‘Energy healer’ stuns journo: 'What i saw was compelling'
CHARLIE Goldsmith looks like a pretty normal bloke.
But of all the people I've investigated and interviewed, he is one of the most polarising.
The 37-year-old claims to heal the sick without even touching them.
He does it, he says, using a mysterious energy which he can't explain.
He sits with his eyes closed, lids fluttering. He cups his hands like he is holding a ball. Then, he says, he channels his energy into someone else's body, and in minutes heals them.
Charlie calls it his gift and says he discovered it when he was 18.
Since then, he says he has healed thousands of people.
He says it works about 75 per cent of the time, and that in four out of five of those cases the results last.
In the eyes of his critics, Charlie Goldsmith is a dangerous conman peddling unrealistic hope to the vulnerable and sometimes desperate.
His believers see an unfairly maligned healer fighting a world of doubters too narrow-minded to understand his gift.
So far, there's little science to support Charlie's claims. In 2013, there was a preliminary study conducted by New York University's Lutheran Hospital. The report found 76 per cent of patients experienced marked improvements.
But sceptics have dismissed the study.
Dr Justin Coleman, an Australian GP and self-proclaimed sceptic who we interviewed as part of our investigation, says the findings aren't even worth publishing because the methodology was so poor.
But the results did get the world's attention - prompting newspaper and magazine articles, a television series in the US, and prime time interviews here in Australia.
And Charlie Goldsmith says the results helped him convince three more US universities to carry out more rigorous studies to explain what he is doing.
He dreams of a day when energy healing is used alongside mainstream medicine in hospital wards and emergency departments around the world.
That sort of acceptance seems a long way off, especially here in Australia.
As part of our three-month Sunday Night investigation, we tried to find doctors willing to let Charlie work on their patients.
We determined this would be the most legitimate way to test his so-called gift; the patients' health issues and different treatments would be well documented, and their treating doctor could judge with expert eyes whether Charlie had actually helped.
We approached hospitals, doctors, pain clinics, even chronic pain support groups. Most refused immediately. Others expressed curiosity but said they couldn't be involved because they'd be discredited if they were seen to be supporting an energy healer.
We eventually found two doctors willing to take part.
I understand why people, particularly doctors, are wary of Charlie Goldsmith.
He claims to do something which defies logic and can't be explained by science. Some people can't get past that.
Charlie Goldsmith says he's not a faith healer. But like religion, you do need a whole lot of faith in the unknown - the inexplicable - to suspend your understanding of how the world works.
So why would Sunday Night bother investigating someone who has zero scientific evidence to support such extraordinary claims? Are we just giving prime-time publicity to a man who could be playing us all for fools? They are reasonable questions.
There are plenty of self-proclaimed healers making unsubstantiated claims.
What makes Charlie Goldsmith different - and we believe worthy of investigation - is how far he has gone in his fight for legitimacy.
Most surprisingly, he doesn't charge a cent for his healings. He says he once accepted a small amount in donations to help cover his costs for a group healing. But Charlie says he made the decision 20 years ago that he didn't feel right charging people - that he didn't want to only help those who could afford it.
Charlie is also begging to be scrutinised. He says he has spent two decades trying to get universities to look at what he does. He says he wants a double blind study - considered the gold standard in medical research. He wants science to silence his doubters.
He doesn't claim to be able to cure cancer or even the common cold and says he would never suggest a gravely ill patient turn their back on lifesaving medicine.
He says he wants to complement mainstream medicine, not replace it.
Before and after he treats people he issues disclaimers, telling them his work may not have any effect. And even if a patient says they feel better, he tells them it might not last.
When we put Charlie Goldsmith to the test, we insisted on hand-picking the patients. Most of them had never even heard of him.
Our test cases were told we wanted 100 per cent honesty. They were told not to perform for the cameras and had to be straight if they felt nothing.
Charlie treated a total of 17 patients in front of our cameras.
Five of those healings happened under the eye of sceptic, Dr Justin Coleman.
Another GP with 30-years' experience, Dr Karen Coates, let Charlie Goldsmith work on five patients from her practice.
She told me she stacked the deck against him with patients she and her colleagues had spent years trying to help, using different treatments with little success.
We witnessed cases where Charlie didn't make a lick of difference. Cases where "believers" weren't healed. And cases where a cynical patient shook their head in disbelief at what they experienced.
This investigation is not trying to convince people one way or the other. We've played this story with a straight bat and left it to our viewers to decide for themselves.
But given all the healings I've seen during this investigation, I keep getting asked if I'm now a believer.
All I will say is this. I believe Charlie believes he really is healing people with his energy. But more than believing Charlie Goldsmith, I believe the people he treated in front of our cameras.
What I saw was compelling. In some cases, the results were so remarkable I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.
I don't know if it was placebo. I honestly don't know what it was. I have zero experience in medicine. Or science.
But I am very much looking forward to seeing the results of those rigorous scientific studies to try to understand what I saw, but can't explain.
Angela Cox is a reporter with Sunday Night. Watch her investigation into energy healer Charlie Goldsmith tonight at 8:30pm on Seven.