Infamous, so-called faith healer John of God is coming to Australia – a prospect that has alarmed the Australian Medical Association.
THE website video shows Brazilian Joao Teixeira de Faria, a self-described “simple farmer” with no medical training, as he exposes the breast of a woman, possibly a cancer sufferer.
She’s standing up, dressed in white, as de Faria takes a scalpel from an assistant, cuts into her breast, then puts his naked finger in the wound, as the woman, eyes closed, remains quiet but winces.
As the blood flows, the woman is laid down to rest by assistants, and de Faria moves on.
Other videos show him slice open the abdomen of another woman, and shove, to the hilt, a pair of forceps up the nose of a third and twist them, in all cases drawing blood.
In another of his “visible” healing techniques, de Faria takes a knife and uses it to scrape the eyeball of a man.
Medical doctors and mythbusters such as retired magician-turned-investigator James Randi claim de Faria is a complete charlatan who uses well-known tricks from carnivals and sideshows to con gullible people for profit.
“John of God” is well-known to skeptic advocates for his psychic surgeries and his claim to channel doctor “entities” to heal the sick using the power of God. Endorsed by Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Oz and Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN, he was featured on ABC News in 2005 where they gave valid critical views VERY short shrift.
Joe Nickell explains some of the questionable techniques here.
Certainly, his procedures are a sham. The twisting of forceps up a pilgrim’s nose is an old circus and carnival sideshow stunt, explained in my book Secrets of the Sideshows. Looking far more tortuous than it is, the feat depends on the fact that, unknown to many people, there is a sinus cavity that extends horizontally from the nostrils over the roof of the mouth to a surprising distance—enough to accommodate a spike, icepick, or other implement used in the “Human Blockhead” act.
The ABC News piece from 2005 reports that Brazilian authorities have prosecuted and briefly jailed de Faria previously for practicing medicine without license. Will Australia authorities take action?
He is appearing for three days next month at Sydney Olympic Park, with tickets selling for $295 per performance, or $795 for three sessions. He will only do “invisible” sessions, so no cutting. AMA vice president Stephen Parnis said he is very skeptical (“sceptical”) and sees a motive for profit, that’s all. It seems that he will be watched with a sharp eye by medical professionals.
Addition: James Randi’s extensive writeup about the ABC News program on John of God is not currently available on the web due to archiving of the 2005 JREF site. But I am working on reposting it on the new randi.org site which should happen soon so that Google searchers can find this important information.