Last night, the New York City Skeptics hosted a guest lecture by famous skeptic James Randi, and it was a very entertaining evening. Mr Randi talked about faith healing, homeopathy, and assorted other related things. He showed clips of some of his old appearances on the Johnny Carson show, including one in which he exposed a “faith healer”, Peter Popoff, who got tips from his wife through a wireless earpiece — they discovered the transmission frequency and listened in, and overlaid the audio onto the video of the faith healer in action.
What he said about that video that I thought was saddest — or maybe scariest — though not really surprising was that after the show was broadcast, hundreds of people called and wrote, wanting to know how to contact Popoff. Even after seeing the sham exposed, what people remembered was not the fakery but the “healing”. And, of course, fraud Popoff is still in business and making more money than ever, some 20 years later (I won’t link his web site here, but you can find it in the Wikipedia entry).
The audio of the talk should be available soon on the NYC Skeptics’ web site. I’ll try to remember to update this with the link when it’s there.