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Editor's Correspondence |

Is It Prayer, or Is It Parity?

William C. Waterhouse, PhD
Arch Intern Med. 2000;160(12):1875. doi:.
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Harris and coauthors1 arranged for prayers to be said for patients in the cardiac care unit who had even medical record numbers; they found borderline significant advantages for this group in one measure of patient scores. Unfortunately, they failed to realize that investigators of seemingly paranormal effects must consider a much wider range of possibilities than those that occur in ordinary scientific work.

It is true, as they say, that intercessory prayer has been common for millennia. But it is equally true that mystic powers have been attached to numbers from time immemorial,2 and the specific distinction of even and odd has been considered significant in cultures ranging from China to ancient Greece.3 Thus, the assignment of even numbers is just as likely an explanation of the data as the prayers.

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parity ; prayer

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