The Faith Healers / Edition 2by James Randi
Pub. Date: 01/28/1989
Publisher: Prometheus Books
James Randi, the celebrated magician, has written a damning indictment of the faith-healing practices of the leading televangelists and others who claim divine healing powers. Randi and his team of researchers attended scores of "miracle services" and often were pronounced "healed" of the nonexistent illnesses they claimed. They viewed first-hand the tragedies
James Randi, the celebrated magician, has written a damning indictment of the faith-healing practices of the leading televangelists and others who claim divine healing powers. Randi and his team of researchers attended scores of "miracle services" and often were pronounced "healed" of the nonexistent illnesses they claimed. They viewed first-hand the tragedies resulting from the wide-spread belief that faith healing can cure every conceivable disease. The ministries, they discovered, were rife with deception, chicanery, and often outright fraud.
Self-annointed ministers of God convince the gullible that they have been healed - and that they should pay for the service. The Faith Healers examines in depth the reasons for belief in faith healing and the catastrophic results for the victims of these hoaxes. Included in Randi's book are profiles of a highly profitable "psychic dentist", and the "Vatican-approved wizard."
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As both a believer in the supernatural world and a Christian I can do nothing but stand up and applaud James Randi for this book. He goes through some of the biggest charlitans and frauds in the business and prove the lot of them are nothing but con artists protected by outdated laws. The particular example of Leroy Jenkins claim regarding challenging Randi to prove him wrong. As the reproduced advertisement blatently shows any reader this was grand standing at its worst. He did it for publicity knowing full well no skeptic would take him up on it because his premise was patently impossible. Why? For the same reason you can't prove that the moon is not made out of a particularly rock like brand of green cheese or that Santa Claus does not exist. Its impossible to prove a negative and simply enough thats not the point of science. It's Jenkin's responsibility to prove his claims some thing he is incapable of doing.
James Randi would like us to view him as an objective 'skeptic' offended by confidence tricksters using religion as a cover for their scams. However his book advances a far more ambitious agenda; he views religious faith as a 'primitive state' of humanity and would like to see the U.S. Supreme Court change the law to 'protect' those simpleminded enough to adhere to such 'superstitions' (p.s 297, 298 & 304.) The narrative is mostly rhetoric tarring those whose philosophies are not shared by Randi as closed-minded suckers, a view expounded in the introduction but well expressed in chapter 9 when a correspondant admonishes Randi, saying: 'You're not familiar with Christian people... the way they think.' Randi replies: 'It seems there isn't much thinking going on... they'll believe anything.' (p 154) This is part of a steady stream of mean-spirited elitism directed not simply against those Randi sees as frauds but at their 'victims' as well. There ARE accusations of real fraud in the book, especially directed against Oral Roberts, Peter Popoff and W. V. Grant. Yet on page 97, when faith healer Leroy Jenkins challenges Randi to prove his allegations, Randi responds: 'Well, as is usual with most of these challengers, Jenkins got it backwards. It's MY challenge to HIM to prove that he is genuine. I'm not saying, nor have I ever said, that he is 'a phony'. I'm only saying that he has not proved that he's for real.' Had Randi contented himself with his assertions and provided the necessary factual data to support them, his book might have some value. Instead we get a discreditable attempt to cast scorn not only on all faith healing but on all religious belief, using guilt by association, ridicule, unsubstantiated gossip, ad hominem attacks, pop-psychological profiling and pseudo-scientific 'standards for evaluation' to do so. One of the acts of the great magician Harry 'Houdini' Weiss was 'exposing' fraudulent psychics. Although Houdini suggested that fraudulent mediums were preying on the weaknesses of their clients he never implied that religious believers were his intellectual inferiors. James Randi's imitation is no flattery - it's a bitterly bigoted attack inspired by his own fanatical faith in Scientific Materialism, and every bit as manipulative and distorted as his targets' presumed crimes.