Romney Mega Prayer event hyped by gross misunderstanding of science (Update: FAKE!)

See UPDATE below. Example of Poe’s Law in action.

The night before Election Day, you can participate in a giant prayer event to get Romney elected. The promoters say “It’s Scientific!”

Practical Christians Develop New Game Plan: Pray for Romney Because of Science

[…] one very rational Christian (with a flair for website design) who says he’s accepted the fact that, based on polls, Obama will likely win a second term as president next Tuesday has a plan: a giant mega prayer party, backed up by SCIENCE.

There have been hundreds of scientific studies proving the effects of group prayer…Did you know that patients who had a group pray for them, even without their knowledge, show positive effects by healing faster or better in 57% of studies?”

Here is the site: Romney Mega Prayer

What would happen if everyone prayed for Mitt Romney? Would that do anything at all? I mean, how could prayer affect a national election?

The idea is just sort of ridiculous really. Honestly, I don’t even know why you’re still reading this. No one takes this stuff seriously. No one at all.

Except Scientists.

Yes, it’s cartoonish. Not just in its visuals but what they pull with the “sciencey” bit. Studies are linked in the text for “hundreds of scientific studies proving the effects of group prayer” but they show the benefit of prayer as an internal effect – religious people who pray may have more positive results. “MAY” is the big word.

This article by Vic Stenger examines a similar claim (if not actually the same claim as it comes from a popular book on the topic). He says:

Many studies on prayer and health can be found in the literature and I do not have the space to review them all. Instead I will focus on the popular book Healing Words by physician Larry Dossey in which he reports on “an enormous body of evidence: over one hundred experiments exhibiting the criteria of good science, many conducted under stringent laboratory conditions, over half of which showed that prayer brings about significant changes in a variety of living beings.” One wonders why he would even count those that were not conducted under stringent laboratory conditions.

And, Steve Novella writes in a Science Based Medicine piece:

The existing research does not support the conclusion that there is any efficacy to intercessory prayer. The research also does not allow for the conclusion that there are health benefits to faith or religion as specific variables.

A metaanalysis of 14 studies showed:

There is no scientifically discernible effect for IP as assessed in controlled studies. Given that the IP literature lacks a theoretical or theological base and has failed to produce significant findings in controlled trials, we recommend that further resources not be allocated to this line of research.

It turns out that prayer studies are often not done well or have statistical misinterpretation. This type of research also suffers from the file drawer effect. Studies that didn’t show anything positive were not published, so what we can find published is biased to show an effect.

The Mega Prayer site fails to distinguish between prayer itself being the direct cause and the effects of the patient have a faith system. The difference is the external versus internal mechanism at play.

The site also says: “If group prayer can heal people, it can change an election.”

Examining the claim that prayer can win an election can’t be done. There have been no studies on this (which is why they extrapolate from healing studies) and the example they use on the site regarding Christians defeating the Muslims in the Battle of Lepanto is a BIT more complicated than “PRAYER DID IT” as they lead you to believe.

If you pray for the election, it may make you feel better, like you are doing something, but in the physical, external world, it does nothing. It does not influence the results on the voting machines through the next day and it does not compel people to vote Romney. (If it did the former, that would be CHEATING!)

Some have speculated this is a “poe” site.  That means that even if the content is SO ridiculous (which this is), viewers might still mistake it as real. (My opinion is that they are being serious, not a joke. Oops!) That shows how out of touch with reality some people are. They have put the sciencey bits on here to add to the credibility of the venture. But it has none.

Tip: The Morning Heresy (Center for Inquiry)

UPDATE (6-Nov-2012) SO IT IS FAKE! Clever! Poe’s Law strikes again! Even I fell for it because I’ve seen some really wacky TRUE stuff.

Obama voter creates nationwide prayer site … for Mitt Romney – Technology on

The man behind Romney Mega Prayer isn’t voting for Mitt Romney — and he doesn’t believe in prayer.

While the site has only been online for six days, over 4,000 people have signed up for an email list, while over 12,000 have “liked” and shared the site on Facebook. According to the site’s creator, Sean Tevis, a “little more than half” of those emails appear to be fake; among the remaining 2,000 may be at least some people who intend to help pray Mitt Romney into office Monday evening.

Tevis, a 43-year-old interaction designer in the Kansas City area — who had a brief dalliance with politics in 2010 when he ran (unsuccessfully) for Kansas state representative off the strength of a Web comic that went viral — didn’t create Romney Mega Prayer because he’s a concerned Christian. Instead, the idea came to him after he grew concerned over the number of his friends and family who seemed to believe almost anything they read online about Obama and the current administration, no matter how preposterous.

  16 comments for “Romney Mega Prayer event hyped by gross misunderstanding of science (Update: FAKE!)

  1. Brian
    November 2, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    And as for prayer: If asked, I *can* pull up a very long post I did on MY reflections and experiences with prayer.

  2. November 2, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    Attn: Brian please read the comment policy. Facts please to back up the claims (and name calling).

  3. November 2, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    Not here, please.

  4. Brian
    November 2, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    I’ve read umpteen reports about the man and Bain capitol eating companies alive. His comments about the poor, his backpedaling about the 47%….As for Obama… pardoning 8 million illegals and sending me a form letter while school debt kick me sideways got him the naughty gesture of the day for me. Neither one has my vote, let alone much else.

  5. Scott Godlewski
    November 2, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    The site seems pretty cheeky. I question it’s sincerity.

  6. November 2, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    Which has nothing to do with this post. I’d rather not have political opinions in the comments. It’s not a forum.

  7. Moose McNuggets
    November 2, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    So if Romney loses, does that mean he didn’t have a prayer?

  8. Brian
    November 2, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    This smacks of the “pray the fave football team wins!” nonsense. If you have 100 people praying for team a, and 100 people praying for team b, and both are praying equally hard…. the stupid game SHOULD BE A DRAW. Instead, you see christians going on about team b winning…..Or team a, and the other half are consigned to “god’s will”…

    Yeah. If that doesnt make one go “WTH?!”…

  9. JB
    November 3, 2012 at 2:31 AM

    If the Christians (Spanish) beat the Muslims at the Battle of Lepanto using prayer, why couldn’t they beat the English Heritics with the Armada? They prayed a lot.

  10. Moose McNuggets
    November 3, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    So maybe instead of praying for candidates, we should have betting pools on who God will favor.

    Oy veh, this is getting confusing. Maybe I’ll just vote instead and hope whover wins doesn’t mess things up too badly.

  11. November 5, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    The worst is that the author of the study cited on the prayer site did another study, 3 years later, to follow up. He found that additional studies casted more doubt, and the weight of the evidence was against prayer making any difference. It only took me a few seconds to find the followup, but the writers of the prayer site somehow missed it..

  12. Peter Robisnon
    November 6, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Surely there is a simple way to show that prayer does not work. Just about every christian church prays for peace every week, or an end to poverty. Do we have peace in the World? Do we see an end to poverty? I think not. The religious game should be over, but sadly it is not.

  13. Am_Sci
    November 6, 2012 at 1:50 PM
  14. Kevin C
    November 8, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    The way I see it. God will not answer prayers out of hate. Also I am not religious so in my opinion
    prayers don’t work, votes do…..

  15. Brian
    November 8, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Well, I got anectodal… ridiculous…. and yet- completely shows the *cough, hack* “power of prayer.

    My g/f left her ageing, amolst 15 year old labrador with her parents. Her father has Parkinson’s. The dog 2 days ago had a stroke. They were convinced the dog was done for- even dug a grave. They prayed for the dog.

    Last night, her mother emailed and said the dog was bouncing around like a puppy. Her dad’s ParkInson’s? Prayed for and NO EFFECT.

    We almost swallowed our teeth in disbelief. She isnt close to her dad (ok- with her permission, I am allowed to say he’s a jerk)… But really? If there’s a god- the dog is more important? And not just recover- recover bouncing off the walss and running around?


  16. November 8, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    Yeah… the problem with all these stories is we don’t know all the facts and probably can’t. So, everyone reaches their own conclusions based on what they would like to be true. Stories and the way we interpret them reveal our values.

Comments are closed.