The $ value of "thoughts and prayers"

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Kim O'Hara
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The $ value of "thoughts and prayers"

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:29 pm

Linda Thunstrom and Shiri Noy, two researchers at the University of Wyoming, noticed that after every public "thoughts and prayers" declaration by a public figure, criticism flared up.

"There always seems to be this backlash after major disasters of people criticising these gestures and saying that they are meaningless," Dr Thunstrom says.

She could see that these gestures had a different value for different people, depending on religious observance.

So she decided to measure it, recruiting 482 survivors of Hurricane Florence, which hit North Carolina in 2018, causing catastrophic flooding and killing dozens of people.

"We gave all the subjects $5 in support of recent hardship," the economics academic says.

Each participant was then given the option to keep the money, give some up in exchange for a prayer from a Christian stranger, or give some up for thoughts from non-religious strangers.

They found that on average, Christian research subjects valued prayers from a Christian stranger at $4.36.

By contrast, non-religious participants were willing to pay $3.54 for a Christian person not to pray for them. ...

More seriously ...
Reflecting on Dr Thunstrom's study, Pastor Yeomans says when politicians offer thoughts and prayers, it needs to be authentic.

"If you don't actually believe, forget the sentiment, and just say, 'Look, we're going to send some practical help, and this is what we're doing.'"

He says there's no need to arbitrarily separate practical help — like clearing away debris or providing shelter and meals [after a cyclone] — from prayer, what he calls "this nebulous, spiritual thing".

"It's the partnership of those two things collectively that is actually a powerful tool." ... 6/11532206

Personally, I don't mind the "thoughts and prayers" of others except when that's all they offer - e.g. Trump after every school shooting.


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Re: The $ value of "thoughts and prayers"

Post by KathyLauren » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:40 pm

There is nothing wrong with "thoughts and prayers" when practical help is not, well, practical. An Internet friend, for example, is typically not in a position to offer tangible help, but "thoughts and prayers" express empathy, and that is meaningful. And I don't care what religion the offerer follows. The offering by itself is a good thing, regardless of denomination.

When I get angry is when someone who is in a position to offer meaningful assistance, such as the leader of a government, offers nothing more than "thoughts and prayers". That is an insult. It tells me that they are unwilling to actually help, and are just using the phrase as propaganda.

The insulting version happens so frequently that the phrase "thoughts and prayers" carries a connotation of insult even when it is intended sincerely. That is unfortunate. When I am making the offering, I try to phrase it differently, just to avoid the appearance of insult.

Om mani padme hum

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