“Scientific Proof that Prayer and Faith Healing Work,” one of many articles found on the website NStarZone.com, can be found. This website is self-described by its creator as a “Christian fact-based media outlet that [can] not be corrupted by outside influences” (“SCIENTIFIC PROOF THA ,” n.d.). The goals of the website include revealing the truth behind alleged government conspiracies and banning cell phones, Wi-Fi, water ﬂuoridation, vaccinations, GMOs, and the current medical establishment that is a “deadly, corrupt failure” (“SCIENTIFIC PROOF THAT,” nd), It is quite clear through this description that the practice of conventional medicine is rejected by the author, and as such, he argues for a different approach to medicine: Christian faith healing refers to the practice of ritualistic actions such as collective prayer to and gestures surrounding the Judeo- Christian God, believed to elicit spiritual and literal healing through divine intervention.
Followers of the practice assert that through pure prayer and devout belief, people can be healed of their ailments through the stimulation of divine power and presence.
Though it is easy for the author to fool the average reader into thinking his claims are supported scientifically by providing evidence from many supposed scientific studies, overall his claims that Christian faith healing is an effective means of treating the ill are supported with fallacies and pseudoscience. The basic structure of the article consists of the same argument being made — that Christian faith healing is effective and has been proven by science 7 and then calling upon “scientific evidence” from studies to support the argument Looking through not only the article in question but also the website as a whole, it is evident that only one story is covered, and that is the story of the author’s opinion, not facts based on the evidence.
The other side of the argument is not even considered once in the article, nor in the remainder of the website when it comes to other issues. Regardless of this, however, this is only one piece of writing from one website, and cannot, therefore, be taken as truth or sufficient evidence to properly support the argument surrounding Christian faith healing.
In addition, the author is unidentified and makes no effort to establish an adequate ethos for the reader to have reason to trust the source. As described above, the author has many agendas and goals, and in this way influences the writing of the article with biased, illogical and thus unscientific opinions and evidence to support his argument, He rallies readers into thinking that politicians and the media are bent on trying to eliminate their free speech, attempting to get them to listen to his word as absolute truth because he cannot, as he describes, “be corrupted by outside influences”. This attempt to gain readers with fallacious claims and erroneous conclusions reveals that the source of his information may not be so trustworthy after all. In the article, the author quotes a couple of people with “MD.” tacked onto their names, However, for most of these “doctors,“ the author refuses to include where they went to school, where they work, what their specialties are, or what awards they have won. In this way, the author fails once again to establish a credible ethos.
The doctors that the author does care to include more information about have all penned published books or other written works, and therefore stand to gain from the support of faith healing. In this way, the views of the scientific community are inaccurately portrayed in providing information only from sources that are biased, unreliable, and have agendas of their own. The views of the scientific community are further inaccurately portrayed by a lack of citations to the studies referenced in the article. This poses a significant problem in many respects in determining the credibility and scientific efficacy of the piece — by excluding any citations, it is impossible to both determine the confidence of the scientific community in the portrayed ideas without searching for the studies yourself and to determine if the scientific community’s views are accurately portrayed without at least a general knowledge of the opinions of the scientific community and/or of the scientific evidence in support of and against the author‘s argumentt.
Between a lack of citations and a complete ignorance of the overwhelming number of scientists who reject Christian faith healing as effective, the author puts significantly unequal weight on Christian faith healing as a reliable mode of treatment in place of conventional medicine and thus inaccurately portrays not only the views of the scientific community but also the scientific community‘s confidence in the ideas presented. The main conflict present in this piece is a conflict between a scientific idea and non- scientific viewpoint. The author attempts to eliminate this controversy by providing “scientific” evidence in favor of Christian faith healing, supposedly making it a scientific idea, but it seems that if the ideas the author is arguing in favor of were actually based on science, the sources and studies would have been cited. A lack of citations poses a problem here, too, in that it is quite difficult to determine if a controversy exists. Because a substantial part of the scientific community rejects Christian faith healing as effective, one could logically conclude that there is in fact a conflict between a scientific and non-scientific viewpoint.
One quote from an unidentified MD. does suggest that faith and medicine go together, however, indicating that the author perhaps acknowledges that a conflict between the two views may not exist, or at least may not exist at as large a scale as previously suggested. Regardless, however, the fact that the title of the article is “SCIENTIFIC PROOF THAT PRAYER AND FAITH HEALING WORK” in all capital letters when in fact no cited scientific proof is provided indicates that the issue itself is blown out of proportion. The information provided here is supported by no citations and is not from a research or respected educational institution, governmental body, or major scientific association, making it doubtful that the argument and surrounding evidence is trustworthy. It is clear that the author has an ulterior motive, and so it is important to try to gather more information from other sources that are more credible, such as the Pew Research Center, Google Scholar, and the NIH, as well as trustworthy databases like PubMed.
Interestingly, through trying to find this information, I discovered that the author as well as many other Christian faith healing supporters across the internet plagiarized direct quotes from multiple studies discussed in the article by failing to put quotes around them or cite them I also found that many studies mentioned in the article, including the one from Duke, could not be found on any internet database despite tireless searching I did find one of the studies mentioned, the San Francisco General Hospital study, on PubMed However, reading through the results and conclusions revealed the experimenter himself confessing that there were no “pure” groups; that is, he could not prove that the experimental group prayed/was prayed for and that the control group did not pray/was not prayed for. He goes on to speculate that the links found by the study between overall health and prayer were smaller because of the lack of “pure” groups, instead of considering science as a reason for why “these variables… could not be considered statistically significant because of the large number of variables examined”.
This causes the reasoning behind the study itself to be brought into question 7 Byrd admits that the experimental design was flawed, indicating that this evidence was not necessarily sufficient for the author to use to claim that Christian faith healing has been proved by science. From all of these uncited studies, the author suggests causation from correlation on multiple occasions, and fails to take coincidence or other confounding variables into account. This, in turn, greatly weakens the evidence he uses to support his argument, The evidence is based on a large sample of observations; however, once again we cannot be sure of this because the studies are not cited, and could thus be manipulated or even nonexistent
If all scientific studies referenced did exist and all had dependable results, then the evidence does back up all the claims made in the article; the author did not make claims that he did not use ”evidence” to support. The evidence comes from multiple studies that tested the relationship between prayer and health in different ways, also supporting his claims with multiple lines of evidence However, as mentioned previously, much of the scientific community does not find this evidence convincing, also weakening the evidence provided in the author‘s argument. Because none of the evidence is cited, it is difficult to determine the actual strength of the evidence, making the evidence inherently weak.
Though the author of the article attempts to support his claims with supposed scientific evidence, rallying readers to take control of the media they consume and defend their right to health and free speech, he hides behind uncited and untrustworthy quotes, studies, and support filled with fallacies and incorrect conclusions. This type of writing on the interner is particularly dangerous in its deceitful appearance, tricking the average reader into thinking the claims made by the author are actually scientifically supported, when it fact they incorrectly portray the views and confidence of the scientific community with weak evidence as a means to simply promote the author‘s personal agenda. The overwhelming evidence from objectively evaluating this article suggests that the claims made in this piece are largely pseudoscience and based little on scientific fact.