DAPL Mass Prayer and Army Corp Announcement
A collaboration of Unify, Uplift, and other organizations sent out an announcement to "Join us today, Dec 4th, for a Global Synchronized Prayer with Standing Rock.
Thousands will pray around the camp's sacred fire joined by over 72,000 of you from around the world in over 40+ countries! United in solidarity.
Today at 10:00am CST at the central Sacred Fire that has been burning continuously since the camp started Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th generation holder of the White Buffalo Calf pipe, will lead interfaith prayers alongside 50+ spiritual leaders who have flown in from all over the world."
A few hours later, the Army Corps of Engineers made what I think was a surprise announcement that the Corps would not grant the easement required to continue building the pipeline. This was presented as the accomplishment of President Obama, motivated by the long peaceful demonstrations and the extraordinary support from people all around the country and the world. Definitely good news.
It is tempting to think this coincidence is meaningful, and indeed it is for many people. The timing, at first glance, supports the idea that prayer works. Of course, the USACE decision had been in the works, without question. But it is a delightful moment of synchronicity.
Specific Hypothesis and Results
This analysis is, as other recent ones have been, an exploration, but the hypothesis was set a priori according to standard protocol. The GCP event was set for 6 hours beginning at 10:00 AM CST (North Dakota time), which is 16:00 to 22:00 UTC. The result was Chisquare 21828 on 21600 df for p = 0.13687 and Z = 1.0945.
The data show a very strong departure in the predicted direction beginning about the time of the mass prayer, and continuing for about 3 hours. Then the cumulative deviation levels off and looks normally random for the rest of the event period.
The following graph is a visual display of the statistical result. It shows the second-by-second accumulation of small deviations of the data from what’s expected. Our prediction is that deviations will tend to be positive, and if this is so, the jagged line will tend to go upward. If the endpoint is positive, this is evidence for the general hypothesis and adds to the bottom line. If the endpoint is outside the smooth curve showing 0.05 probability, the deviation is nominally significant. If the trend of the cumulative deviation is downward, this is evidence against the hypothesis, and is subtracted from the bottom line. For more detail on how to interpret the results, see The Science and related pages, as well as the standard caveat below.
It is important to keep in mind that we have only a tiny statistical effect, so that it is always hard to distinguish signal from noise. This means that every
success might be largely driven by chance, and every
null might include a real signal overwhelmed by noise. In the long run, a real effect can be identified only by patiently accumulating replications of similar analyses.