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NBC Invites Skeptics to Believe In Angels PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Please watch this video from this 12/23/2008 episode of NBC's Today show. We, as skeptics, are specifically invited by NBC to reconsider our belief that angels are unproven in light of new evidence. In short, a woman sees an angel on a security camera monitor, and her daughter–who has just been taken off life support–recovers. What could explain this other than angels?

How about.. a poorly adjusted camera, medical science, and the natural ability of a body to heal itself?

I see no evidence of angels there. In fact, I don't even know what an angel is. Fortunately, NBC chose to ask that question, and the answer given by the post-modernist rabbi was ultimately "they can be anything." How nice. I think I'll stick with believing the only actual angels are ballplayers from Anaheim.

But let's consider the facts here, as presented by this online version of the same story. Chelsea Banton was born premature, has suffered from pneumonia many times in her life, and when the doctors said they could do no more, they removed life support and she started to recover.

And the credit for this goes to angels and god. Why is it so easy for people to ignore the fact that doctors kept this child alive using the applied science of modern medicine? Why don't the doctors get any credit at all? It angers me when a spontaneous health improvement occurs, and the doctors are portrayed as impotent and cowering in the presence of a miracle. If miracles like this are real, why do we have doctors at all? In fact, what's to explain the anti-miracle of the premature birth?

It's best not to speculate too much on these things.

I understand what they're trying to do, and ultimately the rabbi is correct in one regard. It promotes happiness to assume a stance of thankfulness in the wake of a tragedy. I think that's true.. and I really have no problem with it. I was  in a nearly fatal car accident in 1986, and my immediate response was to climb out of the wreck, take my guitar onto the roof, and play the closing song from Harold and Maude. Yeah, the cops asked my girlfriend (at the time) if I was OK, but in the end, it made us both smile. The car was a wreck, but we were alive and we chose to be happy. I think it was a positive and healthy response, and there were no angels or divine intervention in attendance. My thanks go to the people who designed the guard rails and to Datsun, who built a very safe car. I owe every happy moment since to those people.

So congratulations to Chelsea Banton and her family. I wish them well, and hope the recovery contiues. I also hope they take some time to thank the doctors who've kept her alive all these years. And I hope the hospital has taken the time to adjust that camera, or that CRT is going to suffer from terrible burn-in.

 

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written by Alencon, December 27, 2008
LOL! I think you hit that out of the park man. Hooray for Chelsea and hooray for everyone else who has had a brush with death and lived to tell about it.

One wonders how many premature infants died on the same day as Chelsea was "saved." Did the angels consider those children somehow unworthy of divine intervention? To my mind one has to be terribly conceited to think they warrented a divine miracle while others in a similar situation didn't.
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Douched by a flare!
written by arielwollinger, December 27, 2008
That should be the name of the video. Damn. I work with video editing and now with motion picture VFX for more than 14 years. I can spot an overexposed video from miles away. Just look at the reflection on the floor. Damn gulible people...
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Einstein again
written by yarro, December 27, 2008
And yes, there he was again. The rabbi quoted Einstein.
Why is it that religious and/or woo woo people so often drag Einstein into their arguments?
Did Einstein actually say something about the existence of angels?

@arielwollinger. Indeed the reflection on the floor gives it away.

Why did nobody on the NBC staff point that out?
There must have been an experieced cameraman somewhere who has seen this kind of thing before.
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written by Stanfr, December 27, 2008
And of course, if the girl had quickly died, the overexposed video would have been interpreted as "angels taking the child to heaven". Course, then the video wouldnt have made the Today show cause it would have been too depressing... smilies/cry.gif
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written by TDjazz, December 28, 2008
At one point, the rabbi asks, "Can you be open to wonder?", and I can readily answer "yes." There is much in this world to wonder at without believing in angels and the other woo woo that proliferates modern culture. This was another of those "news" segments that the media love but can't seem to ever get right. The Today show needed a story to pull at the heartstrings of its viewers, but totally ignored skepticism and looking at the story rationally.

To think that a skeptic could be easily swayed to believe in angels after this segment is to think wrongly, as many in the media usually do when it comes to woo woo.
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written by Willy K, December 28, 2008
Jeff, those two are EXACTLY like the con artists in the previous blog article, "Time Fails to Fly." Actually there are three con artists, the hospital-con is called "The Presbyterian Hemby Children's Hospital."

They all are simply giving each other support in espousing their nonsense so that they can con people out of their money. Those two people, like all clergy, live by lying to people about how the universe works and getting paid to say it. Talk about your ultimate con, no matter what happens they will have some idiotic, childish explanation!

That guy, Rabbi Irwin Kula is a real slick talker. He "quotes" Einstein by saying "There are two ways to look at the world, as if everything is a miracle or as if nothing is a miracle."

According to Einstein-Quotes.com and other web sites, the actual quote is, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

Typical for a con-artist to twist a famous persons words to suit their own needs.

Ann Curry tries, momentarily, tried to ask/say something rational such as "..some people might say that it looks like sunlight on the wall..." Sorry if I mis-quoted her. smilies/wink.gif

Then Rabbi Slick Talker mumbles something like ".. that the light is a camera misfunction (sic) or not is not the issue..." Great save Slick, ignore the question and move on to something else. Right from the con-artists Bible! Or should I say Torah?

The other clergy-con, the Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, is not using the slick-talker method, she using the totally sincere believer method. She just seems so convinced of this crap, how would anyone dare to be so rude and doubt her! smilies/sad.gif

As for the "Presbyterian Hospital", well that needs no explanation, the name on the building says it all to me.

Ya know, maybe these people and the hospital do goods things for people 99% of the time. It just burns me when people have to LIE about their motives just to make a buck.
smilies/cry.gif

Willy K
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Somthing fishy I smell
written by kedo1981, December 28, 2008
My wife of 20 years has taken me through the back hallways of her hospital, most hospitals have at (least older ones) have many transport halls and areas where the behind the scene stuff goes on, in those 20 years I’ve never once seen the security room.

The security room is likely in a completely different part of the hospital, how would she have access to it?

Many nurse’s stations have cameras/monitors to keep an eye on patients but they don’t point them at an outside door.

The story says she took a cell phone pic of the monitor, when could she have done that, hours after the fact, days?
How did she scan through hours of recordings to find the moments around time of claimed events?

My guess would be a family member or friend that works at the hospital knew of this “angel” phenomenon (sun at the correct angle, a car parked in just the right spot) for years. That person took the picture and celled it to the mother, who made up the “scenario” to fit her inane belief system.

Need I point out the girl is still profoundly physically and mentally handicapped.


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written by Resume, December 28, 2008
Seems like this is a bad angel, giving it left the child handicapped. And how many other children in hospitals all across the globe were seeming cured "miraculously" that day, sans light reflection?
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simulation to show these people the truth
written by arielwollinger, December 28, 2008
I am going to make a 3D simulation to show the "phenomenon", if you can call this crap one, but just after I return from a trip to the beach here in Brazil. Yeah! I think the angels can wait. @3:23 you can see clearly the reflection of the wall railing and the door opening mechanism. It is going to be fun! If someone else want to do it first, go ahead!

cheers!
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written by Lee, December 28, 2008
Quoting from about 0:58...
"Either that's the angel coming to take her to heaven, or it's an angel to say that she's getting better." How telling that either outcome can be attributed to divine influence! Except, if the girl had died, what's the bet the doctors would bear the blame?
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Society is Schitzophrenic, Isn't It?
written by Radwaste, December 28, 2008
We are looking, here, at a different degree of the same thing The Amaz!ng Randi counts on for some of his illusions to work: the public, not just an individual, does not know what to look for when presented with things like this - and cannot "connect the dots", to realize that if they can be fooled by a magician, they can be fooled by other things, too, in a magician's absence.

The magician is manipulating the real world. Circumstances can produce the same effects, and do so on a regular basis.
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The sun!
written by julianrod, December 28, 2008
The sun coming inside the window and overexposing the CCD, a true miracle!! I mean, come on, it doesn't even move, it has the shape of a window... or maybe it was a window-shaped angel?
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written by Lahurongirl, December 28, 2008
Ohhhh...that's my local news smilies/sad.gif I am so embarrassed
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Lahurongirl Should Investigate...
written by SheldonHelms, December 28, 2008
Hey, Lahurongirl! If you live near this hospital, perhaps you could to some investigative reporting of your own and see if the light reflection theory is correct. Wouldn't get on the Today Show with that info, but I bet Randi would be glad to publish your results. smilies/grin.gif
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Not Funny, Just Sad
written by foley1family, December 28, 2008
Things like this make me sad. Good friends of ours lost their 17-month old daughter two years ago to an undiagnosed bowel infection. They were good, decent, church-going people who had their daughter christened not two months prior.

When people believe in a god that actively intervenes in cases like this, then they are also stating that god actively intervened in causing a baby to die in her carseat as her mother raced to the hospital. Although I was an atheist prior to this event, it just breaks my heart to watch my friends struggle to reconcile their own faith with what happened.

Do people even stop to think what this story does to families like that? Whose children were not "saved" by an angel? It really pisses me off, and makes me hope my friends did not see this.
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I agree with SheldonHelms
written by arielwollinger, December 28, 2008
Find that room or find the floor plans for the hospital. By determining its orientation to the north pole, whe can plot the sun's trajectory and the shadows that are created in the walls.
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written by Alan3354, December 29, 2008
Why would an all-powerful god, who can create the entire universe in a few days, need helpers? Does he take time off? Isn't this how Satan came into power? Did god not see that coming? Jesus Christ, this is silly.
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written by Alan3354, December 29, 2008
PS The difference between religion and superstition is ... $$$.
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written by Kuroyume, December 29, 2008
Why would an all-powerful god, who can create the entire universe in a few days, need helpers? Does he take time off? Isn't this how Satan came into power? Did god not see that coming? Jesus Christ, this is silly.


Well, let's face facts here. Christianity is about as monotheistic as the Greco-Roman religions. Oh, yeah, first you had the Judaic god. Then he had to knock up Mary and make a son. Along with the son was the holy spirit dove-like thing. Okay, some argue that these are three 'aspects' of one god. Won't get into the argument.

But then you have angels and devils and the big devil, Satan, all of a sudden. In some ways, these angels (or servants of our lord) existed even in the OT (see Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah). What exactly were angels with respect to the 'one true god'? Now we have a big host of divine beings. Isn't that polytheism?

And to make the polytheism of Christianity definitive, one only need look at devout Roman Catholicism. Piled on top of god, satan, angels, and devils, there are saints - patron saints which act almost identically to the way that minor pagan gods (nymphs, house gods, and so on) acted with specialities - and Mary, a goddess in her own right.

If that doesn't convince anyone that religion is a psycho-traditional human endeavor, therapy is in due order.
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written by Cuddy Joe, December 29, 2008
Is there a patron saint of bullshit?
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written by Kuroyume, December 29, 2008
Yes, Penn Jillette. smilies/smiley.gif
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Wow Angels !!!!
written by monstrmac1, December 29, 2008
I worked as a manager in a photo lab for years. This kind of crap comes in on photos all the time. Sometimes we get whole rolls of film that have "ghosts" on them. The truth is, the film was loaded wrong, slightly exposed to the sun, a reflection was on the lens, the mirror was sticky, there was water on the lens.....etc

Also, this reflection looks like it could have been on the monitor itself instead of being shown on the monitor.

Being in photo labs I saw thousands of "orbs" "ufo's" "ghosts" and "angels" , they all had some sort of explanation. Cameras and camcorders of any kind can have light interference that produces effects like this. I hope that Captain Disillusion debunks this video before it gets all blown up on the net.

Remember Kids, love with your hearts, use your heads for everything else.

CAPTAIN DISILLUSION

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Sickened
written by devilschord, December 29, 2008
I am sickened by this sort of nonsense! For one, it really looks nothing like an angel. For another, it is obviously an effect from sunlight. Are these people going to curse this same angel if, sadly, Chelsea does pass away in the near future? No, as someone else noted, the doctors will surely be blamed for that event. Sick.
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Mr. Flair
written by DrMatt, December 30, 2008
Captain, keep a hand on Mr. Flair's mouth. Ugly stuff comes out
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written by Raindoggy, December 30, 2008
You have to be kidding me. You can actually see that it is a flare of sunlight or something in the reflection in the floor. How do they explain that the "wings" reflect in the floor, and the "body" does not?
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written by Trish, December 30, 2008
If an angel saves a child so it lives completely handicapped, the handicapped kid is especially blessed, and the caregivers especially lucky, to have the opportunity to suffer in the name of christ, acting as a focal point for other believers to contemplate how much greater christ's suffering is than any disabled human or their loved ones, and rejoice. Because the "good news" of the gospels is that suffering is the key to eternal salvation, even if you aren't suffering enough yourself, you can always vicariously suffer with christ, the poor kid and the parents.

Plus, there's the possibility such a child can become the focus of pilgrimages by people who want to bask i the child's divine presence, and maybe stop at the gift shop on the way out.
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written by Kuroyume, December 30, 2008
Trish, I hope that was sarcasm.

Jesus didn't suffer much at all. He maybe had to suffer for a day or two - a nasty flagellation, dragging a wooden beam about, and then a humanely quick death being crucified (crucifixions typically lasted days not hours). Boo hoo. While real people can suffer for years and years.
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written by Trish, December 30, 2008
Yes, it was sarcasm (fueled by 6 years at a convent school) I hoped the little winky-face made that clear.

I was alluding to this poor girl in Massachussetts who is completely disabled - can't move or speak - who is the object of pilgrimages. She was even dragged to a baseball game [she was sheltered under a canopy], which was supposed to bless the crowd, or maybe help the Cubs get to be as good as the Yankees or something. Even if this child is mercifully unaware of what's going on around her, the exploitation of her condition as some sort of vindication of catholic superstition grates on me more than most of their foolishness.
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written by Trish, December 30, 2008
P.S. I don't think Jesus suffered at all, since fictional characters can't suffer.
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written by Kuroyume, December 30, 2008
So true. Just assuming that there was a grain of truth there. smilies/smiley.gif
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written by Lahurongirl, December 30, 2008
Hey, I might just do that smilies/wink.gif
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The Colour Of Miracles
written by FrankH, December 31, 2008
Sir Terry Pratchett* in his book "Interesting Times" muses on the subject of miracles:

"When someone is saved from death by a strange concatenation of circumstances, they say that's a miracle. But of course if someone is killed by a freak chain of events - the oil spilled just there, the safety fence broken just there - that must also be a miracle. Just because it's not nice doesn't mean it's not miraculous."

*His knighthood was announced in the New Year's honours list. I'm not sure if protocol demands that we wait for the Queen to tap him on the shoulders with a sword before we start calling him Sir Terry but I'd rather not wait.
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Please
written by furgy, December 31, 2008
This Rabbi and this priest didn't sell me on any of it, and yes it is relevant whether you have a camera malfunction or not, All skeptics are saying is if you want us to believe, then these things should be able to stand scientific scrutiny. Evidence of things not seen? That's like someone trying to tell me that something is green even though it really is red.
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written by jj, December 31, 2008
***sigh*** I wish people who make claims like this would bother to try to use a cheap camera once or twice themselves.
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written by BillyJoe, January 05, 2009
It doesn't matter that the image was the result of light reflections. The important thing for the believers is that there is an image of an angel. Explaining to them how the image was produced will not change the significance of what they saw.
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