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!”
[…] 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.
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.
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.
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.