Re: Scientific study of the effects of prayer

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Mon Oct 01 2001 - 10:41:58 MDT

Bryan Moss dissed the link Jeff Davis provided on the effects
of "prayer" on in vitro fertilization success rates asking:
> Um. Then why would they do it?

For the simple reason that it is an extension regarding
studies of the placebo effect. I can easily see a
perspective where "prayer" could substitute for a
placebo, particularly in situations where the individuals
involved might have a greater faith in their "god" than
in their physician which seems likely to be the case with in
vitro fertilization where the success rates are low.

Furthermore, in vitro fertilization is hardly an unstressful
procedure. Stress is known to shunt resources such as glucose
away from non-essential body systems (e.g. the reproductive
tract, the immune system, etc.) to make them available for the
fight-or-flight response (See books by Robert Sapolsky). So
if prayer serves to alleviate stress by taking the success
of the procedure out of your hands (i.e. it will turn out
according to "God's will" and you have no "real" control over
the situation), then stress levels are likely to be lower
and more resources may be available to allow successful
attachment and growth of the embryo.

No nitwit many-worlds explanation required -- simple applied
endocrinology and physiology.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 11 2002 - 17:44:11 MDT