A surgeon tells the story of a patient whose friends had said a prayer over a stone they had all held in their hands. The stone was meant to remain with the woman during surgery, to bring her good luck. When the surgeon noticed that the stone was nowhere to be seen, he delayed the operation until it was found. Questioned about his decision, he answered simply, “When I operate, I need all the help I can get.”
Even if the conclusions reached by these studies remain controversial, is it reasonable to deprive patients of help that is not only harmless but so potentially beneficial?