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No Scientific Proof of the Efficacy of Prayer
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Esmer wrote:

Who says I have to prove to you that I believe what I say?

I think you did.
Esmer wrote:
My final intention here was simply to say: "put up, or shut up."

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, exactly. I'm requesting mod intervention in this issue to determine if my statements are relevant and appropriate to the discussion. I will humbly abide by their discretion and decision Malik. My complaint shall reside upon your insistent harassment of me upon trying to participate in a discussion about the efficacy of prayer and the validity of the experiment.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fewf. It's a good thing that I'm not a mod here. Otherwise I'd have to deal with all of the childish nonsense in this thread.

Rolling Eyes

Just cut it out. Either have an adult conversation and discussion, or don't. I'll gladly lock this thread otherwise.-jay
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The discussion is fine (in fact, most discussions on the stuff I post tend to be fairly short-lived due only to the fact that nobody else feels like adding onto it. I don't consider that a good thing). There's no law saying all posts have to address the parent post. I don't mod here these days, but I can say that with a fair amount of certainty, if not authority.
Malik23 wrote:
Syl, the miracle in question is clear from the context: supernatural communication with the Supreme Being which achieves the granting of a specific wish. That kind of miracle is what we're talking about here. Not some statistical definition. But even if we were to define it statistically, the study showed no statistical advantage to praying. If miracles really happen as frequently as you say (apparently without even consulting the skill of the people), then it should have manifested itself in this study.

And it was clear in my post that I was reframing the perception of miracles by offering it in a statistical context. You incorrectly claimed that the entire usage of those statistics were dubious, if not factually deficient. Now that you are wrong, you claim irrelevance, but with no consensual basis. You have no authority for your assertion of what constitutes a miracle (authority in this case siding with me, as it is), and none for what constitute proper discourse on this subject.

As for the role of miracles as they affect the study (a commendable attempt to guide the discussion back on topic rather than manhandle it into position), I stated no reason to believe that casual prayer could cause them, merely posited that a more refined method might. In the absence of such a hypothetical method of effective prayer, the odds of a miracle being beneficial or detrimental would seem to even out over a large enough study, as this one does appear to be. And just as any biased participant or observer could say 'Look! It worked for Joe. He had an uncommon recovery,' the odds are that a skeptic could equally point out a corresponding event where a healthy patient inexplicably turned for the worse.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 4:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think we should ask Esmer to take Malik's position ... and Malik to take Esmer's position .. and then post. You know ... walk a few posts in your Watch brother's shoes ... Very Happy ... What do you both think? Smile
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Isn't there a game that does exactly that in the 'tank?
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 4:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i just like the word efficacy. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I've got this one handled. Wink

Malik23 wrote:
Think of it this way: I make a claim that I can jump 20 feet high, because my Holy Book tells me I can. Scientists doubt this claim, and therefore ask me to prove it. They set up a 20 foot high measuring stick, and tell me to jump. I jump, but I get no where near 20 feet high. They rightly conclude that my original claim was false.

Anything wrong with that experiment?

In the meantime, you might come along and say that everyone jumping today has lost the original art of Holy Jumping, and that if we knew how to do it correctly, we would be able to jump 20 feet high. A scientist would appropriately ask you to prove this claim . . . at which you'd defiantly say: "I don't have to prove anything to you."

And then we'd shake our heads and respond: thought so.

Maybe ignoring you was good advice.


Why would you make a claim you can jump 20 feet high if you had never in fact accomplished such a feat? Why would you assume that you could jump 20 feet high just because you read it in a book, a book which didn't come with any instructions? The man who claimed he could jump 20 feet high in the book you read knew how to jump 20 feet high, he had the knowledge and experience to accomplish such a feat. And since he is not here to teach you how to jump 20 feet high how could you ever expect to accomplish such a feat anyway? All you are doing is guessing what he meant and jumping the only way you know how, which without the appropriate knowledge and training you will never be able to accomplish jumping 20 feet high.

So, since the man who claimed he could jump 20 feet high is not available, and the knowledge he had to accomplish such a feat is lost, why would a scientist even consider testing you for something you obviously had no way of knowing how to do, and the scientist has no way of accurately testing? All it proves is that you don't know how to jump 20 feet high like the man in the book did, and there's absolutely no way to ever prove he did or didn't do it by testing you, a man who made claims he couldn't produce because he never knew how to jump 20 feet high, and in fact had never even accomplished such a feat to justify his claims to begin with. Garbage In, Garbage Out.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lucimay wrote:
i just like the word efficacy. Very Happy


i'm with you luci...that's one of my favorite words.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Esmer wrote:
Yes, exactly. I'm requesting mod intervention in this issue to determine if my statements are relevant and appropriate to the discussion. I will humbly abide by their discretion and decision Malik. My complaint shall reside upon your insistent harassment of me upon trying to participate in a discussion about the efficacy of prayer and the validity of the experiment.
How is debate harassment? If you make a post, I'm not supposed to respond? Can't I continue to respond as long as you continue to make points? Or if I don't give up the debate and concede the argument to you . . . I'm harassing?

I didn't mean to imply that you can't participate. When I said you are in "the wrong thread," that was a figurative way to say that your conclusion, drawn from the experiment, was incorrect because it completely missed the point of this experiment. I didn't literally mean you don't belong here. Smile Sorry if that was unclear.

You are free to make your point, even if it is irrelevant. I'm not arguing against your right to post. Likewise, I'm free to say that it is a point which doesn't address the experiment in question, and therefore the conclusion you draw from doesn't follow.

While you can make all the off-topic points all you want, you continue to insist that your point isn't off-topic, and continue to argue for your conclusion. That's fine. I'd never go to a mod to complain that you're stubbornly sticking to your point. But when I continue to stand by my position that your conclusion is wrong, you turn the tables and pretend that my criticism of your point is somehow an argument that you shouldn't post it. And, of course, that my "insistent" standing by my position is "harassment." I just want to clear up that I'm not harassing you. You've asked me a string of direct questions, and I've done my best to answer them. Were all the questions you asked me rhetorical? Sorry, I couldn't tell.

Kevinswatch wrote:

Just cut it out. Either have an adult conversation and discussion, or don't. I'll gladly lock this thread otherwise.-jay
Perhaps I'm confused, but I thought that was exactly what I was doing. I don't mind at all to examine which part of my posts were childish, and edit them myself to change that fact.
Quick Ben wrote:


There's no law saying all posts have to address the parent post.
And I never said there should be. You seem to share Esmer's interpretation that my criticism of his point was somehow an attack upon his right to post here. If we can't criticize a point, then I'm confused about what we're doing here.

Esmer's first point in this thread, in direct response to the article posted, was:
Quote:
Further proof we have forgotten how to pray. We just don't have the knowledge or the will, more importantly knowledge of the will, to pray anymore.
So he said that this study proved that we have forgotten how to pray. All I am arguing is that this conclusion can't be derived from the evidence here, and that the conclusion is in fact irrelevant to the hypothesis, the methodology, and the results of this experiment. I think that's a fair point to make, if Esmer's was fair, too.

Esmer, not only am I not challenging your right to post here, I've openly invited you to talk about your idea in more detail, several times. It is at this point that you usually say you don't have to prove your ideas to me. That's fine, you don't have to back them up at all. However, you can't construe your unwillingness to expound upon ideas you brought up yourself as somehow me trying to silence you. I've done the best I can to get you to explain yourself, and you refuse.

Really, all that has happened here is that I've continued to stand by my point, you've refused to explain yours, and then you publicly complain when I don't concede the entire argument to you.
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
And I never said there should be. You seem to share Esmer's interpretation that my criticism of his point was somehow an attack upon his right to post here.

I was answering his call for clarification on the issue, though your insistence upon addressing the parent article did sound somewhat querulous, like when you asked if anyone had read it. Your post clears that up, though.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm curious QB, was the purpose of that study designed just to try to prove that only those specific prayers by those specific people who were involved in that study showed no evidence of efficacy, or was it aimed at the larger phenomenom of prayer overall in the world and thru-out history? Was it's purpose to prove or debunk prayer itself, or just those specific prayers at that specific time with those specific people?
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems to me the test was designed to prove or disprove what it tested for. That is: Will the prayers of strangers - all Christians, though not of the same denomination, praying "in their own ways," but including the phrase "for a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications." - help the recovery of patients "who received coronary bypass surgery, in which doctors reroute circulation around a clogged vein or artery."
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I realise that, but most studies usually focus on an aspect with regard to the greater whole. The title of the thread itself would seem to infer this. So this means we still have to test every kind of prayer for every kind of surgery, and every disease, ill, woe, etc. individually and specifically too? Basically we need to do a study for "everything you can think of" with "every kind of prayer" before we can reliably draw any conclusions about the phenomena of prayer overall?

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's the way I see it, too. As well as seeing if prayer from loved ones gets better results than prayer from strangers.

It would be very nice if there was a reason to narrow it down to some particular type of prayer, or prayer to a particular deity, or anything else. Did this test pick Christianity because those in charge just wanted to use the religion they knew would be easiest to find? Or were they aware of some cases of Christian prayer causing micacles that were difficult to dismiss, so wanted to test it more thoroughly?

I'm curious as to why those who prayed in this study agreed to it. I wonder if they expected to prove that their prayers did aid the recovery. If so, I wonder what their explanation for the results is.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The purpose of the test was to reassess the tests of others whose validity was in question.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanx QB. I'd like to check out those other studies. You got any links by chance?

FF wrote:
If so, I wonder what their explanation for the results is.

Quote:
Bob Barth, the spiritual director of Silent Unity, the Missouri prayer ministry, said the findings would not affect the ministry's mission.

"A person of faith would say that this study is interesting," Mr. Barth said, "but we've been praying a long time and we've seen prayer work, we know it works, and the research on prayer and spirituality is just getting started."


kinda just like Malik said they did. I just found it curious that the conversation here wasn't focused on the efficacy of specific Christian denominations praying for recovery from heart bypass operations specifically.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Esmer wrote:
Yes, I realise that, but most studies usually focus on an aspect with regard to the greater whole. The title of the thread itself would seem to infer this. So this means we still have to test every kind of prayer for every kind of surgery, and every disease, ill, woe, etc. individually and specifically too? Basically we need to do a study for "everything you can think of" with "every kind of prayer" before we can reliably draw any conclusions about the phenomena of prayer overall?
That's a fair point, and I agree with you. This experiment wouldn't have eliminated every single kind of prayer in use today or throughout history. You're right. But that's just a natural limitation of experiments. Scientists often isolate variables which they can test for with some amount of control. In this particular case, their need to control the variables produced an experiment which you feel was too limited to speak about the nature of prayer in its broadest possible context. I'll give you that point. But you have to admit that if the "broadest possible context" includes a type of prayer which no one does today, and hasn't been performed in 10,000 years, then it would be an unrealistic expectation to insist that they include this in their experiment.

Now, if you want to say that Syl's title was stated with too much certainty and too much generality, I'd welcome diverting some of your ire his way. Have at him. Smile

However, trying to treat your point as fairly as possible, I still think this experiment has some validity for the limited range of phenomena it tested for, because that range of phenomena is precisely what most people think of as prayer, and what they in fact perform in their daily lives with the confident belief that it produces results. It is this belief claim which was being tested, and I think they tested for it fairly. In fact, since you believe that the type of prayer which people do today is incorrectly performed, it would seem that the experiment is not in contradiction with your own beliefs.
Esmer wrote:

Why would you make a claim you can jump 20 feet high if you had never in fact accomplished such a feat? Why would you assume that you could jump 20 feet high just because you read it in a book, a book which didn't come with any instructions? The man who claimed he could jump 20 feet high in the book you read knew how to jump 20 feet high, he had the knowledge and experience to accomplish such a feat. And since he is not here to teach you how to jump 20 feet high how could you ever expect to accomplish such a feat anyway? All you are doing is guessing what he meant and jumping the only way you know how, which without the appropriate knowledge and training you will never be able to accomplish jumping 20 feet high.

Well, I can only guess why someone would make such a claim. Following my own analogy and putting myself in the shoes of someone who makes supernatural claims (i.e. a person who claims their prayers work/they can jump 20 feet), I'd guess they make this claim because they have faith. Also because they have selective memory. For instance, they forget all those times they failed to jump that high, and only remember the one single time they jumped that high . . . while conveniently forgetting that they were on a trampoline at the time. Smile

The analogy obviously has its limitations; not every facet of jumping carries over to praying. Specifically, the action of praying is separate from the effect desired. They are two separate events. So given this distance, it is easier for people to forget the times their prayers don't work. And it is also easier for a prayer to be "fulfilled" because the things people pray for often happen in the absence of any prayer at all. For instance, I know people who pray for God to find them a parking space close to the mall. All of a sudden, a car pulls out, and they have their parking space. It sure looks like a prayer was answered. But who is to say that the car wouldn't have pulled out all on its own, without any supernatural intervention? This is why people make claims that their prayers work, when in fact they don't.

And it would be a simple matter to test whether cars pull out with greater frequency when the person waiting on a space prays for this to happen. We wouldn't need to include ever single kind of prayer, since all we're interested in finding is whether this kind of prayer affects the timing of people leaving the mall.
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm one of the Christains who finds the article "interesting". This study, like many that try to prove or disprove the existence of God, really isn't going to do either. Their really is no way to "prove" such things. Belief comes from the heart, it comes from the soul...I can not ever prove that the miracles in my life, and there have been quite a few, come from God. I could preach from the highest mountain of the glories I have witnessed in my life, but I could never "prove" anything to anyone. So, studies of this kind are really not going to change anyone's mind or heart, because belief and faith are just not things that can be studied in some lab.

And Syl, I'm no prodigy...Prayer doesn't have to be Beetohoven. Faith isn't hard, it doesn't come from some advanced pysche of the mind. There is no formula to follow, you just talk, like we are talking now. You just direct the conversation to God or His Son. I don't claim to understand the ways of God, I don't know why He answers in the ways that He does.

And I understand the disillusionment that religion can cause. Isaiah came to us bitter and lost, his childhood was tormented by religion and the hatred those people directed at him. I do not believe in "religion" I believe in God. There is a difference. I call myself Christain because I believe Jesus to be my Lord and Saviour, not because I follow some "religion", but because I follow His teachings. And when I shared this with Isaiah, his heart opened up and he discarded all the hatred those people directed at him and he literally let Jesus in. It was wonderful to watch and it gave him such peace before he passed on. And I never "forced" any of it on him...he asked me to help him, and I did.

Someone said in the thread "getting cuddly with God" to me, I can't remember who at the moment, but yes...that is exactly what I do. And in some minds that may be "irrational", but I have never been "rational" and my life has been a glorious ride..and I intend to keep on being the irrational, happy, peaceful person I am until the day I die. Smile

Peace everyone. This really doesn't have to be so hard, and it doesn't have to be a heated argument. What you believe is personal, it is your right...the soul is a deep well...no one should tell another what to keep there. Smile
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Now, if you want to say that Syl's title was stated with too much certainty and too much generality, I'd welcome diverting some of your ire his way. Have at him.

By all means. Wink Title draws 'em in, facts give them something to talk about, and controversy keeps it going.

All I can say Furls is, "Easy for you to say."
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"It is not the literal past that rules us, save, possibly, in a biological sense. It is images of the past. Each new historical era mirrors itself in the picture and active mythology of its past or of a past borrowed from other cultures. It tests its sense of identity, of regress or new achievement against that past.
-George Steiner
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