The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Friday, 31 March 2006]

Prayer’s healing power disproven

An interesting study sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation of 1,802 patients who underwent heart bypass surgery found no evidence whatsoever of the healing power of prayer.

Surprisingly, the study found that the group of patients who had been informed that they were going to be prayed for actually suffered more complications from their surgery than patients in the groups who had either not been told whether they would be prayed for or had been told that they would not receive the benefit of prayer.

A theory could be that the patients who were informed of their impending prayer either suffered from “performance anxiety”—wanting so much to prove that prayer was beneficial that they stressed themselves into having more complications.

Another theory could be that the patients convinced themselves that the doctors knew something they weren’t telling them, and thus stressed themselves by believing that they were in more serious trouble than they had been told.

Or … perhaps this is proof that Christianity is wrong? Wouldn’t it be a kick in the teeth if the same study replicated among Jews, Muslims, and Hindus found different results?

Incidentally, IT Conversations has a very interesting interview with Daniel Dennett, whose latest book, Breaking the Spell, attempts to provide a framework for studying religion as a natural phenomenon. Well worth a listen.

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