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← 'Drowned' boy reveals the psychology of miracles

'Drowned' boy reveals the psychology of miracles - Comments

alf1200's Avatar Comment 1 by alf1200

This is a cruel and stupid conclusion to say it was a "miracle"

I am from Ocean Shores about fifty miles away and other people who died and the police and fire officials who gave their lives will consider this an insult.

How about giving credit to the hospital, the doctors, the emt's and science.

I am sick of watching our local emergency officials give their lives to stupid visitiors who every year come to the ocean and risk their lives and lives of others believing "faith and prayer" will save them from irresponsible behaviour.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 06:29:55 UTC | #862654

mmurray's Avatar Comment 2 by mmurray

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.

Praise the Lord he was with a group whose leaders knew what to do in an emergency. I never take the children to the beach without a live chicken in the car I can sacrifice if they get sucked out to sea.

Michael

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 06:47:56 UTC | #862655

Chris Roberts's Avatar Comment 3 by Chris Roberts

By definition, a miracle is the least probable explanation for any given event.

Therefore it is more likely that this lucky individual has a higher tolerance of water in his lungs than other pepole. Or maybe his parents were water-dwelling aliens and he is disguised to live amongst us.

Personally, I'd credit his survival withy the skill and experince of the rescue team, until there is evidence to the contrary.

Or maybe he is just one lucky individual.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 06:48:27 UTC | #862656

Lightnin's Avatar Comment 4 by Lightnin

Comment 2 by mmurray :

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.

Praise the Lord he was with a group whose leaders knew what to do in an emergency. I never take the children to the beach without a live chicken in the car I can sacrifice if they get sucked out to sea.

Michael

Personally I carry around a little monopoly piece for good luck in just such a situation (Apologies to Scrubs).

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 07:21:27 UTC | #862661

AntonNortje's Avatar Comment 5 by AntonNortje

With that rogue wave it looks like God may have had less than honourable intentions. Good thing the doctors managed to save him in the end.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 07:34:40 UTC | #862663

All About Meme's Avatar Comment 6 by All About Meme

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

This is poor writing. The only definite answers to the author's question are "yes" and "no". In either case, how miracles are interpreted is irrelevant.

If the answer is "maybe", then just how rare, in a statistical sense, does an event have to be, in order to qualify as a miracle? The author is suggesting that a mathematical threshold could perhaps be applied, and that idea is preposterous.

There aren't "several factors" involved in this matter. Religion is the only factor. If God doesn't exist, miracles don't exist. Period.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 07:52:04 UTC | #862666

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 7 by Vicktor

Think of [insert particular god here] as a character who may or may not help you, depending on how well/much you appease/please him with your prayers. Either way, it all then makes sense.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 08:18:10 UTC | #862668

phill marston's Avatar Comment 8 by phill marston

A young boy's recovery from drowning

Well, if he 'recovered' he plainly hadn't 'drowned', had he? Because if he had, he'd be dead.

And here in France the 'church group' would have faced prosecution for faffing around praying and not helping while a person was in mortal danger.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 08:20:36 UTC | #862669

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 9 by AtheistEgbert

What exactly are the conditions that make something a miracle?

Perhaps if something impossible happens? If that is the case, then surviving a plane crash is not impossible, nor are any number of events that people describe as miracles. If they are possible then they are not a miracle.

There's also a psychological process called confirmation bias, in which people tend to seek out, focus on, and remember information that supports their ideas and beliefs while ignoring or downplaying information that contradicts or undermines their beliefs.

Indeed, it is a better explanation to describe what's going on inside the mind than attempting to reason through the claims of miracles. Conformation bias is the best explanation for why people describe events as miracles, when there is no criteria for determining between a miracle and mathematical probabilities.

Science (as far as I'm aware) is the only method that minimizes conformation bias over the long term. It does this with the verification principle combined with experiment. It also seeks to refute a theory as much as much as provide evidence for it, otherwise known as falsificationism.

As mediocre sceptics, we often seek evidence to support our opinion, and do not look at evidence that disagrees with us. This is conformation bias at work.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 09:21:26 UTC | #862675

thebaldgit's Avatar Comment 10 by thebaldgit

By describing it as a miracle you have to decide what constitutes a miracle. Many things we take for granted now would have been regarded a miracle 100 years ago perhaps even 50. In this case as they are god botherers the miracle is the easy answer to what seems to them the impossible.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 09:22:27 UTC | #862676

RW Millam's Avatar Comment 11 by RW Millam

This god who performed the "miracle"...... is it the same god who let the kid drown in the first place? That would explain the thunderous, heavenly "Oops" I heard a few days ago.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 09:26:44 UTC | #862677

Flapjack's Avatar Comment 12 by Flapjack

I seem to remember an old Jasper Carrott gag based on a news story he'd read about a guy who survived being struck by lightning. The man reportedly told the local news that every day he thanked God for his miraculous survival. Carrott's observation was "Who did he think was chucking the bloody lightning in the first place?"

Goes to show, the conformation bias is just as easy to read in reverse... but then as we all know, the gays make god produce natural disasters - even tornadoes in the bible belt

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 09:35:29 UTC | #862679

Eosimias's Avatar Comment 13 by Eosimias

Doctors do all the work, and this God guy takes all the credit.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 09:38:22 UTC | #862680

mmurray's Avatar Comment 14 by mmurray

Comment 8 by phill marston :

A young boy's recovery from drowning

Well, if he 'recovered' he plainly hadn't 'drowned', had he? Because if he had, he'd be dead.

I think he had drowned in the sense that he had stopped breathing and his heart had stopped. If you start the heart again you face the risk of brain damage due to lack of oxygen. People talk about 3 minutes being the maximum time until brain damage sets in but it's well known that if someone is in cold water, and this was apparently very cold, you can go longer until brain damage sets in.

So I'm happy for him and his family but it's not unprecedented.

And here in France the 'church group' would have faced prosecution for faffing around praying and not helping while a person was in mortal danger.

Definitely. I would like to know what arrangements they had in place for such an emergency.

Michael

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 09:47:49 UTC | #862681

Drosera's Avatar Comment 15 by Drosera

It is probably far more than just confirmation bias that makes Christians so willing to believe in miracles. My guess is that most of them are desperately in need of any kind of evidence for the things they believe in. They have heard all those stories about miracle-worker Jesus dying for their sins, being resurrected, and promising to return to take them to heaven - provided they accept Him as their Saviour. Of course, most Christians realise perfectly well that these accounts are most unlikely to be true. In fact, the things these stories relate are not just unlikely (like this boy surviving after nearly drowning), but impossible. They are truly miraculous. As opposed to unlikely things, impossible things can never happen (that's the definition of an impossible thing, isn't it?). And yet, if you are a believer, you must accept that impossible things did happen.

One way the faithful do this, I would speculate, is by lowering their standards for miracles. A true miracle, assuming today’s medical technology, would have occurred if, for example, the boy's head had been severed by a shark and then been reattached and healed by a rescue worker (who happened to be Jesus, who had just returned to earth). I think it's safe to say that such miracles have never been reliably documented. But the promise of an afterlife is so enticing, that many people are more than willing to fool themselves, just to suppress their nagging doubts, which I'm sure they have if they possess even a modicum of intelligence. With respect to miracles there are then two ways to go about this:

  1. Redefine a miracle not only as something patently impossible happening, but also as something extremely unlikely or inexplicable happing. Then, suddenly, miracles happen all the time, which is a miracle in itself.

  2. Make yourself believe that unreliable documents like the Bible are in fact highly reliable.

We observe both strategies all the time. If you are a believer you must simultaneously be craving for evidence and at the same time be constantly in denial about the complete lack of real evidence for what you believe in. Apparently, it becomes second nature to most.

Then there is of course the eternal question along the lines of: why did god, assuming he exists, save this particular person through a miracle, while he let a nine-year old girl die in a fire?

To which the only possible answer which saves god's face, at least to some extent, can be and has always been: god acts in mysterious ways.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 10:12:38 UTC | #862684

Mrkimbo's Avatar Comment 16 by Mrkimbo

"Let them have their harmless little beliefs," I can already hear the wets cry. But it's not harmless. Apart from the stupidity of praying when you could be helping, noted by other posters above, it's deeply hurtful and disrespectful to the loved ones of those who do not survive such incidents. Two miners were rescued from a mine collapse here in Tasmania lot so long ago - cue cries of 'a miracle!' from the faithful - but the believers were silent about their colleague, no doubt an equally good man, who was killed in the first rock-fall. What do his relatives take from this - that he somehow wasn't worthy of being saved? Nasty, stupid bullshit.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 10:22:07 UTC | #862685

Duff's Avatar Comment 17 by Duff

Its pretty clear omniscient, omnipotent god drowned the kid just to show off. There can be no other interpretation if you actually think about it. But then, the religious are not known for actually thinking.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 10:23:26 UTC | #862686

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 18 by drumdaddy

How long did god hold the kid underwater? Did he inflict some noogies and gut-kicks as well?

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 10:41:40 UTC | #862688

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 19 by rod-the-farmer

He was there as part of a church group, who cried and prayed while searchers looked for the boy.

There is a faint implication here that none of the church group did any searching....that was done by outsiders. One might well ask if any of the church group had CPR training and worked on the boy once rescued. If the answer is no in both cases, you could make yet another small claim that attendance by a child in any church group, for any reason, is dangerous to their health and well-being.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 10:56:08 UTC | #862695

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 20 by QuestioningKat

In the past, I have written several posts elsewhere on this topic. What to do when it all makes sense to us? Give credit where credit is due. It is the kind and responsible thing to do.

I was at the beach when a 18 year old football player was drowned by an undertow that pulled him out far into the water. It was terrible. I watched a life guard run a half mile down the beach and swim out several hundred feet in what seemed to be seconds. She was amazing. I realized that these lifeguards are young kids and you really need to consider your safety first. A couple of other lifeguards wasted seconds if not minutes. In situations like these, you need to depend on yourself and the skill of others to help you.

I recall a speaker at a church during my woo years who commented how he healed himself. (the indwelling God) At the time, I completely overlooked the comment that he had dozens/numerous surgeries to help "assist" HIS healing. Yet the comment did not sit well with me and I never forgot it. As I understand this view, because our body (Consciousness) has the innate ability to heal itself, the doctors can administer drugs, surgery, etc. to help facilitate what naturally occurs in our body. Doctors do not heal; they simply assist this Godly process.

Whenever someone says "It was a miracle." to a medical situation, I reply " My goodness, I wonder what would have happened if a doctor was not involved?" I find that asking a question is a way to get them to try to realistically view the situation in a non-confrontational way.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 11:19:33 UTC | #862698

Rich Wiltshir's Avatar Comment 21 by Rich Wiltshir

Re Comment 9 by AtheistEgbert

What exactly are the conditions that make something a miracle?

Surely a miracle is any narrative that publicity-seeking religoons can pass off as an explantion that's beyond their self-limited understanding of the real world?

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 11:22:04 UTC | #862700

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 22 by aquilacane

I've always had little respect for people who walk out of the hospital, after suffering some horrible injury with a low probability of survival, and start their miracle speech with—"I just want to thank god for saving my life and giving me another chance to enjoy his great gift here on earth..."

Meanwhile, the Doctors who actually saved the person's life are standing right behind them and not even recognized in the least. Never mind the surgical instrument manufacturers and the hundreds of thousands of people in research and on and on... I guess they don't have to think when they say god.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 11:41:07 UTC | #862707

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 23 by DavidMcC

Comment 8 by phill marston

And here in France the 'church group' would have faced prosecution for faffing around praying and not helping while a person was in mortal danger.

I don't think it's fair, or even wise, to expect other beachgoers to attempt a risky task like that themselves. The result could be just to multiply the casualties, especially if there are many yong people there. Better if there are trained lifeguards on dangerous beaches, or at least to arrange for a strong swimmer to accompany any such group.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 11:57:58 UTC | #862710

mmurray's Avatar Comment 24 by mmurray

Comment 23 by DavidMcC :

Comment 8 by phill marston

And here in France the 'church group' would have faced prosecution for faffing around praying and not helping while a person was in mortal danger.

I don't think it's fair, or even wise, to expect other beachgoers to attempt a risky task like that themselves. The result could be just to multiply the casualties, especially if there are many yong people there. Better if there are trained lifeguards on dangerous beaches, or at least to arrange for a strong swimmer to accompany any such group.

Assuming it was a group with some kind of group leadership then they had the responsibility of assuring that adequate safeguards were in place.

Michael

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 13:04:18 UTC | #862729

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 25 by Dhamma

Every religious person should wear a dog tag saying "I credit prayers, not doctors", so that we don't need to invest unnecessary energy, as they will get helped for free and without our intervention. And in case their prayers don't help... win-win.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 13:38:40 UTC | #862737

Michael Fisher's Avatar Comment 26 by Michael Fisher

Comment 8 by phill marston :

And here in France the 'church group' would have faced prosecution for faffing around praying and not helping while a person was in mortal danger.

In support of what Phill wrote ~ in French criminal law there's the offence of non-assistance à personne en danger ~ the duty to rescue QUOTE:

In some countries, there exists a legal requirement for citizens to assist people in distress, unless doing so would put themselves or others in harm's way. Citizens are often required to, at minimum, call the local emergency number, unless doing so would be harmful, in which case the authorities should be contacted when the harmful situation has been removed.... France: The photographers at the scene of Princess Diana's fatal car accident were investigated for violation of the French law of "non-assistance à personne en danger" (deliberately failing to provide assistance to a person in danger), which can be punished by up to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of up to €100,000

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 14:24:42 UTC | #862745

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 27 by DavidMcC

Point taken, Michael, but you might think that the near death of a child in the care of an organised group would trigger a mass exodus from that group. I wonder what happened/will happen in this particular church group? Would the parents buy the line that everything is under control, because "God" was supposedly there for the lucky little one? If it had been a school group instead of a church group, the next PTA would have been a stormy one, I would think, even with the "miracle", because parents can't be that stupid, can they?

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 14:34:07 UTC | #862746

SRWB's Avatar Comment 28 by SRWB

Personally, I know a little bit about spending time in hospital after an operation due to a fairly serious condition and the real impact that doctors and the host of other medical staff have on recovery as opposed to the uselessness of prayer and such medieval nonsense.

Give me a doctor and modern medicine over prayers and Christian incantations any day - I know which one actually works!

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 14:43:43 UTC | #862748

korben's Avatar Comment 29 by korben

Comment 27 by DavidMcC :

Point taken, Michael, but you might think that the near death of a child in the care of an organised group would trigger a mass exodus from that group. I wonder what happened/will happen in this particular church group? Would the parents buy the line that everything is under control, because "God" was supposedly there for the lucky little one? If it had been a school group instead of a church group, the next PTA would have been a stormy one, I would think, even with the "miracle", because parents can't be that stupid, can they?

What will happen is that the members of this group will become even more entrenched in their beliefs ("see? god answered our prayers, we're on the right path") and may even attract more followers. Stupidity doesn't beget reason, it only begets more stupidity.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 16:00:24 UTC | #862757

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 30 by ZenDruid

If Dale Ostrander had saved himself by walking ashore on the surface of the waves, beams of light radiating from his head, that might be called a miracle.

I'll give credit to a successful rescue operation and competent emergency medicine.

Sat, 20 Aug 2011 16:33:39 UTC | #862761