Miracle study

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The Columbia "Miracle" study scandal concerns the results of a study by Daniel Wirth, Kwang Cha, M.D., and Rogerio Lobo, M.D., published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine in 2001, which suggested that in-vitro fertilization was twice as likely to result in pregnancy if patients were prayed for. The results of the study are allegedly fraudulent. There were also serious ethical issues with the study; subjects were not not made aware of their participation violating the ethical principle of informed consent. Since the study was published, Wirth has been imprisoned on unrelated charges of fraud, Cha has been accused of plagiarism, and Lobo has removed his name from the study. As of 2013 the Journal of Reproductive Medicine has not retracted the study and it is still being regularly cited by other bad researchers.


Open Questions

  • How did the methodology, which was clearly flawed, pass departmental review?
  • How did the study pass the scrutiny of peer review?
  • Why has the article still not been retracted now that two of its authors have been discredited?

Kwang Cha, M.D.

Kwang Cha, M.D. was leading his own lab, the Cha Columbia Infertility Medical Center when the study was published, but severed ties with Columbia soon after publication. In 2007, Cha was censured for plagiarizing wholly a work previously published in a Korean medical journal.

Rogerio Lobo, M.D.

Rogerio A. Lobo, M.D., was chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University. He has since resigned his position.

Daniel Wirth

Daniel Wirth's credentials include a Master's degree in parapsychology and a law degree. He has no medical credentials, but is credited with designing the study. Daniel Wirth was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and bank fraud in 2004. It was this author's criminal conviction that led to open questioning of the study.

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