Saturday, March 17, 2007

Twit of the Day Award...

I was at work tonight and went outside to have a smoke. We have a picnic table across the way where the "evil smokers" gather to smoke and usually there is yesterday or today's newspaper. Usually it's the "Arizona Repugnant" which people leave out there and whomever can just peruse though whilst "torching a fag" (that's British for "having a smoke"). So I ran across this article about prayer. The reason I am calling it the twit of the day award is because of a comment made by a guy in the article, which I will highlight. Below is the article from the "AZ Repugnant".

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Prayer works. That's the conclusion of an Arizona State University professor who did an analysis of 17 major studies of prayer and its effects on people with psychological or medical problems.

David R. Hodge, assistant professor of social work in the College of Human Services, found that intercessory prayer, or prayer offered for the benefit of other people, has positive effects on them. His findings were published in the March issue of Research on Social Work Practice, one of the most prestigious journals in the field.


Hodge's research conflicts with a widely publicized study last year by Harvard Medical School's Dr. Herbert Benson, who concluded that prayer showed no positive effects on cardiac bypass patients.

"With Benson's study, a lot of people were saying, 'This is the final word,' " Hodge said, adding that his research suggests otherwise and shows the big picture.


Prayer had a small, positive effect on patients, he said. For instance, groups receiving prayer had shorter hospital stays in one study.


"For people who believe in prayer, this does substantiate the practice," he said. "This suggests their efforts are not in vain."


Hodge, who declined to say whether he is religious, said his findings do not mean that prayer should be a sole treatment for medical or psychological problems.


He examined research dating back over 40 years. In 12 of the 17 studies, patients who received prayers showed significant improvement or favorable trends. The remaining five studies showed no significant outcomes.

The most dramatic example was a study of leukemia patients in 1969 that found seven of 10 children who were being prayed for were alive when the study ended, he said. Only two of eight in a control group were still alive.

David Silverman, (my recipient for Twit of the day award, now notice what he says) a spokesman for the American Atheists, said some of the research Hodge examined is flawed because the patients knew people were praying for them. That can have a placebo effect, or a positive outcome due to the patient's expectations, he said.

"The Religious Right hates to admit they are wrong, and they hate to admit when it comes right down to it: Prayer does nothing," Silverman said.

Hodge does not view his research as the definitive study on prayer. More research is needed, he said. For instance, there is little agreement about the amount of prayer that is required to be effective.

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So, if the sick person in question knows that other people are praying for them and they do show signs of improvement, does that make it any less valuable? If you gave a person a sugar pill and didn't tell them what it was, but did tell them it would improve their mood and it did, does that mean it didn't work? are you starting to see what I mean? I find it incredulous that these people will fight so hard against belief or acknowledgement of something bigger than themselves. They are practicing their own religion when they have faith that there is no such thing as God, right?

So I am honored to name Mr. David Silverman as our first recipient for the coveted "Twit of the Day" award as there are sure to be more. I can imagine about the time he is faced with a life threatening illness or made to duck in a foxhole while being shot at or if in one of his moments of solitude, he doesn't say, "God, if you're there, I could use some help."

No homeless people, animals or twits were injured in the writing of this post