Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Lightning bolt makes healer of Indonesian village boy

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on March 6, 2009

Actually, no it didn’t, superstition did. According to this article at theage.com.au (sounds suspiciously close to New Age for my blood):

MOHAMMAD Ponari was, until last month, a typical kid in the impoverished East Java village of Balongsari. Then, quite literally, lightning struck.

The nine-year-old, who had been playing in the rain in his front yard, was hit by the thunderbolt but, to the astonishment of his young friends, he was unharmed.

All the more bizarre, according to an account by his village chief and his family, when he came to, he found a stone the size of an egg on his head, and was convinced he possessed healing powers.

This has the makings of a Marvel superhero comic book. Boy gets hit by lightning. Boy miraculously survives. Boy gets mysterious superpowers. Or as in this case, A ROCK! Sounds made up so far to me, more specifically the kind of made up a 9-year old would come up with. Nevertheless, let’s continue reading:

A boy next door with a fever was his first patient. The stone was placed in a glass of water and the boy drank deeply. His fever vanished.

Wow! Fever vanished! But wait a minute, don’t most fevers vanish at some point? When did this other boy’s fever vanish? How long had he had the fever? Was he being treated with medicine already? How much of a fever did he have anyway? Of course those details are omitted. Why spoil a perfectly good story with facts and stuff. Moving on:

Then another neighbour approached him, a woman in her 30s who had suffered from a depressive condition for 15 years. She, too, was healed.

The miracles, large and small, kept coming, said Nila Retno, the local village chief.

It is a miracle indeed, a miracle that such a pathetic story is being reported at all, but we shouldn’t be surprised. We’ve seen this too many times before. Anyway, the boy becomes so famous for his healing stone water ability that soon enough thousands were lining at his door. And what happens next:

Stampedes erupted on at least three occasions, resulting in the deaths of three people and injuries to dozens more.

3 people died. Let’s stop for a second and do a quick cost vs. benefit analysis here. This boy allegedly is “healing” a few fevers, depressions and sprained arms and on the cost side we have 3 fucking dead people and dozens of injuries. I wonder if the injured were treated for free by the magical lightning stone water, because did I mention he was obviously making money out of this. No? Must have skipped my mind.

Even so, as much as 1 billion rupiah ($A120,000) has been raised through a charity box outside his home. This, many adherents to mysticism believe, was poor form indeed. Dukuns are not supposed to profit from their activities.

But that is the whole point of charlatans like this, to make a quick buck, or a few quick millions, at the expense of the ingorant and the hopeless. They are supposed to profit from their acitivities, dukuns or not!

Ay the stupid….the stupid… it burns!

the-stupid-it-burns

Tanzania: Government Bans Traditional Healers to Try to Save the Lives of Albinos

Posted in News by Skepdude on January 27, 2009

Tanzania’s government officially banned traditional healers last week in an attempt to stop the killing of albinos for medicine.

But local news services reported that healers were openly defying the ban. Many are registered with the government and belong to their own medical association, which opposes the ban, saying its members treat 30 percent of the Tanzanian population.

Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda announced Friday that the government was immediately revoking all licenses.

“These witch doctors are big liars,” he said at a public rally, the newspaper The Citizen reported. “They are fanning albino killings.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT NYTIMES

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Bizarre secret cult ripping families apart

Posted in News by Skepdude on January 18, 2009

SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: WA families are being ripped apart by a self-styled cult leader whose followers believe they have repressed memories of rape.

About 20 people have become devotees of a New Age “healer”, Matthew Meinck, who owns a retreat property in Chittering Valley.

Meinck, an Australian-born former monk, believes that people retain in their bodies memories of abuse that can be retrieved during intense deep-tissue massage, regressive therapy and gruelling meditation sessions lasting up to two weeks.

The Sunday Times has interviewed eight people who were under the influence of Meinck from about 2003.

During long retreats at the property, they became convinced they had been sexually abused by parents, extended families, workmates and – eventually – each other.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “NEWS.COM.AU”