Studying the Effects of Prayer Scientifically

I am beginning to think that I should call this blog, Reading the Washington Post so You Don't Have to. In today's Post there is a story on scientific research into the healing power of prayer. This is either a truly wonderful idea or a truly stupid idea. I am a firm believer in the value of scientific research. I believe that the knowledge obtained by well done scientific research is the highest quality knowledge that we have, but I also know that some types of research are very hard to do well.

If you were to test a medicine, you would try it first on mice. Can we test the power of prayer on mice? Can we pray for some sick mice and not for others and see if any get well? I do not think you will get a lot of volunteers to pray for sick mice. Clearly a scientific study of prayer would have to follow a much different course than the usual one. It would start in people with all of the compications that presents, and you would not have the benefit of results in animals to demonstrate that it worth the trouble to pursue. Who would want to tackle such a hard problem. Hopefully, it would not be someone with an axe to grind either for or against the proposition.

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