Different Ways to Know the Mind of God

Stephen Hawking famously thought that physics would reveal the mind of God.  In fact, Hawking gave physics a 50:50 shot by the end of the last century.  Guess he lost that one.  But fellow Nobelist Jim Heckman has beat Hawking to the punch using "powerful statistical methods to evaluate the effect of prayer on the attitude of God toward human beings."

Let Y be God’s attitude arrayed on a scale ranging from zero to one. This is an unobserved variable. Let X be the intensity of prayer in the population. It too is scaled between zero and one. The population density of prayer is summarized by a univariate density f(X) which has been estimated by Father Greeley (1972)….

The paper, which goes on like that for a while, is actually quite interesting but if you are looking for the bottom line it comes at the end:

The method presented here is applicable to a number of important problems….For example, one can extend current empirical work in a variety of areas of economics to estimate the effect of income on happiness or the effect of income inequality on democracy.

Thanks to David Glenn and Lee Spector for the link.


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