Another "healer"....

James Randi --- Wizard (
Fri, 16 Jan 1998 22:35:05 -0800 (PST)


Alternative Healer/Guru Dr. Andrew Weil has mailed me a videotape of a
chap named Joao Teixeira de Faria. This is yet another Brazilian
"healer." A book and video have been produced about him, both called
"The Miracle Man of Brazil." He modestly calls himself John of God,
and he claims that he has cured 15 million people in 35 years of
practice. Sure.
The films of this man show that many of the "injections" he
gives are phony, pure sleight-of-hand. The others I can't see because
of the camera angles. But yes, he does make some genuine incisions.
Very, very dangerous.
But look at the figures he claims. Working 8 hours a day,
taking no lunch hour, 6 full days a week for 35 years, taking no
holidays at all, he would have to "heal" ONE PERSON EVERY 21 SECONDS
of every minute of every hour of every day he worked, with no time
off, and no failures! Can you really accept that?
Would you go to see David Copperfield and return concluding
that he's genuine because you didn't spot the trick?
The "eyeball" stunt he does is very old. I saw it done in
carnivals when I was a kid. There are no pain nerves in the sclera
that would react to a knife being placed there. That is the most
common thing this man does, regardless of the patient's complaint.
(Refer to my book Flim-Flam! to see me with a knife under my eyelid.
Or try it yourself.) This man prances about, very full of his own
importance and power over his victims, apparently injecting everyone
within reach, digging knives under eyeballs, and slicing into flesh at
random. It's a circus act, a cruel farce, a Brazilian version of
Grand Guignol.
There are literally dozens of these healers in Brazil, each
one with his own bag of tricks. I see no evidence AT ALL in the film
(other than anecdotal testimonials) that anyone has been healed by
this man, ever.
Remember, when I investigated victims of the faith healers
here, though EVERY ONE OF THEM claimed to have been healed, I found
they fell into three classes: those who never had the illness in the
first place, those who still had the illness, and those who had died
of the illness before I got to interview them. That was 104 persons.
A correspondent has written asking whether he and his friends
should go there to see the miracles. I've advised him not to waste
the time and money. He'll not be allowed to question or get close to
the situation, and any doubt will be treated with hostility. If he
does go, and returns with blood samples, they'll probably test out as
the proper blood, because the man does do actual incisions. Whether
he heals the ailments of those who go, can be proved or disproved.
But the person who experiments, takes grave chances.
This won't stop them, of course. I'm preaching to believers.
No sensible person would believe these ridiculous claims or
statistics. But I'm willing to be shown. Always.
What I saw in the films proved nothing. There was little
control, the star of the film directed the action, and we were not
offered anything that could not be accounted for by the usual
sleight-of-hand. Perhaps Dr. Weil, who has the expertise of an MD,
can inform me about the possibilities of patients withstanding such
assaults. Given the surroundings and the expectations of the
"patients," I believe that such phenomena are possible without any
paranormal/supernatural/occult interference.
In my professional opinion, I think I saw a first-class,
heartless charlatan, with no respect for his paying victims. I
believe that he should be in prison, not getting rich from the
ailments of desperate, innocent, uninformed people.
Do we have evidence that he heals people? Not, mind you, that
people get better after they visit him, but that they get better as a
result of his actions? I would very much like to send a medical team
down there to look at the procedures he uses, and report back....


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