5 Years After Promising to Release Data on Breatharian Prahlad Jani, Dr. Sudhir Shah Offers … Nothing
Five years ago this month, American newspapers and television stations reported the amazing story of Prahlad Jani, a mystic from the Indian subcontinent who claimed to have lived seven decades without eating or drinking, subsisting as a “breatharian.” Even more amazing, said the news reports, was the research of Dr. Sudhir Shah, who declared at a press conference 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.
The news reports stopped there, and that’s important, because for most people, the “miracle” of Prahlad Jani stops at that point in the story too. Isn’t it wonderful that these powers have been scientifically proven? For most of the world, the story has not just been stunted at this supposedly wondrous point, but repeated at that point, too. Five years later, the Prahlad Jani story is still being bandied about the internet as a sign of the apparent reality of breatharian magic (see here and here and here and here and here for a few examples of the ongoing coverage).
But the story doesn’t stop there. What those 2010 news reports didn’t mention was the following:
- Dr. Sudhir Shah a devotee of breatharian Jain religious teachings who declares that the purpose of his research is to not to test breatharian claims, but to show that breatharaian practices are
- 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 five years since the data was supposedly collected. There have been five years for analysis and substantiation through peer-reviewed publication. Has any peer-reviewed journal article been published with scientific evidence of Prahlad Jani’s feat? Look for yourself: the answer is no.
It’s been five years. There’s no support for the claim. That needs to be said.