Breatharianism is big business

The guy who called the show with wild claims of people who live their entire lives without eating or drinking, emailed us today.


When I said you should give benefit of don’t I meant, you should give an opportunity for the other party to prove their claim.
Here is a website hosted by my master Nithyananda Swami who is alive and teaching the technology to people for living food free.
Another man who was scientifically studied by doctors and scientists in India by defense department.
Buddha boy documentary by Discovery Channel, he want on sitting in one place for months without water or food.
If you are interested, you can fly to India, and I have 2 people who can demonstrate it to you what I said in the call.
Its worth investigating.

I asked:

I have just one question:

If all these cases are as well verified as you say they are, then why were you unable to find any “evidence” other than YouTube videos, and glossy websites which are very obviously trying to sell a product? Why didn’t you provide any peer reviewed scientific studies from credible medical journals, instead of a bunch of hacks making documentaries about it?

I’ll intersperse his latest reply with my response.



The youtube video’s that I listed are just like a menu card for you to review what is for offering from my side.

Who said to you that I am presenting it as a scientific “evidence”. That was just for your reference I said. Can I not say that ?

You guys have yet to eat the real food listed on the menu card. Don’t go away without eating or tasting it yourself !!


What you’re offering from your side is no different from any other typical pseudo-scientific salesmanship. You seem to think that I should automatically believe your claims just because they show up in a YouTube video or a magazine. You have an incredibly low bar for deciding what’s real.


And no product is for sale. Knowledge to live a food free life is offered free. Unlike the capitalist world, here master is offering this knowledge for free.


Seriously, how gullible can you be? Wait, don’t answer that yet. Hey look at all these classes you can sign up for!

I want to get in on that action! What will it cost me?

Oh I see.. US$6000. This must be a definition of “free” that I’m not familiar with.

Check this out, you can go on a cruise with the great Nithyananda!

Awesome! How much does THAT cost?

Swami Nithyananda Charges His Followers $10,000 U.S.D. Each for a Luxury Cruise with a 2012 Spirituality Theme

What a bargain! But what if I’m not fully satisfied?

What is the refund policy for the Inner Awakening / eN-Genius program?

“If for any reason a customer is unable to attend the Inner Awakening/eN-Genius program, the customer can request that their program payment be applied towards a future Inner Awakening/eN-Genius program within one year of original payment. However, there are No refunds.”

So I can ASK for a refund as long as I understand that I won’t GET one. That sounds totally generous and reasonable to me! I sure am glad that the Generous and Knowledgeable Master is offering so much of his Knowledge for free.


You are welcome to learn it and practice it do independent scientific research by your own self or your team of doctors or scientists. Visit

This is a real source, where you can personally go and investigate scientifically.  This is something worth while for you guys to dig in further.

The doors are open. Now the choice is yours. Its NOT a matter of belief or faith. Its pure science and you can use objective scientific ways to verify it.

This does not fall into the realm of subjective, but it can be a gateway to the subjective science world.


Let me think about that for a minute. Nooooo, I think I’ll pass on financing my own team of doctors and scientists to provide scientific support for YOUR claim. Yesterday on the show you implied that this stuff was proven, and now you’re waffling like crazy now that you’ve had to admit that there is, in reality, no scientific verification whatsoever. Thanks for the generous offer, but the way it works is: when YOU present the crazy nonsense, YOU get to offer the proof. If you don’t I get to say it’s crazy nonsense. Which I did.


I personally don’t carry the scientific journal papers with me, but you can find it out from here,

DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India).


You can make excuses all you want about how you “don’t carry the scientific journal papers with me.” The plain fact is that there aren’t any. If there were, you would have led with them, instead of wasting my time piling on unsourced websites full of hype, and speculative articles by credulous “journalists.” Thanks for writing.


  1. says

    Surely, there are some skeptic groups in India who could give the testing a whirl. Of course, appropriate controls, and margins of errors apply. Since people can survive a long time without food, let’s say we lock them in that room for 180 days, just to be sure.

    Of course, the person will have to be strip-searched before going in, and the room sealed, etc.

  2. Clio says

    How funny, I was listening to an older episode of Godless Bitches on my run yesterday (Episode 2.6 maybe?) where the ladies were talking about religious restrictions on sex and Tracie used the example of not eating as a way of showing how bizarre such restrictions on natural, necessary behaviors are – if you came across someone who wasn’t eating you’d think there was something wrong with them. What’s wrong with eating? NOTHING. What’s wrong with sex? NOTHING. Why deny yourself these things? (Especially the eating one since, you know, you’ll die if you don’t eat.)

    This guy was a crackpot, if I had had one of Matt’s white cards I would have held it up after about minute 10 of the guy’s call.

  3. machintelligence says

    This has been professionally debunked by James Randi.

    Randi reports that his investigations of breatharians uncovered covert runs to local fast food establishments. One applicant asked us to make sure she had access to a private bathroom. Think about that for a moment…

  4. John Kruger says

    It is pretty staggering what people can believe if they try hard enough.

    Just think, all the people who died of starvation over the ages were just being lazy! Think of all the infectious diseases you could avoid if you never had to ingest food! Think of all the money you could save! This sounds like a real dynamite natural selection game changer to me. These guys should be taking over the entire planet, not conducting cruise getaways.

  5. John Kruger says

    Argh! Not I can’t UN-think about it.

    I guess by the time you eat your own shit it becomes really hard to come to grips with the fact that you did it on the basis of being scammed.

  6. Kazim says

    I think what machintelligence was pointing out is only that if you didn’t eat, you wouldn’t need a bathroom.

  7. CoffeyC says

    Perhaps we should reconsider making atheism a religion. If you can avoid the pitfall of making the claims too absurd, it really does seem to be like the perfect crime, and there is so much money in it.

  8. Alex89 says

    I always thought those children in Afrika looked so damned healthy, now i know why.
    I guess the dark skin is because of all those cruises they take too.

  9. blf says

    You’d think any scam which involves killing your believers (in this case, by starvation) would not have survive for very long. Unfortunately, it has. I remember one of these fools visiting the town where I lived at the time, c.25 years ago, spewing his nonsense (including claims he hadn’t ate/drank for something like 10 years), and then being caught, that very night, ordering(? eating?) in a fast-food establishment. I vaguely seem to recall there were pictures in one of the local alternative newspapers…

  10. Mark W says

    Luckily I haven’t eaten food in years, or else I’d have just crapped my pants laughing! 😀

  11. John Kruger says

    Woah, ok. Not sure how I got there. The clarification eases my mind quite a bit.

  12. Jon says

    Did you notice the “medical professional” endorsing it isn’t a doctor but a veterinarian? Talk about misleading.

  13. Matt Gerrans says

    Testing claims like this is an endless whack-a-mole game and the believers will not be deterred by debunking. They will just say the guy you debunked was a phony, but this other guy is the real thing. And so on.

    I played this game with a Christian who was squawking that he had presented evidence of a real faith healing (cancer of course, not an amputee healing!) at his church and none of the skeptics would follow up with it. After hearing this several times, I asked for the name of the church and the people involved. Turns out it was not his church, but his friend’s and he’ll get back to me with the details. Then a few weeks of crickets. I kept pinging him regularly for the details and he kept saying he was working on it. Eventually he admitted that it was actually a friend of a friend and didn’t know what church it was, or where, etc., but it really did happen. I was so overwhelmed with this conclusive proof of Our Risen Lord’s power of healing that I ran to the nearest church to get baptized and become a born again Christian.

  14. Randomfactor says

    L. Ron fell right into that pitfall, and STILL made a mint. Until his creation ate him, of course.

  15. says

    Well, its dinner time here in Calgary, Canada. I am going out to grab me a slice of hot and tasty air. There is a field nearby that provides the finest, purest, freshest, and most organic air in the city. Its all natural and finger licking good. 🙂

  16. jacobfromlost says

    The claim isn’t really that impressive to me anyway. Where is the Swami who can teach me how to bulk up without ever eating anything? I’d say…30 pounds of muscle mass should be enough for my skepticism to be satisfied.

    But…just not DYING? Eh. It’s pretty easy to sneak food when no one is looking, especially when people have to sleep eventually…or just get totally bored staring at a dude whose only interesting characteristic is that he’s not eating. (Do they drink water, these breatharians? Or does the air provide that also? Just wondering.)

    BTW, I mentioned in the chatroom that years ago, Geraldo had an episode of his talk show that was hyped for several days–a show in which some kind of Hindu mystic was supposed to levitate on his show. So the day of the show finally arrived, and the mystic was sitting on the stage. After a few minutes of concentrating, legs crossed underneath him, the dude slowly started to hop on his knees. Then he started hopping faster and faster–just hopping in place.

    Geraldo just stared at him in confusion, speechless. When the guy looked up and saw Geraldo was not impressed (nor was the audience), the dude started saying, “See that? See that?” each time he was in the air after hopping.

    Geraldo said nothing. lol

  17. MCB says

    I always carry scientific journal papers with me. I am always worried someone may as me to show them my papers.

  18. MCB says

    Credo quia absurdum. (I believe because it is absurd).

    Sometimes I think the trick is to make the claims totally and completely implausible. Then people think they are too crazy to be made up.

  19. MCB says

    You just couldn’t make this stuff up:

    “Interviewers found her house stocked with food; Jasmuheen claimed the food was for her husband. In 1999, she volunteered to be monitored closely by the Australian television program 60 Minutes for one week without eating to demonstrate her methods.[11][12] Jasmuheen stated that she failed on the first day of the test because the hotel room in which she was confined was located near a busy road, causing stress and pollution that prevented absorption of required nutrients from the air. “I asked for fresh air. Seventy percent of my nutrients come from fresh air. I couldn’t even breathe,” she said. The third day the test was moved to a mountainside retreat. After Jasmuheen had fasted for four days, Dr. Berris Wink, president of the Queensland branch of the Australian Medical Association, urged her to stop the test.”

    And then

    ” She stated that her DNA has expanded from 2 to 12 strands, to “absorb more hydrogen”. When offered $30,000 to prove her claim with a blood test, she said that she didn’t understand the relevance.[19]”

    Shoot, I can’t past 11 strands of DNA! I need that 12th strand to process me some hydrogen. I’m hoping to really jet when I get the deuterium boost at 13 strands.

  20. Aaroninmelbourne says

    Claiming to not have access to peer-reviewed papers is nonsense. I use them all the time for my work, and any paper worth having has its abstract published for free on the publisher’s site like Wiley or Sage. And for something so earth-shattering, there would be plenty such papers out there, not just a few. But if such a finding was made, then it wouldn’t be “spooky” or “supernatural”, it would be along the lines of “Photosynthesis in fauna”. To bastardize the commentary about alternative medicine, “What do you call supernatural phenomena that is shown to be true? Nature”.

  21. Sids says

    He doesn’t seem to be implying that this ‘master’ would be willing to undergo the tests. He only seems to be saying that after you get the knowlege you can test yourself. What’s the bet that if I did that, even to the extent that I died of starvation, the response would be that I didn’t do it quite the way the ‘master’ does. Don’t you just love it when things are unfalsifiable.

    Also, I haven’t seen the show yet, but did he really say that people go their whole lives without eating? So before their mothers even begin breast feeding them, they already have this great, profound knowlege allowing them to survive without food? Must be pretty basic stuff. And shouldn’t those mothers be arrested for neglect for even risking that on their new born babies (just in case they were doing it wrong)?

  22. sosw says

    I’d think that one week without eating (as long as you could drink some water) wouldn’t be particularly challenging (or dangerous for a reasonably healthy individual, as long as you didn’t overdo it with the water). Unpleasant, but probably most of us would do it on a big enough bet.

    Not even drinking would be unhealthy and dangerous, but depending on circumstances people can survive that for quite a while as well.

    I would be unimpressed by anything less than two weeks without food or drink, or a month just without food…both of which can be survivable but would leave a person in obviously bad shape.

    And obviously drinking anything other than water counts as food. You could survive indefinitely drinking something with sufficient nutrients. Any source of nutrients other than air (e.g. IV) would have to be considered cheating.

  23. says

    OK, the first thing I see on the site is how to make Vegetable drink shakes…. yeah… i can be food free like that too

  24. says

    Did I miss a part where the guy himself pretend to be a breatharian? I guess he just seem to believe that it is possible. Why Matt (or Russel) didn’t ask him if he is actually a breatharian and if not, why he is not one(yet)?
    Maybe they don’t want to challenge him too far to try that experience for they don’t want to be found responsable
    of encouraging dellusional thinking, but asking him about if he is or if he is thinking of trying it would have been apropos. Maybe again I miss that part and have to watch the video again later today.

    Would be interesting to examine the other guys, the ones who “read” in pictures. Would be an interesting study..

  25. Muz says

    There’s skeptic groups in India but if anyone has their work cut out for them it’s them. I’m sure the non eating mystics are on the list somewhere with a million other things (literally million. Probably more)

  26. Muz says

    It is a very big things isn’t it. My mum is a Christian Scientist but that assertion of not needing things like other people is definitely a huge part of whatever sense it gives her.
    It’s like independece and defiance. You see it in New Age stuff a lot as well (and there’s a fair overlap in traits between Christian Science, New Age and Asian mysticism followers of course, even though they differ wildly on the details). The Natural News types, arch-vegetarians/vegans and so forth exhibit it a lot too. (I mean in addition to regular religious traditions)

    There’s a sort of spiritualist self determination about it (I mean that more broadly than the specific Spiritualist movement). It’s like a show of supreme will and self control, defying your simple earthly humanity. A lot of people find that really desirable for some reason. It’s interesting to think that in the West it manifests as a defiance of the powers that be or authorities. In much poorer places I suspect that the idea of being able to go without things, even food, has a completely different flavour (so to speak)

  27. Muz says

    I’m surprised it hasn’t come up yet (as I’m usually the last one with links handy), but one of these guys was debunked in the last couple of years. I think it even was the guy being backed by the Indian government. It was revealed that they didn’t even monitor the guy for more than about 10hrs a day. There was some other story (not sure if it was the same bloke) where the guy/guru’s followers were always bringing him food out of respect and no one knew where it went. He just said his aides aite it all, but they weren’t always there when the stuff arrived and subsequently disappeared.

    I’ll have to try and find it.

  28. MCB says

    Ah, but do you carry them with you? I’m thinking maybe stapled to the inside of your jacket for emergency situations like when a skeptic on the internet asks to see them?

  29. says

    But now I can’t un-think it! It’s just the kind of dementedly obsessive thing that people like that would do to prove that they were “right”.

  30. says

    Turns out it was not his church, but his friend’s and he’ll get back to me with the details. Then a few weeks of crickets. I kept pinging him regularly for the details and he kept saying he was working on it. Eventually he admitted that it was actually a friend of a friend and didn’t know what church it was, or where, etc

    Extremely telling. Sounds to me like each person thinks “I’ll just tell it as if it happened at my own church. It’s not really a lie, because I know the guy it really happened to. It’s just a slight exaggeration to get the point across. No real harm.” So the story is passed on and on, always seemingly originating with the current teller.

    It’s not until you pressed for details that the guy admits he got it from a friend and goes back and asks the friend he heard it from… who admits he got it from a friend and asks that friend he heard it from… until it becomes clear that nobody has any clue where this story really got started.
    None of them ever questioned it before because they had no incentive to do so. They wanted to believe, not only that it could happen, but that it could happen to someone they knew. Not in some obscure location, but to people like themselves; right here, right now.

  31. jdoran says

    You’d think his followers would have known he wasn’t into the whole eating scene and wouldn’t bring him food. Do they give bottles of wine to non-drinkers (“out of respect”)? Cigarettes to non-smokers? Clothes to nudists?

  32. says

    Devious plan: pretend to be a follower and give him some food with a heavy laxative in it. Hey, if he’s not going to eat it, there’s no harm, right?

  33. changerofbits says

    I think Matt just made the point that it would be unethical to even test breathairianism (although, it seems Randi at least went through the process of what it would take to test somebody with a true believer). I’ll give the guy credit for owning up to not really knowing if the claims are 100% verifiable. It just seems like he hasn’t reached skeptic level 2 (still believes there are invisible dragons).

  34. changerofbits says

    I have no idea why I decided to read some this drivel, but it only took a few minutes to find out that it extends beyond just not eating (to the point where the JRF wouldn’t try to test it):

    If a fish can swim, so can you; if a bird can fly, so can you; if plants can make food on their own with natural resources, so can you!

    Yay, we can fly through meditation!

  35. Peter Horsepucky says

    It would be more convenient if they could eat food and instead learn to live without air. That could be easily tested and verified in an hour or so.

  36. Scott O says

    Even if a person were to be able to live without food, for let’s say 30 days to 30 years, still would NOT prove the existence of a God or deity. The best one could say is that it was a “miracle”.

  37. Warp says

    You have to understand believers’ parlance. For example, when they say “it’s scientifically proven”, what they really mean is “this random website claims that it’s scientifically proven, and I believe it.”

    (This is similar to, for example, “I have done the research”, which in their parlance means “I have read one or two websites whose authors have ‘clearly’ done their research, and I believe them.”
    Or as in “science cannot explain”, which in their parlance means “I don’t accept science’s explanations.”)

  38. Houndentenor says

    At least they were new. It’s nice when someone calls in with a different brand of crazy and not the same old “first cause” and Pascals’ Wager arguments. Since I deal with people who believe in equally ridiculous things every day, I thought it was good that they listened to him for awhile.

    I thought it was the later caller whose arguments were all based on possibilities and suppositions about “the mind” that was a waste of time. All sorts of things are possible. That doesn’t mean they are true. We can imagine all sorts of things. Sanity depends on knowing the difference between imaginary and real.

  39. L.Long says

    The emailer is a flat out bald faced liar!
    The Randi $1M prize does not require proof of anything just that under agreed controls that the power be demonstrated. So all he has to do is win the prize.
    Wait! I’m just now receiving a message from the spirit world……
    Oh I see,the $1M is not important as he wants a fulfilled spiritual life.
    So Why not win the $1M and then use the money to help all the starving people????
    Wait another mystical message ……
    Oh the starving are spiritually damaged so it is impossible for them to learn the required techniques!
    Well that explains all the starving people – they are holding their breath!!!

  40. Sids says

    Well actually, the best that one could say would be, “that’s interesting, lets investigate it”.

  41. Raymond says

    And that right there is the difference between theists and atheists. I always love when a theist calls me “close-minded.” Then I get to point out exactly how close-minded their point of view is. Ahhh! Fun times

  42. jdon says

    I love the mystical hoppers. They’re a fine example of how people will believe absolutely anything if they’re sold on it before seeing it.

    The water thing varies. Most claim that once you reach a certain level you don’t need that either, although most don’t claim to be at that level.

    I think sneaking sugar or other substances that are highly translucent when dissolved into water is probably one of the easier cheats they’d try and use under poor test conditions.

  43. brianpansky says

    that’s not how these situations go. they usually involve the skeptic needing to be prepared for someone coming at THEM. In such cases, it is the skeptic who needs something stapled to the inside of their jacket. that thing would be a basic level of skepticism, and the question “where is the evidence?” etc.

  44. says

    sorry brian, I didn’t mean to answer you but seems I am stuck here.

    —btw, is it only me but I was stucked with a chat device for ftb stuff under the screen last night?

    —did you know that muslims are really rational, more then other relig ions but think that mohamed went to the sky with a horse, talked to jesus who said to pray four time and to have not much more then four wives, etc?

  45. says

    btw, is it only me but I was stucked with a chat device for ftb stuff under the screen last night?

    Apparently, it’s not an FtB chat. It’s some tricky advertising, pretending to be a chat function. I wondered about it myself.

  46. says

    Ok tonight it is gone. what was that?

    anyway, today is another weird day, my hotmail is gone and it was replaced by force with outlook…it is only me again?

    thought for the day: “god loves you as you are. come with us”. after some months..”god wants you to change otherwise you should leave our congregation”. think about it! 😉

  47. MCB says


    Just to be sure we understand each other, my comment was really a joke on the “carry scientific journal papers with me” line, which was one of the funnier turns of phrase I have seen this week. I tend to keep my scientific journal papers on my desk, or in a pdf on my computer. That’s convenient, because I also tend to compose my e-mail on my computer which is sitting on or near my desk, allowing me easy access to my “scientific journal papers” without having to carry them with me. How about you?

  48. knotty says

    There are some people who actually are zealous enough to go food free….they are now pushing up daisies.
    Here is the not so funny side of Breatharianism. I mean yes it would be convienant if we didnt have to eat, but all life sourses need to metabolize energy to live.

  49. says

    I must confess that when I was young and foolish, I remember behaving similar to our Breatharian friend: cherry picking to support a belief that makes me feel good.

    You know, to really sell this Breatharian thing, they need to come up with alcoholic air; all the intoxication with no calories and no hangovers! 😉

    And happy Zombie Awareness Day to the cast, crew and all the fans of The Atheist Experience … always remember, “aiming for the head!”
    Andrew Antaro of the Great White North!

  50. says

    Not to worry. I believed my fair share of nonsense in my youth, too. One specific thing I remember (in hindsight, obviously ridiculous) was the (implicit and unformed) idea that if somebody had written it in a book, it must be true. I had some strange idea that surely people would write books about things that weren’t true.

    There was a fair amount of nonsense that I accepted simply because it was written. Later, when I revisited the stuff, I wondered why I ever accepted that unsupported drivel.

  51. says

    when Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) became a great critical thinker and invited other great skeptic minds to join him to reflect on 12 important topics… please don’t destroy your laptop (lol)

  52. mrjolly says

    If I recall correctly, this caller made two claims.

    The second was the one discussed above, which is understandably difficult, costly, and dangerous to (dis)prove.

    However, the first claim was that an ‘acquaintance’ could accurately describe the life experiences of a person just by looking at their picture.

    Surely this is far easier to debunk? It would be better for this to be the focus to undermine his claims and false beliefs.

    Give him 5 pictures and ask him for a detailed description of the life of each individual.

  53. says

    “It’s not just people making claims – there’s actual SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE!”
    “Alright, where is it?”
    “There isn’t any, it’s just claims by people. But if you did scientific studies, then there would be scientific evidence!”

    Err.. I see a contradiction here. >_>

    What we would expect to see if these claims were true would be SO CLOSE to what we expect if they’re false that the claims are almost “indistinguishable from nothing”. So not only do we lack evidence, but it would be almost impossible to FIND evidence, since the claim “I don’t need to eat” is almost as difficult to verify as “an invisible god exists”. Which makes me question how one would ever start believing these claims in the first place.

  54. microraptor says

    As a thought experiment, I once tried to come up with the most absurd sounding religion/origin of the world story I could come up with. It was in a Word document on my computer.

    After I learned about Scientology I immediately deleted my experiment because i realized that there was no way I was going to be able to come up with anything that could top it.

  55. Ann Oying says

    “if plants can make food on their own with natural resources, so can you!”

    We already do. We use sugar, minerals and oxygen to produce our own nutrients just as the plants use carbon dioxide, sunlight and minerals to produce their essentials.
    No plant could ever live without minerals and carbon dioxide tho, just as no human can live without sugar and oxygen.

    That guru isn’t lying on his page, but he isn’t telling the whole truth either.


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