Thursday, September 24, 2015

Observe & Report: Skepticism done correctly; Skeptics with a K

Peter of Verona Faith Healing back in the day (Wiki)
On the last two episodes of Skeptics with a K Michael "Marsh" Marshall discussed his interaction with and observations of Peter Popoff and his ministry. The televangelist, alleged faith healer, evangelical christian prophet that had a famous run in and exposure with the recently retired James "The Amazing" Randi.  Well, Popoff is back

On episode 156 of SWaK, Marsh describes his interactions with Popoff's current prosperity gospel ministry via the United States Royal Mail.  Marsh discusses how Popoff's organization would attempt to elicit money and 'plant a seed' of money to obtain a harvest of gain.  It is interesting stuff, but even more interesting was Marsh's rather in-depth discussion of his attending a show of Popoff's that he was given free via this letter postal exchange with Popoff.  This was the content of episode 157.

Marsh and his companions just watched and reported on what occurred during the event that lasted according to Marsh from 11am to around 4pm.  Marsh describes how most of the attendees were of African decent (as this is the core group in Britain that are evangelical), and how the show used sales techniques and music to sell the event to the audience.  He shares his observations of the alleged healing that occurred during the show.  Marsh indicates he was not there to 'get' Popoff and/or have another Randi expose moment.  Nor was he there to put on false airs other than saying enough hallelujahs and amens to fit into the audience.

Yet, what Marsh provided was invaluable insight as to what goes on in a world that few Skeptics ever actually observe.  Just Marsh's 'simple' act of reporting what he saw is quite powerful and educational.  For me, it is an example of Skepticism done right.

I recommend both of these episodes to anyone as an example of useful, educational, skeptical gumshoe work done with humility.  Plus, it is just plumb entertaining too.  I tip my hat to Marsh and the Good Thinking Society.

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