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Investigating the Power of Prayer
April 13, 2002 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Investigating the Power of Prayer
"According to Targ, the prayed-for patients had fewer and less severe new illnesses, fewer doctor visits, fewer hospitalizations and were generally in better moods than those in the control group."
Mayo Clinic researchers have found no such connection. They reported last month that in their trials of distant prayer on 750 coronary patients, they found no significant effect. Why the difference?"
posted by onegoodmove (20 comments total)

 
Duh. A scientific researcher looking into the power of prayer? Ya don't think they start with a bias?
posted by fleener at 11:49 AM on April 13, 2002


Hmm let's see what happens if I sit on my ass and hope really hard.....
posted by Settle at 11:54 AM on April 13, 2002


I believe in prayer. I will pray for a winning ticket for Powerball. If I win, you will not hear from me. If I fail to win, I have prayed with a pure enopugh heart or something or other. That will decide once and for all the efficacy of prayer.
posted by Postroad at 12:05 PM on April 13, 2002


whew, finally. thanks postroad! :)
posted by rhyax at 12:07 PM on April 13, 2002


Ya don't think they start with a bias?

I'm not sure how bias affected numerical results. How does that work? Oh, wait, that's right, the Mayo Clinic believes in that "logic" crap.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:07 PM on April 13, 2002


MC Hammer was right!
posted by bradth27 at 12:14 PM on April 13, 2002


The Targ family seems to have established a tradition of finding what they believe they'll find. I'm sure if her study is examined carefully, there will be significant flaws in it. A red light should certainly go on at the claim that the greater the distance from the patient the more effective prayer was. Maybe she should take up homeopathy.
posted by gordian knot at 12:15 PM on April 13, 2002


Targ suggests, "[the healing] could be actuated through the agency of God, consciousness, love, electrons or a combination.

indeed! i'd have to add another possibility is Targ didn't learn statistics. or science

And, she reported, the greater the distance between healer and mouse in that experiment, the greater the effect!

this is maybe my favorite
posted by rhyax at 12:18 PM on April 13, 2002


According to the article, the study involved only 40 patients. That seems like way too few to me to claim definitive results. Besides, "less severe new illnesses, fewer doctor visits, fewer hospitalizations and were generally in better moods" are for the most part things that are hard to quantify, particularly the first and the last. I'd like to see some description of the methods used. Which is not to say that I don’t believe in prayer, but this just seems like bad science.
posted by epimorph at 12:23 PM on April 13, 2002


Here is a great study published in the British Medical Journal that proves the power of prayer. Or the pitfalls of statistics. You see, the 3,393 patients were randomly divided into two groups, one of which was prayed for and one of which was not (the control group). The patients, for reasons that will become clear in a moment, absolutely did not know whether the researchers were praying for them or not. The prayed-for group had 2% less mortality and the length of the hospital stay was significantly shorter.

There was only one small flaw in this study. The prayer occurred six years after every patient's outcome was already known.

In the responses to this article, more than one doctor called for the control group to be prayed for. If they retroactively improve as well, that would surely be proof of the efficacy of prayer.
posted by kindall at 1:17 PM on April 13, 2002


I practice homeopathic prayer.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:24 PM on April 13, 2002


dude that's gay
posted by Settle at 1:39 PM on April 13, 2002


I've been praying for years for something heavy to fall on Jewel.
God's really been a gip, so far.
posted by dong_resin at 2:05 PM on April 13, 2002


"The patients, for reasons that will become clear in a moment, absolutely did not know whether the researchers were praying for them or not."

What? No informed consent? They experimented on people without their knowledge? Litigate!!
posted by lucien at 2:37 PM on April 13, 2002


The prayer occurred six years after every patient's outcome was already known.
what? was this a joke? I'm confused.

Sad that Targ is getting so much funding for clearly biased experiments.
posted by mdn at 3:35 PM on April 13, 2002


kindall, i know you're not saying jeebus can't change history! you don't have enough faith. if you did you wouldn't need any of this "evidence" crap.
posted by rhyax at 3:38 PM on April 13, 2002


what? was this a joke? I'm confused.

The experiment was, I think, intended to be an ironic demonstration of the pitfalls of statistics. From what I can tell, they really did divide the patients randomly into two groups, they really did pray for one group and not the other, and the group prayed for really did have better outcomes -- six years ago.

The fact that the people who were prayed for got better was a statistical fluke, also known as "correlation is not causation."
posted by kindall at 3:45 PM on April 13, 2002


oooh, I see, they didn't know which group had better results before praying. I get it. Pretty good.

Lucky results for them, huh - I wonder if they did it a few times until they got a better percentage for the prayed-for.
posted by mdn at 4:23 PM on April 13, 2002


spooky! action atta distance :)
posted by kliuless at 2:44 PM on April 14, 2002


There's something transforming with prayer. The person praying is more likely to more easily accept the results of prayer...whether answered the way they prayed or not...based on "giving their troubles" to a higher power to take care of. This "act" of "giving over"...causes inner peace...no matter which result occurs....And for that, it works for me...Plus...I do believe in miracles...
posted by Sonserae at 12:36 PM on April 15, 2002


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