Sir: This is not the first attempt to test the efficacy of prayer. Peter Medawar in one of his essays drew attention to the observation of Francis Galton, that of all the people in the country, the members of the Royal Family were those whose well-being was most prayed for, this being a regular feature of all church services. Hence, if prayer were effective, the health and longevity of the Royal Family should be outstanding.
Sadly, Galton found that this was not so; if anything, they enjoyed worse health and lived shorter lives than average. Medawar relates that this work caused such offence to believers that Galton subsequently suppressed it.
Dr D ZUCK