18 June 2013

Sight sighing: This is an embarrassment

Our university is going to merge and grow with the aim of becoming an emerging research institution, and is going to establish a medical school in the process. Given that these are the state goals of our institution, that this appeared in my inbox this morning was a bit of a shock.

I am very pleased to announce that Braco has accepted our invitation to come to South Texas and share his talent of “Gazing” with the community at large and the UTPA community starting this Wednesday, June 19th, at 2 p.m. with a FREE web live streaming, we can all have access via a computer, iPad, iPhone, etc., from all over the world. ...

The weekend of June 22nd & 23rd, Braco will be at the Holiday Inn Airport McAllen, TX doing group sessions for all who want to experience firsthand from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. for the community at large. ... During the event, Spanish/English translation will be available for each session.

Then for his last day in Texas, Braco has accepted to allow FREE access to all UTPA staff, faculty and students of the web live streaming at the Student Union on Monday June 24th from 11 – 5 pm. Just bring your UTPA ID with you to get in! Come and be engaged with the gazing of Braco hourly for 5-7 minutes!

I also want to take this opportunity to extend this invitation to South Texas College (STC) and University of Texas-Brownsville (UTB) nursing & other health-related field students & faculty to join us for this event. Bring your school ID with you! Not open to the public in general!

This is an embarrassment to our university. Although most of the material concerning Braco (pronounced braht-zo) tosses around the word “healer,” a better one is “charlatan.”

Braco normally charges $8 for him to gaze on you for about five to eight minutes. He does not speak in public. And there is a distinct lack of promises:

Braco also comes with many disclaimers. He does not call himself a healer or guarantee any results. He does not consider himself a prophet or a religious leader, does not espouse a particular philosophy and does not want anyone to follow him. The impact of his gaze may be sudden or gradual, subtle or profound. If there’s any impact at all.

Another article also uses the word “healing,” and notes:

A promotional video features many followers who attest to experiencing healing miracles, and one who claims to have seen Braco shape-shift. (Disappointingly, this follower does not say what shape Braco shifted into.) ...

Less mysterious – he also says he’s got an advanced degree in economics – is the Braco line of 14-karat gold jewellery.

Karen Stollznow notes in a CSICOP article:

Braco makes many claims for someone who claims to not make any claims.

As Skepchick put it:

Best. scam. evah.

Why has Braco agreed to do this for the university? I wager that he will use this to promote his credibility: “Braco has been invited to the prestigious University of Texas system!” Because the email describes this as being sponsored by our Department of Nursing. The email concludes:

This event has been sponsored by the University of Texas-Pan American Nursing Department and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing Pi Omicron Chapter 397.

Why would a Nursing department sponsor this? (Additional: In an email to me, the department chair says, “We are not providing any financial support or ‘supporting this event’ in any way other than providing an announcement. ... The nursing honor society Pi Omicron has organized this event.” That’s a very limited set of activities, and I wouldn’t normally call it “sponsorship.” ) The email again:

“At UTPA Nursing Department, we strive to prepare our graduates to meet the health care needs of a culturally diverse society. We do so by preparing our students to develop critical thinking skills in order to provide holistic (mind-body-spirit) care to people who have interwoven spiritual, biopsychosocial, and cultural characteristics. Although these unique people are viewed as being ultimately responsible to act in their own best interests, our students, as client advocates, can help people maximize their mind-body-spirit wellness. As such, it is imperative to expose our students to many myriad complementary approaches to wellness and wellness-restoration from the lay, folk, and professional health sectors.”

The word “holistic” appears a lot on the department’s description of “BSN Philosophy,” too. Poor “holism”; a perfectly good word ruined by overuse by those practising pseudoscience. The degree philosophy purports to be in favour of critical thinking, but this is very much not in evidence here.

If you found out another department in your university was promoting this, what would you do? (Additional: As noted above, the Department’s involvement is minimal. It is a student honors society organizing it, which is almost as disappointing.)

External links

Braco the gazer
Gazing balls: I’m looking at you, Braco
Braco The Gazer: A New Age Guru With Nothing To Say
Braco brings his healing gaze to Arlington
Braco Gazing Event: Long-Haired Croatian 'Healer' Will Stare At You For $8 At Crystal City Sheraton

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