Saturday, 11 April 2009

Dangerous Faith

Hello and welcome to another news article. I am sorry to say that there will be no news next week as I will be spending a well earned week away with my Girlfriend. I will, however, have some stories from the Journal put up next Sunday, but unfortunately only one story this week.

This week, I looked at the slanging match that is often seen in the Evolution vs Creationism debate. One of the old and tired claims is that Hitler was an Evolutionist, which is basically trying to damn by association. The problem is, it merely ignores that Creationists have no evidence against Evolution and that it is an attempt to shift attention. I thought it amusing to see what would happen if this name-calling was reversed and it does highlight the fact that there is again a delicious sense of irony when confronting the ad hominen attacks.

Last week I reviewed Psychic Surgeons in the Journal. I gave a good account of what seems to be a bunch of magic tricks carried out by the people operating. A James Randi video was also included for entertainment and illumination on the subject.

This week, I watched Gary: Young, Psychic and Possessed. This BBC programme was an interesting account of 2 months spent with a faith healer in Britain. The programme examined the evidence that apparently claimed that Gary Mannion was a faith healer. Unfortunately, despite what seemed to be a positive bias on the presenter’s side to Mannion, none of Gary Mannion’s claims of healing were ever proved. Despite this, Gary remained convinced and seemed to unsettle the presenter in his calm faith.

The presenter emphasised it was faith and hope that meant the people that came to Gary Mannion thought they were healed, which is a classic display of the placebo effect. The programme ends with this seemingly thought to be a good thing, I disagree. The programme ends on the idea that healers should lie to patients to gull them into thinking they were healed. That’s wrong in my view, in fact I would class that as evil, manipulating the trust of others. Gary Mannion has the ability to relax those around him. That’s a nice ability and if he actually became someone in the health profession I would applaud him, he would be using his abilities to use his talents for actual benefit, not fleecing the guillible. If these people need help from the placebo effect it should be noted and ways of promoting trust in the health care profession as well as relaxation should be provided in order to help treatment.

The programme seemed very light on its criticism, almost reluctantly giving it. Unfortunately, for those who watched it with a sceptical eye, it is extremely frustrating as there is a lot of things which need to be question. Why does Gary Mannion have a Biblical figure in his head, portrayed as in churches? Where is any rigorous testing of this claim. How come it wasn’t noted that a believer, who worked for him, would probably come to his defence. Why was the only apparent “science research” that was being carried out, was so reluctant to allow the cameras in? Even the claim with Alzheimers was flawed, especially to those who have watched Terry Pratchett’s marvellous programme on this disease and know how vague a problem it is. I think, whilst the programme came to the correct conclusion about Mannion being a fake, it did not discuss that Gary Mannion was rightly called a Fraudster by Bad Psychics. He is as he is getting money from those who believe it works when it doesn’t. Even for those that believe that they are psychic, etc, they are still defrauding the public.


  1. Thanks for your review of the Mannion film. I'm the nasty sceptic behind, and I too was disappointed by the way in which director Emeka Onono frequently let Gary off the hook.

    By the way, there is no mystery regarding the identities of the "leading medical professionals" who support Gary's work but who he refused to name on camera (or off it!). They are Dr Gowri Motha, who knows Gary but told me in an e-mail that she is "yet to be impressed by him". She shared my concerns at his "extravagant claims" and told him to stop using her name in his publicity material. Manesh Naidoo, Head of Physiotherapy at Northwick Park Hospital in London, turned out to be non-existant. The real department head is Sangita Patel. The third person named by Gary in an online forum was Glen Davies, a homeopathic doctor, whom I have been unable to trace and Gary has refused to produce.

    By the way, Gary has now been warned by Trading Standards to stop mentioning these "leading medical professionals" as it constitutes a "misrepresentation". He now says, correctly, that he is being investigated by Archie Roy and Patricia Robertson, two notoriously credulous psychical researchers, and a pseudo-scientist called Dr Harry Oldfield.

  2. Thank you for the information, its always a pleasure to learn more about the people who try and defraud us. I'll keep a look out for more.