As I’ve pointed out in the past, few things annoy me more than the “people” who, when people respond with “thoughts and prayers” after some sort of tragedy or another, bellow “F**K YOUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS – WE’VE GOT TO DOOOOO SOMETHING!”, where “SOMETHING” invariably means “some emotion-driven knee-jerk response that will do nothing to deal with the problem, but will serve Big Let’s agenda nicely”.
So it’s interesting to note that we, in fact, are right:
Prayer might make people feel better, but, as some critics have argued, does it direct their attention away from problems that need to be addressed? In other words, is prayer a distraction? Recent behavioral science experiments suggest that it isn’t, that prayer helps people focus their attention. In one study, research participants with varying levels of religiosity completed cognitive tasks that assess attention. After finishing these tasks, they were instructed to bring to mind one concern in their lives. One group of participants was then asked to spend ten minutes praying about that concern. Another group was asked to spend ten minutes thinking about that concern. A final group spent that time working on a puzzle. Then they repeated the attention tasks. Researchers looked for changes in their performance and found that among highly religious individuals, praying about a life concern, compared with thinking about it or being distracted with a puzzle, improved cognitive performance. No differences were observed among the less religious. These findings are consistent with the researchers’ proposal that prayer frees up cognitive resources needed to focus on mental tasks by reducing the extent to which people are distracted by negative emotions.
I’ve found that metaphysics and theology aside, it helps put emotional turbulence in context and free up mental resources for the rational thought actually needed after a crisis.
Which is another weapon Big Left thinks only the government really needs…
The City Pages gave me an idea: Do you worry about getting carpal tunnel from continually typing your thoughts and prayers? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easier way to show your artificial concern? One that didn’t require … Continue reading