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science and prayer; statistics rant

Effect of Double-Blinded Prayer on In Vitro Fertilization

Fascinating. I've seen other studies that indicate similar things. On the one hand, I think it's wonderful that the possibility of paranormal abilities is starting to be investigated scientifically; on the other hand, I'm afraid that since all of these studies have involved prayer, that they will end up being construed to be proof of a Christian god, rather than the power of mind. Of course, in most cases prayer is probably more powerful since it has blind faith behind it. I'd like to see a study set up the same way as this one, but instead of people praying they are focusing/meditating on good outcomes for the patients. Or they're all praying to Bast, or Freyja.

This also lends credence to the time my parents and I came under psychic attack because some Christian friends of theirs had just found out they were Wiccan, and were praying for us to 'find the light'. Gah.

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The article did annoy me, however, because it failed to mention a standard deviation - it just gave the success rates for the two groups, and how many people were in each. Without a standard deviation, that information is *meaningless*. Granted, it was published in a reputable journal, so I'm sure the difference was statistically significant - but I'd rather have numbers to go on. Of course, most people don't even know what a standard deviation is, which is why it gets left out most of the time. Sigh.

Y'know, I hated hated HATED stats classes in school. But now I am so amazingly glad I learned that stuff. I can actually tell the difference between a half-assed ask-your-friends-a-couple-of-biased-questions poll and a legitimate study.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
leora
Oct. 8th, 2001 09:27 am (UTC)
*nods* Which is what I think basic stats classes should be about, teaching you to point out the flaws in studies and not fall for crap statistics. I was actually pretty pleased with the way CMU did stats.

As to the rest, I also agree. I've noticed that prayer generally works for me when I use it. Demon summoning worked for me when I used it (no, I didn't see a demon, I just got what I asked for). And general trying to get my way generally works for me when I do it. This does not lead me to conclude that a Christian world view is right. (Besides, when I prayed, it was never to a Christian God).
tikva
Oct. 8th, 2001 09:39 am (UTC)
Stats was the only useful math course I've ever taken, I swear. *heh*

And all of my stats courses were through either the Sociology or Biostats departments, so they were all based completely on analysis of studies. Yum. P values! Confidence intervals!
iroshi
Oct. 8th, 2001 09:42 am (UTC)
This also lends credence to the time my parents and I came under psychic attack because some Christian friends of theirs had just found out they were Wiccan, and were praying for us to 'find the light'. Gah.

I have permanent person-specific shields set up to protect me from the regular prayers of two people. They're very nice people, and I like them a lot...they pray for me on a *regular* basis. I'm on their list. And they obviously *mean* it when they're praying, because those specific shields get hit at least once a week. At least they're easy to thwart; they aren't attacks, they're very *well-intentioned*, loving prayers for "forgiveness" and that I might be "called back". The energies coming at me are usually manipulative ones, that have merely to be absorbed and redirected by my shields.
wotan
Oct. 8th, 2001 08:13 pm (UTC)
On occassion I am compelled by the Powers That Be to share things...tonight I'll share from ancient texts that neither time, nor sand, nor ignorance could hide:

"Why have you come out to the countryside? To see a reed shaken by the wind? And to see a person dressed in soft clothes, like your rulers and your powerful ones? They are dressed in soft clothes, and they cannot understand truth."
-From the Gospel of Thomas (Nag Hammadi Library)

The lesson is taken from the words of Hermes, the Thrice Great Lord:

Now man is a godlike creature, and the true man is even above the gods, or at least equal in power with them. For no one of the celestials will ever come down to dwell in earth, forsaking the boundaries of heaven, but man goes up to heaven, and measures it, and accurately understands it; and more than all, he comes to be on high without even leaving the earth! Such is the greatness of his ecstasy. O how much more happily blended is the nature of man than others. It is linked with the gods by kindred divinity. He looks down upon that part of him which is earthly within himself; he binds to himself with a bond of love all the rest with which he has learned that he is connected; he looks up to heaven, he tends the earth. Without such beings God did not wish the universe to be complete.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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