A Listener article on Brazilian medium and ‘miracle-worker’ Joao de Deus has taken the annual Bent Spoon Award from the New Zealand Skeptics.

The article by Diana Burns, Come and Be Healed, ran before the self-proclaimed healer’s planned visit to New Zealand where a Wellington performance was expected to take in 3000 people at $115 a head. It received a very large number of nominations from members concerned that the anecdotal accounts of miracle cures would help boost such businesses.

“We´re used to seeing these sorts of stories in tabloid publications and B-grade ‘exploitainment’ shows, but many of our members expected better quality analysis from the Listener,” says Skeptics chair-entity Vicki Hyde.

The article did contain some caveats, noting that pushing forceps up a patient’s nose is a common circus routine.

“You have to ask why does someone who claims to be channelling King Solomon and St Frances Xavier, amongst others, have to resort to hoary old magic tricks? Where is the proof that paying to have your photo taken to Brazil is going to cure your ills?” questions Hyde.

“It´s taken us a long time to require proof of efficacy and informed patient consent from our medical fraternity-we should demand no less from any other industry that purports to help us physically and mentally.” The New Zealand Skeptics were pleased to see a more critical look taken at the claims of de-registered doctor Hellfried ‘Dr Ozone’ Satori. Sunday reporter Janet McIntyre receives a Bravo Award for her item (TV One September 3, 2006) on Satori´s claims to cure cancer through ozone injections and the use of caesium chloride.

Other recipients of Bravo Awards from the NZ Skeptics are:

  • David Russell, retiring head of the Consumer Institute “We often say, somewhat cheekily, that the Skeptics are the Consumers’ Institute of the mind. Despite having once awarded Consumer magazine a Bent Spoon, we nonetheless have appreciated David´s many years of leadership in critical thinking.”
  • Linley Boniface, for her piece, Clairvoyants dead wrong (Dominion Post, May 1, 2006) “Though the fictional treatments of clairvoyance are pure entertainment, TV2’s ‘documentary’ series Sensing Murder is something far more repellent…characterised by a striking lack of progress in the chosen criminal investigations.”
  • Claire Sylvester, Campbell Live, TV3 “Claire has brought a critical edge to her reports on Campbell Live, covering a range of subjects and taking the time to seek out alternative explanations.”

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