Sad. People want this to be true so badly. They’ve spent huge amounts of time and money trying to find proof of their happy fantasy, but there is none. Like a kid realizing his parents are the real Santa, this country’s religious people slowly and painfully are waking up to the fact that they are delusional. Of course, it is still true that positive thinking by a sick person still can activate a body’s amazing healing powers.
“… the most controversial research focuses on “intercessory” or “distant” prayer, which involves people trying to heal others through their intentions, thoughts or prayers, sometimes without the recipients knowing it. The federal government has spent $2.2 million in the past five years on studies of distant healing, which have also drawn support from private foundations. … Two new studies are about to report no benefit of having people pray for the sick, the only study underway is nearing completion, and the largest, best-designed project is being published in two weeks.
… other studies (involving born-again Christians) have been called deeply flawed. They were, for example, analyzed in the most favorable way possible, looking at so many outcomes that the positive findings could easily have been the result of chance, critics say. “It’s called the sharpshooter’s fallacy,” said Richard Sloan, a behavioral researcher at Columbia University. “The sharpshooter empties the gun into the side of a barn and then draws the bull’s-eye. In science, you have to predict in advance what effect you may have.” (And other) studies have been even more contentious, such as a 2001 project involving fertility patients that became mired in accusations of fraud. – MSNBC