"Remote Healing" is a known phenomenon among naturopaths and other adepts of the paranormal, but has hardly ever been systematically examined. The cardiologist Randolph Byrd, an ex-professor at the University of California, wanted to change all that. He conducted a ten-month computer aided study of the medical case histories of patients who were admitted to San Francisco General Hospital for heart treatment during this period. Byrd formed a group of experimenters consisting not of known healers but of ordinary people whose only special characteristic was that they regularly prayed in one of the surrounding religious communities. The selected persons were asked to pray regularly for a group of 192 patients; a further 210 patients, for whom no one prayed as part of this experiment, made up the control group. This experiment took place under strict control conditions: the patients were selected on a random principle, and the experiment was conducted on the double-blind principle, whereby neither the patients nor the doctors or nurses knew which patient belonged to which group.
The experimenters received the name of the patient plus information about the type of heart disease, and they were asked to pray for them every day. They received no further information. Since every experimenter could pray for several patients, each patient had five to seven people praying for him or her. The results were statistically significant. It turned out that the group being prayed for needed only a fifth of the antibiotics needed by the control group (three as opposed to sixteen patients); they suffered less from pulmonary edema (three as opposed to eighteen patients); and artificial respiration was never needed (whereas twelve patients in the control group required this).
Similarly, there were fewer mortalities in the "prayer group" than in the control group (although this result was statistically insignificant). Neither the distance between the patients and those praying for them nor the type of prayer made any difference to the results. The decisive factor was concentrated and repeated praying, irrespective of the object of the prayer and where the prayers were said.