One Leg Shorter Than The Other Miracle

A long standing friend of mine who was "born again" and now a fervent Young Earth Creationist once told me that a turning point for him was a miracle he witnessed performed on him by a pastor. My friend had one leg shorter than the other, but the pastor, through the power of God, caused the short leg to grow.

But then 2 days ago a teenage girl told me that what convinced her of the reality of Jesus where she witnessed a person with one leg shorter than the other receive the same miracle cure.

She also added that she herself has healed, by prayer, the dislocated collar bone of her friend (which I know something about as I have one too - this can only ever be rectified by surgery).

Well, I have only ever been told of a couple of such miracles by friends and acquaintances, and I was struck by the one leg short than the other miracle cropping up twice. Bit of a coincidence I thought. So I surfed the internet and found this very interesting resource. Turns out this is a standard trick employed by "faith healers".

I didn't want to interrogate the girl who thinks she herself performed a miracle on a friend's collar bone. She did say she had photographic evidence of the collar bone before and after. However, I do know that someone with a collar bone dislocated at the outer end rarely has surgery (it's almost always cosmetic and not done on NHS). The person is left with a bone that either stick up and out acutely and visibly, or else disappears entirely, depending on which position you put your shoulder in. I have exactly this condition. I have a strong suspicion that this teenage girl's "patient" is an evangelic con artist with a dislocated collar bone like mine which he/she uses to convince punters that they have "performed a miracle". By rolling their should slightly they can make the dislocation disappear right before your eyes! He/she gets them to take a picture before and after so they have a permanent record of the power of Jesus with which to convince others.


Anonymous said…
"My friend had one leg shorter than the other, but the pastor, through the power of God, caused the other leg to grow." So his longer leg was miraculously lengthened even further? How vexing.
Stephen Law said…
Yeh he works in very mysterious ways. Perhaps the prayer should have been more specific.
Anonymous said…
thank god these healers stopped pulling when they did!
Richard Baron said…
People are obviously not good at taking a Humean attitude towards miracles, and saying "The world does not normally work like this, so this is probably not what it seems". They ought to be more responsive to someone's saying not just "This is a con", but also "This is how it works, and here's how you can do it yourself as a party trick". But are they? That is, does showing someone how she can achieve the same effect as the miracle-worker, while knowing that she is not herself a miracle-worker, persuade her that the original guy was in fact not a miracle-worker? Or is she likely to say "Yes, you can achieve the same effect by a trick, but that guy didn't do it by a trick"? I don't know how human psychology works at this point. It would be interesting to find out. It might give us a clue to the more general phenomenon of credulity.

I was unaware of Randi's Project Alpha until I followed your link, and a link from that page. It puts me in mind of the Sokal hoax. And Sokal's targets still carry on as if nothing had happened.
I'm glad these faith healers have their priorities straight and aren't out curing AIDS babies and cancer, but rather addressing the real scourge of the world: Short Leg Syndrome.
PaulJ said…
A "long standing" friend...

Ha ha
I don't have one leg shorter than the other.

My problem is quite the reverse. I have one leg longer than the other.
Steven Carr said…
I don't have one leg shorter than the other.

My problem is quite the reverse. I have one leg longer than the other.

Of course,if Christianity was really true, these faith healers should all be burned as witches, as the Bible says you shouldn't tolerate witches to live.
Anonymous said…
Sorry to chip in so late.
I am a Christian and first came across the leg miracle at a John Wimber Conference in England.My wife who was doing her orthopaedic training at the time was not convinced,as she was well aware of the process involved im measuring short legs (x-rays etc).
The practice of 'leg lengthening' seemed to die off for some years but is now back with the 'Healing On The Streets' initiative from a Vineyard church in Ireland.
The team from this church have been busy training many other churches in the UK to practice street healing and the package always involves a demonstation of leg lengthening. The trainees are then encouraged to practice on each other. (thats a lot of short legs!)
Rather than the shoe pulling trick practiced by Grant or Allen,the latest incarnation rely on the ideomotor effect where they move the legs slowly until they are even,all the time convincing themselves that the leg is actually growing.
Stephen said…
Here's an article I wrote analysing Mark Marx's leg growing "miracle:"

Stephen J Graham
Watch this entire video and explain/debunk it: