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November 5, 2009 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Does John of God really heal the sick? Or is it just carnival tricks? John of God aka João Teixeira de Faria is a farmer who has been healing people close to his ranch in Brazil for close to 50 years by chanelling the energy of medical spirits. Sometimes he uses visible surgery and sometimes he uses invisible surgery.
posted by pick_the_flowers (37 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Does John of God really heal the sick? Or is it just carnival tricks?

Oh, oh, oh, I know this one, it's uh, um, damn, it's on the tip of my tongue.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:06 PM on November 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


I'll take "Combination of charlatanry, placebo effect, and spontaneous resolution of medical issues" for $400, Alex.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:08 PM on November 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


chanelling the energy of medical spirits

Whoa, you mean shotgunning flaming absinthe down a funnel? Dude knows how to party!
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:09 PM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, what Mr. Randi had to say about this fucknozzle.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:10 PM on November 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


Well whichever it is*, if Orrin Hatch gets his way he'll be covered by your health insurance.

* Carnival tricks.
posted by rusty at 1:11 PM on November 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


rusty: "if Orrin Hatch gets his way he'll be covered by your health insurance."

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

*
posted by boo_radley at 1:16 PM on November 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


and the hell with Kerry and Kennedy too for co-sponsoring.
posted by boo_radley at 1:19 PM on November 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Many private and government health plans cover "alternative" medicine of various kinds. It makes some sense -- people want it, so they should be able to buy it for themselves. It's not worse than McDonald's.

On the other hand, I personally resent having to be in the insurance pool (private or especially government) that pays for it.
posted by grobstein at 1:27 PM on November 5, 2009


what's that saying about what you call alternative health care that actually works? That you just call it health care?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:31 PM on November 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's not worse than McDonald's.

368,379 people killed, 306,096 injured and over $2,815,931,000 in economic damages
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:38 PM on November 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


Sometimes he uses visible surgery

Watch that video closing. He keeps squeezing her booby. I don't see how squeezing her booby could possibly be medically related to whatever ailment requires forceps poking to the brain.
posted by jefficator at 1:38 PM on November 5, 2009


Seriously. At 0:24 he cops a good feel.
posted by jefficator at 1:40 PM on November 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


The problem is that there's all sorts of slippery slopes. The notion that illness could be cured by just talking to a doctor seems ludicrous. Except, of course, we've found that talk therapy actually can help, if not entirely cure, mental illness. In fact, even with physical illnesses and infirmities, mere attention and positive "energies" can help aid the patient in recovery.

So, the question then is, are members of the clergy banned from being therapists? I wouldn't support allowing clergymen be considered physicians, but certainly if they'd like to register with the state as therapists and be subject to state and federal requirements, then that's their choice.

Oh, the state can't impose on expression of religion? Then I guess your clergyman can't be a registered therapist after all. There are limits, of course. We also don't allow human sacrifice in America, even for religious purposes.
posted by explosion at 1:43 PM on November 5, 2009


It's not worse than McDonald's.

368,379 people killed, 306,096 injured and over $2,815,931,000 in economic damages


What are you talking about? Your tally includes people who killed themselves because their religion condemned homosexuality. Not alternative medicine. The medical section counts vaccine denials and counts as alternative medicine deaths many people who would have died of their conditions even with real medical care.

I am not an advocate of alternative medicine, I think it's stupid and dangerous. But you're being careless and intellectually dishonest.
posted by grobstein at 1:46 PM on November 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's a great scene in Man On the Moon, the Andy Kaufman biopic, where he's dying of cancer and in desperation has gone to see a psychic surgeon, and he catches them doing things like palming chicken livers and then pretending to pull them straight out of people, and he laughs because he gets the joke.

Of course, he was played by Jim Carrey, who is now a big ol' anti-vax nut. Go figure.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:34 PM on November 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well whichever it is*, if Orrin Hatch gets his way he'll be covered by your health insurance.

Wow. That violates the spirit of separation of state and really fucking stupid.
posted by xmutex at 2:42 PM on November 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


@ Explosion:

It's not a slippery slope. If talk therapy is shown in proper scientific studies to be beneficial to people with mental illness, it's a valid treatment. If it's shown to be hogwash, it's not valid.
posted by Huck500 at 2:48 PM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aw, c'mon! It's not JUST carnival tricks. It's carnival tricks and the placebo effect.
posted by ErikaB at 2:50 PM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


rusty: "if Orrin Hatch gets his way he'll be covered by your health insurance."

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Generally a sensible response even if you just cut off the sentence at "if Orrin Hatch gets his way."

In this case, if it means the Senator might actually support reform legislation, I might let it slide. Particularly if the money paid goes directly to the actual health care provider; none of this inefficient middleman stuff.

I think we all know he's going to vote no anyway, unless he's also decided that this is his last term, in which case, if that's what it takes to see him to the door, it's probably worth it.
posted by weston at 2:54 PM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering what would happen if quacks had the same levels of exposure to malpractice lawsuits that real doctors do. Homeopaths might survive (they're more cheats than quacks, selling water as they do), but I can't see the other folks making it.
posted by jenkinsEar at 3:12 PM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


What I love is how the "prayer treatment" is so blatantly unrelated to medicine. You can have a guy come around and talk to you about religion all your want, but fuck you if you want other people to pay for it. Just because you use the words "medicine" or "treatment" or "healthcare" doesn't fucking make it so.

Otherwise known as "If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a lamb have? Four, dumbass."
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:16 PM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, Dr. Oz sounds like a really smart dumbass.
posted by Avenger at 3:49 PM on November 5, 2009


Yeah he's a stage magician & a bit of a pervert, because he is grabbing that woman's breast. It's an odd combination but it's undeniable.
posted by scalefree at 4:09 PM on November 5, 2009


That Randi article is blisteringly angry. Good ol' James Randi.

Bad ol' ABC News.
posted by JHarris at 4:44 PM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Broad brush, anyone? Straw man? Yeah, yeah, John of God, and Orrin Hatch wanting to fund prayer as medicine. Heh. I join hands with you in your disdain, so far.

But some of you lost me back at that blind leap you took to defining anything called "alternative medicine" as fraud, ignorance, regression and (at best) the placebo effect.

How about we have a few more belly laughs together.

Tai Chi as a treatment for osteoarthritis knee pain
(Oct. 2009, Arthritis Care & Research, journal of American College of Rheumatology)

Effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine in cardiovascular treatment
(University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston)

Acupuncture for lower back pain
(Sept. 2007, Archives of Internal Medicine [a JAMA journal])
"'The superiority of both forms of acupuncture suggests a common underlying mechanism that may act on pain generation, transmission of pain signals or processing of pain signals by the central nervous system and that is stronger than the action mechanism of conventional therapy,' the authors conclude"
... and for polycystic ovary syndrome
(Amer. J. of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 2009)

Or, Accupressure for lower back pain (pressure on same points used in acupuncture)
(British Medical Journal, February 17, 2006)
"In fact acupressure conferred an 89% reduction in disability compared with physical therapy..."

Or try Tea extracts for damaged skin after radiation therapy
(University of California and University of Freiburg)

Or how about Yoga, as relief of depression in breast cancer patients
"Evidence from systematic reviews of randomized trials is quite strong that mind-body therapies improve mood, quality of life, and treatment-related symptoms in people with cancer. Yoga is one mind-body therapy that is widely available and involves relatively reasonable costs," said lead researcher Suzanne Danhauer, Ph.D., based at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

You know, it takes about one minute to actually look and see whether there's real science, in leading journals, that validates some "alternative treatments."

But I guess you'd have to be intellectually curious. And sometimes (heh!) it just feels so good to inhale the fumes of your own smugness instead. It's so much faster and easier than actual research.

Plus, you can paint straw men so much faster with a really broad brush. Though they might not look much like anything from real life.
posted by namasaya at 6:11 PM on November 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


You know, it takes about one minute to actually look and see whether there's real science, in leading journals, that validates some "alternative treatments."

Yep.

In addition to those namasaya lists, there have been a number of studies performed on various aspects of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) which indicate that acupuncture and/or electro-acupuncture can be beneficial in some cases. Why? Acupuncture and electro-acupuncture can be used to stimulate the CNS and inhibit sympathetic nervous activity. This can have a variety of effects, including increased blood flow in desired areas. When used properly, they can actually help increase ICSI and IVF success rates.

I used to work with some of the obstetricians and reproductive endocrinologists who conducted such studies. The results surprised the hell out of some of them.

Similar studies have been conducted regarding the effects of acupuncture and electro-acupuncture on migraines. As far as I know, results have been promising.
posted by zarq at 6:26 PM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


João Teixeira de Faria is the worst sort of opportunistic, abusive charlatan. If there is a hell, may he rot in it for eternity. And shame on ABC News for supporting him.
posted by zarq at 6:29 PM on November 5, 2009


Oh, by the way Lentrohamsanin, my understanding of scientific medicine is that it's research-validated, rather than anecdotal.

Which is why your whatstheharm.net link is so depressing to see. The site is (I'm using the scientific terminology here) a heap of crap. Meditation is on the same harming-the-world shit list as Scientology, voodoo and Holocaust denial, because of two anecdotes, including Doug Henning not getting cancer treatment? All "herbal remedies" are useless, really dangerous and the same?

That's the level of quality work that's gone into the whole site.
posted by namasaya at 6:59 PM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


"The poor ye shall always have with you; the assholes, fuggedaboudit."
-- Jesus of Brooklyn
posted by ronin21 at 7:24 PM on November 5, 2009



Count me among those who believe in alternative medicine. Especially something as simple as talking about a health problem.

Nothing succeeds in getting me out of a sick bed like my wife picking up the phone and telling our family doctor how sick I am. It is an instant curative for me when I realize he is recommending she take me to the emergency room.
posted by notreally at 7:43 PM on November 5, 2009


My next door neighbor had a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Went to see him twice, got some blessed herbs. She no longer has cancer. Though, she did DIE 4 weeks after returning from second visit. True story. At least she had less money to worry about for her estate.
posted by jcworth at 8:36 PM on November 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


namasaya: I've been very positively inclined toward alternative medicine my whole life.

Unfortunately, the people who have indulged in it have also had a tendency to die, which has had a tendency to put me off the whole thing. (*)

Now, I'm also pretty skeptical about Western medicine, but you have to admit that it actually has done things like:

1. cure numerous plague-type diseases for good, like smallpox and polio.
2. do a simply amazing job on "routine" accidents involving breakages of bones or serious leakages of internal fluids ("blood").
3. do actually a pretty reasonable job on hard tasks like "cancer".

whereas, say, Traditional Chinese Medicine, which I'm pretty familiar with, is amazing at, well, what? It hasn't changed in a thousand years and from my knowledge of the history of China, the mortality rate was pretty damned high back then.

(* - and, really, it's not funny at all. I just have to make fun of it because what else can you do?)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:07 PM on November 5, 2009


Hi lupus_yonderboy.

I'm not down at all on Western medicine -- except when it doesn't work, or gets arrogant and stops people from learning and doing what does work.

I'm not a fan of much "alternative medicine" -- except when individual treatments DO work, or deserve testing. A lot of it is absolute nonsense.

Research is what makes the difference. A lot of common medical practices aren't validated by research. A small but significant number of alternative treatments ARE validated by research, and some number more would be if they were tested.

What bothers me is people who mistake their gut reactions, pet ideologies, prejudice and second or third hand anecdotes on either side for actual data.

That kind of thing is easy to spot (and very widespread) in the pro-alternative-medicine camp.

The surprise is how much of it there is in the so called scientific camp. Come on folks, be honest. How many of you were surprised that acupuncture and acupressure are validated by research in two of the world's leading medical journals?

How many knew that there are thriving teaching and research teams at the best universities (Stanford is one) publishing impressive results validating mindfulness meditation right now?

That it's been unambiguously proven for over two decades that properly planned, attended home births have as good or better outcomes than hospital births?

That lists and lists of herbal and traditional remedies are clinically proven to be of benefit?

If you don't have the willingness to accept good research, and the capacity to be surprised, you might want to consider whether you're actually on the side that's doing science.

Here's a high-profile mindfulness meditation link: "Mindfulness in Medicine," in Journal of the American Medical Association, September 17, 2008, pp. 1350-52.
posted by namasaya at 12:24 AM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe he should go to work on Glenn Beck's appendix?
posted by anthill at 9:23 AM on November 6, 2009


jcworth: My next door neighbor had a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Went to see him twice, got some blessed herbs. She no longer has cancer. Though, she did DIE 4 weeks after returning from second visit. True story. At least she had less money to worry about for her estate.

Dear god.
posted by JHarris at 12:02 PM on November 6, 2009


It makes some sense -- people want it, so they should be able to buy it for themselves.

Gimme my heroin, then.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:20 PM on November 6, 2009


There are charlatans in every medical practice, Western or alternative traditional medicines. I think John of God is particularly bad, but he's not the only one out there who takes advantage of faith healing and people's need for faith, touch, healing. And who knows - he may genuinely believe in his own "powers".

My (rich) cousin is one of his fans, as are some of my partner's family, some of whom are Spiritualists.

Much to our chagrin, we've (Western medicine and science) established that faith healing often "works" (much in the way the placebo effect does) because the mind has a great deal more control over our bodies, our health, our living than we are often willing to admit.

I believe in the ability of acupuncture and other traditional Chinese medicines to help me out (or perhaps help me help myself) with some of my health issues.

If you talk with chi discipline practitioners, you'll find that a lot of these folks are talking about a dynamic where they can control or direct chi and use it to heal, improve, strengthen themselves. I happen to think that this kind of study and practice is strongly related to the placebo effect and the mind over body phenomena that Bill Moyers talked about.

There was a time when I wouldn't have believed in what I do now. I think what changed my mind was both practicing Ba Gua Zhang and Chi Gung and also working with two acupuncturists, one of whom is a Tui Na expert. These are all chi-related arts/practices. I think it took me long enough to feel the sensations of feeling chi and of directing it that finally changed my mind.

I am rather a skeptical sort of person (raised atheist and empiricist by a biochemist and a nurse - both atheists) and believe me, the change of mind and attitude took a lot of doing. I now tolerate well and work with chi disciplines but remain skeptical about a number of other related arts, studies and disciplines.
posted by kalessin at 4:58 PM on November 7, 2009


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