The Faith Healers
by James Randi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Faith Healers / 0-87975-535-0
"Faith Healers" shows James Randi at his finest as an author and a dogged exposer of professional frauds. Carefully, Randi lays out his foundations, showing the basic how and why of faith healing scams. Then he lavishly devotes each following chapter to the main stars of faith healing at the time of publication: he runs the gamut of Popoff, Robertson, Roberts, and so many more. Each chapter methodically outlines their claims, the format of their services, the evidence that the healer is a fraud, follow-up interviews with the victims, and the attempts (usually ignored) to provide the 'healer' with a forum to produce evidence of their exceptional claims.
To my surprise and delight, Randi also uncharacteristically devotes space to explaining the methods behind the tricks of the faith healers - a practice he avoids in his other debunking books because he feels a responsibility to shield the genuine entertainers and performers of the magic profession. In this case, however, the tricks used by the faith healers are unique to their scam and presumably Randi hurts no one but them in revealing their tricks.
The saddest thing about this book is the number of deaths recorded. Time after time, a faith healer demands that a "healed" devotee fling away their crutches, back braces, or other medicinal aids, and run up and down the aisles for the benefit of the TV cameras. The fact that the victim must be hospitalized the next day for a collapsed spine, heart attack, or other debilitating relapse does not apparently bother these men and women at all. Most heartbreaking of all, however, are the people who are convinced that they are healed and will not listen to their doctors who continue to insist that they have cancer, diabetes, or tumors. I know that this aspect of research would have been very hard for anyone, and I respect Randi greatly for having the strength to carry on the interviews and research necessary to produce this important book in the face of such overwhelming pain and heartbreak.
If you read no other Randi book, you should at least read "Faith Healers", to understand the damage that these scammers cause.
~ Ana Mardoll
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