Ok, this one might be too easy, though some may complain that Popoff may not really deserve an entry in an Encyclopedia that seeks to expose loons rather than cynical fraud. Well, if Popoff doesn’t warrant inclusion, then his current followers certainly do.
Peter Popoff is in any case a notorious, alleged faith healer and televangelist prophet (there is a decent resource discussing Popoff in particular here). He was famously exposed in 1987 by James Randi (videos here) who uncovered that he was being informed of believers’ illnesses through a radio receiver in his ear broadcast to him by his staff, based on conversations they had before the service (Popoff had of course led people to believe he was getting messages about their illnesses directly from God). The scandal did drive him into bankruptcy back then, but didn’t stop him from returning to the airwaves more recently to to fleece a new flock who may not be aware of the scandal.
His current scheme is the typical Prosperity Gospel or “pyramid scheme for Jesus” approach: By giving Popoff money you will make God give you ten times as much money back. He is usually seen on late night infomercials where you can call in and order his special package that includes magic salt and water that you sprinkle over your check, a prayer cloth, and anointing oil. He has reportedly made over $23 million dollars on this scheme.
His newsletters to his fans read mostly as a mixture of spam and cheap conspiracy theories (such as “the ‘23-Cent Heart Miracle,’ the one ‘Washington, the medical industry, and drug companies REFUSE to tell you about.’ (Why would they? They’d just be leaving money on the table),” and “I’m going to tell you something, but you must promise to keep it quiet. You have to understand that the ‘elite’; would not be at all happy with me if they knew what I was about to tell you. That’s why we have to tread carefully. You see, while most people are paying attention to the stock market, the banks, brokerages and big institutions have their money somewhere else . . . [in] what I call the hidden money mountain . . . All you have to know is the insider’s code (which I’ll tell you) and you could make an extra $6,000 every single month.”
Diagnosis: A living, breathing monument to human naivety and lack of critical thinking skills. Few items around today augur a bleaker future for humanity than the continued media presence of Peter Popoff.