Wednesday, December 22, 2004

And what of the supernatural?

In a previous post, in response to a charge that educated people are more likely to be liberal, I opined that academia leans so far to the left because it is a natural home for idealists, which most liberalists tend to be.

One category of very educated people, who by the nature of their work must be grounded in realism, is doctors. I don't have any data on whether doctors tend to be politically liberal or conservative, but this article points out the fascinating results of a recent survey: most doctors believe in miracles.

A miracle is "an event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God." Surely most academics would frown on such an idea, but doctors don’t.

74% of doctors believe that miracles have occurred in the past and 73% believe that can occur today.

"The picture that emerges is one where doctors, although presumably more highly educated than their average patient, are not necessarily more secular or radically different in religious outlook than the public, stated Dr. Alan Mittleman, Director of The Finkelstein Institute.

Perhaps the most surprising result of the survey is that a majority of doctors (55%) said that they have seen treatment results in their patients that they would consider miraculous (45% do not).

I'd be interested to see the percentage of other highly educated people who profess a belief in the supernatural.

Doctors are highly educated, but they also work in the real world with a comprehensive cross section of society. That 74% of them believe in miracles and 55% claim to have actually witnessed one (or more) makes me feel less like some kind of zealot for agreeing with them.

Update: Maybe the docs have seen stories like this one that GW points out...8.6 ounce baby girl, who survived.