Friday, March 31, 2006

Power of Prayer Study Results

From todays Seattle Times:

Praying for a sick heart patient may feel right to people of faith, but it doesn't appear to improve the patient's health, according to a new study that is the largest ever done on the healing powers of prayer.

Indeed, researchers at the Harvard Medical School and five other U.S. medical centers found, to their bewilderment, that coronary-bypass patients who knew strangers were praying for them fared significantly worse than people who got no prayers. The team speculated that telling patients about the prayers may have caused "performance anxiety," or perhaps a fear that doctors expected the worst.

The prayers were Roman Catholic monks or believers of other Christian denomination. The prayers were given the prayee's first names and last initials.

The prayees were over 1800 heart patients dividend into three groups:

Group 1: prayed for but not told
Group 2: not prayed for and not told they were not prayed for
Group 3: prayed for and told they were being prayed for (My G_d! Am I so ill that I have to be prayed for?)

This was a really useless scientific study that cost 2.4 million dollars (paid for by the John Templeton Foundation) and took 10 years to complete. You have to ask yourself a few questions. First, can religion be studied scientifically? Is G_d our instrument to try and influence by prayer? G_d works in mysterious ways...maybe the study was successful and the proper outcomes were not measured. Maybe there was a group on evil persons praying that the patients would not be affected by prayer. Maybe they should have had non-Christian groups praying as well. Where was the negative control. Shouldn't there have been a group that was told people were rooting against their recovery? Stupid waste of money.

UPDATE: Good analysis of this work here.

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