That Prayer to St. Jude
I'm sure most people who have looked in the classified section of the newspaper have seen one or more versions of the prayer to St. Jude.
It has to be said nine times a day for nine days. If you do that, and promise to publish the prayer, then, it is claimed, the prayer "has never been known to fail."
One could argue that the fact that the prayer gets published on occasion in the personals section demonstrates that it must have worked for someone. But never been known to fail?
Of course the neat thing about this is that you are only required to publish something if the prayer succeeds. Failures are just not recorded.
However, there are sufficient people who believe in the power of prayer that we can assume that each time the prayer does get published, several individuals do follow up and repeat the prayer faithfully nine times a day for nine days.
And if the prayer is, as claimed, 100% successful, then nearly all of these individuals would honour the promise to publish it again - inspiring more people to try the prayer, and further publication.
Success for everyone would mean that the frequency of these advertisements would go up exponentially. The classified sections of the newspapers would be full of them until such time as everybody on the face of the earth has had all their prayers answered.
As we see no such increase, it is safe to assume that most of the time, the prayer fails.
And when it apparently succeeds - that's just the normal vagaries of life.