Friday, August 28, 2009

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

 "Why We Need Science: "I saw it with my own eyes" Is Not Enough," by Harriet Hall, is a very straight-forward article on why we need science-based medicine and how our minds often lead us into accepting treatments that have no evidence of efficacy.  

A related article is from Wired Magazine about the placebo effect. "Placebos Are Getting More Effective. Drugmakers Are Desperate to Know Why" by Steve Silberman, details the growing frustration of pharmaceutical companies as researchers discover that many drugs aren't performing much better than placebos.  

Then there's this great episode from Radiolab also on the placebo response.  

All of this once again makes me stand in wonder at the power of the human mind. Does this apparent rise in the placebo response mean that, as a species, we're becoming more suggestible? And what are the implications of this? 

tall penguin

Edited September 5, 2009 to add: The article Placebo Is Not What You Think It Is by Peter Lipson comments on the second article I linked to in this post and sheds some light on the whole placebo issue.  


Ganga Fondan said...

Perhaps we have underestimated the greatest faculty of all:
"the human imagination". Am enjoying your deepdives into "infoworld'. Thanks for the stunning and unbelievably beautiful links you sent me. Love them. Love them. Love them. You are the best Tall Penguin in the infinitum...


Call me Paul said...

I'd be very interested to see the results of this meta study looking at the placebo response over the last several decades. My first guess: the placebo response is not really getting stronger. I think this study is going to reveal a culture of shoddy research at drug companies. You trying to tell me that Prozac used to work better than placebo, but now it doesn't any more? No, the old studies used to justify the marketing of Prozac will be found to be questionable in either methodology or ethics.

tall penguin said...

Love ya Ganga girl!

Paul, well, I guess time will tell.