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Editor's Correspondence
June 24, 2002

Research and Religion—Reply

Arch Intern Med. 2002;162(12):1421. doi:

In reply

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to comments on our article.1 Drs Harris and Isley object to our contention that prayer studies are unscientific partly "because no known mechanism can be invoked to explain the results." They give examples in which effects were recognized before any mechanism was known. The difference between their examples and distant prayer research is that prayer studies presume a supernatural mechanism.1(p2532) The mechanism for aspirin was discovered through careful experimentation that presumed a natural explanation. Even Hippocrates knew it was something in the willow leaves. By contrast, Dr Byrd, in his cardiac study, concluded that "intercessory prayer to the Judeo-Christian God has a beneficial therapeutic effect. . . ."2

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