Travel back with me to 2010, when American journalists breathlessly spread the story of Prahlad Jani, an Indian mystic who claimed to have gone seven decades without eating or drinking, subsisting only on the air he breathed and an alleged mysterious elixir he said was produced by the hole in his palate. News reports around the world covered the news conference of Dr. Sudhir Shah, at which it was declared that that in a scientific experiment Jani had gone 15 days without food or water and nevertheless managed to maintain vital signs and metabolic functions within “the safe range” for humans.
What those 2010 news reports didn’t mention was the following:
- Dr. Sudhir Shah is not an impartial experimenter, but rather a devotee who deeply believes in breatharian Jain religious teachings.
- During the experiment, Prahlad Jani was allowed to extensively “gargle” and “bathe”
- Prahlad Jani lives in an apartment with a refrigerator. Jani’s followers wouldn’t let journalists open the refrigerator door.
- No scientific evidence from the experiment was offered at the news conference to substantiate the claims being made.
The last point is the most important: no scientific evidence was offered at the press conference to substantiate the outlandish claim being made. Instead, Sudhir Shah promised that “the claim will be scientifically substantiated after analysis of investigations carried out. All the reports and results will be scientifically analyzed, subsequently and will take some time. The entire study team will meet periodically to discuss the findings and draw valid conclusions.”
It’s been three years now. Has any peer-reviewed journal article been published with scientific evidence of Prahlad Jani’s feat? Look for yourself: the answer is no.