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Oprah Show on John of God: OMG

November 18, 2010

After all Oprah has done over the years, all the Jenny McCarthy’s, the anti-vaccination people, The Secret, and other new age nonsense she has endorsed, I really and truly thought that nothing she could do would surprise me. However, after yesterday’s show featuring a man who is called John of God who people from all over the world, many with very high levels of education are flocking to a remote Brazilian town to see, hoping and believing he will heal them, I have been proven wrong.

OMG.

I want to preface these remarks with the acknowledgment that over the years, Oprah has also done some very good work, her strength being when she exposes truly abusive situations such as her episodes on polygamous cults, battered spouses and other forms of abuse.

However, I was appalled at her show yesterday, where she featured John of God. I don’t know what Dr. Phil would have to say about all this, but to borrow his words from another context:

What on earth were you thinking, Oprah?

She claimed she was going to have skeptics on but the only one she had on was a psychiatrist who got himself immersed in the experience and became a true believer who in spite of his scientific lingo was quite obviously not considering the kinds of alternative explanations that would be all too obvious to any real skeptic with his or her thinking cap still on. This just goes to show that having high education level and credentials all too often is no protection against being taken in. With an Editor such as this, it is no small wonder that Dr. Harriet Hall’s skeptical column on medicine in O Magazine did not last.

The least Oprah could have done is have someone on like Dr. Harriet Hall, Dr. David Gorski (an oncologist who specializes in breast cancer and has a very successful skeptical blog), Michael Shermer, James Randi or Penn & Teller and given them a full half of the show to counter the BS presented by her own Editor in Chief of O Magazine who claims to have come into this neutrally yet obviously is now a true believer.  The latter three as trained magicians could have given Oprah and the psychiatrist a lesson or two about what could be going on there with the so-called “surgeries” which are nothing new. The psychic surgery con is one of the oldest tricks in the book. At least that’s what I hope he was doing. The alternative is even more grisly to imagine. If he is not doing psychic  surgery, then it is appalling that intelligent, educated people would be willing to turn off their thought processes to the extent where they would allow some man with a second grade education to shove long probes up their noses, scrape their eyeballs with a knife and cut them open with knives with non anesthesia or sterile precautions.

Oprah’s Editor in Chief, Susan Casey who wrote an article for O Magazine on her experiences with JOG, to anyone with a knowledge of the dynamics of how people get taken in by cults or other questionable practices, fits the classic picture of someone who is a walking target for such: a person who is going through a hard time in their life and looking for answers. People who get involved in these kind of things, contrary to popular belief, are not necessarily your stereotypical kooks. They are intelligent, caring, educated people just like Susan Casey who are in a crisis of some kind and looking for some kind of peace of mind.  On Oprah’s website and on the show itself, Ms. Casey described how she had experienced the loss of her father, who two years later she was still grieving and experiencing depression.

Ms. Casey claims she came into this situation neutrally, but what does that really mean? Based on how she described it on the show, to her, being “neutral” seems to have meant turning off any kind of skepticism which she saw as a bias and a setup of some sort. She seems to misunderstand what skepticism is all about. Skepticism is open-minded but still having an active mind and engaging in critical inquiry. Skepticism means that the person making the claims has the burden of proof, being open to such evidence but also continuing to ask critical questions, not just turning off all critical thought, putting ones mind in “neutral” and surrendering to the experience as she appears to have done.

The guests on this show made it clear that the social expectation was that people could not allow themselves to have any doubts, if they were to be healed. Even so, most of the people were not healed, including a woman with breast cancer who refused all standard medical treatment and went to see John of God instead. She now has a diagnosis of stage four cancer and has been given by her doctors only a short time to live, but she still seems happy with her choice, which Oprah condoned.

The so-called “skeptic” was psychiatrist Dr. Jeff Rediger who was presented as a rigorous, scientific person who experienced it for himself and became a believer. In one video clip, Dr. Rediger’s chest was bleeding in the heart area, after he had witnessed one of the “surgeries.” When asked how this happened, he said he had no idea. I decided to look into Dr. Rediger’s background. Is he really the skeptic Oprah claimed he was? Here is his website. You decide. But wait, there’s more. Dr. Rediger has also been involved with the late John Mack, also a Harvard psychiatrist. Mack was known for his belief in UFO abductions. Dr. Rediger was interviewed by the BBC about Dr. Mack, but the BBC, unlike Oprah, had the good sense to have a real skeptic on, Dr. Richard J. McNally, a Harvard psychologist.

Whether John of God’s machinations were sleight of hand or something else, some of the people he performed these so-called healings on did claim that they were actually bleeding. After all, he was shoving long probes up people’s noses and even if he managed to avoid the brain and put them into the sinus cavity as Dr. Rediger suggested, this looks like a highly dangerous procedure where the risk of infection would be high. His followers claim that no one ever got an infection or was harmed by this, but when Oprah actually asked one of the few good questions in the entire show, whether anyone as followed up with these people to really see if they developed infections, none of her guests responded and she did not persist in getting an answer to this excellent question. Talk about a potentially harmful treatment!

The Oprah Effect is well known. Once someone or something has been featured on her show, it goes viral. Now, thanks to Oprah and her uncritical show, it is very likely that people will be flocking in droves, even more than they already are, to see John of God and submit themselves to his “invisible surgeries”. The very least she could do is devote an entire additional show featuring people who are skeptical and are genuinely thinking critically about all this. Oprah, you owe your public this much.

Details on the show including a full recap, can be read by going to Oprah’s Website. I don’t know if her producers are screening out critical commentary, but thus far, most comments are highly positive. If anyone has tried to post there and it has not gone through, I welcome your comments on this blog. It is truly scary to me that something like this would be allowed to go unchallenged.

I just posted a comment to Oprah’s article on this show. Let’s see if it gets posted.

Monica Pignotti

Update 11/19: There is now an excellent analysis of Oprah’s JOG show on Orac’s Respectful Insolence blog. Orac is a surgeon and an oncologist specializing in breast cancer, so his comments were particularly helpful in shedding more light on the issues at hand, although he noted that Oprah’s videos made it impossible to tell what was really happening in the so-called “surgeries”.

PS: Here is a video clip of Randi performing the type of “surgery” that looks very similar to that offered by JoG. Very entertaining and amusing when done by Randi on TV, but not so much when done on people who are truly desperate and/or gullible, by JoG.

I just noticed that on another WordPress blog, there is a very disturbing account by a JoG believer, that while driving to an Omega Institute event, she decided that she no longer needed glasses and removed them while driving without first going to an eye doctor to have an actual eye exam to see if this is actually the case and claiming that JoG restored her vision. Given that people can easily be deluded into believing their eyesight has improved and throw away their glasses when it has not really improved, this is another cause for concern. The safe and responsible thing to do would be, if you believe your eyesight has improved, go get an eye exam and see, but please, do us all a favor and not just remove your glasses while on the road without undergoing such testing.

40 Comments
  1. I am in the mainstream medical world… I just appeared on the cover of the National Headache Foundation Journal and I am not a quack. I have been to see John of God 3 times along with several friends who are MDs. We have all had profound healings. I personally know of 4 people who were healed of cancer and two of them were on death’s door… now, totally healed.

    I remember about 10 years ago seeing something about John of God on TV and dismissing it that he was a fraud. Only when I was struck with a major life challenge did I open my mind to what is beyond the mind. So, as a very scientific person myself, I can understand why you dismiss this.

    Yet, it is unfair to judge this if you have never been to John of God personally. It sounds from your blog as though you have not been. I would suggest you go and then write an article about your experience!

    Sincerely,
    Kelsie

    • Eosine permalink

      Evidence for the cured cancer? None… why do people tell stories that cannot be verified? You tell me.

  2. Lily permalink

    I agree with Kelsie. Until you have gone to see this John of God and had your first hand experience, then you can write all the close minded opinions that you have. Until then, they are all just opinions with no basis but your prejudice.

  3. As this blog’s history shows, this is not the first time believers have attempted to use that argument, that one has to experience something to have a valid opinion, a notion I challenge.

    http://phtherapies.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/monica-pignotti-responds-to-adoptive-parents-comments/

    http://phtherapies.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/is-it-necessary-to-meet-a-therapist-to-criticize-his-or-her-claims-and-writings/

    Sorry, but no, I do not have to experience having a probe shoved up my nose, my eyeballs scraped with a knife, or have surgery performed by someone with a second grade education to know that this is a very, very bad idea and that is not an opinion without basis. It is a scientific fact based on the laws of human physiology. On the other hand, first-hand experience is accompanied by the biases people bring to it and no one is free of such biases, including the burning need to get answers and to believe.
    My mind is very open, to actual evidence, not anecdotal experience. Experience can be deceptive. As the saying goes, it’s fine to have an open mind as long as you do not allow your brains to fall out as it seems happened yesterday on Oprah. It is the believers who have very closed minds to anyone who challenges their cherished notions.

    • Kainai permalink

      What about the CT scans of a person with a cerebral aneurysm that was documented before their visit and then confirmed ‘gone’ after the visit? Isn’t that scientific evidence/suggestion that some sort of spontaneous regression occurred? I also understand that the same thing has happened with a glioblastoma.

      • I would need to have much more information than what you are providing about this anecdote. There are many possible alternative explanations. You assert that it was “confirmed” but do not specify how it was “confirmed”. If you mean before and after medical tests of some sort, no, that would not be compelling scientific evidence. Several questions would need to be asked and answered first, such as how often such things remit on their own, whether the person was receiving other treatments, what type of testing was done, whether it was done under controlled laboratory conditions and by whom, and much more. Actually, there is a program on Oprah’s new network that I do highly recommend called Miracle Detectives. The show features a believer and a skeptic/scientist. The skeptic/scientist, Indre Viskontas on that show investigates miracles and provides excellent examples of the kinds of questions that need to be asked before we can conclude anything is a miracle. I have to say that after seeing some of the “skeptics” Oprah has presented on her show, I was initially skeptical about Indre, but I have watched a few episodes and have to say, so far I am impressed with her and so far, the excellent job she is doing educating the public on what kinds of questions to ask when there are claims of miracles.

    • Monica,
      I just thought I would add this little information which I began to research on john of god. It’s about Matthew Ireland from my blog,……”Consider the curious case of Matthew Ireland, from Guilford Vermont, from start to finish ( we save the best for last!) The start. From 2005, Matthew Ireland was the Poster Boy for the john of god circus and one of the ‘stars’ of the 2005 ABC”s Primetime special ” John of God”

      According to Matthew Ireland: his doctor told him he had a type of brain tumor that was fast-growing and inoperable. After two years of radiation treatments and chemotherapy, Ireland made three visits to John of God He claimed his new found faith in God and john of god had cured him. For a time he was seen and heard everywhere promoting himself and john of god in youtube videos, websites and magazines.

      However….according to the investigation by Joe Nickels of CSI at http://www.csicop.org/si/show/john_of_god_healings_by_entities/

      “Subsequent MRI testing did show that the tumor mass had shrunk by fifty percent, but it was not gone as the entity had claimed. Ireland’s former oncologist attributes the partial success to the aggressive radiation treatment and concedes it is possible that the specific type of tumor may have been misdiagnosed (“Miracle” 2006; “Is”2005)”

      But for the sake of finding the truth, let’s assume Matthew Ireland is not telling lies and believes his new found faith in God and faith healer john of god and all the entities and spirits of dead famous people has cured him. This would truly be a miracle? for…then in 2009…. comes the strangest news about this newly converted ‘man of faith’ Matthew Ireland!!!

      He had been sentenced in New Hampshire to a little over three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to robbing a bank. “Matthew Ireland, 31, of Guilford, Vt., admitted in January that he demanded money from the Citizens Bank in Windham last October by giving a teller a note written on the back of a savings withdrawal form.”

      But something does not smell quite right here! Are we to believe that Matthew Ireland was speaking the Truth. Or part of the Truth. Or perhaps none. What kind of belief and faith in God, so strong a faith he claims, to be able to heal himself of cancer, later allows the man to be so greedy, dishonest and deceitful as to rob a bank!!! Isn’t it more likely, knowing what we know now of this charlatan john of god, and of the trickery, lies and false claims recently brought to light, that this curious case of Matthew Ireland is simply just one more lie to fool the the sick and gullible.”

  4. People are still trying that whole “psychic surgery” con? I’m stunned.

  5. Perhaps many of Oprah’s viewers will have second thoughts about her after she has tried to foist off such obvious flim-flam on the public. I didn’t see the show, but I have done “psychic surgery” at a fair in Boulder. It’s surprisingly easy to impress a crowd. But of course, we also explained how it is done.

    Wasn’t Oprah going to retire?

  6. Brian Armstrong PhD permalink

    Monica, your response to the criticism of your blog was excellent.
    I have also often heard people recovering from alcohol and drug abuse that “you cannot help them if you haven’t been there yourself”. I do not think you need to be an alcoholic or a drug addict to help those afflicted. I do not think you need schizophrenia in order to help schizophrenics. I do not think that you need to visit “John” in order to have the open minded opinion that no evidence exists that his treatments have provided any physiological effect on healing.

    • Brian and Monica, excellent responses and clear understanding of what is actually going on.
      But there is also a personal side to this. A darker side to what goes on in Brazil. Apart from all the people saying they were healed and knowing someone who was cured of cancer and serious diseases( and of these people all are STILL being treated with modern medicine too), there are MUCH MORE who have had no change in health. The are also many more who have been harmed, both physically, mentally and emotionally. Many have been sexually molested. But no ones wants to hear about that. No one speaks up for fear . Most people see and hear all the false stories from people who are actually financially motivated with John of God. Thru tours, selling food, crystals,etc., other healers looking for patients. But harm is being done there, no doubt!

  7. Rita permalink

    I think its very comical you big “PHD”s are so much smarter than anyone else. What you need to learn can’t be taught in school or given a piece of paper with a degree. Good luck being closed minded.

  8. On the contrary, Rita. I have repeatedly pointed out that it is the most highly educated people who can sometimes be the most gullible of all. Oprah had some highly educated guests on her show who were true believers and many flocking to John of God are highly educated. Yes, gullible and “open minded” in an unhealthy way — the kind of open mindedness that leads to letting ones brains fall out.

    Healthy open-mindedness means being open to actual evidence but recognizing that the burden of proof is on the claimant. You’d be surprised how many PhDs and MDs have not grasped this principle. It is the gullible who are actually the most closed minded of all once their brains have fallen out (metaphorically speaking, of course), who feel very threatened by anyone who is healthily open minded and dares to challenge and question claims and demand evidence rather than just letting go and soaking up anything any con artist has to offer. Such people seem to swing between the two sides of the false dichotomy of being open minded in a way that is completely uncritical and then being very rigid, dogmatic and closed minded when it comes to considering the views of anyone who questions their true belief.

  9. Rita permalink

    Monica,
    I think you need a life!!!

  10. My aren’t we being judgmental, Rita. Is that also part of your loving new age lifestyle, to jump to conclusions about people you don’t even know? One of the things I enjoy in life is discussing ideas. It sure beats falling for new age con artists.

    Please note that I welcome comments from all perspectives on the topic at hand. However, personal attacks on people with whom you disagree are not welcome here. Let’s discuss the ideas and topic at hand. Unfortunately, many people of the new age mentality see anyone who disagrees with them and does not uncritically soak up claims being made as “angry” or “hateful”.

    So please, let’s stick to the ideas and the topic at hand. Spirited disagreement about ideas and the topic at hand is healthy and welcomed. Personal attacks are not.

  11. BANKS permalink

    What does it mean to be frightened of or judge those who step outside the box.
    I have no idea if this guy if for real or not, what I do know, most beleif systems that we live by were once doubted and judged. I am grateful for anyone who opens their minds to possibilities that someday may become a probabilities

  12. As someone who has been pretty much outside the “box” my entire life, I wouldn’t know. My rather extensive life experience with all kinds of unconventional practices makes it very evident that I have nothing at all against innovation. What I have a problem with is claims that have no evidence to back them up and uncritically accepting “healings” that are offered to people that involve shoving probes up people’s noses, performing surgery without taking proper precautions and all the other barbaric practices displayed on Oprah yesterday. To be afraid of that is very healthy. Stepping “outside the box” is not the issue. Uncritically and mindlessly stepping outside the box just for the sake of doing so, will not lead to healthy growth and innovation but rather, to entrapment by con artists. Contrary to Course in Miracles dogma, fear has nothing to do with it. To truly be an innovator, one needs to value and use ones mind.

    That being said, there is nothing the least bit innovative about John of God. He represents a barbaric step backwards to long-ago thoroughly debunked practices, such as psychic surgery. Oprah really should have had James Randi on her show who could show her how it’s done.

  13. Yes, we have been through ths many times. I met Randi and magician Bob Steiner about 30 years ago at the annual AAAS meeting in San Francisco where Randi perfoemed psychic surgery on Steiner. I often had Steiner perform the tricks at my Stanford course on pseudoscience, where he showed how he did it.
    Recall also that the late William Nolen wrote of his investigations of Psi-healers in 1975 in “Healing – a doctor in search of a miracle.” He examined Tony Agpoa of the Philippines, but there was a plethors of them then – Joe Mercado, Juan Flores, David Oligani and others.
    Nolen’s analysis – the “tumors” removed were chicken parts, and magicians detected the sleight of hand they use.
    Rita, Kelsie, and others: You have been fooled.

    W Sampson MD

  14. @Banks: The assertion among promoters of bogus treatments that history is full of misunderstood geniuses is very common. The flawed logic is that because some major scientific discoveries were initially rejected, that whatever current bogus treatment promoted that is rejected is also a work of genius and a major discovery of the future.

    First of all, many of the scientific discoveries were historically rejected by the religious, not the scientific establishment. Second of all, even if the scientific establishment did make a mistake that was later proven wrong, that doesn’t mean that everything the scientific establishment criticizes, they are wrong about. The fact is that for every truly misunderstood genius there are thousands of bogus treatments that remained bogus and are now nothing more than mere historical curiosities. I covered this topic in a recent posting — click here to read it.

    To claim that the barbaric practices of John of God are some kind of science that is ahead of its time is patently absurd. These are age old practices that, as Wallace Sampson pointed out, have long ago been thoroughly debunked.

  15. michieux permalink

    Science is still the best self-correcting method for knowing our world that humans have ever devised.

    The “John of God’s” of the world have never, ever survived a thorough critical examination, where facts matter.

    People who believe that this chap has any supernatural ability might educate themselves about the placebo effect. They might also enquire if JoG has ever helped anyone regrow amputated limbs.

    I never tire of repeating this statement spoken by someone in one of the TED videos:

    While we’re all entitled to our own opinions, we’re not entitled to our own facts.

    Cheers.

  16. klm permalink

    I’m not smart like a scientist, so correct me if I’m wrong. Hasn’t science as a discipline or philosphy or collection of facts evolved over the centuries (Galileo, Newton, Einstein)? Is it possible in the pure scientific rational mind to conceive of phenomena that is observable but not explanable with the current scientific principles? ( Is it remotely possible that the world is not flat, but, quite possibly, round?) And if that is so, is it possible – just possible – that the work of JoG might possibly be observable fact, but not explanable in the current body of knowledge encompassed by “science”?

    Thank you, Kelsie. I too have been to Brazil and traveled with a physician who was sent down by the Samueli Institute to get to the bottom of all that crazy JoG woo-woo. He brought his own interpreter to interview JoG because he did not want to run the risk of being misled by Joao’s people. This physician was astounded after spending a few days with Joao, having both interviewed him at length and observed him in action. For anyone wishing to put their skepticism on the line, I suggest going to Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY next fall to experience John of God and come away with your own conclusions…..or you can just sit at home and watch Oprah.

  17. All kinds of things are possible, but science is about actually systematically searching for evidence and the burden of proof is on the person making the claim to provide such evidence. Going to the Omega Institute is not the way to establish scientific evidence. Only carefully conducted scientific experiments can do that.

    There is no way JOG can be compared to Newton, Galileo and Einstein because these were people who used the scientific method to actually build a body of knowledge. JOG does not do that. Instead he engages in trickery such as his so-called “surgeries” that are sleight of hand and if Oprah had had actual skeptics on her show, they could have explained and even demonstrated how it is done.

    If you want to refer to history, it is full of examples of claimed bogus cures that were not scientifically studied that have come and gone who had believers who were every bit as passionate as JOG’s followers and that sometimes even included famous physicians of the day. Just saying that some day, somewhere there might be some science to explain that is meaningless speculation, especially since other explanations for what JOG is doing are currently available.

    Physicians, while being trained in the practice of medicine, unfortunately have not always learned critical thinking skills and do not always grasp how first-hand, personal “experience” can be deceptive.What I saw on the videos on Oprah was especially concerning because the social atmosphere around JOG was continuously discouraging questioning and critical thinking and instead, encouraging unquestioning belief.

  18. klm permalink

    I think you missed my point. I am not comparing JoG to other scientists, or advocating that he explain himself in science terms since he is not a scientist. He is already explaining himself in terms of his direct experiece and he is fine with that.

    I am suggesting that anyone who is skeptical enough – and considers himself a scientist do the disciplined work to debunk him. If you do some research beyond watching Oprah. you’ll find that many have tried to debunk JoG,and no one has successfully done so. The fact that Oprah failed to bring more skeptics on her show is Oprah’s failing, it diminishes Oprah not JoG. The MD I referred to was a researcher and in fact has proven and disproven a number of alternative therapies – that’s his job and his expertise. Joao is written up in Brazilian university studies and has been studied by physicians and his “patients” studied by pathologists. Researching beyond Oprah will give you that informaiton.

    You wrote:
    “Just saying that some day, somewhere there might be some science to explain that is meaningless speculation, especially since other explanations for what JOG is doing are currently available.” I assert the corollary, which is just because other explanations for what JoG is doing exist, does not mean that he is doing the same thing and does not make what he is doing non-legit.

    If you are going to base your entire assessment of JoG on the Oprah show, that is your right of course, but it seems far from scientific to me. I don’t believe evverything I see on oprah either. Since I have been to Abadiania and have been in the company of researchers who have observed him, and have researched his background then I have a level of confidence in my position.

    For example, if you researched JoG you would know that he is a wealthy businessman in his own right, completely separate from the Casa where he comes to do work a few days a week. He accepts no money for the work he does (he’s not the “simple village man” Oprah painted him to be.) If people donate to the casa then it goes directly to support the operation of the casa and to support underprivileged families throughout the country. Joao doesn’t see or need any of the money. So if he is a charlatan he is one dumb one because he gets no benefit from the work he is doing. He’s doing it out of service, which is perhaps a concept that many don’t grasp.

    This has created such a debate firestorm I’m going to bet that Oprah will cover him again. I know he’s already been covered on 60 minutes several years back.

  19. My point is that whether or not JoG considers himself a scientist is not relevant. He is engaging in practices such as the “surgery” he claims to do that, by definition are within the realm of science. The default position is not belief; it is still that the burden of proof lies with those making the claims and without JoG’s cooperation, he cannot be studied. The burden of proof is not on skeptics to debunk him.

    There is a good, practical reason for the default position not being belief in JoG, especially when people are flocking to him, willing to have him cut into their bodies in vulnerable places, shove probes up their noses and take a knife to their eyeballs. Whether he actually does these things or it is sleight of hand, the fact that so many people are willing to have him do these things is what truly concerns me. To me, this falls into the category of people so much under someone’s influence that they are willing to drink the Kool-Aid (an expression that comes from the tragedy where over 900 people died at the hands of Jim Jones although many were forced to drink it).

    Whether or not JoG considers himself a scientist, IMO, he has no business doing these things to people unless there is evidence and IMO, any physician who assists him, even outside of the their country of licensure, deserves to lose their license to practice medicine. That’s the reason, by the way, that JoG will not be allowed to perform his “surgeries” at the Omega Institute. Here in the US, that would be considered practicing medicine and surgery without a license, whether or not JoG chooses to consider himself scientific.

    And yes, Oprah did neglect to mention that JoG is a very wealthy man and it appears that even though he doesn’t directly charge for his services, he seems to be making money from it in indirect ways — sorry, but I just don’t buy that his wealth is completely independent of what he does. It seems odd that if he were truly from a wealthy family that he would have such a low level of education and speak no English (most wealthy people are educated and learn multiple languages, usually English), or did Susan and the other journalists get that wrong? According to the Wikipedia article on Joao, he has said very little about his actual background and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence he came from a wealthy family. I realize that Wikipedia is not necessarily the truth, but what this does show is that info on him is not easy to find and this lack of openness is also a red flag.

    Oprah is not the first person to investigate JoG, by the way. ABC Primetime Live and a number of others have featured him. If there truly was legitimate, published, peer reviewed research published in reputable medical journals showing him to be legit, this would have been front page news. I cannot believe that all the journalists who have looked into him would have missed it, but if you or your medical doctor friends have specific citations of research published in reputable peer reviewed journals, I would love to see it. These journals publish studies from all over the world, so if research was done in Brazil, there is no reason why it couldn’t have been published if it deserved to be.

  20. Michieux permalink

    Those of you prone to unquestioningly believing everything they see on TV, particularly on the Oprah Winfrey show, might be interested in following the story of Kim Tinkham — a woman who took Oprah’s embrace of “The Secret” to heart, refused conventional, evidence-based treatment for breast cancer in favor of unproven, pseudoscientific nonsense treatments and the “law of attraction,” and who is now apparently dying of the disease. Conventional treatements might not have saved her — the odds were about 50/50 — but she never even gave them a chance, and so now, tragically, she is paying the price.

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=8745

    And for believers in unmitigated nonsense, the site “What’s the Harm” might provide some food for thought:

    http://whatstheharm.net/

    If by posting this I contribute to the saving of just one life I will consider it a win. I’m not out to disparage people; I’m out to prod people to critically assess their beliefs by considering real evidence. It helps if, when you actually understand what some people will stoop to in order to make a buck, you get really, really angry, and help stop the charlatans out there.

  21. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. permalink

    hmmm.

    yeh – i’ve seen a lot of people using stupid arguments to avoid having to think rationally about what they see and how they interpret what they see.

    i’m entirely with Monica on this issue.

    and if people have a problem with the blog article she wrote… they should start learning something properly.

  22. NO NAME permalink

    I went to see JoG. I was not healed in the least. I don’t know anyone who was and could give proof of it.

  23. NO NAME permalink

    Not only did he not heal me but yes he is wealthy. He doesn’t “charge” for his services but he is being given donations and probably makes more than he could get if he charged. Many of the people who flock to him are poor indeed, but many are very very rich as well.

    I had the nose job and yes it did hurt. It hurt alot! I was to have received spiritual anesthesia but I did feel everything. My eyes were closed because I was praying to get through it.

    Anyway, met some nice people there but came home with no cure.

  24. george permalink

    Thanks for all your work Monica. I know this is a very late post after your original post, but I had to add my comment anyway. I had a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was a complete believer in alternative medicine and “energy healing”, etc., and a complete disbeliever in any “Western medicine”. She went to Brazil to have the John of God experience/healing at least three times (maybe four). This is a very expensive and lengthy trip from Hawaii. By the time (a couple of years after diagnosis) she realized that she was going to die and opted for “Western medicine” it was far far too late. She’s dead. I’m still angry to this day. There’s lots more details I could convey, but the end result is that she had absolutely no chance of survival subjecting herself solely to a charlatan for treatment. And even if it’s true that John of God doesn’t receive any money from the “Casa” (which i suspect he does through the clinic selling herbs or whatever else), people like him don’t necessarily need a financial incentive to delude people. They have a LOT of power over people, and people look at them as some kind of miracle worker… that kind of adulation and control can be a powerful motivator for some people.

    • thomas kouns permalink

      I can assure you that John of God is not a fraud in the sense that nothing goes on there. However, the ‘Casa’ should be avoided at all costs from my own experience as whatever goes on there is not from this world.

      This is my story. I went to the Casa three years ago as I was extremely ill and ended up staying a year. At first I did not believe the Casa could do the things they claimed nor the accounts of the people who experienced such phenomenon. I put it down to a ‘placebo effect’ or people’s desperation to find God.
      I wanted to ‘have faith’ as well in order to recover from my own illness but I was still highly skeptical. However, as I experienced for myself things that defied my understanding and comprehension and witnessed more, I realized that what goes on there is beyond our understanding.

      People are often so desperate (as I was) or want to believe so much in something like God in a tangible way that they are willing to ignore the fact that they really have no idea what they are getting into. Those who go there are pressured to ‘have faith’ and ‘not question.’ Yet thousands of people are willing to entrust their lives and bodies to something that is not from this world.

      Since returning from my trip, I was attacked physically and mentally for the last several years in ways that defy explanation to most people. It has almost been unbearable at times and I have been in fear on my safety and my life and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I wish I had never gone to this place as nothing like this had ever occurred until I got involved with John of God.
      If you find this hard to believe I don’t blame you as I would be thinking the same thing had I not gone through it myself. I wasn’t some crazed ‘new agey’ guy either prone to believing in weird or unusual phenomenon’s. Prior to becoming ill, I had a career and had never thought much about this type of stuff but severe illness can make you open to almost anything if you think it will make you better.

      You will only hear rosy stories coming from the Casa guides and the Casa literature but what you don’t hear is the people like myself who have had horrible experiences. Most people and literature promoting the Casa try to explain what goes on there in a ‘bibleesque’ way that packages it so people feel safe, secure and can make sense of it. But having been there and experienced it myself, whatever it is, is beyond our comprehension and the ‘packaging’ of the Casa and ‘John of God’ is a highly effective form of manipulation.

      Furthermore, ‘John of God’ the man is not the real problem; it is whatever is working through him. Whatever this place is, it does not belong on this earth. My best advice if you are considering going there because 1) you or your loved ones are in a desperate situation as I was 2) you are seeking a deeper spirituality/God connection – think long and hard before getting into something that defies our understanding.

      Though there are thousands of people who have been helped by the Casa would strongly disagree with me, whatever this place is, it does not belong on this earth.

      Thomas Kouns

  25. Donna permalink

    My friend attended. She had been held for over a year as a hostage in Somalia. She went there for spiritual healing not physical and got so much out of it is returnng this October. If for anyone, they go with a skeptical yet somewhat open mind then what does it hurt. I too am going and if it brings me simply peace of mind Then John of God would have given me what I am looking for.

    He never dismisses and in fact condones the medical system and tells people not to give up on traditional medicine. Traditional medicine should never be dismissed but if there is something that can give people added hope or simply acceptance and peace of mind that there is more to life and death then I see no harm in it, after all isn’t that what the bible and religon try to do. I have been through Breast Cancer stage 3 and survived by traditional medicine, I have had two bowel resectionings and survivied when I was told to expect not to but due to the expertise of great surgeons survived, my father and mother have both survived colon and breast and lung cancer due to traditional medicine and my sister is now in stage four colon cancer and by the grace of god is still with us…but if seeing John of God gives me peace of mind about all of the pain and suffering our family has been through then I will have been blessed. I am not a weak minded person that scoffs at traditional help but let’s face it we need to take our blinders off and know that the world as we see it isn’t always the way it is. Why is there an increase in naturalpathy? Because after years of tradtional medicine scoffing at “it” they are now accepting that things such as acupuncture, proper diet, and medicines that are not full of chemicals do actually have a ligitmate place in today’s society. The healing of he mnd can be powerful if even to allow one to find peace with the acceptance of death whichis a natural part of life.

  26. Artemisia Gael permalink

    (Sorry for the double post- in this one I’ve corrected typos and made it a bit more cohesive- this is very difficult to share, but every word of it is true:)
    Dr. Rediger used to be affiliated with John Mack, the UFO guy, the one and the same man that used to work for PEER in Cambridge (this organization was originally formed as “The Center for Mind Control” funded by Rockefeller), which once utilized Post WWII Nazi psychiatrists to test LSD and other horrendous drugs on the public (just look at Colin Ross’ work), until such time that it was deemed “illegal,” but then in some circles was considered to have gone “underground.” This happened after a man was killed who knew that the US had been involved in the covert drugging of an entire town in France, using LSD. Anyhow, I have had personal experience with Dr. Rediger in 2000 at PEER, and as a result of bringing my child for “treatment” of her “alien” visions, our family was subjected to all kinds of bizarre and frightening and weird events for a period of three months after seeking psychiatric advice for her “visions;” we received, instead of help, death threats via phone (witnessed by three people), beating, drugging, torture (yes in the good old U S of A). Dr. Rediger came to visit our house multiple times, saying he’d “help” by bringing in EMF equipment to figure out just how our computer had been hacked, while feigning interest in scrolling death threats posted in a local chat room, aimed directly and tauntingly at our family. This was all during a divorce proceeding with an abusive ex with “connections.” Dr. Rediger was Dr. Mack’s right hand man at the time. Strangely, he knew all about the torture and the drugging that had occurred to us right after the phone and computer death threats and after we had sought safe haven from police in a local hotel, even as he acted as if the PEER organization had nothing to do with any of it. Dr. Rediger told us that the reason all this happened to “us” was that “a hole had opened up in the universe;” he said that for many, “thugs would often be seen to follow people, police and strangers would knock on doors, doorbells could ring by themselves, phones would act strangely, and we had to approach all of it with “NO FEAR.”” I did a little research, and made it clear to Dr. Rediger that I’d read some books about the post-WWII history of mind control in the US. He never called back, after following us for more than 3 months.

    Voila, eleven years later, Dr. Mack has died under bizarre circumstances, and the illustrious and pseudo “philosophical” Dr. Rediger reappears is working under the guise as “skeptic” with John “of God.” I just hope for the people who are following this babble that the placebo effect works, regardless of whether some guy pulls things out of people’s noses via sleight of hand, or whether a sugar pill is given. By the way, my child was sexually abused, and alien visions are common- that’s why the alien foil worked so well, for awhile. There’s something rotten, and it’s not in Denmark. Please note on the JOG site that every person who goes to stay at the John of God compound is given a healing “bowl of soup” before treatment; maybe that explains the “philosophical drug” effect and the paralysis during the procedures. I know what that feels like, and not because it was intended to heal; when it happened to me, it was delivered via water, and was most likely ketamine, LSD or something like that, which paralyzes the body within minutes, dries the mouth horribly, then renders one to have a complete near death experience; given without permission and in threatening circumstances, it was terribly traumatic, because of the malicious intention with which it was used. If one goes into the experience thinking one will be healed, then the effect of the soup or the water drugging is not recognized as something harmful; it is, instead, seen as cathartic, healing, transcendent. This project, I fear, is yet another one of those means of testing people’s willingness to do anything to be “healed,” which if we remember from WWII was a very effective way of convincing people by the millions that they were about to be moved to better places, camps, and warm showers. We all know how that ended up.

    Read more: http://spotlight.vitals.com/2010/11/dr-jeffrey-rediger-shares-miracle-with-oprah-john-of-god/#ixzz1dkRbWrW5

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. John of God: Why Bogus Therapies Seem to Work « Potentially Harmful and Other Questionable Therapies
  2. John of God: Why Bogus Therapies Seem to Work « Potentially Harmful and Other Questionable Therapies
  3. Science-Based Medicine » How low can Oprah Winfrey go? Promoting faith healer John of God to the masses
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  6. Daughters of the Casa | John of God's Miracles

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