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Evaluating the Value of Thoughts and Prayers [study]

What is one to think about words about thoughts about prayers and thoughts? A new study tries to tease out the answer.

The study is: “The Value of Thoughts and Prayers,” Linda Thunström and Shiri Noy, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, epub 2019.

The authors, at the University of Wyoming, explain:

“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. 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.”

(Thanks to Mason Porter for bringing this to our attention.)

Improbable Research