30 12 2010

Recovering slowly from a lovely Christmas time with the family. Lots of silliness, far too much food, and a bundle of geekish pressies to wrestle our way home with!

Currently in that odd lull between Christmas and the new year, which I’m filling with rewatching Wonders of the Solar System for the third time, eating a small mountain of chocolate, and getting excited about Stargazing LIVE. On that note, the Christmas Lectures are on TV now!

Happy nerd-mas one and all.



remote, retroactive intercessory prayer

11 02 2010

Famous and hilarious study. Praying for people 10 years AFTER they’d been in hopsital lead to better outcomes. Maybe they repeated the study with different patient groups until they got the magic p value, maybe they just got lucky, still, shows why it’s important to ask the right question when thinking about conducting research. But lead to a lovely, controversial Chrsitmas BMJ issue!

BMJ 2001;323:1450-1451 ( 22-29 December )

Beyond science?

Effects of remote, retroactive intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients with bloodstream infection: randomised controlled trial

Leonard Leibovici, professor

Department of Medicine, Beilinson Campus, Rabin Medical Center, Petah-Tiqva 49100, Israel

Objective: To determine whether remote, retroactive intercessory prayer, said for a group of patients with a bloodstream infection, has an effect on outcomes.
Design: Double blind, parallel group, randomised controlled trial of a retroactive intervention.
Setting: University hospital.
Subjects: All 3393 adult patients whose bloodstream infection was detected at the hospital in 1990-6.
Intervention: In July 2000 patients were randomised to a control group and an intervention group. A remote, retroactive intercessory prayer was said for the well being and full recovery of the intervention group.
Main outcome measures: Mortality in hospital, length of stay in hospital, and duration of fever.
Results: Mortality was 28.1% (475/1691) in the intervention group and 30.2% (514/1702) in the control group (P for difference=0.4). Length of stay in hospital and duration of fever were significantly shorter in the intervention group than in the control group (P=0.01 and P=0.04, respectively).
Conclusions: Remote, retroactive intercessory prayer said for a group is associated with a shorter stay in hospital and shorter duration of fever in patients with a bloodstream infection and should be considered for use in clinical practice.

Christmas (yes… that’s right… no X!)

7 12 2009

Thanks to the lovely Helen (catch up with her at blogging yesterday about Christmas, I thought I’d take the chance to add my own thoughts on the matter.

Growing up, I flitted in and out of the whole Christian thing. We went to Church once a month (nice little CofE type job), I enjoyed the family service (they had puppets!), and even played flute in the Church band. Yet I was never really sure where I stood on the whole God thing. Now, I felt that there was somethingmore to life, but the concrete ‘facts’ of Jesus being the son of God, and that he died for us eetc etc…. well, it just felt a bit too much to have to accept to get ‘on board’ with a  religion.

Unlike many who are disillusions about religion, I definitely see the good in it all. I see the amazing people I’ve met through churches, and been given so much inspiration by them. I was actually coming round to the idea, and was trying to live my life in a way I hoped God might be pleased with.

It has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to go to Africa, and last year, for the first time, I actually made it there. I had an amazing time, and found myself living with a local family in Malawi, who happened to be Christian. Not surprising, as everyone is very religious in Malawi. However, I felt uncomfortable being asked to go to their church, and even more uncomfortable watching TV with them.

The context is important. The lady I lived with worked at a medical centre. A non-denomination/non-religious medical centre. Yet every night, they watched a man on the TV claiming that God could use him to cure people of HIV. I still find this hard to swallow. It makes me angry, yet at the same time, I can begin to understand it. Faced with a choice between placing hope in a medical profession who say they can’t cure a disease, and a random bloke who says he can, which would you choose?

So I face Christmas now with a confusion. I love the family, fun, happiness, joy, kindness that comes with Christmas. But I no longer know what to believe about whether I want to celebrate it as the birth of Jesus. I’m not really sure if that adds anything more, at least to me at this point in my life.

I hope to see this winter time as a chance to practice “random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty”. I hope I can encourage you to do the same.

Here’s a list of fun stuff to get you started:

  1. Buy a bunch of cheap flowers and hand them to a complete stranger
  2. Donate money to a stranger’s cause online (try
  3. Leave a book on a park bench for someone else to enjoy (register it at
  4. Pay for the person behind you’s coffee
  5. Leave 20p in a phone box
  6. Smile at everyone you meet today
  7. Buy a box of choccy biccys for another department at work
  8. Call your nan, mum, friend you haven’t seen for ages
  9. Say hi to a neighbour and give them your number for when they need it
  10. Donate your change to charity

There are tons more, just waiting to be discovered. I’ll post more ideas. Please tell me your RaoK stories! They’re always fun!