Will future prayer studies pass review by Institutional Review Boards? IRB's have to approve human experiments. A novel treatment, like prayer therapy, can be approved if the likelihood of harm is considered miniscule. That is no longer true. A 40% increase in bad complications, even if it is within the range of statistical error, means the IRB must consider prayer as a possible toxic treatment. Given the limited results for a positive effect, and the suspicion of significant harm, ethical considerations will likely prevent any further experiments with prayer in medical settings.
Personally I find a toxic effect of prayer to be at least as interesting as a beneficial effect, though as I noted previously I await the P values with great interest. Even if the P values are not significant, however, the IRB issue will remain.
You are not serious, are you?
Until I get a better source than the NYT, it's really a thought experiment. But, yes, if there really was a 40% increase in bad outcomes among the experimental group then it's hard to image future studies getting IRB approval.
After all, there are really only two options:
1. Treat the results seriously, as though this were a study of a new anti-arrhythmia med. If a med had this kind of trend it would hard to get it studied any further.
2. Treat the concept as silly, in which case a study is a waste of money.
Either way, how could a rational IRB allow further studies?
Of course this is only a thought experiment since the NYT numbers may be wrong. Also, humans aren't rational.
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