Think back a few months. Do you recall the media fanfare in the spring when the 83 year-old Prahlad Jani entered into an experiment in which he was said not to eat or drink for 15 days straight? Oh, the papers and the news shows were agog. Isn’t life just miraculous?
Since then, we’ve discovered that Prahlad Jani was not only allowed to “gargle” regularly but also to bathe during that time, pouring water repeatedly over his head. We’ve learned that independent monitors were not allowed to observe the experiment, and that “all efforts were made to see that privacy… of Shri Prahlad Jani was not compromised at any stage during the study,” undercutting the claims that Prahlad Jani was actually watched constantly during the experiment. It also has emerged that a primary goal of Principal Investigator Sudhir Shah in his research career is to empirically prove the Jain religious belief that bodily needs can be transcended through fasting; he’s not a disinterested observer.
All these indications that something was not right in the Prahlad Jani “experiment” could be dismissed if only Sudhir Shah would follow scientific protocol and make his experimental data available for review. But that hasn’t been done, as you can check here in Sudhir Shah’s repository of public files. In July, Shah issued a press release in which he declared that, two months after the experiment had finished, data was still “coming through” and that “the publication of the study in a scientific journal can only be considered thereafter at the discretion of principal investigator.”
In the middle of August,Sudhir Shah issued a new press release. In this press release, Shah writes that:
Shri Prahlad Jani has some extreme form of adaptation to starvation and water restriction as evident from serum Leptin and Ghrelin levels that have been estimated. Cell biology studies have shown that the peripheral blood mononuclear cells exhibit more tolerance to stress….
The nitrogenous waste excreted through skin is estimated.
The analysis of exhaled gas by GCMS is being done for the presence of volatile metabolites.
Serum LCMS-MS for special metabolites highlighting the alternate intermediary metabolic pathway is being done.
I have no idea what these phrases mean. They’re not backed up by any public presentation of data whatsoever, regarding “periperal blood mononuclear cells,” “nitrogenous waste” levels, “volatile metabolites,” “alternate intermediary metabolic pathways,” or any other observation.
Journalists fell over one another in their desire to share the story of the spring about a man who hadn’t had a bite of food or a drink of water for seven whole decades. The part of the story involving a total blackout of scientific results has gone silent.