Derren Brown – Miracles for Sale

In his latest special, Derren Brown takes a guy off the street and turns him into a faith healer who goes to Texas to start scamming. You can see the whole thing on Channel 4’s 4OD (may be UK-only) or on YouTube:

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Just watched this tonight. Interesting stuff – loved watching the guy who they invited as a special guest squirm when he did his speech at the end.

  2. I am nauseous with sympathy for the good people they were using to get their point across. I also feel terrible for “Pastor James” – those couldn’t have been easy choices.

    I’m not saying he was wrong – I think the omelette was worth the broken eggs.

    Also, lol at the guy doing the ‘growing leg’ trick at the end. He made it look like Brown’s legs were about 1.5 or 2 inches out of whack. “Wow, that’s gotta be 2 or 3 inches. That’s almost 4 inches.”

  3. It was a good program, but a bit anticlimactic. The final show had maybe a dozen or two people in the audience. I bet they were hiding their disappointment at all the training that went into holding such a small show.

    Nonetheless, the message at the end was a very good one for a believing audience to hear. It might not dispel their belief in faith healing per se, but it was very well crafted to make them skeptical of any who ask for money and tie it to healing.

  4. I enjoyed the program, but I have to admit the part I found most interesting was the almost Milgram type atmosphere of the creation of Pastor James. Every time Nathan looked like he wanted to back out due to guilt or what not, he was coxed back. Told how important the experiment was, how he was going to be helping people in the end. While I agree that faith healers need to be exposed, I did feel a little bad for the duped audience as well the duper, Nathan.

  5. I just watched the program and I simply loved it. It’s impressive how easy is to fool people into thinking they are healed and I am glad Darren exposes faith healing methods which aren’t anything but deceit.

    Awesome program. It should be translated or subtitled into all languages possible.

    Thanks for the heads up!

  6. I’m with angrymonkey. You could definitely see that Nathan was being manipulated and he was clearly feeling really stressed about what was going on.

    Totally worth it, though. Those people in the audience (assuming there wasn’t too much fancy editing) looked really moved by the show. There were only a few of them, but these are people who came out to a faith healing and may never do so again. Not to mention the ripple effect – surely they must have family members and friends who also believe in faith healings…

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