Joralf Gjerstad (1926-), also called Snåsamannen or Snåsakallen ("the man from Snåsa"), is a self-declared Christian faith healer and psychic from Norway. Snåsamannen is portrayed in the media and by himself as a humble, mild-mannered and kindhearted rural, old man, and a good Christian. Supposedly he draws his powers from his faith.
Although virtually unknown outside the country, he enjoys great fame and admiration nationally. Despite Norway being one of the least religious countries in the world, 1 in 2 believes this man truly has supernatural powers. Even high ranking politicians and others who should know better have consulted and endorsed him.
The 'warm hands' are his trademark as a faith healer. His methods include priming ("Can you feel the heat? Can you feel the heat?"), cold reading and to some extent warm reading. Needless to say, he has declined any scientific testing, including a personal invitation from James Randi to the million-dollar challenge.
Is he a charlatan?
Snåsamannen does not, in fact, charge anyone for his services, and that is a big reason he is famous. He does, however, accept gifts, and they've come to be expected. Nevertheless, he is quick to denounce competing faith healers as "greedy".
Although he often insists that he's a "modest and humble man", he has written no less than three highly commercially successful autobiographies. Unfortunately, the few books that are critical of his act aren't as well received by the public.
Whether he genuinely believes in his own supernatural abilities or whether he is a full-blown trickster and fraud, is hard to say for certain. Though he has been caught outright lying and being deceitful in his books about the number of people he has 'healed', allegedly 50,000, and the nature of their illnesses.
Lapdog of the media & the media as his lapdog
Snåsamannen wouldn't be where he is today without the media. There's a symbiosis between the two, even though it's ultimately detrimental to the media's goal of conveying the truth. National newspapers and TV have given him an inordinate amount of publicity while often completely uncritical in their journalistic efforts. As a psychic he has made many predictions about trivial matters in the near future, such as sports results, but because of confirmation bias and sensationalism, the failed ones rarely get reported. Princess Märtha Louise has not fared as well in the media as Snåsamannen.
- See the Wikipedia article on Joralf Gjerstad.
- VG.no: "Annenhver nordmann tror på Snåsamannen" (Norwegian)
- VG.no: "- Snåsamannen kurerte min sønn" (Norwegian)
- Tjomlid.com: "Snåsamannen sutrer over folkeopplysning" (Norwegian)
- Tjomlid.com: "Snåsamannen – en dyktig cold reader" (Norwegian)
- Aftenposten.no: "Tilbyr Snåsamannen én million kroner" (Norwegian)
- Ronnie Johanson, "Snåsamannen: Helbredelsene, spådommene, løgnene", 2014
- Tjomlid.com: "Snåsamannen - En koselig løgner" (Norwegian)
- Tjomlid.com: "Snåsamannen spår feil igjen: 5 av 7 spådommer feil" (Norwegian)