An epidemic of quackery, that is. Shame on CNN for allowing this babbling to go on. The producer of their medical news wrote an absurd anecdote, a story that reveals his credulity.
My husband’s best friend, Hans, was supposed to be in our wedding. But three weeks before the ceremony, Hans learned he had testicular cancer. He was 38. The prognosis wasn’t good. The cancer had spread to his lungs, part of his stomach and his liver. We visited Hans a few days before we left on our honeymoon. He looked awful, and we were not optimistic that he would be alive when we returned. In a cold and dingy hospital room, we bowed our heads and prayed for our friend. The doctor who was treating Hans came into the room too, and the three of us held hands and prayed together.
By the time we got back from our honeymoon he was sitting up in bed. Six weeks later he would walk out of that hospital, minus part of his lung, and he would live way beyond the number of years the doctors had given him. I believe it was a miracle. Now, I have another friend who is a Harvard-educated scientist who will tell you that no miracle took place. He’s an atheist and believes that everything that happens can be explained scientifically. He would say that God didn’t save Hans, but rather, the doctors did. In many ways I can’t argue. Hans was treated with a cutting-edge vaccine designed to fight testicular cancer, much like Lance Armstrong’s treatment. But there was something in that room the night we prayed that makes me believe it was more than just a vaccine that kept Hans alive. I believe prayer, hope and faith had an awful lot to do with his healing.
Anyone see the problem here? Anyone? There is nothing to associate the prayer with the recovery. As anyone with any sense will tell you, the real reason he got better was sympathetic magic. The producer touched the afflicted person, generating a metaphysical connection between their testicles, and then went off and boinked like a weasel in rut for a few weeks. The vitality in producer Wadas-Willingham’s procreative organs was transmitted via ley lines directly to Hans. Note that Hans apparently later died of this disease; no doubt his death is directly attributable to Wadas-Willingham’s post-honeymoon decline in ardor. If only he’d kept plowing away 3 times a day, Hans would be with us still.
Now just maybe that “cutting-edge vaccine” had something to do with his survival, but what are you going to trust? A recent discovery based on naturalistic principles and tested in double-blind trials, or an old myth hallowed by thousands of years of tradition that encourages you to boink? I know where I’d put my faith.
Physicians’ Observations and Interpretations of the Influence of Religion and Spirituality on Health
Background In spite of a substantial body of empirical data, professional disagreement persists regarding whether and how religion and spirituality (hereinafter “R/S” and treated as a single concept) influences health. This study examines the association between physicians’ religious characteristics and their observations and interpretations of the influence of R/S on health.
Methods A cross-sectional survey was mailed to a stratified, random sample of 2000 practicing US physicians from all specialties. Physicians were asked to estimate how often patients mention R/S issues, how much R/S influences health, and in what ways the influence is manifested.
Results The response rate was 63%. Most physicians (56%) believed that R/S had much or very much influence on health, but few (6%) believed that R/S often changed “hard” medical outcomes. Rather, most physicians believed that R/S (1) often helps patients to cope (76%), (2) gives patients a positive state of mind (75%), and (3) provides emotional and practical support via the religious community (55%). Compared with those with low religiosity, physicians with high religiosity are substantially more likely to (1) report that patients often mention R/S issues (36% vs 11%)(P<.001); (2) believe that R/S strongly influences health (82% vs 16%) (P<.001); and (3) interpret the influence of R/S in positive rather than negative ways.
Conclusion Patients are likely to encounter quite different opinions about the relationship between their R/S and their health, depending on the religious characteristics of their physicians.
Let’s see. Doctors are arguing about whether and how religion influences health, so we’ll resolve this by asking doctors whether religion influences health. And the conclusion is that doctors have different opinions. Wow. Nobel material there.
The one interesting result is that doctors who are religious believe religion matters, godless doctors don’t. Ah, the awesome power of observer expectancy. Does anyone believe that Malkin is smart enough to recognize that this is not a demonstration of the power of religion, it instead illustrates the effect of prior bias on perception?
Besides, as that first article illustrated, boinking is far more powerful than religion. We don’t need any studies to test that, either—just ask people whether they think rocking the awesome and bobbin’ and throbbin’ are good for you, and when most say “yes”, you’ll have your answer.