Credulity over Credibility: Fox News Flubs the Prahlad Jani Story
Yesterday morning, Fox News issued a news story on the Prahlad Jani “miracle”: that apparently the 83 year old man hasn’t eaten a morsel or had a drop to drink since World War II. Fox News reported on a recently concluded episode in which Prahlad Jani was said to be constantly observed by scientists in a research unit of the Indian military:
An Indian holy man has amazed a team of doctors by not eating or drinking anything for two weeks.
Prahlad Jani, 83, who says he has not had a bite to eat for 70 years, was put under constant surveillance to test his astonishing claims by a team of 30 military medical staff.
During a 15 day stay in a hospital in the city of Ahmedabad, India — he astounded doctors by not eating, drinking or going to the bathroom.
“We still do not know how he survives,” neurologist Sudhir Shah said at the end of the experiment. “It is still a mystery what kind of phenomenon this is.”
The yogi was sealed in a ward for the study initiated by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO)….
“If Jani does not derive energy from food and water, he must be doing that from energy sources around him, sunlight being one,” Shah said. “As medical practitioners, we cannot shut our eyes to possibilities, to a source of energy other than calories.”
Fox News does not inquire how a man who “must be” deriving sustenance from “energy sources around him, sunlight being one” could gain that sustenance if he were “sealed in a ward for the study,” a ward depicted in photographs as having tiny windows covered with gauzy curtains. Neither does Fox News consider the contradiction between their most recent statement that Jani was “sealed in a ward for the study” and their report of April 29 that “a mobile camera films him when he goes outside.”
In another discrepancy, the April 29 report from Fox News asserted he would be in the experiment for “three weeks”; yesterday’s Fox News report indicated without remark that the end came after 15 days. The April 29 report asserted that “Since the experiment began on April 22, Jani has had no food or water”; other reports at the end of the experiment describe Prahlad Jani as having contact with water through “periodic gargling and bathing” beginning on the 5th day of the study.
Fox News makes no reference to the availability of experimental data, no reference to any independent confirmation of the results, no reference to the revelation that the research unit involved in this experiment refused to allow an independent monitor. Why include these matters in the report when there’s a gee-whiz story to be told?