Thursday, December 23, 2010

Writing a Poison Pen Letter to CNN

Dr. Sanjay Gupta was once tapped as a potential Surgeon General. Today I learned it would have been somewhat catastrophic if he'd gotten the job, as he's easily swayed by con men, psychic surgeons and faith healers. On December 22, 2010 this idiot used CNN's AC360 as a forum for promoting the faith healer and psychic surgeon "John of God."

I sent CNN the following comment to express my disgust at their promotion of a faith healer and their inability to do even rudimentary reporting. Apparently CNN, like Oprah, feels its more important to produce a "feel good" story that gives false hope than to find and report the truth.

I'm writing to express my disgust over Dr Gupta promoting the con artist "John of God" on a December 22, 2010 episode of AC360. I found the alleged investigation to be shallow and pathetic. Is this really what journalism has come to at CNN, the uncritical promotion of a known con artist with nothing more than a few vague bits of hand waving and pretense at MAYBE having some doubts?

"John of God" is a faith healer, a con man whose antics have been vivisected by people who actually investigated the man. The only positive to come out of that promotion piece is knowing it's a damn good thing Gupta didn't get the Surgeon General job and anything he has to say about medicine or science in the future can be dismissed as the babbling of an ignorant and easily fooled kook.

CNN has a web form for sending them letters.

You can learn more about Sanjay Gupta and his promotion of quackery at the links below:

Faith-Healer 'John of God' featured on CNN's AC360

John of God on CNN with Dr Gupta

You can learn more about Oprah's promotion of "Psychic Surgeon" John of God on the December 01, 2010 episode of the The Skeptics' Guide To The Universe Podcast.


Anonymous said...

Did you watch the segment on CNN before writing this blog? In no way did Gupta promote John of God?

Matthew Miller said...

I watched the segment. The token criticism with regards to the claims of a "Psychic Surgeon" was depressing. Making the evidence against him seem so flaccid and weak constitutes little more than promotion of the man.

A con artist who slices open the skin of his marks and scrapes their corneas as part of the show was treated as a fluff piece. That's bad reporting no matter how you slice it.

Anonymous said...

The comments I’ve seen written about John of God at CNN is absolutely unbelievable. The Bible clearly talks about people spiritual ignorance and blindness and I have to agree with it. John of God is just one in a million around the world. Latin America countries are full of mysteries and its people extremely spiritual. Take a look at the Mayas, Incas and the Egyptians before our times and see what they have left us as a legacy. Look at “Jesus” and what they have done with him”. Do not put God in a box because He is bigger then you are and ignorance is not one of God trade. Some of you never left the cities that you live in, never mind seeing the world we live in. You sit in front of your television and one hour show that was able to touch just the surface of the matter you think you know it all. Lord has mercy on you. I would suggest you to do your home work properly before you go around talking about something you’ve never experienced before in your life and probably never will. Welcome to the world of spirituality where religion has no place in it. I like what Susan Casey said: “just because we don’t believe, it does not mean it is not happening”. There is an amazing power inside of each one of us and most of the time we try to ignore it because we are petrified of the unknown. Jesus told us that more than 2 thousand years ago.

Matthew Miller said...

"John of God is just one in a million around the world"

One of a million con men. To the best of my knowledge the only part of his act James Randi HASN'T replicated involved scraping the corneas of a mark's eyes, actually cutting their skin and shoving a hunk of metal up a victim's sinus cavity.

John of God is a classic "psychic surgeon" con artists, hiding behind religion to better fool his marks. I'm sorry that there are so many people who are happy to be bilked by this jackass just because he convinces them that any criticism of his con is an attack on religion. The simple fact of the matter is that calling John of God a fraud does not mean there are no miracles or prophets, just that John of God is a false prophet, a con man and not a man of God.

I happen to be Christian myself and con men like Peter Popoff and John of God using religion to rip people off is something I find disgusting.

thomas kouns said...

Interesting discussion and threads.

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