Dolor Bill: A study claims atheists would pay for people not to pray

I highly doubt the study’s claims as reported by The Guardian.  The original study can be found here.

Economists calculate monetary value of ‘thoughts and prayers’

US study finds Christians are willing to pay for prayers – but atheists will pay to avoid them

Rather than settling on one price for all, the study found the value of a compassionate gesture depended overwhelmingly on a person’s beliefs. While Christian participants were willing to part with money to receive thoughts and prayers from others, the idea made nonbelievers baulk. Instead of shelling out to receive the gestures, on average they were willing to pay to avoid them.

Linda Thunström, an economist and an author of the study at the University of Wyoming, said: “That was a big surprise. Atheists and agnostics are actually willing to give up money to avoid people’s thoughts and prayers.”

If I were feeling churlish, I might tell them Pay me to put up with your prayers,” but I wouldn’t pay them to go away.  It’s much cheaper to mock them and get them to go away on their own.



  1. blf says

    The study’s abstract (link in OP) says “[…] We find that Christians value thoughts and prayers from religious strangers and priests, while atheists and agnostics are ‘prayer averse’ — willing to pay to avoid receiving prayers. Furthermore, while indifferent to receiving thoughts from other secular people, they negatively value thoughts from Christians” (my added emphasis). The Grauniad (link in OP) does seem to have muddled the abstract’s claim by saying “Instead of shelling out to receive the gestures, on average they were willing to pay to avoid them”; from the text of the study itself, “On average, Christians agreed with each statement underlying the EBI, while nonreligious participants disagreed” (the EBI (expected benefits index) was built from answers to statements like “I may sometimes be more helped by others’ prayers for me than their material help”). That is, it seems the Grauniad confused EBI responses with the willingness to pay (WTP) valuations. I have no idea if mocking the fools to make them go away was an option presented, possible within the study, or measured by the study (mocking them, or milkshaking them, does seem very very tempting!).

  2. springa73 says

    I’ve gotta be honest, I don’t understand aversion to thoughts and prayers, even if one doesn’t think that they help in any material way. I would personally welcome any sincere gesture of compassion, even if I don’t share a person’s belief system.