Letter: Inefficacy of prayer

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The Independent Online
Sir: The recent correspondence on prayers for the Royal Family has ignored one vital aspect of the question: does it make any difference to those being prayed for? As long ago as 1877 Francis Galton showed, in his paper Statistical Inquiries into the Efficacy of Prayer, that members of royal houses - despite the regular and near-universal prayers for their longevity - in fact died younger than any other of the groups he analysed, including officers in the Army and Royal Navy. Perhaps some latter- day Galton will examine the effect on royal life expectancy of the diminishing number of prayers on their behalf, after correcting for general improvements in health and medical care.

Yours sincerely,

NIGEL GREENWOOD

London, N22

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