Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An explanation of the "Eyeball Scraping" trick

Another one of John's tricks is to appear to run a knife over a patient's eye. How this is intended to cure one of AIDS, cancer, back pain, Parkinson's Disease or any other ailment is unclear but what's clear is that there is a perfectly possible way to accomplish this, besides having any psychic or mystical healing powers.

Magician and skeptical investigator James Randi had this to say about it:

"John of God will seat a subject for his "visible surgery" stunt and apparently scrape the eyeball of the patient with the edge of a knife. I believe that this is a variation of the usual trick — illustrated on page 177 of my book, "Flim-Flam!" — in which a knife-blade is inserted under the eyelid of a subject with little or no resulting discomfort. With the Brazilian faker, the "scraping" motion gives it a much more fearsome aspect, but for several good reasons I doubt that any contact takes place with the cornea.

The sclera — the white section of the eye — is relatively insensitive to touch. Try touching that area with a finger or any clean object, and you'll see this is true. The cornea, however, is very sensitive — among the most sensitive areas of the body. Incidentally, it's also the fastest-healing organ, which accords very well with Darwinian standards; being able to see is one of our very best sensory means of defense.

Most persons — and I'm one of them — have a difficult time watching the eye being touched. We tend to empathize with the situation, and I'm sure that some readers are at this moment involuntarily squinting in distaste as they read these words; we're that reactive to eyeball-touching. Few persons will resist looking away when John of God seems to scrape an eyeball, and I note that he's furtively watching the position of the camera as he performs this stunt, blocking the view with his body when a close-up is sought.

There's also the distinct possiblity here that John of God introduces a temporary local anaesthetic — benzocaine would work — onto the eye surface, which would allow contact with the cornea. We don't know, though we could have found out....

In any case, unless an anaesthetic has been introduced, it is impossible for this man to be touching the cornea of a human eye as he appears to do, without causing immediate involuntary flinching from the patient. The JREF will stake its million-dollar prize on that statement. "


David Schock said...

hi--I recently had the eyeball scraping done to me at the Casa in Brazil--it was painful and the pain lasted 15 hours or so, getting worse if anything. If I moved my eye even slightly there was a classic pain from the sensation of a scratched eyeball (not sure if it was on the cornea of white of the eye--likely the latter). There was also a far sharper pain if I moved the eye a bit more, a horizontal pain in the bottom section of the eye, which felt like being cut.

After 15 yours or so of this, and trying to sleep, a feeling of deep love and comfort came over me, and I slept for two hours or so.

When I awoke the pain was absolutely and unconditionally gone--all of it--and has stayed gone for the week or so since. The eye shows no symptoms of having been scratched, except for the clear memory of my pain that I carry!!

I cannot see how this occurred in two hours--my expectation was that the pain would last for 3-4 days at least, as had been my experience with what I would have called less painful, but similar, eye scratched I have experienced in my lifetime.

Just thought I would add some real world experience to this article!!


Dave Schock
Wakefield RI

Fabrikant said...

Why don't you tell us more about yourself, namely, why did you go there, what was your problem, how did scraping of eyeball help you?