The Columbia University 'Miracle' Study: Flawed and Fraud

It must be emphasized that, in the entire history of modern science, no claim of any type of supernatural phenomena has ever been replicated under strictly controlled conditions. The importance of this fact cannot be overstated. One would think that all medical journal editors would be keenly aware of this fact and therefore be highly skeptical of paranormal or supernatural claims. One must therefore wonder if the Columbia researchers and the JRM editors were blinded by religious beliefs. Everything else being equal, if the claimed supernatural intervention had been Ms. Cleo manipulating Tarot cards rather than Christians praying, would the reviewers and editors have taken this study seriously? In any case, the damage has been done. The fact that a “miracle cure” study was deemed to be suitable for publication in a scientific journal automatically enhanced the study’s credibility. Not surprisingly, the news media quickly disseminated the “miraculous” results. —Bruce FlammThe Columbia University ‘Miracle’ Study: Flawed and Fraud (The Skeptical Inquirer)

A fascinating glimpse into the world of peer-reviewed scientific research. I love the illustration, of a man praying, “Please don’t let them investigate the study…”

2 thoughts on “The Columbia University 'Miracle' Study: Flawed and Fraud

  1. Good point. As our ability to observe natural phenomena increases, what used to be the realm of “belief” becomes testable and observable.

    Meanwhile, the amount of specialized knowledge and equipment that is required to see and interpret those natural phenomena becomes an increasingly insurmountable barrier between the average person and the act of observing. The result is, we still have a caste of experts who are entrusted with the management of these phenomena, freeing the rest of the population goes about its daily business.

  2. It’s kind of funny to say that “no claim of any type of supernatural phenomena has ever been replicated under strictly controlled conditions”, as it seems like the definition of “supernatural phenomena” is simply “one that cannot be replicated under controlled conditions”. Surely, several centuries ago, praying to cure a disease might have been seen as equally valid among the majority of the population as was taking some sort of “medication”; it is exactly the fact that medication provided consistently better results over time than prayer that made it not be “supernatural”.

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