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ny times article on placebo

Posted by alexandra_k on January 5, 2022, at 14:04:48

I had been wondering / worrying about placebo for quite some time. I found this rather nice NY times article on the issue. I am heartened to learn that other people have been wondering / worrying about this, too.

One thing that doesn't quite add up for me...

They were saying that the power of placebo was the power of belief in placebo. That is to say, people believe (via deception) that they are taking an effective treatment.

They were saying that the power of the placebo effect would then be undermined if people were informed that they were taking a placebo.

But, of course that is not true -- if the people believe in the power of placebo.

You could tell people 'I'm filling these pills with sugar as a placebo' and that could, potentially, have a therapeutic effect.

I wonder a about whether the reason matters.

E.g., if you said 'I'm filling these pills with sugar as a placebo because there is a genuine shortage and we are doing the best we can do' vs 'I'm filling these pills with sugar as placebo because I think I can make a bunch of money off of giving people a very inexpensive treatment'.

I wonder if the first reason would induce a response to treatment (a response to 'try', if you like) whereas the second wouldn't. It might be hard to get compliance with treatment in the second which would confound, I suppose.

But the things could be teased apart.




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