The sham of the shaman
Can you name serious illnesses that you have cured?
I have rescued people from cancer, others from coma and many others.
(An excerpt from an interview with Durek Verrett)
At the end of January a new-age company called Tveir heimar(e. Two Worlds) brought in an American showman to Iceland by the name of Durek Verrett. He is a self-proclaimed “shaman” and claims to have special type of abilities that can somehow facilitate some form of recovery for people with cancer, leukemia and other variations of serious illnesses and symptoms, using so called “shamanistic techniques”.
Vantrú, the Icelandic society of skeptics, caught wind of his visit, but his coming was advertised on the website of Tveir heimar - who also acted as his agent - as well as Kvennablađiđ, which is a relatively widely read, icelandic webzine. In these advertisements there were mentions of these questionable abilities to “heal” and “cure” cancer with transcendental “spirits” which we found quite susceptible and therefore falling into the realm of open and blunt criticism.
So we naturally criticized his supernatural claims, warned people of not falling for this hoax and called him a “con man” and a “dirtbag” because he preys upon sick and desperate people with promises of aid and assistance in exchange for a specific sum of currency. The bluntness in itself, got a smudgeon of media attention.
What follows is a translation of an article published by Vantrú following Mr. Verrett´s visit to Iceland:
Ţar hitti seiđskrattin ömmu sína
Seiđskratti can be translated as a sorcerer, a witch-doctor or a shaman and is made out of two individual words: seiđ(i)- as in potion, and -skratti, which means devil or demon. The original icelandic title is a play on an old saying: “Ţar hitti skrattinn ömmu sína” which directly translates into “There the devil met his grandmother” which means that someone met a more resourceful and craftier opponent or adversary. It´s quite punny in Icelandic, of course.
In early February Tveir heimar and Durek Verrett challenged Vantrú to a moderated discussion about spirituality and skepticism, although the original intention of the meeting was an attempt to make our blunt criticism in regards of this charlatan a major issue it got more focused on his means and methods. We agreed to participate and the talk was scheduled at Kex Hostel on Tuesday-evening on the 9th of February at 20:00. The journalist Sölvi Tryggvason was the moderator of the meeting between Durek Verrett, a shaman, and Brynjar Örn Ellertsson, a biochemist, who agreed to participate on behalf of Vantrú.
A little bit about the shaman
Durek Verrett calls himself a shaman, which is supposed to be a person who holds the supernatural abilities of invoking, communicating and controlling spirits of dead animals or other otherworldly entities, which are located in a spirit world. It is basically supposed to be real magic. Also known as fantastic bullshit. But Verrett sticks to his claims and insists that he is not at all a charlatan. On a Facebook-page run by Tveir heimar Durek Verrett says that he can “connect to your spirits to alleviate symptoms such as addiction, depression, anxiety as well as physical ailments and injuries”
In an advertisement published on the front-page of Tveir heimar the following is stated:
Shaman Durek works with clients of all classes. His clientele include movie stars from Hollywood as well as musicians, executives of big corporations and royalty in Europe. Shaman Durek is also in demand as a public speaker and teacher. He is a columnist in The Huffington Post where he writes about spirituality, and maintains a video blog on Frontiers Magazine.
Durek Verrett hasn't published anything in the Huffington Post since 2014 and no video of his have appeared in Frontiers Magazine since 2013. So he does not have a regular spot on either of these publications and it's very doubtful that he is in demand as a speaker or a teacher.
It is quite a common practice for New-Agers, who celebrate gurus like Durek Verrett, to mention examples of “famous” and “important” people, without actually naming them, which the charlatan supposedly has assisted. The purpose is to paint an enchanting picture of the guru's life and work, which upon closer inspection turns out to be more or less fake.
The source of these specifically unspecific types of information is usually the charlatan himself and the validity of these claims can not be properly confirmed. Even though Durek Verrett has photographs of himself with the former president of Iceland, or even the president of the United States, is in no way a validation or confirmation of the amazing talents he pretends to possess.
He claims to have been mentored by his grandmother and a Suzanna von Radic, princess of Croatia, in the shamanistic arts. As it happens, his grandmother had passed away before he was born and this princess of Croatia is no princess of Croatia, but a fraud who claims to be a princess. It really shouldn't be necessary to point out the fact that the dead can not communicate with the living, it is simply impossible according to all the knowledge humanity has accumulated since the dawn of civilization. So to iterate; Varret got his abilities from a “ghost” as well as a liar. Which is hardly convincing or conclusive evidence to support his other claims.
What did Verrett do before he decided to become a shaman and a charlatan? He was an actor and a model. In all likelihood that particular career went nowhere and today his starring role is to convince people that he can summon and speak to spirit animals for exchange of money.
Incredible claims and zero credible evidence
Evidence of anything which falls into the transcendental category of heaven, hell and spirit-world is exactly zero point less than nothing. What we do have are countless anecdotes which are nigh always unreliable due to the fact that the memory is faulty and man is fallible. The amount of these tales and fabulations does not prove anything, no matter how descriptive and condescending the storyteller gets in his explanation of an afterlife.
Those who believe that the spirit-world or the transcendental exists, often claim that it is up to the others, those who doubt the existence of the supernatural and other superstitious mumbo-jumbo, to disprove these claims of the supernatural. That is a gross misunderstanding because you can't disprove everything that doesn't exist. It is actually up to those that maintain these extraordinary claims to bring extraordinary evidence for its existence. The plural of anecdote is not data. The only thing needed to convince us of the existence of the incredible is evidence that is reliable, measurable and impartial.
Durek Verrett - or whoever spoke on his behalf - claimed that he was a real, authentic and respected wizard that could actually perform real magic. That he was so known and his talents unquestionable, that even within the medical and scientific community there are people who contact him directly because of various ailments and diseases. Which is of course a donkey-cart full of bullshit.
To try and pretend offense
In the aforementioned discussion, Durek Verrett tried to divert the focus of the talk towards particular words that Vantrú used about him, “a con man and a dirtbag”. He believes that it was especially reprehensible stating that we did not know him or his work.
A slight sidetrack to Icelandic words of profanity; “Skíthćll” is the word which we used, and directly translated it means “shit-heel”. In the discussion he used the word “shithead”, which we do have in Icelandic and it is “skíthaus.” But “skíthćll” is not that crude of a word and would be more akin to a “dirtbag” rather than a “shithead” or the ever elusive “motherfucker.”
There are probably other words that can be used to describe a person that charges cancer patients and people with leukemia obscene amounts money, with promises of curing them, without actually doing anything, words such as: a fake, a fraud, a phony, a charlatan, or even a criminal.
But he is very wrong when he says that we do not know him or his works because we recognize a charlatan when we see one. They all follow a very similar formula:
- They are “the real deal” while the other self-proclaimed sorcerers are “the con men”.
- You have to be “open” for their means and methods. If you are critical or skeptical in some way of the approach of the charlatan there is little to no hope for recovery.
Durek also claimed that his work didn't not revolve much around riches but that he was just such a good and nice person. That he didn't have a lot of possessions and travelled around the globe and just assisted people to get rid of serious ailments by mysterious means out of the goodness of his own heart.
Nonetheless you can find a video on his Youtube-page where he calls himself “Urban Shaman”. In the video he brags about his fancy BMW-jeep, a Louis Vuitton-bag as well as a villa with a swimming pool. These things cost a lot of money, cash that he is getting from sick people all over the world by lying to them. Unless he doesn't own any of it himself and is just pretending to be rich, just like he's pretending to be a shaman. Let's not forget that he is an actor.
During the discussion he also claimed that he did not advertise himself but it was actually his “good reputation” that preceded him. Of course that's not true because he has two fan-pages on Facebook: Shaman in Iceland and Shaman Durek, he also runs his own web-page, then there are interviews with him on the website of Tveir heimar. What else is this other than advertisement? Loads of professionally taken photographs and videos are exactly that, especially when this con man is advertised on the web-page of Tveir heimar as well as Kvennablađiđ.
A conversation with a con man on Facebook
We got the opportunity to speak directly with Durek Verret on the Facebook-page of Vantrú when the shaman wrote a comment on our page where he challenged us to take part in the discussion on Kex Hostel. One of the admins of the page asked several questions and the conversation was in itself quite interesting. For example he stated that he could help people with leukemia but not people with stage 4 cancer because they had lost all hope for recovery.
He never answered directly how exactly he assists with cancer or leukemia patients to recover except with some unclear mumbo-jumbo. That he uses “shamanistic techniques” to “go in people” and make “a comprehensive analysis” which should assist in “clearing the body of poison build up”. This doesn't say anything specific at all but does show that he pretends that he can cure cancer.
He at least admitted that it is not nice to misuse the trust and hope of people by lying to them but does not acknowledge that he does that himself.
Apart from his comments, at least four or five other comments were made by people that said they had benefitted from his services. But, as is common with people who can't hold up their word, he deleted his comment of our Facebook-page and consequently the discussion vanished and soon after the independent comments of his followers disappeared as well. He still has his question up on our php-board Spjalliđ.
A charlatan tries to put on a convincing show and fails
The discussion on Kex Hostel was moderated by Sölvi Tryggvason, who asked both participants several question as well as a general talk with each that lasted for 30 to 40 minutes, followed with questions from the audience.
Verrett began his talk by pointing out those select words that Vantrú used to describe him. Brynjar was then given the opportunity to react. The charlatan was way calmer than he was in the interview he had on the radio program Harmageddon the week before and was careful not to use too much scientific lingo, probably due to the fact that his respondent was a scientist.
Even though Verrett talked way too long each time he had the opportunity, he didn't actually say much. It was more or less long tales of how he had supposedly assisted numerous people. One thing that these people had in common, according to him, was that they had all gone to six or seven doctors and experts before coming to him.
When he got questions from the audience he didn't answer them directly but talked around the questions by bringing up more tales and anecdotes. He even got angry when he was reminded that he hadn't actually answered the question even though he went on for at least six minutes.
Verrett hardly mentioned the methods he uses to heal or help seriously sick people. But according to a video by himself his method basically includes the shaman invoking and talking to spirits that fight or clear out evil spirits that are supposedly the manifestation of the symptoms.
A young man in the audience asked Verrett what he should do in regards of his chronic back-pain and the charlatan immediately started to talk to his spirits and telling the young guy all sorts of gibberish which he should do to fix his back. After the discussion was over the young man approached Brynjar and told him that there was nothing wrong with his back and he had just asked that question to test the abilities of the shaman. Why didn't Verret's spirits inform him about that? Because he's a charlatan.
Another example of Verrett's dishonesty was when an employee of Tveir heimar, a Mr. Skúli Pálsson, brought up an obvious setup question.
The question starts at 57:45 minute (The video has been deleted from youtube, but you can see a recording of the meeting here)
Reasonable doubt in regards of extraordinary abilities
It was not without reason that we called him a con man and a dirtbag. It was obvious from the start, from the claims from Tveir heimar to the radio interview he had on Harmageddon , as well as in the proposed discussion, that the only thing that he does is to pretend to talk to imaginary spirit-animals to “cure” or “assist” cancer, leukemia as well as a number of other ailments, diseases and disorders. His methods are worthless and pointless, range from 250-450€, and do absolutely nothing.
Vantrú just wants to reiterate that people should not be fooled by those who claim that they can perform spellcraft or other methods of miracles and wonders. We recommend that people contact the agent and offices of Durek Verrett and try to get their so-called therapy re-imbursed.
We therefore stand by our statement that the shaman Durek Verret is a con man and a dirtbag.
Flokkađ undir: ( English )