I hope you're sitting down: It appears that "remote prayer" -- prayer that is directed at you from people far, far away -- doesn't help you get better when you're sick.
No, I'm serious! It really doesn't!
Prayers from distant congregations did not affect patients' recovery from coronary artery procedures, ... scientists reported Friday.
The study, published in the Lancet medical journal, looked at 748 patients at nine U.S. medical centers....
Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist congregations were given patients' names and prayed for them for five to 30 days.
Survival rates did not differ among those who received prayer and those who did not, the study found....
The study was conducted at Duke University Medical Center and was called Monitoring and Actualization of Noetic Trainings II -- MANTRA II for short. It doesn't seem to have been federally funded, although an earlier study on remote prayer actually did receive tax dollars from the National Institutes of Health -- and actually came to the conclusion that remote prayer works. But in that case weird things happened to the statistical sample -- the study was "unblinded" and then reblinded, then the results were published in a scientific journal without any acknowledgment of that fact. Nevertheless, the results were taken seriously. I guess that's why seemingly rational people at allegedly serious institutions are still studying this -- not because, you know, we as a society are reverting to the Dark Ages or anything like that.
(L.A. Times link via Democratic Underground.)