When both psychics and medtech magicians amaze you, it's time to ask for a second opinion on what it's all about.
There are more things in Heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. -- Hamlet, Act I, Scene V
I have a friend who is on his way to Brazil to visit John of God.
I've known this friend for a year and a half. He is a professional and used to work in the electronics industry. When he told me about his plans I didn't know anything about John of God, but just the name raised an eyebrow.
So I found and read John of God's website and watched some videos of him at work. He describes himself as a psychic and healer. My suspicions were confirmed, but my curiosity was not sated.
I asked my friend more. He said he had made the trip several times. On one visit a physician from Silicon Valley was in his group. The physician participated in one of the open operations there, and my friend witnessed it.
John of God asked the physician to make an incision of about four or six inches across a patient's abdomen then feel inside with his fingertips. The doctor complied and said he felt a walnut-sized tumor. Then John of God felt inside the incision and asked the doctor to feel again. The doctor said the tumor was gone.
At this point I didn't know what to think. So I thought I'd write this column.
The truth is I know as much about psychics as I do about the seeming magic of medical electronics I write about for a living. I'm an English major. I can quote Shakespeare, but I have no power -- technologically or otherwise -- to heal people, or even fully understand how doctors and psychics do what they do.
I interviewed Mir Imran, the inventor of the cardiac defibrillator. I interviewed and heard a speech by Earl Bakken, who co-invented the pacemaker and founded Medtronic. I interviewed an electronic engineer who spent 14 years working on a brain implant.
They all told wonderful stories and made real contributions, making life better for so many people. But I don't really understand their approaches either. So I thought I would ask engineers, especially those in medical electronics, what they think of John of God.
There's plenty of room to be humble around the mystery of life, I think. Even Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (right), in one episode of Star Trek when he and Captain Kirk were transported to the past of the 20th century, gasped about how doctors in that age cut open patients with knives "like Barbarians."
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times