How does the Prahlad Jani Breatharian Story Persist without Evidence?
The answer is repetition, and that says something about reliance on what we all “know” to be true.
More than three years ago, a man named Prahlad Jani who claimed to have lived for 70 years without food or water became the center of a media spectacle when Dr. Sudhir Shah called a press conference to announce an experiment in which this “breatharian” would be shut inside a room for 15 days and subject to rigorous scientific observation and data collection. At the end of the experiment, Dr. Shah called a news conference that received worldwide coverage, promising that a release of scientific data to substantiate Prahlad Jani’s claims would be forthcoming.
- No data have been released.
- It’s been clarified that Prahlad Jani was allowed to “bathe,” “gargle,” and have guarantees of his “privacy.”
- Independent monitors were forbidden from observing the “experiment.”
- It has emerged that Dr. Sudhir Shah was not a dispassionate researcher, but a devotee of breatharian Jain religious beliefs who sought to promote them and had previously worked with the disgraced fake-breatharian Jasmuheen.
- Prahlad Jani’s apartment has been examined and found to contain a refrigerator, which Jani’s handlers forbade a reporter from opening.
In other words, there is no evidence to substantiate Prahlad Jani’s breatharian claims, and given Sudhir Shah’s agenda and refusal to share his supposed scientific “proof,” there is plenty of reason to suspect a ruse.
But when people discuss Prahlad Jani now, three years later, what do they say? To find out, I looked online and found 16 blog posts mentioning Prahlad Jani between May 1, 2013 and today. You can look at them here if you like:
All 16 of those blog posts about Prahlad Jani discuss the possibility that he is a breatharian. Not one of them mentions any of the evidence to the contrary, or reveals the lack of scientific evidence that would be needed to affirm the claim. 9 of the 16 blog posts refer to the 2010 “experiment” debacle in order to promote the idea that breatharianism is real.
In establishing what we “know” to be true, rationality and attention to evidence don’t prevail. Sheer repetition wins out.