Today's Paper Arkansas News Legislature Newsletters Core Values Sports Public Notices Archive Obits Puzzles Opinion Story Ideas

DEBRA HALE-SHELTON: Consider the source of prophecies

by Debra Hale-Shelton | August 2, 2020 at 8:03 a.m.

Am I the only person who questions the authenticity of a man named Peter Popoff, or, for that matter, other famous people who prophesy magical events in the 21st century?

As if Popoff’s name wasn’t enough of a warning, he promotes a product called “miracle spring water”—something that has about as much a chance of working miracles as does the water in my kitchen sink or the 192-proof vodka in the alcoholic’s hand.

I did some research on Popoff, the guy who pops off in national television commercials about the miracles this water allegedly works.

Popoff’s website says the water is “absolutely free” and comes “without any obligation.” That may be true. But Popoff has made sure to provide other reasons people can send him money —donations, he calls them.

One of Popoff’s TV commercials features testimonials, including one by a man who talks about the blessing that came about after he drank the miracle water. Other witnesses—or might they be paid actors?—talk of thousands of dollars in canceled debts and newly found riches thanks to the water’s magical powers.

A testimonial on YouTube features a woman who talks without even a stutter even though there was a time, she says, when “I had no speech, totally paralyzed.”

“God delivered me from illnesses,” she says. “My husband brought me the spring water, and I drank it. I’m speaking today.”

Popoff likely taped these testimonials before his website posted this warning: “NOTE DO NOT INGEST THE MIRACLE SPRING WATER.”

So what are people to do with the water if they can’t drink it? The website doesn’t say. The water appears to come in a fairly small container. So I doubt anyone could bathe or wash their clothes in it. I suppose someone could baptize a baby, but an infant is unlikely to have debts or sins needing to be canceled.

Popoff’s website also includes what cynics like me might view as a legal disclaimer, the kind that comes in handy during lawsuits. Despite the water’s name, the website advises, “There is nothing magical or mystical about it.”

Well, that’s a downer.

But there’s still hope for Popoff disciples who may be a tad bitter because they donated $25, $50, $200 for the miracle spring water and don’t know what to do with it now. They no doubt wonder why major TV networks would even carry these commercials. So do I.

Whether Popoff fans voted for Donald Trump for president or not, perhaps they can take comfort that they weren’t the only ones misled.

Indeed, thousands of Americans took Trump at his word when he promised to build “a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.”

Well, Mexico isn’t paying. The American people are paying for anything that gets built there unless Home Depot, Goya Foods or other volunteers like former state Sen. Jon Woods, in prison on a public corruption conviction, and about 80 fellow inmates build it.

In November 2018, Woods and the other prisoners wrote Trump and offered to build the wall in exchange for earned time credit toward their sentences. The job would be handy for Woods, a Springdale Republican, since he’s imprisoned in Fort Worth, Texas.

Whether it was over-confidence or a slip of the tongue, Trump also promised to lower the national debt, which reached $19 trillion under former President Barack Obama. But as of late last month, the debt had risen to more than $24 trillion. The coronavirus and related spending haven’t helped, but the debt was rising before the pandemic began.

We all know that Trump takes pride in being a man of many words, whether they’re true or not, recorded or not. He’d surely never want to be compared to a guy named Popoff.

Still, Trump went on national TV Tuesday and made another mistake. Call it what you will: a slip of the tong ue, delusional optimism, a lie. This time, he declared that much of the United States was “corona-free.” That’s Trump slang for the coronavirus, the pandemic that’s killed at least 150,000 people in the nation since February.

This wasn’t the first time Trump has downplayed the pandemic and overplayed his administration’s success in handling it.

In early February, he said, “In a couple of days, it’s going to be down close to zero. … I think it’s a problem that’s going to go away.”

In late February, he predicted that the virus was “going to disappear.” His words even reflected a bit of Peter Popoff imagery. “One day, it’s like a miracle,” Trump said. “It will disappear. And … it could get worse before it gets better.”

The truth is that the cure for credit problems or the coronavirus is neither miracle spring water nor hydroxychloroquine, a drug Trump continues to tout despite federal health experts’ warning of its dangers and lack of effectiveness in treating the virus.

And whether it was a slip of the tongue or the mind, please do ignore Trump’s suggestion that injecting disinfectants could treat the virus. It was an idea that medical experts and even the makers of Lysol and Dettol quickly and wisely rejected. We should, too.

Even with all the disappointments, Popoff and Trump fans shouldn’t despair. Nor should any of us in this time of quarantine, conspiracy theories, job losses and belligerent tweets. We are all waiting. We are all hoping. We are all vulnerable to falsehoods at times and must be cautious, learn from our mistakes and then move forward.

I’m waiting, too—not for any miracles or magic. Rather, like many Americans of both political parties, I’ll be happy simply for a coordinated, scientific federal response that will address: 1. the coronavirus; 2.the economy; and finally 3. the many lies that have been told. The first two will be easy; the last, a lingering challenge.

Debra Hale-Shelton can be reached at . Follow her on Twitter at @nottalking.


Sponsor Content