Posts Tagged randi

Peter Popoff – My Persistent Pen Pal

When I think about the great moments in skeptic history a few things spring to mind: the 10:23 campaign; The Australian Skeptics getting the Anti-Vaccination to change their name, getting Derek Acorah to channel the spirit of Kreed Kafer, things like that. Of course no list of great skeptical achievements would be complete without James Randi’s many famous stings, and particularly his investigation of the Reverend Peter Popoff in 1986.

Popoff appeared to be a miraculous faith healer with an accuracy rate that would make some well known stage psychics green with jealousy. Sensing something was afoot, Randi, using a radio scanner, discovered the somewhat un-messianic source of these amazingly accurate addresses and ailments: Popoff’s wife was reading off ‘prayer cards’ the audience had filled in before the show, and was passing the information to the Reverend by wireless earpiece. “Hello Petey can you hear me? If you can’t you’re in trouble”. Oh, for simpler and more innocent times, when stage psychics would use earpieces…

Peter Popoff's Miracle Spring Water

Peter Popoff’s Miracle Spring Water

This expose was shown on national news in the US. You would have thought that he would have retreated into embarrassed and disgraced obscurity. And indeed it was that poor Petey filed for bankruptcy in 1987. Hooray!

Except… except fortune favoured plucky Petey, and after his fall from grace he discovered a real, definitely-genuine miracle. As he has described on his show, he became acquainted with a priest from Pripyat (the town near Chernobyl. Yes that Chernobyl) who had prayed to god after the reactor meltdown and god had answered by turning the water in a lake near town into ‘miracle’ water that was free from radiation, safe to drink and had  healing and other wonderful properties.

So Petey dusted himself down and reinvented himself as a televangelist with TV shows on religious TV channels all over the world including the UK to tell everyone about this ‘miracle’. Now I say TV shows, what I really mean is ‘infomercials’ for this ‘miracle’ spring water which he offers viewers for free! Free! Good old Petey. Giving away his miracles for free. So selfless. So lovely. So not at all a way get around advertising rules because he isn’t technically selling something. Nope.

So of course when I first heard about this miracle water a few years ago I immediately filled out a request form on Petey’s website, and just a few weeks later my water arrived… along with a long, seemingly-personalised letter from the man himself! This sparked off a long and protracted correspondence between myself and Petey (and, more recently, my dog) which i’m going to tell you all about in my next few posts. Stay tuned!

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