I PRAY THAT THEY ARE CORRECT DEPARTMENT -
Prayer DOES Work, Says
Two recent much-publicised studies of the efficacy of prayer concluded
that it didn’t work. But David R. Hodge, an assistant professor of
social work in the College of Human Services at Arizona State
University's West campus, has come to the opposite conclusion.
The results of his exhaustive meta-analysis on the effects of
intercessory prayer among people with psychological or medical problems
have just been published. Hodge, a leading expert on spirituality and
religion, says the evidence confirms that prayer can produce positive
As widely reported in September last year, research was conducted with
1,800 patients recovering from heart bypass surgery but the results
were inconclusive and paradoxical.
Dr Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School led that research,
which cost $2.4 million and was funded by the John Templeton Foundation
and the Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation of Memphis.
The conclusion was: Prayers do not help heart surgery patients – and
some fare worse when prayed for.
But according to Hodge’s study, “A Systematic Review of the Empirical
Literature on Intercessory Prayer,” the answer to the question, “Does
God – or some other type of transcendent entity – answer prayer for
healing?” is “Yes”.
“There have been a number of studies on intercessory prayer, or prayer
offered for the benefit of another person,” he explains. “Some have
found positive results for prayer. Others have found no effect.
Conducting a meta-analysis takes into account the entire body of
empirical research on intercessory prayer. Using this procedure, we
find that prayer offered on behalf of another yields positive results.”
Hodge's work is featured in the March 2007 issue of Research on Social
Work Practice, a disciplinary journal devoted to the publication of
empirical research on practice outcomes. It is widely recognised as one
of the most prestigious journals in the field of social work.
Hodge notes that his study is important because it is a compilation of
available studies and is not a single work with a single conclusion.
His “Systematic Review” takes into account the findings of 17 studies
that used intercessory prayer as a treatment in practice settings.
“Some people feel Benson and associates’ study from last year, which is
the most recent and showed no positive effects for intercessory prayer,
is the final word, “Hodge observes,” But this research suggests
otherwise. This study enables us to look at the big picture. When the
effects of prayer are averaged across all 17 studies, controlling for
differences in sample sizes, a net positive effect for the prayer group
“This is the most thorough and all-inclusive study of its kind on this
controversial subject that I am aware of,” Hodge adds. “It suggests
that more research on the topic may be warranted and that praying for
people with psychological or medical problems may help them recover.”
Source: Paranormal Review
HISTORIES MYSTERIES DEPARTMENT -
The Wave That Destroyed
The legend of Atlantis, the country that disappeared under the sea, may
be more than just a myth. Research on the Greek island of Crete
suggests Europe's earliest civilisation was destroyed by a giant
Until about 3,500 years ago, a spectacular ancient civilisation was
flourishing in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The ancient Minoans were building palaces, paved streets and sewers,
while most Europeans were still living in primitive huts.
But around 1500BC the people who spawned the myths of the Minotaur and
the Labyrinth abruptly disappeared. Now the mystery of their
cataclysmic end may finally have been solved.
A group of scientists have uncovered new evidence that the island of
Crete was hit by a massive tsunami at the same time that Minoan culture
"The geo-archaeological deposits contain a number of distinct tsunami
signatures," says Dutch-born geologist Professor Hendrik Bruins of the
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.
"Minoan building material, pottery and cups along with food residue
such as isolated animal bones were mixed up with rounded beach pebbles
and sea shells and microscopic marine fauna.
"The latter can only have been scooped up from the sea-bed by one
mechanism - a powerful tsunami, dumping all these materials together in
a destructive swoop," says Professor Bruins.
The deposits are up to seven metres above sea level, well above the
normal reach of storm waves.
"An event of ferocious force hit the coast of Crete and this wasn't
just a Mediterranean storm," says Professor Bruins.
The Minoans were sailors and traders. Most of their towns were along
the coast, making them especially vulnerable to the effects of a
One of their largest settlements was at Palaikastro on the eastern edge
of the island, one of the sites where Canadian archaeologist Sandy
MacGillivray has been excavating for 25 years.
Here, he has found other tell-tale signs such as buildings where the
walls facing the sea are missing but side walls which could have
survived a giant wave are left intact.
"All of a sudden a lot of the deposits began making sense to us," says
"Even though the town of Palaikastro is a port it stretched hundreds of
metres into the hinterland and is, in places, at least 15 metres above
sea level. This was a big wave."
But if this evidence is so clear why has it not been discovered before
Tsunami expert Costas Synolakis, from the University of Southern
California, says that the study of ancient tsunamis is in its infancy
and people have not, until now, really known what to look for.
Many scientists are still of the view that these waves only blasted
material away and did not leave much behind in the way of deposits.
But observation of the Asian tsunami of 2004 changed all that.
"If you remember the video footage," says Costas, "some of it showed
tonnes of debris being carried along by the wave and much of it was
Costas Synolakis has come to the conclusion that the wave would have
been as powerful as the one that devastated the coastlines of Thailand
and Sri Lanka on Boxing day 2004 leading to the loss of over 250,000
After decades studying the Minoans, MacGillivray is struck by the scale
of the destruction.
"The Minoans are so confident in their navy that they're living in
unprotected cities all along the coastline. Now, you go to Bande Aceh
[in Indonesia] and you find that the mortality rate is 80%. If we're
looking at a similar mortality rate, that's the end of the Minoans."
But what caused the tsunami? The scientists have obtained radiocarbon
dates for the deposits that show the tsunami could have hit the coast
at exactly the same time as an eruption of the Santorini volcano, 70 km
north of Crete, in the middle of the second millennium BC.
Recent scientific work has established that the Santorini eruption was
up to 10 times more powerful than the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. It
caused massive climatic disruption and the blast was heard over 3000
Costas Synolakis thinks that the collapse of Santorini's giant volcanic
cone into the sea during the eruption was the mechanism that generated
a wave large enough to destroy the Minoan coastal towns.
It is not clear if the tsunami could have reached inland to the Minoan
capital at Knossos, but the fallout from the volcano would have carried
other consequences - massive ash falls and crop failure. With their
ports, trading fleet and navy destroyed, the Minoans would never have
The myth of Atlantis, the city state that was lost beneath the sea, was
first mentioned by Plato over 2000 years ago.
It has had a hold on the popular imagination for centuries. Perhaps we
now have an explanation of its origin - a folk memory of a real ancient
civilisation swallowed by the sea.
A WARNING TO FUTURE MAN DEPARTMENT -
Lost World Found Under
Archaeologists are uncovering a huge prehistoric "lost country" hidden
below the North Sea.
This lost landscape, where hunter-gatherer communities once lived, was
swallowed by rising water levels at the end of the last ice age.
University of Birmingham researchers are heralding "stunning" findings
as they map the "best-preserved prehistoric landscape in Europe".
This large plain disappeared below the water more than 8,000 years ago.
The Birmingham researchers have been using oil exploration technology
to build a map of the once-inhabited area that now lies below the North
Sea - stretching from the east coast of Britain up to the Shetland
Islands and across to Scandinavia.
"It's like finding another country," says Professor Vince Gaffney,
chair in Landscape Archaeology and Geomatics.
It also serves as a warning for the scale of impact that climate change
can cause, he says.
Human communities would have lost their homelands as the rising water
began to encroach upon the wide, low-lying plains.
"At times this change would have been insidious and slow - but at
times, it could have been terrifyingly fast. It would have been very
traumatic for these people," he says.
"It would be a mistake to think that these people were unsophisticated
or without culture... they would have had names for the rivers and
hills and spiritual associations - it would have been a catastrophic
loss," says Professor Gaffney.
As the temperature rose and glaciers retreated and water levels rose,
the inhabitants would have been pushed off their hunting grounds and
forced towards higher land - including to what is now modern-day
"In 10,000 BC, hunter-gatherers were living on the land in the middle
of the North Sea. By 6,000 BC, Britain was an island. The area we have
mapped was wiped out in the space of 4,000 years," explains Professor
So far, the team has examined a 23,000-sq-km area of the sea bed -
mapping out coastlines, rivers, hills, sandbanks and salt marshes as
they would have appeared about 12,000 years ago.
And once the physical features have been established, Professor Gaffney
says it will be possible to narrow the search for sites that could
yield more evidence of how these prehistoric people lived.
These inhabitants would have lived in family groups in huts and hunted
animals such as deer.
The mapping of this landscape could also raise questions about its
preservation, says Professor Gaffney - and how it can be protected from
activities such as pipe-laying and the building of wind farms.
THANK YOU LOREN COLEMAN DEPARTMENT -
"Dover Demon" Bewitches
Still, 30 Years Later
Do you believe in the Dover Demon?
April 21st marked the 30th anniversary of the alleged sightings of the
mysterious creature, described by several witnesses as about 4 feet
tall with a thin body and arms, glowing eyes, and a huge, egg-shaped
Whether it's real or a hoax, the Dover Demon has gained notoriety among
paranormal enthusiasts around the United States and the world. In
conjunction with the anniversary, the Dover Historical Society plans to
print T-shirts depicting the creature.
"The Dover Demon case is one of the most widely publicized creature
sighting reports of all time," said Chris Pittman, a Franklin resident
who presides over the Massachusetts UFO Resource Site, a website
focused on the paranormal. "I don't think it would be possible for
anyone interested in paranormal mysteries not to have heard of this
These days the creature is included in a number of books and websites
about strange creatures right alongside Bigfoot and the Loch Ness
Monster. For example, About.com (a website owned by The New York Times,
parent company of the Globe) puts the Dover Demon on its list of the
"Top 10 Most Mysterious Creatures of Modern Times," and a Japanese toy
company has manufactured Dover Demon figurines.
The creature was reportedly seen on three separate occasions on April
21 and 22, 1977. William Bartlett , who was the first person to report
seeing the creature, said he wasn't aware the Dover Demon incident was
"I don't really think about it, unless someone calls me to ask about
it," said Bartlett, an accomplished painter in the realist style who
lives in Needham but grew up in Dover.
When asked, Bartlett stands by his story.
Bartlett, who was then 17, said he spotted the creature while driving
his Volkswagen Beetle along Farm Street about 10 p.m. that April 21. He
got a good look at the creature for 10 to 15 seconds, he said, and knew
right away that it was like no animal he had ever seen.
The creature's head was nearly as big as the rest of its body, and it
had long, spindly fingers, he said. It was walking on all fours atop a
"As I drove by it turned its head to look at me," Bartlett said in a
recent interview. "You get that moment where your eyes meet. I remember
that happening. It freaked me out."
Bartlett said he went home, told his parents what happened , and
immediately began sketching a picture of the creature. He was already
an aspiring artist at the time and has always had a good visual memory,
Bartlett's sketches have become the most-used representation of the
His drawings attracted the attention of Loren Coleman , a
cryptozoologist, or researcher of "hidden animals."
Coleman said he happened to see the sketches in a Dover store a few
days after the sightings. Coleman learned that other teenagers had also
reported seeing the creature, and he quickly assembled a team to look
into the stories.
He found that 15-year-old John Baxter reported seeing a similar
creature walking around on Miller Hill Road the same night as
Bartlett's sighting. The next night, 15-year-old Abby Brabham and her
boyfriend saw a similar creature cross the street on Springdale Avenue.
The three sightings were all within about a mile of each other.
Coleman said he became convinced: The teens were not friends with each
other and did not find out until later that others had made similar
"These were kids that were not pranksters," Coleman said. "They just
weren't kids that would have had any reason to be lying."
Coleman, who coined the catchy name "Dover Demon," has been writing and
talking about the creature ever since. His most well-known book,
"Mysterious America," is being rereleased this week with an expanded
chapter on the Dover Demon.
Coleman said he believes the story has had staying power because it is
unique: No one has ever reported seeing such a creature anywhere else
in the world.
Besides being featured on U S television programs such as "Unsolved
Mysteries," the Dover Demon has drawn interest from abroad. Coleman
said he has spoken to media from such places as Japan, Russia, Austria
and South Africa about the creature.
On Monday night he will appear on a nationally syndicated radio show, "
Coast to Coast AM," and expects to spend much of the show discussing
the Dover Demon.
"Who could've known that 30 years later, people would still be talking
about it?" said Coleman, who now lives in Portland, Maine. "Who
would've guessed that the story of those teens would become an
The town of Dover hasn't really embraced the story, according to
Coleman. But a bit of enthusiasm appears to be surfacing with the 30th
anniversary of the sightings.
Paul Tedesco, president of the Dover Historical Society, said the
group's T-shirts commemorating the anniversary will be imprinted with
Bartlett's famous sketch and the words "Do you believe?" They will be
sold during the Dover Days Fair on May 19 as a fund-raiser for the
Tedesco also said he'd like to organize some sort of Demon-themed
contest for the fair. "I've never believed it," Tedesco said. "But hey,
people have fun with it."
For those who do believe, though, the question remains: What was that
Coleman said he has never drawn any conclusions.
"For me, I'm happy saying I don't know what it was," he said. "I think
it's enough to just acknowledge that it was an actual, real incident.
It's a mystery, but it's a very real mystery."
Bartlett said he only knows what it wasn't: It wasn't a fox or some
other animal. He had been accustomed to seeing those animals while
growing up in Dover back when it was a farm town, he said.
"I honestly saw something," Bartlett said. "I wish I had made it up,
and it was a hoax, because then maybe I could have profited from it in
some way. But I didn't make it up. I know it was real."
Source: The Boston Globe