Sunday Sermon: The (Placebo) Power of Prayer

Did you know that  a rain dance is 100% effective? It’s true! You can try it for yourself:

In the evening as the sun’s going down, find an outdoor spot facing the setting sun. As soon as the bottom of the sun touches the horizon, start dancing, and keep it up until the top of the sun vanishes completely. Do the same thing every evening at sunset, and I guarantee you’ll get rain.

It may take a few days, or weeks, or even months (sometimes the rain gods like to test your faith), but if you keep doing it every day, you’ll eventually make it rain.

Likewise, 100% of all prayers get answered — but as many devout believers will tell you, sometimes the answer is “no.”  But if you pray for enough things, enough times, eventually you’ll get some situations where the thing you prayed for actually happens.

It’s the same principle explored in this Neatorama post, Why Do People Push Placebo Buttons? It’s also the same reason it’s hard to teach a dog not to bark at the mailman. After all, barking at the mailman always works — the mailman always goes away.

(image via Boing Boing)

4 responses to this post.

  1. As a member of the choir, I don’t really have anything to add to the great wisdom in this post. I will say, however, that as much as I love the “Reboot Universe” button, I think I get more satisfying result from my “Bang Your Head Here To Get God’s Attention” poster. 🙂


  2. […] Sunday Sermon: The (Placebo) Power of Prayer « Atheist Etiquette. February 14, 2010 | Jessica | No Comments » […]


  3. Posted by blotzphoto on February 15, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    When I was a child I would never ever push the crosswalk button twice, same with the elevator button. You see, I took very much to heart Numbers 20:12
    ” 12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

    That’s right, I firmly believed that if I pressed the button twice I would not be allowed to enter the promised land.


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