I just watched “Real Life: Healer Or Hoaxer?” on TVNZ’s TV One. It was billed as an insight into the work of spiritual healer “John of God” (JoG) described in the show notes as: “a man who some call the most powerful spiritual healer since Jesus”. It claimed, in the previews, to ask the question: “Is John of God a miracle worker or a charlatan?”
John of God - Healer or Hoaxer – Top Shelf Productions
Healer or Hoaxer follows these human journeys from a balanced point of view, seeking to answer the question of whether John of God really is one of the world's most powerful spiritual healers, or whether he's just another trickster preying on the weak.
They followed three Kiwis who went to see "JoG" when he visited New Zealand, two of them later following him back to Brazil. As all were facing life threatening illness it’s impossible to criticise them but not the makers of this documentary. As an investigation into the value of Spiritual Healing it was a total waste of time. There was no attempt to quantify the impact of his treatment beyond, understandable, subjective hopeful comments from the patients involved.
The only seemingly critical element were some insipid non-committal comments from
a “scientist”, whose name I didn’t catch*, Mark Wilson (a pyschologist and behaviourist) who added little to the exercise. He offered vague explanations of what could be happening if the spiritual healing was working but no critique of the techniques used and their possible impacts. Sadly for those involved the result seemed to be no measurable physical improvement and certainly no miracle cures. The programme failed to challenge JoG or question the outcome.
THANK THE INTERNET, and YouTube, for allowing us to see James Randi’s analysis of a similar ABC sham documentary back in 2005. Since Randi is expert at exposing the physical tricks used JoG a quick Google search found the article and video below. It’s amazing how the local effort duplicated the lack of investigation seen in sham show which inspired Randi’s comments. He explains how JoG relies on carnival tricks and the natural, physical, responses to them to achieve his short term “cures”. It’s also amazing “Top Shelf” didn’t tackle the issues Randi raises or mention his extensive analysis in an hour, actually 44 minutes + adverts, of air time.
In short it was a crap "documentary" with little evidence of critical thinking and a brilliant "Advertorial" for a charlatan. What a waste of a good opportunity.
"John of God." - A JREF Special Analysis - February 18, 2005
Folks, the page previously prepared for this week's slot has been pre-empted so that I can present my observations — and some of those from the public — concerning the February 10th, 2005, showing of the American Broadcasting Company's "Primetime Live" program. It dealt with a man called "John of God" who works out of Brazil. This was a major show that could have been a useful, productive, and informative program, but failed to reach that standard. Read on…
Below: James Randi on John of God (aka João Teixeira, the miracle man and João de Deus) and criticizes the way the media portrays "psychics."
Real Life: Healer or Hoaxer – TV ONE | tvnz.co.nz
Wednesday January 9 at 9.30pm on TV ONE
Real Life features some of the more unusual and moving documentaries you'll ever see, covering people both little and large, facing the world with a different perspective.
* I didn’t record the program so cant check and there is no reference in the details on the program website. If you know leave a comment or email me using the sidebar link and I will update the post. Post amended 10/01/08