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Divine Intervention

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MatC
56523.  Thu Mar 02, 2006 7:47 am Reply with quote

“Another famous incident in which a man escaped a hanging death involved John Smith, otherwise known as "Half-Hang'd Smith." This man was convicted of stealing gloves and sentenced to death. On December 12th, 1705, Smith was taken to the gallows and made to hang, but he was not dead after a quarter of an hour. Throughout the crowd, there were shouts of "reprieve," and he was immediately cut down and had some blood let to restore his health. Smith was taken back to Newgate Prison, and eventually pleaded for a pardon on February 20th, 1706. He suffered terrible pain through the half-hanging experience, but not enough to keep him from crime after he was released. He was never officially convicted of a crime again.”

Source:
www.umich.edu/~ece/student_projects/bonifield/pardons.html

 
Frederick The Monk
56525.  Thu Mar 02, 2006 7:54 am Reply with quote

So John is the best Christian name to have if you want to avoid being hanged.

 
MatC
56534.  Thu Mar 02, 2006 9:07 am Reply with quote

Better than Ruth, leastways.

 
Frederick The Monk
56590.  Thu Mar 02, 2006 11:54 am Reply with quote

Not suprisingly John is one of the most common names amongst the list of people executed in England between 1606 and 1898. I count at least 80.

 
Frederick The Monk
56591.  Thu Mar 02, 2006 11:57 am Reply with quote

Joseph is popular too, clocking up 23 appearances.

 
Gray
56597.  Thu Mar 02, 2006 12:39 pm Reply with quote

And he didn't even get a reprieve.

 
MatC
56856.  Sat Mar 04, 2006 7:35 am Reply with quote

What are the odds of getting cured by making a pilgrimage to Lourdes?

I can’t do the maths myself, but:

a) According to Richard Dawkins (quoted in The Freethinker, February 2006) “80,000 people a year make the pilgrimage” and “There have been only 66 authenticated cures.”
and
b) According to Carl Sagan in 1994 (quoted here) “roughly 100 million people have visited Lourdes, France in the last 136 years, many in hopes of being cured of diseases that are untreatable with modern medicine. He states that the spontaneous remission rate for all cancers taken together is estimated to be one in 10,000 to one in 100,000. Supposing that no more than 1% of the visitors to Lourdes are there to treat their cancers, one would expect to have seen between 10 and 100 "miraculous" cures of cancer alone. Yet, Sagan notes, there have been only 64 miraculous cures of any kind authenticated by the Roman Catholic Church at Lourdes.”

The Sagan figures rather entertainingly suggest (am I right?) that visiting Lourdes reduces your chance of being cured.

Problem: I can’t find an “official” figure of how many people have visited Lourdes, let alone how many were after a cure.

 
Gray
56894.  Sat Mar 04, 2006 10:06 am Reply with quote

Dawkins also mentioned in his recent documentary that more people will have contracted contagious diseases from running their fingers over the moist surface of the sacred cave walls than will have been cured.

 
Frederick The Monk
56987.  Sat Mar 04, 2006 5:20 pm Reply with quote

We need some good stats on how many people going to Lourdes are looking for a physical cure and for what. But then do people ever explicity say?

 
Frederick The Monk
56988.  Sat Mar 04, 2006 5:21 pm Reply with quote

I imagine there must be some sort of placebo effect in operation as well.

 
Gray
56996.  Sat Mar 04, 2006 6:55 pm Reply with quote

The fact that they're amongst thousands of other people, all of whom fervently believe (or want to) must generate a huge amount of placebo effect.

A recent documentary on 'alternative medicine' (mostly justifiably rubishing it) found that the placebo effect had an actual mechanism that could be tracked in the brain: when you believe something is really going to work, the brain creates its own dopamine, which reduces stress and increases the efficiency of the body's own immune defences.

So belief really works. Dopamine could be an interesting topic...

 
Frederick The Monk
57024.  Sun Mar 05, 2006 5:07 am Reply with quote

Sounds like you shouold set that thread up. Brings us back to whether we could feed the panel placebos. I think the answer's no but I'd like to see the look on Sarah's face when we suggest it.

 
MatC
57325.  Mon Mar 06, 2006 5:55 am Reply with quote

Gray wrote:
The fact that they're amongst thousands of other people, all of whom fervently believe (or want to) must generate a huge amount of placebo effect.


And yet, they don't get cured ...

 
MatC
58649.  Fri Mar 10, 2006 8:04 am Reply with quote

The number of “official” miracle cures now stands at 67, according to Fortean Times 208, p.9, after a case from 1952 was added to the list.

 
Frederick The Monk
63086.  Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:29 am Reply with quote

Updated 31/03/06

 

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