Half of Americans think prayer can save the terminally ill.

This just in: 1 in 2 Americans is a total idiot:

More than half of randomly surveyed adults — 57 percent — said God’s intervention could save a family member even if physicians declared treatment would be futile. And nearly three-quarters said patients have a right to demand such treatment.

When asked to imagine their own relatives being gravely ill or injured, nearly 20 percent of doctors and other medical workers said God could reverse a hopeless outcome.

“Sensitivity to this belief will promote development of a trusting relationship” with patients and their families, according to researchers. That trust, they said, is needed to help doctors explain objective, overwhelming scientific evidence showing that continued treatment would be worthless.

So they’re saying you have to kowtow to their beliefs in order to be able to tell them that continued treatment is pointless? How? By telling them “Folks, it’s time to start praying cause there’s fuck-all left that I can do”?

What’s really odd is the next few paragraphs talk about a Michigan woman by the name of Pat Loder who lost her two kids in a car accident who says that you need that belief at the time in spite of the fact that her kids still died and now she doesn’t buy into the idea as much as she did. Wait… what?

She said her beliefs about divine intervention have changed.

“I have become more of a realist,” she said. “I know that none of us are immune from anything.”

Loder was not involved in the survey, which appears in Monday’s Archives of Surgery.

She’s not involved with the survey, her views on divine intervention have changed, why the hell are they talking to her again?

Anyway, one doctor in the article basically seems to be saying that with today’s medical technology it’s possible to keep a body “alive” with no chance of recovery and that a lot of people think God will provide them a miracle. So they key, he says, is to not dismiss that belief, but show the family members that said miracle is unlikely given the condition of the patient:

Jacobs said he frequently meets people who think God will save their dying loved one and who want medical procedures to continue.

“You can’t say, ‘That’s nonsense.’ You have to respect that” and try to show them X-rays, CAT scans and other medical evidence indicating death is imminent, he said.

Relatives need to know that “it’s not that you don’t want a miracle to happen, it’s just that is not going to happen today with this patient,” he said.

Which is an odd argument to make because they very definition of a miracle is the impossible becoming possible so you’d expect that someone who was truly hoping for a miracle wouldn’t be dissuaded by a bunch of scientific evidence. Some aren’t, but they seem to be the exception to the rule.

Yet another doctor goes on to suggest that miracles aren’t all they’re cracked up to be:

Dr. Michael Sise, trauma medical director at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, called the study “a great contribution” to one of the most intense issues doctors face.

Sise, a Catholic doctor working in a Catholic hospital, said miracles don’t happen when medical evidence shows death is near.

“That’s just not a realistic situation,” he said.

Apparently miracles are susceptible to reality.

The whole article is kind of strange in that the doctors being quoted are basically saying that they need to be sensitive to the fact that people are idiots who put a lot of stock in wishful thinking and so long as they pay lip service to that wishful thinking they can usually convince said idiots that further treatment is pointless. So, really, all the article says is half of Americans are idiots.

19 comments

  1. I think you are being harsh on the doctors here. People will cling to any hope in times of emotion- the unexplained remissions that are documented will become “If it happened once”.  The Doctors have to manage those emotions to get the family where they can accept the inevitable.

  2. You can’t blame for answering like that, after all thier merciful god might strike them dead if they give the wrong answer…

  3. Why is that number surprising? Anyone who either prays or believes that there is some value in prayer would answer ‘Yes’.

    I thought that 57% was on the low side. I mean, with the exception of atheists and deists, who would answer ‘No’ to that question?

  4. I thought that 57% was on the low side. I mean, with the exception of atheists and deists, who would answer ‘No’ to that question?

    Of course I don’t know for sure, Julian, but I suspect that there are probably some believers who would say something like “when it’s time for a person to die, then prayer will not save them from death, because God is calling them back to Him.”  That’s my guess.

  5. “miracles don’t happen when medical evidence shows death is near.”

    Oy, vey!  grin

  6. I believe it’s often harder for the relatives than for the terminal patient to accept what’s inevitable. There are cases where buying time is the right thing to do, in other cases it’s best for everybody involved to just let go, and there’s a very fuzzy boundary somewhere in the middle. When faced with the situation, everybody thinks the people they care for are the exception rather than rule, because hope springs eternal—as does denial. I can see how the religious make themselves believe one more thing that just ain’t so, but I can also see that a compassionate physician will play along.

    It’s sobering that so many Americans delude themselves into beliefs that are observably wrong, though.

  7. I always thought it odd to give credit to a “god” when someone lives from a dangerous surgery or gets brought back to life. If you plot these people on a standard distribution they fall right where you would expect them to, toward the edge.

  8. “standard distribution?” “STANDARD DISTRIBUTION?” Webs, what does that have to do with miracles? DUH!  tongue wink

  9. Half of all americans are idiots? – sorry Les but the rest of us knew that long ago! (no offence).
    A common saying down here is “only in america” wink

    Personally I sorta believe the U.S is a satire on real life in the rest of the world … kinda sceptical that you guys even exist actually ….

  10. You’re skeptical, Frumpa? Then tell me how all you supposed antipodeans get around, when you must be standing on your heads all the time?

  11. Personally I sorta believe the U.S is a satire on real life in the rest of the world … kinda sceptical that you guys even exist actually ….

    Unfortunately, like Alf Garnett, too many people think it is a model to be followed, and have started to vote for Neo-Cons.

    Exporting all your religeous loonies may seem like a good idea at the time, but look what happens if you let them interbreed for 300 years.  Mind you, Frumpa, if it had been criminals there would have been another country to beat us at cricket and rugby.

  12. Hmmm .. that explains why my brain hurts!
    Oh – and nobody beats us at cricket LH .. dunno ‘bout the rugby.

  13. us

    As in Britain.  I notice various comments from certain semi arid counties about ‘sitting down sports’.  As opposed to Thorpe in his floaty sport.

  14. I do not think prayers are answered, as an example of this 6 million jews in the 2nd WW must sincerely prayed to be spared, and many others at the time of war, Jesus on the cross asked in prayer, to be spared, the closest one can be spared is by your own heart and intellect and experience, the rest is a con, the world basicle corrupt and virtualy every one is corrupt and corrupting, including all the gurus that have been around since WW 2. the politicians multinationals are depraved, aided and abeted by the CIA ASIO and the rest of the secret police, also the british govt are in particular evil, and the banking and finance system, the pyschiatrists, and writers of the main theories, such as Freud, Jung and R.D.Laing, are phonies, we are to say the least in dire straights, yours don wreford.

  15. every one is corrupt and corrupting, including all the gurus that have been around since WW 2.

    Nothing personal, I hope?

  16. I am a progressive christian. process theology which dialogues with science, asks the question “why would god have to break into her own creation with an unscientific miracle? why design the universe so that it is foreign matter to its creator?” 

    i read the way jesus did miracles. they were quick. I am a hospital chaplain. if a patient and their family want to pray for a dramatic healing, I am fine with that. we see recoveries occur that are statisically rare…meaning that the person has a very low chance of recovery-remission—but they beat the odds.

    I don’t discount the miraculous entirely but I have to be a realist and ask why I have, in my life, only seen one event that defied my understanding of science. of course, one is more than none.

    atheists are hard on the religious, but don’t forget that most people are idiots. so most religious people will be idiots.

    my favorite atheist writer was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Andreas_Feuerbach
    his arguments against god are so fucking superior to modern writers like dawkins. hawkin’s atheist critique makes me giggle. i would not believe in the god the new atheists critique. feuerbach makes me think I may be a fool for believing in god. much more devasting critiques

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