Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday School 4

Sorry for the late post today. I'm unreasonably tired. So today let's tackle two completely unrelated topics that start with the same letter of the alphabet: Faith Healing and Food Art. (See, I told you they were unrelated.)

Faith Healing

Here's a great article by Dr. Stephen Barrett on Quackwatch"Some Thoughts About Faith Healing". Here's a few paragraphs about James Randi (faith buster extraordinaire).

Randi's most noteworthy experience was the unmasking of Peter Popoff, an evangelist who would call out the names of people in the audience and describe their ailments. Popoff said he received this information from God, but it was actually obtained by confederates who mingled with the audience before each performance. Pertinent data would be given to Popoff's wife, who would broadcast it from backstage to a tiny receiver in Popoff's ear. After recording one of Mrs. Popoff's radio transmissions, Randi exposed the deception on the Johnny Carson Show. First he played a videotape showing Popoff interacting with someone in the audience. Then he replayed the tape with Mrs. Popoff's voice audible to illustrate how Popoff used the information.

Randi also exposed the techniques used by evangelist W.V. Grant, who calls out people in the audience by name and describes their ailments. Grant obtains this information from letters people send him and by mingling with the audience before his show. To help his memory, he uses crib sheets and gets hand signals from associates who also use crib sheets. After one performance, Randi was able to retrieve a complete set from the trash Grant left behind! Following another performance, Randi found that some members of the audience had given false information about themselves, their ailments, and their medical care. For example, after "Dr. Jesus" had "put a new heart" into a man supposedly awaiting open-heart surgery, Randi found that the details (including the doctor and hospital named by Grant) could not be corroborated.

Grant's subjects typically are "slain in the spirit" and fall backward into the arms of his assistants. In 1986 I observed from a few feet away what happened when he encountered an elderly woman who did not wish to fall backward when he touched her forehead. Grant pushed his fingers into her neck so hard that she could not remain standing. I also watched him "lengthen" the leg of a man who limped up to the stage, supposedly because one of his legs was shorter than the other. The audience may have been impressed with this feat, but I was not. Before the show began, I noted that the man was one of Grant's assistants and walked normally.

For a visual, I offer WV Grant's contemporary and peer: Benny Hinn

Enough of the lulz. On the serious side of things, Dr. Seth Asser's article on Religious Child Abuse makes some excellent points, such as:
The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that while freedom of belief is protected, there is no right to freedom to act on those beliefs in a way that hurts others. Despite this and at the urging of Christian Science lobbyists, in 1974, the federal government mandated that states that receive child abuse prevention grants have laws that would exempt parents from the duty to provide medical care to ill children if they instead relied on "spiritual treatment."
Dr. Asser and Rita Swan together founded Children's Healthcare is a Legal Duty, Inc (CHILD). They're asking people to contact their senators regarding HR 911, which passed the House but is languishing in the Senate. HR 911 is the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act.
It sets limits on the use of physical and mechanical restraints and seclusion. It requires all staff to be familiar with the signs of and appropriate responses to heatstroke, dehydration, and hypothermia. It requires the program to have policies for the provision of emergency medical care. It requires that youths be allowed to make and receive phone calls with “as much privacy as possible” and be allowed to call the state hotline to report abuses. HR911 does not exempt church-run facilities from its requirements.
I'm going to make another petition (like the one in the side column - over there to your right. Yes, please go sign that one, too) and hopefully have it up later this week. And now, as promised, the completely unrelated - but awesome - food art.

I have a couple things to say about this picture.

1) It's a photograph, not a painting.
2) That's cabbage.

Here's another by the same artist, Carl Warner. You can buy his stuff here, if you have a couple hundred pounds (or more hundreds dollars.)

I've also got links from Kevin Van Aelst, who uses everyday objects to convey complicated concepts.

Like this picture of ABC gum made into the human digestive system.

Or this extremely cool apple globe.

He calls this one "Right Middle Finger" and that's really what it says to the server who's gotta clean that up, isn't it?

Or how about these chromosomes? So sour!

Definitely check out his site. (I couldn't fit the cellular mitosis Krispy Kreme photo series on here, but it's worth a peek.)

I'll have a more normal "yay atheist blog community" Sunday School next week. This week is all about preparing for Back to School, so I fully intend to slack-ass.