Kimball C. Atwood, MD
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Atwood K.; The Efficacy of Spiritual Healing. Ann Intern Med. 2001;134:1150. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-134-12-200106190-00018
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2001;134(12):1150.
TO THE EDITOR:
Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. The most interesting findings of the review of “distant healing” studies by Astin and colleagues (1) are the myriad methodologic problems and the modest evidence for any “effect” even in the face of such problems. “Distant healing” is thus reminiscent of its close relative, extrasensory perception. After more than 100 years of claims made for extrasensory perception's existence, including several “positive” (but ultimately nonreplicated) studies that would certainly pass muster with Astin and colleagues, there is still no real evidence that it is anything other than a figment of true believers' imaginations (2, 3). Few serious psychologists or physicists give it any credence (4), and it has been of no practical use, such as in police investigations (5, 6). Nevertheless, it persists as a pseudoscience supported by a fringe group of advocates (some of whom are players in the “distant healing” game—surely Astin and colleagues must know this). Does the medical literature really need to prolong this tiresome exercise just because the current “alternative medicine” (read “quackery”) fad has been joined by unscrupulous physicians and nurses and investigators like Astin and colleagues haven't done their homework?
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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