I don’t know if Wall Street has a Science fund. If they do, short it.
Why? Take this peer-reviewed paper by the two ladies Linda Thunstrom and Shiri Noy in the very Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; “The value of thoughts and prayers“.
A standard response of both policy makers and private citizens to hardships—from natural disasters to mass shootings—is to offer “thoughts and prayers.” Critics argue that such gestures are meaningless and may obstruct structural reforms intended to mitigate catastrophes.
We start with the proof that “critics” are idiots. Let’s see what else we can learn from the Abstract.
In this study, we elicit the value of receiving thoughts and prayers from strangers following adversity. We find that Christians value thoughts and prayers from religious strangers and priests, while atheists and agnostics are “prayer averse”—willing to pay to avoid receiving prayers. Furthermore, while indifferent to receiving thoughts from other secular people, they negatively value thoughts from Christians.
Say this out loud: atheists and agnostics are willing to pay to avoid receiving prayers.
If this is so, and the authors use Science&tm; to claim it, so it must be, then atheists and agnostics are irrational. For if there is no God, prayers cannot harm them, or indeed do anything to them. But if God exists, prayer might help them. To pay not to receive them, in either case, is rank irrationality.
But this just might be the kind of atheists our authoresses hang out with. We’ll see.
You want an example of university professors thinking too well of themselves? This is it:
Despite the frequent usage of [thought and prayer] gestures on behalf of people experiencing hardship, the value of thoughts and prayers to recipients remains unknown. In the United States, this knowledge vacuum exacerbates public debate about the value of thoughts and prayers.
No it doesn’t. Nobody was debating this. Not a soul outside of any ideology factory, anyway.
“Because there is no market for intercessory thoughts and prayers (i.e., thoughts and prayers conducted on behalf of others), their value cannot be inferred from existing prices.”
What was that about knowing the price of everything and value of nothing?
Instead, values may be assessed by willingness to pay (WTP), a measure that captures the net monetary value of perceived costs and benefits. Recipients may expect direct benefits (increased health or wealth) or direct costs (reduced material gain) to result from either thoughts or prayers. Recipients may also experience hedonic gains (feelings of hope or closeness to others) or distressing costs (anger, annoyance) from such gestures.
The class of people who claim “distressing costs” are (and here, since this is a family blog, I use the polite word), pansies.
Anyway, here’s what these clever lady scientists did.
They went on line and offered to pay people $5 to play a game. These were divided into Christians and atheists or agnostics.
Participants were asked whether they were affected by Hurricane Florence, and if so, to categorize and describe their hardship. If they were not affected by Florence, they were asked to categorize and describe another hardship from the previous year.
Such as learning their favorite character on a soap opera didn’t commit suicide, maybe? The authoresses never say. Only 30% claimed the hurricane bothered them, so the range of other distressing events must have been highly varied, and therefore incomparable.
Anyway, gamers were told that to alleviate their negative affect “they could exchange some or all of their $5 for supportive thoughts from a Christian stranger (C1), thoughts from an atheist stranger (C2), prayers from a Christian stranger (C3), or prayers from a priest (C4).”
These were not fake prayers and thoughts, friends. “We also recruited senders of thoughts and prayers via Amazon Mechanical Turk.” I promise you this is so. The priest—an actual priest—“was recruited in the first author’s local community”.
Well, virtual currency went this way and that, and prayers for only the Lord knows what went out to some people. Though others only sent thoughts, which are not the same as prayers. All anonymously, as far as I could tell.
Lo, more Christians than atheists wanted prayers from a priest. “P < 0.001”. And some atheists thought it would be fun to pay their bundle of money not to receive prayers or thoughts from anybody in this wholly artificial situation.
That, besides a lot of superfluous detail, is it.
“Wait, Briggs. They said they could tell the value of thoughts and prayers. Surely they must have checked whether the thoughts and prayers actually worked. Right?”
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