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Re: [escepticos] el poder curativo de la oración

    Pues hazme un favor empírico: rézate un par de padres nuestros y
tres aves marías, que llevo un par de semanas sin poder sacarme unos
molestos gorgojillos griperos de los bronquios. Si dentro de unos días
me he curado te lo comento y les remites a los del British el proceso
curativo para que lo publiquen.
    La verdad es que últimamente algunas publicaciones médicas el rigor
solamente lo tienen mortis.

Pedro Luis Gomez Barrondo
Saludos arpíos desde Bilbao.-((;.¬D))))
Marco Tulio Cicerón-"Dubitando ad veritatem pervenimus"-

----- Mensaje original -----
De: "F. Perfectti" <fperfect en supercable.es>
Para: <escepticos en ccdis.dis.ulpgc.es>
Enviado: jueves, 21 de febrero de 2002 23:35
Asunto: [escepticos] el poder curativo de la oración

Hola a todos,

No se si habreis tenido ocasión de leer acerca de un trabajo publicado
el British Medical Journal que parece demostrar el poder de la oración
la que se hizo hace más de cuatro años!!) en la curación más rápida de

Lo que adjunto es un artículo comentado ese trabajo, que he recogido de

The Power of Prayer
Posted February 15, 2002 · Issue 120

by Gavin E. Jarvis
Gavin E. Jarvis is currently doing postdoctoral research in the
of Pharmacology at Oxford University. He qualified as a veterinary
in 1992 from Cambridge Veterinary School, and spent four years at
AstraZeneca R&D working on novel anti-thrombotic agents.

In a fascinating article, Leibovici [1 ] appears to have demonstrated,
using a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, that a prayer said
individuals with bloodstream infection 4-10 years previously can
significantly effect the duration of fever and the length of stay in

He randomized 3,393 patients who had suffered from a bloodstream
between 1990 and 1996 into either an intervention prayer group or a
group. Assessment of the baseline characteristics of the patients
that the randomization had been effective, yet, following the
made in July 2000, there was a significant beneficial effect on the
group 4-10 years previously. Leibovici concludes that "remote,
intercessory prayer . . . should be considered for use in clinical

On the face of it, the study appears to have been methodogically sound
acceptance of the conclusions perhaps ought to follow on naturally.
However, what those conclusions are remains unclear.

Does the study prove the existence of God, or the existence of type I
errors? The two significant values obtained were P=0.01 and P=0.04.
may seem only "marginally" significant, but it would be disingenuous to
dismiss them for this reason alone - after all, drugs have been granted
product licenses on equally "marginal" data. That type I errors occur
is, a
priori, true - we do not know this, a posteriori , on the basis of
scientific evidence. However, we can only dismiss particular P values as
statistical errors with certainty if we make some prior assumptions.

The obvious prior assumption here is that God does not exist, in which
case, the study proves nothing, since the explanation for the results is
already clear to us, and the hypothesis that God does exist clearly
be tested under such an assumption. Perhaps the lack of any mechanism to
explain the effect could be given as reason to dismiss the results. Such
deficit is, however, recognizable a priori, and if genuinely fatal to
subsequent interpretation, should prevent any experiment without a
potential mechanistic explanation from ever being performed. Which comes
first, hypothesis or data?

It is not unreasonable to suppose that an Absolute Being would be able
act unhindered by the constraints of time. The same cannot be said
for the methodology of randomized controlled trials. The assumption of
cause and effect in time underpins the validity of this and all other
scientific tools, thereby making them unsuitable for investigating "Acts
God." This can be appreciated by considering the likely outcome of the
ethical obligation to apply the "proven" intervention to the control

A further concern is that of publication bias. Might only "significant"
studies make it into the editor's in-tray? Perhaps scientists and
inadvertently introduce bias into the presentation of data on the
of so-called "novelty." Ought a study be published primarily because the
results are novel or because the methodology is sound?

If, however, the study does prove the existence of God, it is remarkable
that He has evaded scientific detection for so long, or that He has
Himself to be so simplistically revealed. Such a God does not easily fit
with the job description of the one omniscient, omnipotent, divine Being
most religious traditions. God may not play dice, but I am sure He is a
more than capable statistician. And does prayer work? If so, then it
be understood simply as a mechanistically obscure form of magic,
it would just be magic.

Leibovici's study raises important philosophical and methodological
questions for scientists of whatever religious persuasion, but perhaps
important lesson is that there are dimensions to human existence that
impervious to experimental science. To acknowledge this with humility
itself be a form of prayer. Amen.

1. Leibovici, L. 2001. Effects of remote, retroactive intercessory
on outcomes in patients with bloodstream infection: randomised
trial. British Medical Journal, 323, 1450-1451.

F. Perfectti                     fperfect en supercable.es