Title: The Faith Healers
Author: James Randi
Publication Year: 1987
Similar Books: Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer
The amazing James Randi is a former magician who has spent a good part of his life debunking psychics and faith healers. You can see in the above video that he is pretty good at it. The Faith Healers details his efforts at exposing big-name preachers of the 70s and 80s- Oral Roberts, W.V Grant and Leroy Jenkins among them.
The Faith Healers was an engaging, fascinating read, with an almost conversational tone. It met my expectations in many ways- a satisfying example of the debunking genre, a series of interesting stories with a tiny element of scandal and outrage. Despite literally being older than I am, it was still relevant, perhaps because it links faith healing to history. Besides, critical thinking is always relevant. It's always a trip for me to discover facts about nearby-history. Before I read this book, I had no idea that Pat Robertson had ever run for president (I was all: "WTF?").
Its negatives include a tendency to be anecdotal in places and- one thing I didn't expect- spending the first three chapters talking about three faith healers in general and then giving them each their own chapter, which made some parts seem redundant.
Some of the efforts discussed in the book seem a trifle ridiculous. For example, a member of Randi's debunking team attended a healing crusade dressed as a very ugly woman. Also, there was some garbage diving involved. Since all you have to do is turn on the tv and watch to see how blatantly ridiculous healing services are, the undercover business seemed unnecessary and weird: grown men playing at espionage. But I won't deny it made the book more exciting.
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