Teixeira de Faria be limited to those who have had family members harmed by him?

    The wiki on this particular fraud, João Teixeira de Faria, ends with a summary of an ABC update:

    ABC’s update on the five subjects,[10] while not mentioning one of the subjects, indicated that two are making either slow progress or none at all, one is worse, and one is much better. According to other sources, Matthew Ireland is now free of his brain tumor, which is physiologically possible[11] and David has since died.[12]

  24. #24 Travis
    November 21, 2010

    jw,
    you seem to have missed the fact that it does not work and that it is a sham.

  25. #25 Stu
    November 21, 2010

    For the sake of both the persons of interest and unbiased readers, instead of using phrases like ‘woo woo’ and ‘quackery’ you really should elucidate your disparaging remarks.

  26. #26 Chris
    November 21, 2010

    Concern troll is concerned.

    Do educate us on how to better describe the fraud perpetuated by Oprah.

  27. #27 Monica Pignotti
    November 21, 2010

    Here’s another way this can be harmful, not only to the people who fall for this, but others who happen to be out on the road with the marks.
    http://kathysouth.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/omega_jog_2010/
    This woman claims that JoG’s “entities” healed her eyesight and “took away” her glasses and removed her glasses while driving, without even stopping to check it out with an eye exam.

  28. #28 Kelly
    November 22, 2010

    Here’s the real deal: Anyone who made a conscious decision to go to John of God to receive treatment is ultimately responsible for making that decision. Everyone wants to blame someone else – Oprah is the media whore America has made her, and many morons are eager to worship at her altar, and while that is truly her responsibility, it ends there. She forced no one to go to John of God, and if others made an uneducated decision, the blood is on the hands of those that made the decision. Many desperate people are looking for miracles, and unfortunately they look in the wrong places. Again, that is on THEM, any decision that they make.

  29. #29 Travis
    November 22, 2010

    Kelly,
    I am not sure what your point was and why it matters in this discussion.
    I do not see anyone here saying that people who get bilked by people like John of God do not bear any responsibility. But the fact that Oprah and people like her are not directly responsible does not mean people cannot criticize her for having such people on her show, for uncritically discussing him. I wish people did not use Oprah as a primary source of info on these things, I certainly wish people had better critical thinking skills, but they do and I am therefore going to freely critique what she presents. I am not going to sit back and say “Well, anyone who believes this garbage is making their own decision therefore I should not say anything”

  30. #30 Kelly
    November 22, 2010

    Travis,

    Sorry, I should have specified what I was addressing so you would be more comfortable with my comment, since I was certainly not trying to be an ass – the person up top that said blood was on Oprah’s hands, and since the comment was part of this discussion, I feel that my point is a valid part of this discussion, thanks so much for sharing.

  31. #31 Kelly
    November 22, 2010

    Travis, here is the comment I was replying to, which I found slightly outrageous:

    “The only word I can think to describe John of God is evil. Pure evil. He is conning people, people who can least afford to be conned with a magic act. People will die because of his quackery. People undoubtedly already have. It’s a wonder that he even enjoys his freedom given the untold misery he has inflicted on others.

    Shame on Oprah. Now she has blood on her hands too.”

  32. #32 Kelly
    November 22, 2010

    Travis, to further clarify my position here, because I certainly don’t wish to confuse you any further, people are dying from bad decisions – John of God didn’t force them to come to him, Oprah didn’t require her audience to use him, and I’m reasonably certain that no one was forced to go before John of God at gunpoint. Please do not hesitate to let me know if I have continued to be vague, because that was never my intention.

  33. #33 Travis
    November 22, 2010

    Kelly,
    Sorry for being a little overly harsh perhaps. But I read your post and thought it was trying to deflect criticism of people like Oprah by envoking some sort of caveat emptor line of reasoning. It would not be the first time people had tried to argue that somehow because people freely choose to indulge in these treatments that being critical was somehow unfair or wrong.

  34. #34 Anthony McCarthy
    November 22, 2010

    There are three POSSIBLE problems with faith healers that I can see:

    1. Do they prevent people from getting prompt, scientifically supported treatment.
    2. Do they charge for their services (charging for it should be illegal) or seek some kind of financial benefit from it.
    3. Do they try to exert some kind of nefarious control over the people who seek their services.

    All of those should be subject to criminal and civil law.

    Of course, the fact that 1 and 2 harm many hundreds of times more people when they are practiced by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries means that the “faith” being religious instead of secular is only a distraction from trying to solve the problem.

    So, while it’s not wrong to expose phony healers of any kind, it can mask the bigger problem. It’s been my experience that it also tends to devolve into the victims not being the real focus of the effort.

    Oprah Winfry isn’t the brightest shell on the beach. She’s not the worst but she’s responsible for popularizing a lot of tripe. Tuesdays with Morrie not the most important but one of the most annoying. And then there’s Dr Phil.

  35. #35 davep
    November 22, 2010

    Kristen@78 “But “faith” can also be defined as: “confidence or trust in a person or thing.”‘

    What is the “confidence or trust” based on? You need to show that base to make this argument. (Otherwise, you aren’t actually saying anything.)

    Kristen@78 “If you think the Bible is a collection of stories and fairytales that is your right. But there is some wisdom to be learned from those stories even if just the collective wisdom of our ancestors.”

    This is a specious argument in many, many ways. Even if some wisdom exists somwhere in th bible, it’s mixed in with a lot of stuff that people should disregard! Also, many christians see it as the only source of wisdom (which is absurd). Also, there is no rational reason that any wisdom it contains must be conveyed in that form. If it contains the “collective wisdom of our ancestors”, what about other religious texts that christians routinely condemn as evil?

    Anyway, the “ancient wisdom” ploy is the standard tactic of purveyors of “woo”. As an argument, it’s too vague (what exactly is the wisdom you are talking about?).

    Kristen@78 “Callie is not one of them, she and I both believe in God and are reasonable. The two are not mutually exclusive”

    Clearly, they are not mutually exclusive but neither are they the same thing. Smart people are not always smart. The sociology/psycology of why humans believe in religion in the ways they do is interesting. Anyway, it’s not clear whether there is any good reason to prefer one form of a god over another.

  36. #36 davep
    November 22, 2010

    Kelly@105 “Travis, to further clarify my position here, because I certainly don’t wish to confuse you any further, people are dying from bad decisions – John of God didn’t force them to come to him, Oprah didn’t require her audience to use him, and I’m reasonably certain that no one was forced to go before John of God at gunpoint.”

    This makes no sense.

    While “blood on her hands” is over the top, Oprah is *actively* encouraging people to see this nut. If JOG is evil, then Oprah is supporting that evil. She is logically contributing to that evil and is thus responsible for some of it. There is no requirement that people be lead to evil by gunpoint.

    Oprah has some *moral* responsibility to not present dangerous/useless crap to her audience. In the JOG and other examples, she is failing to do that. What would be interesting to know is why she fails. Is it ignorance? Ratings? Some mixture of both?

  37. #37 Anthony McCarthy
    November 22, 2010

    Considering what a cesspool of conflict of interest the pharmaceutical, insurance and medical industries and the governmental agencies that are supposed to regulate, are in the United States, and that far more people put their faith in those than in phony faith healers, I’d like to know why the appalling show “The Doctors” isn’t more of a problem. Not to mention the flood of ads mixed with medical “news” consisting of PR from said industries. What Oprah is reported as doing here is a minor bump on a mountain of trash.

  38. #38 Calli Arcale
    November 22, 2010

    There is a point to be made about the people who go see John of God being partly responsible. We’re all grownups; we have to accept responsibility for our decisions. That’s the basis of contract law, actually. If you signed on the dotted line, well, you signed. You are legally bound. But even contract law makes allowances for fraud. If you signed on the dotted line but some crucial piece of information was withheld from you, then the contract may no longer be binding, since what you signed to is not actually what you got.

    I think what it comes down to is that we need to use a two-pronged approach against fraud. Regulation addresses the perpetrators — it’s illegal to defraud people, advertising must be true, doctors have to have completed a specific amount of training and passed appropriate tests before they can practice medicine, lawyers are also required to have formal training, etc. But that’s reactionary — it provides a vehicle for punishing perpetrators. It doesn’t stop people trying. That’s where education comes in — train the victims to recognize scams or at least dubious claims. That’s where promoting good science education comes into play. I’m not talking about the memorizing facts bit that so many of us wind up getting in lieu of a decent science education. That’s useful, but what’s really important is to teach critical thinking, and the fact that although most people are basically good, a few aren’t, and they look just like the good guys. So you have to be on your guard.

  39. #39 Kristen
    November 22, 2010

    Also, many christians see it as the only source of wisdom (which is absurd). Also, there is no rational reason that any wisdom it contains must be conveyed in that form. If it contains the “collective wisdom of our ancestors”, what about other religious texts that christians routinely condemn as evil?

    In my comment I was trying to point out the absurdity of the people who clearly don’t know what the Bible contains claiming others don’t have “faith” if they don’t believe everything a self-proclaimed person of god says (when such “faith” contradicts the teachings of their own holy book).

    Perhaps “ancient wisdom” was not the correct term to use. I was simply speaking of things that are in the Bible that have been confirmed by modern science (for example: the sanitation practices of ancient Israel) and (what I believe to be) excellent moral principals contained in the ancient Greek scriptures (love your neighbor, treat others the way you want to be treated etc…).

    I never claimed there was nothing of value in other ancient texts. I can’t comment on most other ancient texts because I haven’t studied them in depth. I don’t think these (or any) texts are “evil”. I have studied the Hebrew and Greek scriptures, ancient Judaism and Christianity as well as ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Medo-Persian and Assyrian culture and religion. Much as a chemist shouldn’t claim to be expert on surgical practices, I can’t speak on eastern religions, the Koran etc.

    Although I do thank you (and Chris and Pablo) for being civil in your comments to me, it is unfair to decide you know what I believe from my comments above. I have studied in depth what is, to me, a fascinating subject. I will be more judicious in sharing my knowledge of such things in the future.

  40. #40 Joseph
    November 22, 2010

    John of God didn’t force them to come to him, Oprah didn’t require her audience to use him, and I’m reasonably certain that no one was forced to go before John of God at gunpoint.

    So? No one forced anyone to invest with Bernie Madoff either.

  41. #41 Calli Arcale
    November 22, 2010

    davep:

    Clearly, they are not mutually exclusive but neither are they the same thing.

    Well, yeah. They literally mean different things; Kristen wasn’t arguing otherwise. The point is that you cannot assume that because a person believes in three impossible things before breakfast that they are unreasonable people. You need more information than that to reach the conclusion.

    There are many things in life which are not certain, and science can’t get you through all decisions. In fact, it can’t get you through most of them. I’m not saying religion is the answer to all of those; I actually strongly believe that it is not. However, you end up having to make decisions without enough time or information to make them really educated. We rely instead on our ancient ancestral shortcuts, which may ore may not serve us well. This is the arena where the majority of human interactions takes place, and while we can study them scientifically, we’re human — when we actually experience them personally, it’s not scientific at all. It’s what causes people not only to believe in a deity but also to choose to buy toilet paper by the pallet in order to save a little money, or to favor a specific restaurant, or to decide which doctor to see at a new clinic, or even just which shirt to wear. We tend to rationalize our decisions afterwards, but we seldom actually make our decisions that way.

    None of us are capable of stopping this behavior. It is as essential to our nature as the ability to speak — perhaps even more. But it is important to be aware of it.

    Anyway, it’s not clear whether there is any good reason to prefer one form of a god over another.

    I said I couldn’t really explain why I believe in God. You took that to mean I was being as silly as someone seeing an obvious con artist for their medical care, but I never really elaborated. I like God for much the same reason I like Doctor Who, Minnesota, and my family. I just do. They appeal to me. What you believe is not important, really. It’s what you do with it that’s important.

  42. #42 Militant Agnostic
    November 22, 2010

    Calli Arcale

    I like God for much the same reason I like Doctor Who, Minnesota, and my family. I just do.

    Or perhaps because you find the prospect of living forever in a nice place after your physical existence ends comforting? However, you are forgetting about the inevitable hoof pummelings in heaven.

  43. #43 Kristen
    November 22, 2010

    Or perhaps because you find the prospect of living forever in a nice place after your physical existence ends comforting?

    I don’t know about Callie, but I don’t believe in an immortal soul any more than I believe in “auras”, “chakras”, “ghosts”, “aliens” or other “supernatural” phenomena. Interestingly enough the idea didn’t originate in the Bible at all:

    H.M. Orlinsky of Hebrew Union College (the editor-in-chief of a recent translation of the Torah) states: “The Bible does not say we have an immortal soul. ‘Nefesh’ [the original Hebrew word] is the person himself, his need for food, the very blood in his veins, his being.”-The New York Times, October 12, 1962

    I could go on with the Greek word’s meaning (psykhe), but I believe you get the idea. One can study the Bible, believe in a creator and think nominal christianity is a farce, full of tradition and superstition (Earth six thousand years old, heliocentrism, flat earth, fiery hell, infallibility of the Pope and much more…all teachings not found in the Bible-at least if you are willing to compare early translations)*.

    You have all made good points, but many are from ignorance. I have studied a subject that I am interested in (my personal beliefs notwithstanding), that is all. Biblical history, archeology, ancient texts and cultures mentioned in the Bible-all worthy areas of study in my mind.

    I digress. My main point was, and still is: In the Biblical sense (which some (majority?) of these people seeking JOG claim to follow), faith does not excuse credulity.

    Please forgive the OT comments It is very difficult for me to refrain from replying. It is a case of SIWOTI. I am sorry if I am being a nuisance.

    *I cannot speak to contemporary Judaism because I don’t know enough about it.

  44. #44 Lawrence
    November 22, 2010

    It is kind of like the whole belief of the “Rapture” which cannot be traced to any actual part of the Bible, but only in the interpretation of one individual about 150 years ago (I forget his name, but will try to google-fu him when I have the chance).

    Just because people believe certain things today, it doesn’t mean that they have a foundation from anything in the past.

  45. #45 Calli Arcale
    November 22, 2010

    Well, the original topic’s probably been flogged to death (not much that can be said on the topic anyway) so I guess the thread digression is here to stay. ;-)

    Militant Agnostic @ 115:

    Or perhaps because you find the prospect of living forever in a nice place after your physical existence ends comforting? However, you are forgetting about the inevitable hoof pummelings in heaven.

    Actually, that’s not that big of a deal for me. I’d rather focus on how I live my life in the here and now. The biggest appeal for me is the idea of treating one another kindly, regardless of background. It’s not unique to Christianity, of course, but that’s where I first encountered the idea. I do believe in the resurrection after death, but it’s not very important to me and I have a strong suspicion that none of us has come even close to what it really is.

    Kristen @ 116:

    I digress. My main point was, and still is: In the Biblical sense (which some (majority?) of these people seeking JOG claim to follow), faith does not excuse credulity.

    I have a hard time not responding as well. It’s just an interesting topic. ;-) I think you’ve summed it up perfectly there — faith does not excuse credulity.

    Lawrence @ 117:

    t is kind of like the whole belief of the “Rapture” which cannot be traced to any actual part of the Bible, but only in the interpretation of one individual about 150 years ago (I forget his name, but will try to google-fu him when I have the chance).

    There were several; you may be thinking of Cotton Mather. It seems to have been largely a phenomenon of English-speaking areas (said with apology to Scots, Gaelic, and Welsh speakers), which alone ought to encourage a certain skepticism. Adherents don’t seem to notice that little detail, though, despite most of them being fundamentalists.

  46. #46 Kristen
    November 22, 2010

    Of course I ment geocentrism. That was a stupid mistake.

  47. #47 davep
    November 22, 2010

    Calli Arcale@114 “Well, yeah. They literally mean different things; Kristen wasn’t arguing otherwise. The point is that you cannot assume that because a person believes in three impossible things before breakfast that they are unreasonable people. You need more information than that to reach the conclusion.”

    She was either implying that they were the same or was not being clear. Believing in god is unreasonable (in my opinion) whether or not people are reasonable in other ways. Now, you can disagree with me me but hand-waving about “reasonable people can believe in god” is not a counter argument.

    Anyway, I’m not assuming they are “unreasonable” overall. They are certainly unreasonable about some things! You don’t need anymore information than them “believing in three impossible things”! Why do generally reasonable people believe in unreasonable things?

    =================

    Calli Arcale@114 “None of us are capable of stopping this behavior. It is as essential to our nature as the ability to speak — perhaps even more. But it is important to be aware of it.”

    It’s important to be aware of it *and* do something about it!

    Anyway, clearly it’s not “essential to our nature” since we can overcome it!

    =================

    Calli Arcale@114 “It’s what causes people not only to believe in a deity but also to choose to buy toilet paper by the pallet in order to save a little money, or to favor a specific restaurant, or to decide which doctor to see at a new clinic, or even just which shirt to wear.”

    Firstly, there’s a difference between believing in a deity as a general concept and believing in a particular brand of deity (eg, the christian one). People need to be clear about which of these they are discussing (I’m discussing the latter) rather than mushing them together.

    Anyway, very few religious people would equate their choice of religion with their choice of toilet paper or resturants!

    =================

    Calli Arcale@114 “I like God for much the same reason I like Doctor Who, Minnesota, and my family. I just do.”

    This is quite unusual. It’s like preferring a particular flavor of ice cream (who cares?). Most religious people treat their choice of religion as more-deeply based. While you are free to have this position, it is not really useful in understanding why religion is so important to people.

  48. #48 davep
    November 22, 2010

    Calli Arcale@119 “I think you’ve summed it up perfectly there — faith does not excuse credulity.”

    No, faith is credulity that you like/approve of! “Faith” is believing in something without evidence.

  49. #49 davep
    November 22, 2010

    Calli Arcale@114: “I said I couldn’t really explain why I believe in God. You took that to mean I was being as silly as someone seeing an obvious con artist for their medical care, but I never really elaborated.”
    No, I did not take that meaning (that you were being “silly”). I was saying you are being irrational in one place. And, if it’s OK for you to be irrational in that one place, it might not be exactly fair to criticize people (JOG followers) being irrational about something they have faith in!

  50. #50 Calli Arcale
    November 22, 2010

    davep:

    Interesing you chose to reply to me and not her. It’s not meant as a counter-argument; it’s meant as a statement on its own.

    Why do generally reasonable people believe in unreasonable things?

    Because they are human.

    Anyway, clearly it’s not “essential to our nature” since we can overcome it!

    You deceive yourself. The brain takes an enormous number of shortcuts; the world we perceive is not the real world but a simulation of the parts of it which are generally adaptive to focus on.

    It’s easy and even comfortable to think of how this makes sight work so well, letting us pick out a predator hiding in the bush. It’s less comfortable to consider how this extends into all other aspects of our lives. It’s related to the Dunning-Krueger effect, and to Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average — we suck at personal estimation, and it turns out we suck at a lot of other things too, but we’re not aware of it because our brains have such great way of cheating and making critical decisions which, while not rational or scientific, are nevertheless ones that we can usually get away with.

    Firstly, there’s a difference between believing in a deity as a general concept and believing in a particular brand of deity (eg, the christian one). People need to be clear about which of these they are discussing (I’m discussing the latter) rather than mushing them together.

    Anyway, very few religious people would equate their choice of religion with their choice of toilet paper or resturants!

    Odd, though, that you don’t. I would’ve thought you’d find the concept appealing, given your disdain for what you perceive as the irrational thought processes of believers. Is it just hard to agree with something I’ve said in this context?

    Anyway, quite clearly, decisions made in the absence of complete data cover a very large spectrum in terms of their significance. Do you think people pick politicians with any more wisdom?

    (By the way, I suspect brand of toilet paper actually gets more rational consideration than politicians do. People choose toilet paper based on strength, softness, quantity, and price. They pick politicians based on emotion, most of the time.)

    Calli Arcale@114 “I like God for much the same reason I like Doctor Who, Minnesota, and my family. I just do.”

    This is quite unusual. It’s like preferring a particular flavor of ice cream (who cares?). Most religious people treat their choice of religion as more-deeply based.

    Did you actually read the list? I said I like God for the same reason as I like my *family*. That’s not ice cream. It think most people would agree that’s a tad more serious than ice cream. I’d probably die for my family. And then what about Minnesota? I *truly* love this state. I wouldn’t move if I was paid to move. It’s also why I find myself compelled to apologize for our state inflicting Michelle Bachmann on the country. (Sorry about that. Would’ve voted against her if I could, but I’m in the wrong district.)

    I did include one frivolous thing — Doctor Who — but you may underestimate my level of passion for that show. ;-)

    While you are free to have this position, it is not really useful in understanding why religion is so important to people.

    What, because my position surprises you, it should be discarded as irrelevant? I fail to meet your preconceived notions, so I should be ignored? That’s not a very wise approach.

  51. #51 Rorschach
    November 22, 2010

    Anthony, do shut up. While it is trivial to identify instances of wrongdoing on the part of Big Pharma as a whole and certain doctors in particular, there is a clear difference between the practice of science-based medicine and the peddling of supernatural nonsense. A drug company cannot put a product on the market without doing the research to support its safety and efficacy–there is no getting around this. While there have been tragic cases where drugs were approved and only later found to produce deleterious side effects, this is emphatically not the same as a faith healer who claims he treats patients without ever bothering to determine whether or not what he does helps. A final point of distinction is that when Big Pharma releases a drug that hurts people, they are generally punished for it in terms of lost revenue, government sanctions, and other penalties. Who regulates John of God when his treatments turn out to be snake oil?

  52. #52 Anthony McCarthy
    November 22, 2010

    Rorschach did you miss the part of my comment which said that faith healers who are guilty of causing harm to people or charging them for their services? Apparently. But I’ve noticed reading comprehension is trumped by ideological mirage in your faith tradition.

    As to your assertions about the penalties for drug companies putting out bogus and harmful products that hurt and kill people, you certainly seem to see that cesspool through rose colored glasses. Not to mention the issues of cost for those which might or do work, as well as for the ones that don’t and kill people.

    I have no intention of shutting up. None.

  53. #53 Rorschach
    November 22, 2010

    Not sure what you’re saying about my ‘faith tradition,’ exactly, but you’re still talking out of your ass. Big Pharma may not be on the side of angels, but it’s quite a leap from that to equate belief in modern medicine to belief in woo. Keep telling yourself otherwise, though.

  54. #54 Anthony McCarthy
    November 23, 2010

    Rorschach, it’s a difference between looking at false claims, harm done and lives taken and seeing that as it is or seeing some ideologically determined layer of distortion that masks that. I choose not to look at it ideologically but just to call lies and fraud, lies and fraud regardless of alleged motivation. There isn’t any difference between some cheating huckster who wraps his con up in a package marked “religion” and another one who wraps up his con in one labeled “science”. Especially not when it’s “science” funded by the conman who’s peddling it through lobbyists and influence peddling. And it’s entirely clear that it’s the “science” con that is more profitable by a long shot.

    Most religious bodies I’m aware of don’t practice faith healing of the sort decried in the post. Pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and the medical industry are riddled with their own versions of it harming far more people. They wouldn’t exist in the forms they have today without practicing two or all three of the things I listed @107, though two of them could, in a far less corrupt form. I don’t think the medical insurance industry will ever be more than a form of legalized theft.

    Of course, it’s not as fun as mocking religious folks and congratulating yourselves on your superiority, it’s just more accurate.

  55. #55 JoeB
    November 27, 2010

    Care to provide any evidence that Science Based Medicine is just another flavor of woo or is unsupported equivocation all you’ve got?

  56. #56 Chris
    November 27, 2010

    JoeB, what kind of query is that? It looks like your mind is welded shut, since there plenty of evidence posted here. Why should we bother with you at all?

  57. #57 novalox
    November 27, 2010

    @128
    This comment has to be be one the biggest examples of willful ignorance I have ever seen.

  58. #58 Chris
    November 27, 2010

    It is up there with the guy said that the 90% reduction of measles between 1960 to 1970 was the “placebo effect.”

  59. #59 JoeB
    November 27, 2010

    Did I state it the wrong way around and just can’t see where?

    I’m asking Anthony McCarthy to back his claims.

  60. #60 Chris
    November 27, 2010

    Yes, it read like you were a fan of “John of God.” Especially since most of us ignore those who bring up the Pharma Shill on a thread that has nothing to do with pharmaceuticals. I suggest you do the same.

  61. #61 JoeB
    November 27, 2010

    You have to read at as being both breathtakingly stupid and having a meaning-reversing typo to get that though, right?

    True, that’s not a stretch for many of the woo-woo comments around here though.

  62. #62 Chris
    November 27, 2010

    Now that I look at more closely, it does look different.

    Of course part of the problem is just clicking on your comment and not seeing the one just before that you are responding to… which was made four days before. It is like walking into the middle of a conversation.

  63. #63 novalox
    November 27, 2010

    @134

    And you are now using ad hominem attacks to try to get your way, I see… Doesn’t make you the better person nor will it make your argument any more coherent, not that it was much in the first place.

    Show me a peer-reviewed article from a well-known medical journal that proves and/or shows that this guy has cured someone of a major medical illness. I’ll be waiting….

  64. #64 JoeB
    November 27, 2010

    @136 You are still misunderstanding what I meant (largely my fault for not indicating who I was replying to in that first post). I absolutely think John of God is a fraud, I was trying to get Anthony McCarthy to actually support his anti-SBM assertions.

    That first comment was directed at McCarthy, not Orac’s great article.

  65. #65 novalox
    November 27, 2010

    @137

    OK, sorry, my mistake. I definitely misread your post.

  66. #66 Anthony McCarthy
    December 1, 2010

    JoeB, I’d figured this was a dead thread after my last comment went unanswered for so long.

    You obviously share the inability of most new atheists I’ve encountered to either read what was said or to comprehend it. Read my original comment and my answers to Rorschach. I’d say all will be revealed but, clearly, that would be overly optimistic on my part.

    New atheists and “skeptics”, boy packs of insecure cultists who can’t think past their ideological predispositions.

  67. #67 GlobalCop
    December 8, 2010

    I watched the whole show. At about 6:15 into the show, Susan Casey, the editor of “O” Magazine, describing her mindset going to Brazil, says, and I quote, “If you go in as a skeptic, you’re almost always right time and time again…” So she went in “open-minded.” What the hell does that mean? She doesn’t want to be right? I guess that just isn’t fun, eh?

  68. #68 Chris Mayers
    January 2, 2011

    I saw the man in New York, at the Omega Institute and felt a tremendous amount of energy, which is probably something none of you haters can understand. It’s not something you can see or measure, it is something you feel, your body vibrates, you feel heat, you know there is something wonderful and awesome happening. He is not evil, he is anything but that. It is not a money-making scheme, it is free. “Spirits with Scalpels: the Cultural Biology of
    Religious Healing in Brazil” by Sidney Greenfield is a great book I’d recommend to anyone who’s honestly interested in this subject, and not just out to bash what they don’t know anything about. You’ll find that John of God is only one of many who practice this healing. I respect the need for discernment. There are “quacks” everywhere in all forms and in every profession. But this guy has simply got something going on. I know it. And there’s just no way you can convince someone that something isn’t real when they feel it, and lives change as a result of their experiences. And the Amazing Randi is nothing but an amazing douche who’s made a living off of hate and true ignorance, which is behaving with deliberate blindness. Be skeptical of the skeptic.

  69. #69 Travis
    January 2, 2011

    Vibrating, heating, sound like testable things to me. Energy too, probably a way to measure that. Or do you mean energy as some mysterious byword for something that is not really energy? Please come up with your own words and stop stealing them from physics if this is the case. Much like the word quantum, energy is far too often abused.

  70. #70 Chris
    January 2, 2011

    Could we measure those vibrations if we attached accelerometers to Chris Mayers?

  71. #71 T. Bruce McNeely
    January 2, 2011

    I saw the man in New York, at the Omega Institute and felt a tremendous amount of energy, which is probably something none of you haters can understand. It’s not something you can see or measure,

    Sorry, then it ain’t energy.

    it is something you feel, your body vibrates, you feel heat, you know there is something wonderful and awesome happening.

    That sounds an awful lot like emotion. Emotions have been known to be misleading.

    He is not evil, he is anything but that. It is not a money-making scheme, it is free.

    Apart from the glory, the acclaim, the donations etc.

    “Spirits with Scalpels: the Cultural Biology of
    Religious Healing in Brazil” by Sidney Greenfield is a great book I’d recommend to anyone who’s honestly interested in this subject, and not just out to bash what they don’t know anything about.

    I’ll stick to Flim-Flam, thank you.

    You’ll find that John of God is only one of many who practice this healing.

    Successful scams do attract a lot of practitioners.

    I respect the need for discernment.

    No, you don’t.

    There are “quacks” everywhere in all forms and in every profession.

    Agreed, and there are some “professions” that are 100% false. So-called psychic surgery, for example.

    But this guy has simply got something going on. I know it. And there’s just no way you can convince someone that something isn’t real when they feel it, and lives change as a result of their experiences.

    We know we’re not going to convince you. However, if we can convince someone who is wondering about this stuff that it is fake, well then, mission accomplished.

    And the Amazing Randi is nothing but an amazing douche who’s made a living off of hate and true ignorance, which is behaving with deliberate blindness.

    James Randi has saved a lot of lives by his exposes – far more than John of God or any of the other fakers. You obviously choose to know nothing about his work. Too bad.

    Be skeptical of the skeptic.

    Why not? Be skeptical of everyone.

  72. #72 LW
    January 2, 2011

    You know, if I had the psychic healing powers that JofG claims, I sure wouldn’t act the way he does. If I had photographers in to film my healing sessions, I’d make sure they got the best and clearest pictures we could manage. If my body were in the way of the camera so they didn’t get a good look at the healing, well, we’d change positions and I’d heal another. And another and another, as long as necessary to get a good complete record.

    Furthermore, i’d be offended by the quacks with their sleight of hand, just as Orac is, more so in fact, and for the same reason: because those quacks induce people to waste their time, their money, their *lives* on fraudulent treatment when I could offer real treatment.

    If I had the psychic healing abilities JofG claims, i’d offer to subsidize investigations by skeptics, including investigation of myself. He doesn’t, though. Isn’t that odd.

  73. #73 No Name
    January 3, 2011

    I went to see JOG many times. I was told I would be healed of a brain tumor. I was not healed of anything. The people there were nice but the faith healer did not heal me. I do not believe in him.

  74. #74 Al.
    February 2, 2011

    All I know is that a person I know was persuaded to go to a healer. He didn’t believe in this at all. Amazingly he was cured.

    I know of another case where a woman went to a pilgrimmage centre ‘just rather thatn sitting at home’ and was cured.

    I know a person who was given 7 weeks to live and went to Brazil and now is as helathy as anybody else I know.

  75. #75 Chris
    February 2, 2011

    Nice little stories. Why should we believe you?

  76. #76 Melody
    February 4, 2011

    Oh, wow, I haven’t seen anything about this guy since I was eight or so and watched Sightings all the time. They had an episode (I think it was on that show) about John of God, and it completely nauseated me that ill people, particularly severely ill people, were going to him, moreso that he would take advantage of them, and the eye-scratching thing just didn’t convince me. I was no atheist and considered myself highly spiritual at the time, but there are far better (and cheaper!) ways to achieve spiritual fulfillment than visiting some guy making far-fetched promises…like meditating with candles, or something. No need to throw so much money and hope down the drain.

  77. #77 Akasha
    February 23, 2011

    Good article. I watched an Oprah Winfrey show in Holland where Oprah is advertising this John of God clown.
    I was wondering why this John of God puts large things in some one’s nose and cuts breasts of women. It looks non sensical and crude.
    Why would any healer do these crazy kind of things? So, I already thought it was a deceiver and now I am sure.

  78. #78 thomas
    March 30, 2011

    I went to John of God over two years ago for health problems. It was the worst year of my life but I stayed in hopes of being healed. When I returned, all kinds of bad things began happening that had never happened before – hearing voices, etc. I am not prone to exaggeration but I basically began being tormeneted both physically and emotionally and threatened not to talk about the Casa. I can tell you that I did not have faith when I arrived at the Casa but from both perosnal and antidotal experience cam to know that things go one their that I could not believe that are in the realm of what we do not know. people do can healed there but at what price?

  79. #79 chris
    June 7, 2011

    This is all a bunch of garbage. Itls a total con. I think oprah is pathetic expecting us to belivethis bullshit just because she says itls so. Shels so full of herself. Makes me gag! I had seen this story a few years ago and realized then that the guy is not “of GOD”! God is not a scam artist! I feel terrible for the poor souls who have given up hope on conventional medicine that might actually help them. People like this guy needs to be stopped!

  80. #80 Chris
    June 8, 2011

    Very nice rant. Yes, scam artists like “John of God” and their facilitators need to be stopped.

  81. #81 thomask
    June 24, 2011

    I had life threatening health problems when I went to John of God and spent a year there. Things do go on there that defy explanation and for those who think it is a sham it is not in that some people do get healed. When people are desparate they are willing to trust just about anyone. However, after returning to the US all kinds of worse problems started occuring to me that also defied explanation and I’m not someone prone to exaggeration on this type of stuff. If people really knew how dangerous a place this was it would be closed down. My best advice is to not drink the koolaid.

  82. #82 Camille
    June 28, 2011

    People like you are truly an curse on the planet earth. I personally have experienced an miricle and not through John of God. You are trying to act superior and scientfic and EDUCATED. Ok We are impressed. Now why not get lost.

  83. #83 lilady
    June 28, 2011

    “People like you are truly an curse on the planet earth. I personally have experienced an miricle and not through John of God. You are trying to act superior and scientfic and EDUCATED. Ok We are impressed. Now why not get lost”.

    Gee, my God tells me I am not a “curse on the planet earth”…which God do you worship?

    Would you care to share some of details of the “miricle” with us?…or are you just a crazy ranting troll?

  84. #84 Wilemutt
    June 29, 2011

    I saw the face of Jesus on the back of a tortilla shell;
    He said, “Hey-how come no one’s prayin’
    to keep from goin’ to hell?”
    I said, “Oh, Lord, why don’t you know?
    I thought that you could tell…it’s all about Facebook and Twitter,
    and John of God who will make us well! (Yeah, right).

    Get a grip folks.

  85. #85 unknown
    June 29, 2011

    Who are we to judge what is and isn’t…Just stop!!

  86. #86 Vicki
    June 29, 2011

    What makes you think “who are we to judge?” is a meaningful question? If you don’t think humans can sensibly reach conclusions about the world around us, why are you bothering to post? Seriously. Either we can evaluate evidence, or we can’t. If we can’t, game over, you know nothing at all about anything. If we can, we can judge claims of faith healing, just as we can judge someone’s claims about the value of their roulette system or the gas mileage of a car.

    Or, to put it another way, I challenge you to live up to your own beliefs, or lack thereof. If we cannot judge what is and is not, and knowledge is impossible, you should stop telling strangers what to say, or on what subject. If we cannot judge what is real, neither can Oprah, so she should stop promoting these people, and neither can John of God, so he should stop making claims. You are judging. But rather than defend your judgments, you’re saying that you and only you are allowed to judge.

  87. #87 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 29, 2011

    thomask – you stated that

    Things do go on there that defy explanation

    What things? Who tried to explain them? How do you know the things that happened defy explanation?
    You also state

    some people do get healed.

    Do they get healed, or do they just get better? How do you know?

  88. #88 Steve Bailey
    June 30, 2011

    Now alot of people think that he is a “scam artist”
    How can it be a scam, if he takes “NOTHING” from you???
    You just have to have a little faith, and he “CANT” take the faith of anyone away!!!

    Give your heads a shake!!!!!!!
    COMMON SENCE PEOPLE!!!!!

  89. #89 Bronze Dog
    June 30, 2011

    And Steve completely ignores everything said about the issue so that he can ramble with a lot of caps in what is most likely a hit-and-run trolling for shits and giggles.

    It doesn’t matter if John of God’s deliberately deceptive or not. That’s not the important part. The important part is that his treatments don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny, and is more easily explained by normal human traits of bias, self-deception, and other cognitive failings of human beings.

    It doesn’t help that a lot of his followers make standard-issue excuses not to have those treatments properly tested.

  90. #90 Calli Arcale
    June 30, 2011

    Steve,

    What if he takes your chance at life away, by lying to you? Would that make it a scam?

    If he’s lying it’s a scam. His motives aren’t important. Some people lie for their ego or for giggles rather than for their bank account; it’s still lying.

  91. #91 Bronze Dog
    June 30, 2011

    Well said, Calli. I really don’t understand the fixation with money, money, money that so many alties have. It’s like they’re living life through a filter: Everything is interpreted as an act of greed, no matter how roundabout they have to go to ‘follow the money.’

    It never occurs to them that there are intangible motivations and benefits, both good and bad. It also never occurs to them that doing good things might sometimes actually be profitable, or that someone who isn’t making a profit could be doing something dangerous or harmful. Morality and profitability can be independent of each other.

    Of course, motivations can be made largely irrelevant by applying scientific standards of evidence. But, of course, actually answering questions about efficacy runs the risk of knocking alleged heroes off of podiums, so they won’t even try.

    I’d rather know the truth by holding everything up to scientific scrutiny, especially when lives are at stake.

  92. #92 Aaliyah
    July 11, 2011

    I watched the episode last night, and it was a freak show for me! Oprah’s bullshit must stop! She’s knows that millions of people are watching her show and look up to her, that’s why she needs to be more careful with the bullshit she’s airing.
    Frankly, i think that she’s using and abusing her power to convince people with whatever she believes in.
    There’s this one episode where i was shocked of how Stupid and clueless oprah is, she had Dr.Oz on and she asked him where the uterus is, and she started pointing to her back! REALLY OPRAH??!?!?! Your Back??!? My 10 year old brother knows where the uterus is!

  93. #93 Do Not Go
    July 14, 2011

    Please be smart and do not go. I’m a nurse and I tell you this place is not anywhere you want to go if you are really sick and dying. They are about getting rich. If you go you need to be careful. They will prey on your illness. I went over a 3 year period. I saw people die waiting for a cure while they lived there. Perhaps had they stayed home and not delayed medical care many would have lived. I was not cured. It is not a safe place to go. If you go know what you will do if you become sicker while there, what you will do if your body should die while you are there, who will help you if you do not speak the language and need hospitalized, how you will pay for your medical care, and any other possible scenario you can dream of. It’s exotic to think of going somewhere like this but go somewhere else. You have too much to lose. It may not seem like it but you do. Please continue to read everything you can about this place before you sit on the plane. Be wise, be informed. Be safe and all the best to you.

  94. #94 thomas j kouns
    July 16, 2011

    I spent a year at the Casa Dominocio as I had serious health problems. My best advice would to stay as far away from this place as possible. At the time, I wanted to believe in “what they were selling” as I needed help for serious health problems for a life threatening condition. However, I cannot begin to tell you all of the problems and horrible situations that happened while I was there and after returning to the Unites States. Frankly, I was so desparate to be healed that I ignored a lot of obvious warning signs combined with the manipulation that goes on there.

    Make no mistake, what goes on there is beyond our understanding but people who go there are often desparate and “drink the koolaid”. People who do not have the “adequate” faith or often chastized or lightly mocked for their lacking a strong belief in the Casa.

    Since returning home, I was attacked physically and mentally. When I threatened to tell people about it, I was again threatened in ways that lets just say are also beyond my understanding.

    Frankly, if you are reading this and are skeptical, I don’t blame you. For much of the time I was there I was a skeptic and couldn’t believe that such things exist but they do.

    I am not the only one horrible things have happened to since leaving the Casa but you won’t find their stories on any spiritual websites or Casa material. Most of the guides will tell you rosy stories and give you the Casa ‘talking points’ because 1) they are seduced by the idea of being what they believe is ‘close to God’ 2) earning a decent living off these trips 3)and a lot of ego stuff that goes along with what they believe is being ‘God’s helper.”

    When you really think about it, people are often so desparate to find meaning in life, develop spirituality or get healed that they do not use common sense and this place is also very adept at manipulation.

    Whatever this place is or their intention, they do not belong on this earth. I realize a lot of people are big fans of the Casa, but I had an entirely different and awful experience there and since returning.

  95. #95 Bronze Dog
    July 16, 2011

    I know a lot of the dirty tricks employed by the dirtiest alties, but I still manage to be shocked when I read about specific instances where they happen.

  96. #96 web
    August 22, 2011

    What are you all so afraid of? I have a friend who was diagnosed with brain cancer, given 8 months to live, he went in six month stretches to john of god and now, to the amazement of his doctors at dartmouth hitchcock medical center, there is no more tumor. It worked for him, why do you have to try to debunk things you dont or cant understand? I cant understand it but it happened. I think its great, and if I were in the same position I’d be there, thats all i know!

  97. #97 Chris
    August 22, 2011

    web:

    What are you all so afraid of?

    Your apparent illiteracy. The plural of anecdote is not data.

  98. #98 maz
    August 26, 2011

    99.99 of an atom is empty space which means that we are essentially holograms – mostly energy and water. What you can touch, smell, see and hear is only 1 millionth of reality.

  99. #99 Beamup
    August 26, 2011

    Not even wrong. You obviously have zero actual understanding of the physics you’re claiming to talk about.

  100. #100 Chris
    August 26, 2011

    He doesn’t even know what a real hologram is (and, maz, it is not like Star Trek).

  101. #101 Krebiozen
    August 26, 2011

    We are “mostly energy and water”? That seems a bit unfair. Water is mostly empty space too.

    You know what we call empty space with proton, neutrons and electrons in it? Matter! The sort of matter my head still refuses to go through when I bang my head against it.

    What you can touch, smell, see and hear is only 1 millionth of reality.

    And scientific methods are what we use to find out more about the rest of reality, because you can’t touch, smell, see or hear it.

  102. #102 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 26, 2011

    Why isn’t water energy in the same e=mc2 relationship as all other matter?

  103. #103 herr doktor bimler
    August 26, 2011

    we are [...] mostly energy and water.
    My attempt to clone myself by dropping a toaster in the bathtub was not successful.

  104. #104 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    August 26, 2011

    maz: “99.99 of an atom is empty space which means that we are essentially holograms – mostly energy and water. What you can touch, smell, see and hear is only 1 millionth of reality.”

    Holy. Shitting. Norah!!!

    Yes, much of the atom is – under a classical explanation – empty space. But the atom is not a classical entity: it is composed of particles that behave more in line with the quantum mechanical model than the classical mechanical model. The quantum mechanical model does not actually allow for the atom to be ’99-point-fuck-knows-what percent empty space’, since the solutions to Schrödinger’s equation for the different electrons allow for them to occupy regions of space within the ‘edge’ of a probability cloud that we call the edge of the atom. And even this edge is not exactly sharp: there are probabilities of finding the electrons outwith the limit of the atom as defined by classical mechanics. So the more accurate way to understand the atom is that it consists of a shitload of very bizarre quasi-concentric probability clouds, to the extent that very little of the atom is actually likely to be empty space.

    *walks away shaking head at the fucking dimness of some people*

  105. #105 kay
    September 5, 2011

    stop wasting your time EVERYONE!! Let people choose their path to their ‘g-d’- their WAY! Are you guys judging each other??? Peace for all of you! Peace, please.

  106. #106 Chris
    September 5, 2011

    “stop wasting your time EVERYONE!!” says the Necromancer on an almost year old article. She must love promoting crooks to god like status.

  107. #107 lilady
    September 5, 2011

    @ Chris: Necromancer posted just in time for the next “distance healing session”:

    Distant Healing Instructions – Next Session with John of God – Wednesday September 7th.

    PLEASE: Never send a photo on its own, follow the instructions below.
    Email must include: Name, address, photo, date of birth, ailment and Google payment order number.

  108. #108 stephanie
    September 11, 2011

    I too saw the Oprah episode and was intrigued enough to go see JOG for myself. I work in western medicine, and I have never been ill, just curious.
    Without going into too much detail, I can say that many of the people there from all over the world, were there as their last hope. Others, had what I would consider chronic, and minor illnesses. Not life threatening, but more painful or inconvenient. No one, in the time I was there, had their eyes scraped, or body cut on. Apparently this is only done if the person requests it.
    I witnessed pain relief, people who previously walked with crutches (rhuematoid arthritis) riding bicycles (got the story AND the pictures) and heard many stories of those who had been healed and were back to visit. Many of the local people who do not have access to any medical care were also there.
    What I took away was this: Even IF he cannot heal, he certainly does SOMETHING for the people who see him. As long as he doesnt harm anyone, I am all for it. If its mind over matter, fine. Its working.
    In diving into the medical culture of South America, recognize that spirituality is a way of life there. Their hospitals employ “mediums” who work alongside the physicians. When a doctor cannot figure out, or heal a person, it is considered a “spiritual sickness” and they are referred to the medium. Please also note they have the same modern technology we enjoy, with a two tiered socialized system of medical care.
    There are also laws that protect the mediums,and stiff penalties that protect people from “charlatans.” John of God is a land owner and a farmer. He does not accept, (nor does anyone who works at the Casa) ANY money for his services. He does it for free. Any donations made to the Casa are to keep the lights on, and if there is extra, it goes to the soup kitchen that provides for nearly half of the towns occupants.
    I cannot explain all that I witnessed there. I just know that he isnt harming anyone, he isnt making any money from doing it, and people seem to heal.

  109. #109 Chris
    September 11, 2011

    stephanie:

    There are also laws that protect the mediums,and stiff penalties that protect people from “charlatans.”

    Do tell! Tell us exactly what laws exist in Brazil to protect people. Tell us how well they are enforced.

    Oh, and your anecdote is just a story. It is not data.

    Also, since I have lived in South America, I find your statement “In diving into the medical culture of South America, recognize that spirituality is a way of life there.” hopelessly naive, wrong and patronizing.

  110. #110 Narad
    September 11, 2011

    As long as he doesnt harm anyone, I am all for it.

    Yah.

    And Lisa Melman of Johannesburg, South Africa, discovered a year ago that she had breast cancer. After visiting João, her doctor told her it had grown, although less aggressively than he expected it to and that she should still have surgery.

    (Emphasis added.) Holding out nonsense that induces someone to doodle around instead of dealing with a real situation is doing harm.

  111. #111 Craig Hertz
    September 13, 2011

    Seems to me, the answer is simple. Instead of making light of something you don’t even begin to understand. Take an individual who has a documented illess to see him. If he’s for real, we’ll know soon enough

  112. #112 Craig Hertz
    September 13, 2011

    Seems to me, the answer is simple. Instead of making light of something you don’t even begin to understand. Take an individual who has a documented illess to see him. If he’s for real, we’ll know soon enough

  113. #113 Chris
    September 13, 2011

    Mr. Hertz, click on Narad’s link, read it. It is the blue text that says “Yah.” Perhaps you should try reading the paragraph in the blockquote (that is the part that is indented with a vertical line on the left).

    Just to let you know, writing what you did right after Narad’s example makes you look very silly.

  114. #114 stephanie
    September 23, 2011

    Chris,
    The laws protecting citizens are covered under Penal code art, 282,283, 284, and those who aide and abet them are covered under the penal code art. 29. The laws exist, how well they are enforced, I cannot answer.
    You are correct, my response is anecdotal. It was not intended to be anything else. My interest in South American medical culture comes from being tired of playing medical whack-a-mole with westernized medicine. (I have also looked at the socialized medical systems of Canada and Ireland).
    My time spent in Peru and Brazil have been in the smaller villages and the Amazon Jungle. If I referred to my village friends and family there as anything BUT spiritual, they would be highly offended. It is their way of life, whether you agree with it or not. Obviously your experience there was different than mine.
    I look forward to your condescension and would really appreciate an arrogant response. If you can, please verbally slap me around a little better than in your responses to others. I am beginning to suspect you are a 14 year old kid who gets home schooled and your parents trust you with the computer. I just need some more data.
    Hugs!

  115. #115 Chris
    September 23, 2011

    I lived in Caracas, and it is a modern city with doctors practicing real medicine. Which is the norm in any urban area of that continent.

    You really do need to learn to figure out real from fiction, or you will become a victim of someone who is much like “John of God” (and if you had read the Bible, you would know that in the Old Testament that visiting seers and soothsayers was frowned upon).

    Plus you need to actually read this whole thread, because your statement “He does not accept, (nor does anyone who works at the Casa) ANY money for his services. He does it for free.” was already note as false in this comment upthread:

    Actually he does charge money, every treatment comes with a subscription of herbs that must be taken for it to be effective. He in fact makes over $400,000 a year from the sale of these ‘herbs’.

    As far as the rest of your argument that involves personal insults, I would remind you that I actually use real grammar and paragraphs. You might work on making your evidence free rhetoric a bit more readable, and actually include real data instead of insults.

  116. #116 Scottynuke
    September 23, 2011

    OK stephanie, you prefer anecdote-based medicine over science-based medicine, we understand.

    “I just need some more [stories].” FTFY.

    We also understand anecdote-based medicine is only good for telling those stories.

    We’ll stick to science-based treatments, thanks.

  117. #117 Chris
    September 23, 2011

    I have a comment in moderation. Until it comes live, I suggest you read comment #57 upthread.

  118. #118 Chris
    September 23, 2011

    Perhaps you should contact these women all about that spirituality stuff and how “John of God” is so wonderful. I am sure they would love to hear all about it.

  119. #119 Chris
    September 23, 2011

    And perhaps you should wander over to Mundo del los Microbios and ScienceBlogs Brasil, and tell them all about what you know about Hispanoamérica, and the miracles by John of God.

  120. #120 stephanie
    September 23, 2011

    My entire trauma practice relies on evidence based medicine AND I have a lot of anecdotal “stories.” So lets back up to what we know:
    Does JOG help people? Yes
    Has JOG harmed people? Yes
    Does science based medicine help people? Yes
    Does science based medicine harm people? Yes
    Is medicine STILL an inexact science? Yes
    Is Oprah Winfrey a scientist? No
    Is her show science based? No
    Is this article appropriate for a science journal? No
    Is the articles author qualified to write the article? You decide.
    Personally, I too, am curious about what happens after…does he heal? Or just help people feel better for the time being? I don’t know. But what I do know is this: He is not malicious in his intentions, he is not rich, he helps feed over half his community, and he is often the last hope for many. He welcomes the science community to study him. While I was there, I did pick up a book that has the names and addresses of those who have been treated and are open and willing to discuss it. If there was anything to hide, would he be so transparent?
    As for the money he makes selling herbs, the herbs are produced in a laboratory, with a pharmacist, and packaged as any other pharmaceutical, under the same laws and guidelines. There are costs involved. Those that cannot afford it do not pay. All the profits go back to maintaining the Casa.
    I will end this conversation with two things. First: Chris, I am disappointed. And second, with a joke: Know what the leading cause of death is in the United States? Healthcare! Its too expensive, too inexact, too pharmaceutically controlled and too big a business to be effective. My joke has nothing to do with our conversation, but I just had to say it…maybe I will write an article about it….
    Peace Gentlemen :)

  121. #121 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 23, 2011

    Does JOG help people? Yes

    The evidence that JOG helps people get better from actual maladies is sketchy at best. If you mean he helps people in other ways, either his patients emotional state or the people of his village, then possibly.

  122. #122 lilady
    September 23, 2011

    @ Mephistopheles O’Brien: What about this statement by stephanie?:

    “Has JOG harmed people? Yes”

    So, does JOG’s “help” cancel out JOG’s “harm”?

  123. #123 stephanie
    September 23, 2011

    Hi lilady,
    Please look at the rest of my post. I guess what really bothers me about all of this is people are commenting on his INTENTIONS. He is a scam artist, he is getting rich etc. If someone decides to delay or not receive medical treatment, that decision lies with them, not JOG. I deal with what I think are stupid decisions that I dont agree with all day long. He doesnt tell people to stop their treatments of medication. That is their own decision.

  124. #124 lilady
    September 23, 2011

    @ stephanie: I suggest you view the Wikipedia article on JOG…in particular the links to criticism of him.

    In addition to TV newscasts that have totally debunked his “healing powers”, there are links to a woman who claims he actually sliced her abdomen with a scalpel, inserted his ungloved filthy hand into the incision and crudely sewed her up. She states she needed to be hospitalized in Brasilia with lifesaving IV antibiotics as a result of his (non-psychic) surgery.

    Also at the Wikepedia site, see the links to internet blogs where a number of women, including a woman who worked as a “guide” at his compound, state he is a sexual predator.

    The only “help” he has provided is sharing some of the money from his “patients” with the poor villagers in the district.

  125. #125 Chris
    September 23, 2011

    My comment is still in moderation. But I have one suggestion for Stephanie:

    White space is your friend. Your posts would be easier to read if you actually put a blank line between your paragraphs.

    And really, read this entire thread, especially Comment #57.

  126. #126 stephanie
    September 23, 2011

    Okay Chris, lets play “Ill show you mine if you show me yours.” I’m very impressed with yours by the way :) I even bookmarked it!
    Associacao Medico-Espirita and Associacao Brasileira dos Magistrados Espiritas.
    I will be spending next summer working in the Peruvian hospital system. We should hang :)

  127. #127 Chris
    September 23, 2011

    Big deal. It means nothing if you think a side show carny like “John of God” merits any real attention.

  128. #128 stephanie
    September 23, 2011

    Okay I will look at the Wikipedia. Thank you. Thanks for the tip Chris. I have never posted before. I will read the thread.

  129. #129 Chris
    September 23, 2011

    Be sure to read the article, especially this bit:

    ….didn’t bother to interview someone like James Randi, who would have informed the producers that everything John of God did was nothing more than hoary old carny tricks, in particular the old “forceps up the nose” and “cornea scraping” tricks.

    All you have shown is that you would be a gullible mark for any con-artist.

  130. #130 stephanie
    September 23, 2011

    Was NASA once considered a hoax? (some still think so) How about CERN? (read their latest findings, including the skeptics) Quantum physics? This article was not appropriate for this medium. People can have their own beliefs about JOG and others who claim to heal. I am a “healer” that uses western science and I win some, lose some too. I also work with physicians who many would consider sexual predators. Its all in the perception, the patient, the circumstances, and the disease process. I went with an open mind and I came home with one, which is why (Chris) I can read the skeptics and not be angry with the content, or condescending to the writer (wink, wink).

    Gullible? Well, I did sell Amway once, but I actually decided to go to Brazil to witness it in person, rather than relying on websites to tell me what I think. CERN and NASA wont let me in, otherwise, I would go there too.

    If there is one thing I have learned in 20+ years of trauma, and it applies here too: The truth usually lies somewhere in between.

    To lilady: Thank you for gracefully giving me some useful information. For me, I have to admit I am a little stuck after reviewing your information! I practice western medicine, yet had my life saved in the jungle by a Shaman (that woo woo stuff) because there was no other medical care and I was as close to death as I EVER want to be again. I have no idea what he did to me except to say that I have never experienced anything like that here….and so began my journey to figure it out. JOG was just a part of my personal research. Thank you again!

  131. #131 Chris
    September 23, 2011

    stephanie:

    Was NASA once considered a hoax? (some still think so) How about CERN? (read their latest findings, including the skeptics) Quantum physics?

    This has nothing to do with “John of God.” There is no question that when NACA turned into NASA that aeronautical research took a hit. It does show that you have a limited science education, especially in physics and absolutely no knowledge about the history of aeronautics and astronautics.

    You may work in medicine, but it seems to be at a technician level to paramedic with these statements. I really respect paramedics, and the ones that came to my house a couple of weeks ago when my son had a tachycardia episode were honest when they told me that they really did not know that much about his hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Oh, wait, I just remembered that Dr. Mark Crislip of the Quackcast admits to not knowing much about quantum physics (and his undergraduate degree is in physics), so you could have more education than the paramedics.

    But, yes, you are still gullible. Read the article and check out the links to the carny tricks that “John of God” uses. You will see how an actual doctor was fooled because he did not know about those tricks, which a “mere” stage magician knew. Before you fly down to Peru, pick up two books to read along the way:

    Flim Flam by James Randi

    and Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science by Martin Gardner

    (and on the history of flight and aeronautics, pick up John Anderson’s book Introduction of Flight, it is a great read even for a required text book in many aeronautic engineering programs)

  132. #132 lilady
    September 24, 2011

    “I am a “healer” that uses western science and I win some, lose some too. I also work with physicians who many would consider sexual predators. Its all in the perception, the patient, the circumstances, and the disease process.”

    Really!!! You’ve got to be kidding. The physician(s) you work with may be considered sexual predators? Where the hell do you work lady…where (plural) docs might be considered sexual predators? Oh I forgot you “work” in trauma where male and female trauma docs might inadvertently expose a breast after cutting off a blood-soaked shirt to drain blood from the pericardium to prevent cardiac tamponade.

    I suspect you didn’t read the blog links (“criticism”) on the Wikipedia site that I provided…that definitely nail your JOG because of his “private consultations” with young women, where he has the “patient” kneel in front of him and he exposes himself and requests oral sex from these young women.

  133. #133 Chris
    September 24, 2011

    consider sexual predators

    I missed that! Curse my attempt to read too fast!

    And to think I was giving her some slack, yet she stoops so low. My moderated comment has now been posted. Obviously her resorts to insults indicated that she has no real data.

    By the way, Stephanie, when I was between fourteen and sixteen my friends and I had to carry our shot records with us when we traveled outside of the “Zone.” This was because the Guardia Nacional of Omar Torrijos wanted to make sure everyone in the interior had been vaccinated for yellow fever. Because if you could not prove immunity from yellow fever, they would get you to a clinic (whether you wanted to or not) to get the vaccine.

  134. #134 lilady
    September 24, 2011

    @ Chris: I kinda thought you missed the remark. If there is anything I have gained from posting here is that if it starts looking like a loon or a troll…it invariably turns out to be one and/or the other.

    On a lighter note, I just posted at SBM. Mark Crislip has a classic blog “Recycle” and the usual suspects are having a lot of fun with it…give it a look-see.

  135. #135 Chris
    September 24, 2011

    Thanks, especially since anytime I am near the kitchen laptop I am watching the Skeptics Guide the Universe 24 hour video cast while online. And this is a weekend I can’t be online much. First I spent hours at a library foundation book sale, and today is a beautiful day and after breakfast, etc I have to go finish pruning back the porch eating rose bush.

  136. #136 isahawaii
    October 20, 2011

    Dear Skeptic: Having not undergone serious illness, nor physical impairments myself, it is hard for me to judge what the numerous , countless people that travel across the world to meet John of God. I only know this: That for 30 years, this simple guy, that doesn’t make this into a lucrative business(doesn’t take payment for his services), has been giving hope & healing to many…
    Life is a spiritual journey, and despite all your skepticism, we can’t deny there is good and evil on this planet, therefore pointing to something greater than the dust particles that we are. The fact the you can’t believe, because your ego is strongly defeating your soul’s purpose to exist, is sad…The love that all those people get from their personal experience, the openness of their heart and desire to love and be loved, might be the key that this guy offers them, therefore , they heal… In life , as we know, nothing is certain. The fact that he devotes his life to the purpose of helping other, should be commendable. What are You doing to help your neighbor, friend, co-worker to have a better life? And I’ll leave you to that thought…Bless you :D

  137. #137 Chris
    October 20, 2011

    isahawaii, the guy makes lots of money selling herbs. Perhaps you should try reading the article and the comments.

  138. #138 LW
    October 20, 2011

    “we can’t deny there is good and evil on this planet, therefore pointing to something greater than the dust particles that we are.”

    Non sequitur.

  139. #139 lilady
    October 20, 2011

    @ isahawaii: In addition to selling herbs, John of God runs a business enterprise with “guides” and tours. Did you read my post above at # 197 above from Wikipedia?

    JOG is at a minimum a charlatan whose “surgery” has been thoroughly debunked. He actually slit open a woman’s abdomen with a scalpel and inserted his filthy hand into the incision causing massive life-threatening infection. How can you defend a man who, it is reported by an “insider guide”, as being a sexual predator?

    And, “What are You doing to help your neighbor, friend, co-worker to have a better life?”

    You know, the Almighty will not protect you from an incompetent surgeon or a voodoo medicine practitioner such as John of God…when they do surgery without aseptic techniques.

  140. #140 Todd W.
    October 20, 2011

    @isahawaii

    What are You doing to help your neighbor, friend, co-worker to have a better life?

    Combating misinformation that can lead to people being injured or dying. What are you doing?

  141. #141 Anton P. Nym
    October 20, 2011

    What are You doing to help your neighbor, friend, co-worker to have a better life?

    I’m directing people to sources of medical assistance that are backed by evidence (scientific, or “merely” clinical as the standard of care here is “evidence based medicine”) and covered by their provincial health plans… so that they don’t bankrupt themselves traveling across the world to visit a quack. And I sleep very well at night, thank you.

    — Steve

  142. #142 Ken
    October 20, 2011

    My father is currently in Brazil, seeking to be healed by J of G. I am a sceptic, a non-believer, a realist…not to say I have not had a few experiences I could not explain in my life. All I have to say is this, thankfully my father does not have a disease and chose to forgo medical treatment. What J of G is doing is terrible to those who have terminal illnesses, giving people false hope, hopefully not taking their life savings in the process…like someone else posted, evil, in it’s purest form. Same goes for those involved with the charade, act, function…absolutely terrible people.

    There is a sucker born every minute…too bad it’s always someone in dire straights.

  143. #143 Isis
    November 5, 2011

    This John of ?is a liar and Fraud.
    He is under investigation along with his alleged Mistress Elisabetta Dami who writes the Geronimo Stilton books.
    They are being sued and accused of sexual assault, extortion Bribery and more. The allegations are said to have taken place in the Private residence and commercial property “John of God Casa” in Sedona Arizona. Both properties owned by Elisabetta Dami. This man is clearly not of God . All the female victims are urged come forward and ask for help.

  144. #144 Eric R
    November 12, 2011

    A couple things Orac wrote raise doubts about his objectivity. First, he says that John’s knife is not shown in the video actually making contact with the woman’s cornea. But if he saw the same clip i saw on youtube (which i will paste here), then it is very clearly scraping her cornea. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9If9vSHQVQ&oref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fresults%3Fsearch_query%3Djohn%2Bof%2Bgod%26aq%3Df

    Second, Orac cites some text from Dr. Rediger’s website as evidence that the doctor was already prone to woo, but did Rediger say such things before his trip to Brazil or are those the things Rediger thinks only now that he has had an experience that changed his perspective?

  145. #145 Chris
    November 12, 2011

    Eric, did you really take you a year to write that comment? And do you have a point?

  146. #146 Eric R
    November 12, 2011

    Okay, I looked more deeply into Rediger and found that he had attended a theological seminary in 1989 and that faith was an issue of interest for him in his work as a psychiatrist, so it Orac’s point stands in this case.

  147. #147 Eric R
    November 12, 2011

    Yes, Chris, my point is that a skeptic should hold himself to a standard of fairness when critiquing someone or something. That’s a skeptic’s responsibility. No, it didn’t take me a year, silly. I just saw this article today.

  148. #148 Chris
    November 12, 2011

    What you are asking for is false balance, and being a necromancer. Whatever is said about Rediger does not make the carny tricks “John of God” anymore valid.

    I suggest you lurk on the page more, figure out what the conversations are, and be more clear on your point.

  149. #149 lilady
    November 12, 2011

    See my postings at # 197 and # 205 above. You do realize, don’t you, that you are defending a charlatan who actually has used a scalpel to inflict bodily harm? You are also defending a sexual predator.

  150. #150 Saint Peter
    November 24, 2011

    This individual and company are puppets on weak lonely strings. They will get exactly what they deserve. 11/24/11

  151. #151 Paul
    December 14, 2011

    I would like to explain what people refer to as “The Gospel” or “Good News”. In this explanation, I will discuss God’s grace, which unfortunately so many people do not understand or have never been clearly explained.

    Unfortunately, many people attend a Christian church regularly (or attended one in the past) but have never been clearly taught what the Bible stresses as the most important decision that one could ever make. It is only in making this decision that one actually becomes one of God’s children and is “saved” from His eternal judgment. This decision deals with what is referred to as “The Gospel”. If you have never heard “The Gospel” before, here it is. Around 33 AD, Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate, paid the price for every single person’s sin in history by dying the death of crucifixion at the hands of the Romans. He willingly died for every person’s sin that has ever lived and every will live. That includes both you and me. He willing died a death that we deserve for our moral failures in life. Jesus was brutally beaten, whipped, mocked, spit upon, nailed to a wooden cross, and then died. Three days later, He rose from the dead, as He foretold His disciples (group of followers). Jesus then ascended into heaven forty days later. He currently lives with God, His father, in heaven today. During Old Testament times (times prior to the birth of Jesus Christ – B.C.), people had a keen awareness of their moral guilt, as any honest person still does today. I know that I have wronged many people and have felt a deep-seated guilt within many areas of my life. Many people during Old Testament times sacrificed animals to God as a form of limited atonement for their immoral actions. God often accepted these sacrifices, but only in a temporary and limited way. Over time, God changed this extremely limited form of atonement, as He had planned from the very beginning of time. Moreover, God sent His one and only son Jesus Christ down to the Earth. Since Jesus was both sinless and blameless, He willingly died on the cross as an unlimited atonement. It was in God’s will for His son to die in this way. This unlimited atonement is available to any person who whole-heartedly repents of their sins (moral failures) and then asks God to personally apply Jesus’ undeserved death and resurrection as a payment for their sins. It is imperative here that one believes the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was ultimately an act of God’s grace. God did not have to offer an escape from our moral guilt and eternal punishment. However, God is gracious. He has a compassion and love for people that is indescribable. God wants to “wipe the slate” clean for us, in regards to our moral failures. Through this action, we could then enter a personal relationship with His son Jesus Christ and escape his eternal judgment. The Bible refers to moral failures as ‘sin’, or missing the mark of God’s perfect standard of morality. “Sin” is an ancient archery term for an arrow that missed the target. God is loving in the purest sense of the word and would like to grant us victory over the sins that still haunt us from our past. All we have to do is accept this gift of grace from Him. It is free.

    God promises us a way to become morally blameless and gain entrance into heaven after living our physical live here on Earth. Here is what we must willingly do on our part. First off, we must truly believe that God is gracious and extended His grace by allowing His one and only son to die as a ransom for our sins on the cross. We must admit to God that we have failed morally during our lifetime and that Jesus Christ’s brutal death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could ever forgive our sins. After making this decision (accepting God’s grace), we are immediately forgiven of all past, present, and future sins. In addition, we would be guaranteed entrance into heaven after our physical death here on Earth. We would then live with both God and His son Jesus forever. We would be guaranteed to see all of our loved ones who had made this decision during his or her physical lives on Earth.

    You could make this decision today. Please do not wait for the “perfect time”. You could ask God for eternal forgiveness through applying the death and resurrection of Jesus to your life within the quietness of your bedroom tonight. This is the most important decision that you will ever make.

    So you might be asking, “Where in the Bible does it explain what has just been summarized?” Here are some passages clearly stating that Jesus seeks a personal relationship with us:

    “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
    – Romans 10:9-10

    “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; “
    - Acts 3:19

    “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
    – John 3:16

    As long as you repent of your past sins (moral failures) from the heart, confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and apply Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection on the cross as a payment for your sins, you are guaranteed eternal life with God in heaven. You can make this decision at any time, anywhere. You can make this decision alone with God or within a group setting.

    Please know that one cannot sit the fence on making this decision of accepting God’s gift of grace. If one chooses not to decide, he or she has still made a choice. This would be like receiving a check (hearing “The Gospel”) but never endorsing and cashing it in at the bank (personally applying Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection towards one’s sins).

    “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
    - John 3:18

    The result of not choosing to accept Gods gift of grace, which offers eternal life with both Him and Jesus in heaven is clear. You will live the remainder of your life here on Earth apart from Jesus Christ and His empowerment. You will then follow your life plan and not His plan for you. After you physically die, you will then be brought to a dark place where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. It is a place of eternal regret. Here, you will remember this very letter and how you were told the truth but chose not to repent and begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Remember, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. You could be diagnosed with a terminal illness tomorrow or be the recipient of a head-on collision while returning home on that all too familiar, two-lane highway this Friday night. If you are considering starting your personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please do not wait to make this decision. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

    The following passage outlines the only requirements Jesus Christ has set to both gain eternal life and begin a personal relationship with Him while you are still alive here on Earth. He makes it crystal-clear in the Bible what is required…

    “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
    – Romans 10:9-10

    God has a plan for your life. You can watch this plan unfold once you accept His gift of grace. This great plan involves your life experience while here on Earth and continues after your physical death on into heaven.

    “For I know the plans that I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
    - Jeremiah 29:11-13

    Please consider what I have said here. I am not sure if you have ever made this decision before, but I needed to make sure that you had the facts. If you should decide that you want to learn more about the life of Jesus and gain a better understanding of authentic Christianity, I strongly recommend reading the book of John within the Bible (NASB or NIV translation).

    In closing, here is a verse that someone once shared with me that finally brought me into a relationship with God during an extremely low point physically and emotionally. The understanding of Jesus’ desire to know me personally changed my life forever. Here it is:

    “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”
    - Revelation 3:20

  152. #152 ArtK
    December 14, 2011

    @ Paul

    Could you please provide a PubMed citation for all of that? I’m afraid that the reference you cited wasn’t peer reviewed and certainly hasn’t been replicated independently.

    By the way, I have more immediate plan for your life than the one God has for you. Mine is: Go away!

  153. #153 LW
    December 14, 2011

    Paul … how can I put this? If you seriously believe that there are a large number of people, literate enough in English to read this blog, who have never heard the story of the Crucifiction*, you really need to get out more.

    * Note I said heard, not believe. Plenty of us could give just as good a summary as you did, even though we may not believe any of it.

  154. #154 lilady
    December 14, 2011

    @ Paul: I don’t recall any of the posters here requesting a lesson from the New Testament.

    Do you think you can tear yourself away from your bible and actually read what this blog is all about? Just a quickie synopsis for you…the blog is about a man “John of God” who is running a scam, convincing vulnerable people that he can heal them.

    He “usually” performs “bloodless” surgery and by sleight of hand “removes” the offending tissue and holds up some butchered piece of meat from an animal as proof. He has also done actual surgery with a dirty scalpel and put his filthy hand into a woman’s abdomen which resulted in a prolonged hospital stay and treatment for systemic infection.

    His “private” consultations with young women have led to many allegations of perversion. ***John of God is a sexual predator.

    Oh, and Paul…stick your bible passages in your body orifice where the sun don’t shine.

    *** Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Matthew 7:15, King James Bible)

  155. #155 Dr. John Turner
    December 17, 2011

    I can tell you this. In November this year, I was a few inches from the scraping of the cornea of an eye, a physical surgery performed by John Of God. There was no trick, and there were no “camera angles” to worry about. I held a LED light two inches from the man’s cornea and saw the indentation and scraping of the cornea, done without pain or complaints.

    If you read up on John of God, you will see that the nose job and the eye scraping are not intended to fix any related problem, but are done on those who volunteer to have it done as a means to enhance their faith.

    It seems to work. I have spoken to those who have undergone both and they have described the lack of pain and the “spiritual anesthesia” that has been discussed. I am not a psychiatrist, but rather, I am a brain surgeon, plenty of hands-on experience with the human body.

    I think rather than criticize at a distance, a visit to the casa in Abadiania is required to come to a justified conclusion about what happens there. I doubt if James Randi and others who are so harsh and critical, have taken the time/energy/money to travel halfway around the world to experience this phenomenon.

    A sign is posted there, that goes something like this: “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.”

    You can choose not to believe me, but that would be a mistake. This is something you need to experience for yourself as it is understandably difficult to accept without an open mind. I, for one, have nothing to gain by describing what I witnessed and to lie or fabricate is unconceivable.

    If you have any interest in what I experienced, please see:

    http://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/entry/number_one_place_to_see_before_you_die/

    and consider a pilgrimage of your own!!

    If you visit the casa, will be glad that you did. You will return a much better person!

    Aloha and Happy Holidays!

  156. #156 hasanthi
    January 5, 2012

    Well said Dr. John Turner! I totally agree.

    @ sceptics such as Orac – If you think you know everything there is to know, then you are kidding yourself. The Universe holds many secrets that science has not been able to unravel. I am amused at how little you sceptics know and how narrow and prejudiced your views are. Knowledge and understanding is possible only when you open your mind. So before you criticize and try to debunk something why don’t you experience it for yourself first and then form an opinion?

  157. #157 MI Dawn
    January 5, 2012

    Well, well. Necromancers. Dr John Turner. What a shame that you let a hoax like Edgar Cayce turn you into a CAMster. You may have been a decent neurosurgeon (at least according to your webpage). All I can say is I prefer MY physicians to practice medicine, not hoaxery.

  158. #158 lilady
    January 5, 2012

    Is John L. Turner still practicing medicine. I located a John L. Turner license # 31145, originally licensed in Hawaii on November 26,1981 and terminated license on December 31, 1986.

    Of course you do not need a medical license to practice psychic surgery, do you?

    Too bad Dr. Turner didn’t look further into the allegations of JOG’s sexually predatory behaviors.

    (h/t Dawn)

  159. #159 RACHAEL
    January 12, 2012

    I THINK THAT WHO EVER WROTE THE UNDOUNDED JARGON ABOUT OPRA, THE SECREAT AND JOHN OF GOD IS A SOUR MEAN SCEPTIC THAT HAS NO JOY IN LIFE SO TRIES TO TAKE IT AWAY FROM THOSE WHO DO.
    SEE IF YOU HAVE THE COURAGE TO PAST THIS ON Y9OUR BLOG. YOU WONT AS YOU ARE A COWARD THAT ONLY WHATS TO TAKE THE HOPE AND JOY AWAY FROM OTHERS.

  160. #160 Lawrence
    January 12, 2012

    Mad RACHAEL is mad…..

  161. #161 lilady
    January 12, 2012

    RACHAEL…IT IS POSTED. DID YOU READ THE PRIOR POSTS? WHY ARE YOU SUPPORTIVE OF JOG…WHEN THERE HAVE BEEN MANY ALLEGATIONS FROM PEOPLE “INSIDE HIS CAMP” THAT SAY HE IS A SEXUAL PREDATOR?

    SEE MY POST ABOVE ABOUT HIS “REAL SURGERY” WITH A SCALPEL AND HIS PUTTING HIS FILTHY UNGLOVED HAND INTO A WOMAN’S ABDOMEN, CAUSING A MAJOR LIFE-THREATENING INFECTION.

    BTW RACHAEL…YOU’RE AN IGNORANT WOMAN WHO BARELY WRITES COHERENT SENTENCES…AND YOU’RE FULL OF IT.

  162. #162 Zyli
    January 14, 2012

    I am a person who believes in the supernatural a bit, you can call me crazy, that’s fine. I went to see JOG this past year in an event in NY and I dragged my family with me thinking that he would be a man of miracles. My mistake was that I did not read much about him and i went to see him only based on that one show on Oprah. Let me tell you that first of all the guy has charlatans working for him feeding us some bs lies about how he cured them and about how we had to meditate so the spirits can come through us and heal us. For some reason I could not meditate because I could not believe that I had come to this event. I kept looking around and most of the people there were some women with faces redone with plastic surgery and botox. Then he had his nephew advertise his travel agency to people who would need to go to Brazil for further treatment. I wanted to get up and scream. It was all a business scam. The best part of it was when we went to see “his majesty”. All he does is touch your hand as you walk away in line with hundreds of other people who have fallen prey of this disgrace. In the afternoon, you hit the replay button, b/c everything happens again: you have scumbags telling you to meditate, then you go in front of the scammer so that he can touch you. And on top of everything, they claim they have this blessed water from Brazil that they make you buy. When we returned home, my mother, who has had health problems and was the main reason I went to see him, ended up going to the hospital for a surgery and is still suffering from the same problems she has always suffered. The sad part was that she was the one to believe in him because she needed to believe in him. Even she now cannot stand it when his name comes up. The guy is a complete fraud. He is evil, preying on people who are sick and need a miracle. And I do believe all the people who say he is a sexual predator, because I dont put anything past him and his little helpers. They’re all disgusting. I just feel bad for people who waste their money and time and make this guy rich. I did it and it was stupid. I pray to God that others will not. The man is pure evil.

  163. #163 Corinne
    January 16, 2012

    In reading the “opinions” of others, I have come to the conclusion that most of the writers with negative feed back are coming from a place of fear and ignorance. That does not make them bad people, just, like most of us, having their own challenges with their own “demons and ignorance”. I am not religious, but well read in the subject of metaphysics. There is a vast Majority that are waking up to the Truth. NOW.
    Did Jesus not say,”I did not heal you, but it was your faith that did”. Jesus tried to teach us that we are all children of God and we can do great works. John of God is open to the Temple of God within him and if he believes that he can, then he can! It is all in what we believe. If you believe that he is a hoax, then TO YOU, he is a hoax. Whatever the believer believes in; that is the truth for that believer. There is such a thing as the Law of Attraction. We attract what we believe to be true of ourselves. How many times do I hear women saying, “Why do I keep attracting the same kind of guy”? Well, because they keep walking, thinking, believing,carrying the same tools of thinking and believing from way back when. We want to attract a different “guy”, then we need to change the way that we think and believe! The change starts from within ourselves.
    John of God is merely holding the “energy” of space for anyone who WANTS to embrace this energy for healing. But the person wanting the healing must also be open to welcome the energy of healing within themselves. Remember the Placebo Effect? For those of you who are not familiar with the outcome, Google it for information and you will be amazed at the results. These are scholars that put this test into effect. What we believe to be true, guess what? It is true! If we believe that we can, it’s true. If we believe that we can’t, it’s true. It starts in our mind and nothing will stand in our way of manifesting what we believe.
    We are always at choice, how we express life and when we express death. Think of all that has come into our lives. Life has always brought us what we believe we are worthy of. The only difference between Bill Gates and me is that he believes that he can. I kept telling myself that I could never. And that is what has manifested. How many stories have we heard of the successful business man that used to live in his car, had to dig up food from the back of restraunts, ect…? He started with a thought that he could, and he did.
    Now getting back to ORAC, when you work on taking away the belief and hope of people who really want to believe, I suggest that you study further into what you express as a hoax, because commenting on a program that you caught a glimpse of the second half, reading others opinions that obviously mirror your own, and further more, insult after insult on a show that (OWN) is still going strong after three decades later… You are preaching fear and condemnation; how is that working for you?
    Look within yourself and see what it is that you are missing, search wholeheartedly and learn to love thyself, and you will be amazed at what this yields for you in your life. You will see with a different pair of eyes and a happy heart. Good luck to you….

  164. #164 katy
    January 28, 2012

    Whatever else you may feel about John of God, the New Age movement, or Oprah, there is lots of video footage of procedures like the eye scraping, removing tumors from inside the skull with the person wide awake, etc. that show in very close-up detail what’s going on. And there are so many people who’ve witnessed these things up close and in person, and had unexplained healings of their own. Most of the anecdotal accounts aren’t published — maybe because those who’ve had them find themselves among throngs of other folks with similar experiences & don’t seem to feel the need to write it up and post it. But I think this is true of so many stories – they never make it into the historical record. Doesn’t mean they aren’t true. But in the case of John of God’s surgeries, videos are available that you can buy for not much. Check it out and see what you think, keeping in mind that the people who go to the Casa watch those videos & say – Yeah, that happens.

  165. #165 Chris
    January 28, 2012

    Katy, you claim there are videos, yet you refuse to provide their locations. If you read the article you will know that most of those things are common carny tricks.

    Perhaps you should read the above article, and actually click on the links in this sentence: “James Randi, who would have informed the producers that everything John of God did was nothing more than hoary old carny tricks, in particular the old “forceps up the nose” and “cornea scraping” tricks.”

    The descriptions and sometimes photos of those carny tricks on in a couple James Randi books.

  166. #166 Jhack
    March 15, 2012

    Why are so many people enraged by others who are pursuing their own ‘reality’? We are reponsible for our own health and happiness, not that of others. Everyone has an equal direct-connect with the true God (whatever ultimate this means). Why can’t people let the lives of others be between them and the true God. This supreme entity will sort out everyone in the most loving way possible for their true and lasting learning (not ‘our’ way). Calm down, everyone, and respect others’ paths even when it does not seem to be the best one in your eyes. It is plenty enough for you to navigate your own path with (the true) God.

  167. #167 Chris
    March 15, 2012

    Why can’t you even read the article and learn that the guy is using old carny tricks?

    Why should we respect someone who deceives people with tricks? There is no reason to support liars, especially if they keep saying they are doing it for some god.

  168. #168 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    March 15, 2012

    @Chris

    Half the time it seems he doesn’t even bother with the carny tricks. Instead, he performs “invisible surgery” and doesn’t even touch the patient. He just looks at the victim and then tells him to go sit in a room and meditate.

  169. #169 Chris
    March 15, 2012

    Even worse.

  170. #170 Jhack
    March 15, 2012

    We should respect the people who are seeking help from this guy. It is THEIR choice even if you (we) dispprove. They have the right to choose from whom they will seek help. All anyone else can do is to give rational information about this guy (hopefully persuasive). For those who are still hopping mad over John, their time would be better spent settling their own anger than in hurling more barbs at him.

  171. #171 Chris
    March 15, 2012

    We respect them by telling that they are being deceived. If you saw someone about to walk into a pond without looking, would it be disrespectful to warn them?

    Why do you support someone who is a fraud? Do you work for him?

  172. #172 Betty
    March 17, 2012

    There are several people who claim healings that you should be able to check their medical records, the “tour guides” like Bob(had been legally blind) and Marcel (was diagnosed with MS in 1988). and Wayne Dyer says he was healed of leukemia by jog. Surely someone can do a follow-up to see if they are charlatans and liars. This blog is too long to read all entries, besides some are the typically rude name callers found on most blogs and so waste-of-time. Wish someone could bring Civility back to life.

  173. #173 Chris
    March 17, 2012

    Betty, then just read the blog article. Or how about just one of the links in the text like this one:
    http://www.randi.org/jr/021805a.html

    You said: “Wish someone could bring Civility back to life.”

    Does that include warning people away from charlatans who use old carny tricks to deceive desperate people?

  174. #174 Betty
    March 18, 2012

    Warning is a good thing, I did read the article and lots of the blog. I am warned. I just think some people like to use rude terms for those who don’t agree with their view. I also think if someone claims to be a scientific thinker and wants to debunk the charlatan, they would be willing to go do the research on whether some people actually received healings, those who make the claims they are healed they should be willing to share their medical records.

  175. #175 lilady
    March 18, 2012

    Betty: Wayne Dyer has CLL and had been receiving Gleevac as treatment. He claims since he spoke with JOG on the phone…that he “feels better”.

    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/CLL/Patient/page1

    Have you any information that Dyer’s CLL has been cured…confirmed by a “traditional medical” oncologist?

    Why don’t you peruse the link I provided and come back and tell us all about CLL, and the course of the disease and why Dyer is dead yet.

  176. #176 Chris
    March 18, 2012

    Betty:

    I just think some people like to use rude terms

    List those “rude terms” and the comment numbers they were used in.

  177. #177 Roxanne
    March 26, 2012

    I have always watched Oprah and felt that she will research what she promotes before presenting it on her show. I am really happy there is someone like u out there who has done a little research on this and posted ur side of the story. Once I went to Miami to see someone like this guy who promoted healing by just looking at you for a second. He was featured on the Hispanic channel. What a waste of time and money. I still regret wasting my time in seeing a quacker. After seeing Oprah featuring John the god I was getting ready to plan a trip to brazil. Thanks to people like you I can say that thank god I won’t be wasting my money. Thanks for putting your time into this. It has meant a lot to me.

  178. #178 Chris
    March 26, 2012

    :-)

    Join us, join us. Though we cannot lie, there is no cake.

  179. #179 Al
    April 22, 2012

    Life is a self-fulfilling prophecy for each and every one of us. If you believe science can explain everything, you will not see what science cannot explain. If you believe in many realms of possibilities beyond science – that is what will be revealed to you. No hocus pocus; just a fundamental law of the universe. May peace reside in all of us.

  180. #180 Chris
    April 22, 2012

    Al, your word salad indicates you do not have a clue what constitutes science. Go find your nearest community college and take a basic class.

    Plus, go read the links above that show this guy is using common carny tricks.

  181. #181 Andres
    April 28, 2012

    The ARROGANCE on this board amazes me. The so-called scientists that only believe their way. Most are likely nerds that cannnot think outside their tiny little box. They all sound like scared little boys, which is exactly what they are.

  182. #182 Chris
    April 28, 2012

    Why is it arrogance to warn people against some guy’s carny tricks? It is magicians like James Randi who think outside the box to realize how “John of God” is using standard illusions to fool sick people.

    It is those that are upset over this man’s tricks being exposed and their assumptions that are being challenged who sound like “scared little boys.”

  183. #183 Bronze Dog
    April 28, 2012

    I notice you avoid any specific criticisms, Andres. That suggests you didn’t even read what anyone said. The “tiny little box” propaganda also suggests that you don’t even know how we think or how science works.

  184. #184 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    April 28, 2012

    Andres,

    You wouldn’t by any chance happen to be one of the hundreds of scumbag “guides” around the world who charge people to arrange their trips to see John of Fraud? How do make money in his little scheme? Are you a shill for Big Quacka?

  185. #185 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    April 28, 2012

    Ah, Andres – I’m afraid your message shows you don’t understand nerds at all.
    There are also a substantial number of women who post here, and they typically do not sound like “scared little boys”.

  186. #186 novalox
    April 28, 2012

    @andres

    Nice to know that you are a sexist.

    Your ignorance is also amusing too.

    So, will you actually post some actual evidence, or are your going to run away like a “scared little boy”?

  187. #187 Sulaco
    April 28, 2012

    cannnot think outside their tiny little box

    Really? You actually typed this? Really?

    You typed this on a machine that is constructed of materials that were crafted by people who thought of turning oil into a building material was useful.

    By people who thought if we take a bunch of logic gates and make’em small and stick some voltage in it that’ll speed calculations…then more people shrunk them even further.

    Yet, you have the gall to say these people don’t think outside the box? These people don’t just think outside the box, they invent boxes and stand outside them on purpose and think some more.

    Science creates miracles.

  188. #188 Bronze Dog
    April 28, 2012

    If science didn’t think outside the box, why do scientists bother with research and discovery?

    It’s also funny that people who use “the box” are fond of claiming that we think we know everything. Science thrives on the attitude of “I don’t know, let’s find out!” It’s the newagers who belittle us when we express curiosity, ask questions, and request rigorous scientific studies. The gurus want us to take their divine word for it because they “just know.”

    We’re predisposed to think outside the box. It’s our training in skepticism that allows us to humbly doubt our presuppositions.

  189. #189 Joanne
    May 5, 2012

    Too bad many of you skeptics are wrapped up in your on egos. Not one of you skeptics have data as to which individuals who sought out John of God were healed. Not by John of God’s faith, but their faith. If any of you claimed to be Christians, where to you miss the story of the woman who fiercely sought Jesus the Christ for healing, and when she found him she stated that ” if she could just touch the hem of his garment, she would be healed. As the story is told in the Bible, she did touch his garment and she thank Jesus the Christ for healing her. Jesus spoke this words to her. It is by your faith that you are healed!

  190. #190 T.O.M.
    May 5, 2012

    Joanne @286,
    Have any evidence to back up your ludicrous claims? Meh, you don’t, no point in asking other than to see another ignoramus fail.

  191. #191 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 5, 2012

    Joanne – so you’re using a single documented case that didn’t actually involve John of God, occurred about 2,000 years ago, and is not well supported by case history to justify modern faith healing backed by carnival tricks? Even that one is a statistically insignificant sample. I’m also unable to find records of negative results in the Bible (were there people who touched the hem of his garment who weren’t healed? How do you know that?).

    Regardless – if you can point to high quality data showing that people seen by John of God had significantly better outcomes than those who merely had the current standard of care for their ailments, please share.

  192. #192 Agashem
    May 5, 2012

    Thanks for your contribution, Joanne, but it is up to you to prove these people were healed with actual facts not fiction.

  193. #193 Chemmomo
    May 5, 2012

    Joanne

    If any of you claimed to be Christians, where to you miss the story of the woman who fiercely sought Jesus the Christ for healing

    I have news for you, Joanne. John of God is not Jesus. And having faith in some guy from Brazil making grand claims does not qualify as Christian.

  194. #194 lilady
    May 5, 2012

    Joanne:

    Matthew 7:15

    Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

  195. #195 Sonja Von Pernis
    May 15, 2012

    It is so evident that you, who write this, are a very unhappy person. I feel quite sorry for you that have never experience true love for other human beings, that’s why this all sounds like a lie to you, because you have never EVER have self love, hence you have never truly love others beyond the self interest of what others do for me. People like you who think to be so clever ripping apart those who ACTUALLY do something good with their lives and GIVE to others, should go out and do some volunteering or something useful that can turn your minuscule life into REAL and practical use of your brain. Bantering and complaining while you are comfortably giving nothing to society is no something you should be so proud of. Here you attack Oprah, but you would not even have the least material to be a fly on the wall in her house, because she GIVES and you don’t.

    Unless you yourself have gone and met John of God, you should not open your big mouth. Go, meet him, if after that you think he is lying, I will give you a bit of credit, except for the fact that after meeting him my “you have 3 weeks to live” stage cancer, completely faded. Yes, I am one of those that you haven’t met, and in your ignorance you assume is all lies, but nope! Sorry to tell you Oprah is not lying, neither is John of God, while you are sitting on your desk spreading hate, other are actually working towards some peace, healing and love in the planet.

    You are a looser, and you are mad because you know it. Maybe you will do something with your life one day, that’s what is eating you alive, the fact that you are wasting precious energy in nothing.

  196. #196 NJ
    May 15, 2012

    SVP@292:

    You are a looser

    Not true at all. I happen to know that Orac is very tight. Well-fitting case and all that.

    As for you, well, continue to enjoy transferring money from your bank account to that of this particular scammer. I know he enjoys it!

  197. #197 LW
    May 15, 2012

    Sonja Von Pernis, did you actually look at the boxed section in then upper left entitled, “Who (or what) is Orac? He’s not exactly “comfortably giving nothing to society”. Since you obviously have no idea what you’re talking about, the rest of your anecdote loses (not “looses”) much of its force.

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