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'Drowned' boy reveals the psychology of miracles

A young boy's recovery from drowning earlier this week is being credited to a miracle.

Dale Ostrander, 12, was swimming in the ocean at Long Beach, WA., when he got sucked under by a rogue wave. He was there as part of a church group, who cried and prayed while searchers looked for the boy. About fifteen minutes later two rescuers found Ostrander, pulled him to safety, and performed CPR. he was then flown to an Oregon hospital, where he was put into an induced coma and recovered on Monday. Ostrander's friends and family are crediting prayer (with a little help from doctors, of course). His recovery has been widely dubbed a miracle.

Was it a miracle? How we interpret miracles depends on several factors, including our religious beliefs and our knowledge of medicine and statistics.

For many, unusual and positive events can seem miraculously rare, when in reality they are not. For example, many people consider surviving an airplane crash to be a miracle. In fact, statistics show that most people involved in airplane crashes and accidents survive without life-threatening injuries. Plane crashes are very rare, and incidents where everyone aboard is killed are incredibly rare. Since surviving a plane crash is far more common than being killed in a plane crash, it's wonderful for the survivors, but hardly unusual.

Other times what appears to be a miracle to a layperson or a victim's family is not considered a miracle by medical professionals, who may see similar cases on a routine basis. Doctors know that it's not unusual for drowning victims—especially ones who have been underwater for about 20 minutes or less, as Ostrander was—to survive and fully recover.

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TAGGED: PSYCHOLOGY, RELIGION


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