placebo effect

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pages: 357 words: 110,072

Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine by Edzard Ernst, Simon Singh


Barry Marshall: ulcers, Berlin Wall, correlation does not imply causation, false memory syndrome, Florence Nightingale: pie chart, germ theory of disease, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, Simon Singh, The Design of Experiments, the scientific method

More surprisingly, green pills have the strongest placebo effect on relieving anxiety, whereas yellow pills work best for depression. Moreover, a pill’s placebo effect is increased if it is given by a doctor wearing a white coat, but it is reduced if it is administered by a doctor wearing a T-shirt, and it is even less effective if given by a nurse. Large tablets offer a stronger placebo effect than small tablets…unless the tablets are very, very small. Not surprisingly, tablets in fancy branded packaging give a bigger placebo effect than those in plain packets. Of course, all of the above statements refer to the average patient, because the actual placebo effect for a particular patient depends entirely on the belief system and personal experiences of that individual. This variability of placebo effect among patients, and its potentially powerful influence on recovery, means that it can be a highly misleading factor when it comes to assessing the true efficacy of a treatment.

In other words, a genuine medicine offers a benefit that is largely due to the medicine itself and partly due to the placebo effect, whereas a fake medicine offers a benefit that is entirely due to the placebo effect. As the placebo effect arises out of the patient’s confidence in the treatment, Haygarth wondered about the factors that would increase that confidence and thereby maximize the power of the placebo. He concluded that, among other things, the doctor’s reputation, the cost of the treatment and its novelty could all boost the placebo effect. Many physicians throughout history have been quick to hype their reputations, link high cost with medical potency and emphasize the novelty of their cures, so perhaps they were already aware of the placebo effect. In fact, prior to Haygarth’s experiments, it seems certain that doctors had been secretly exploiting it for centuries.

It is interesting to note that the placebo effect is particularly good at addressing issues such as pain, swelling, fever, lethargy and loss of appetite, so perhaps the placebo effect is partly the consequence of an innate ability to block the acute phase response at a fundamental level, possibly by the power of expectation. The placebo effect may be linked to either conditioning or expectation or both, and there may be other even more important mechanisms that have yet to be identified or fully appreciated. While scientists strive to establish the scientific basis of the placebo effect, they have already been able to ascertain, by building on Haygarth’s early work, how to maximize it. It is known, for instance, that a drug administered by injection has a bigger placebo effect than the same drug taken in pill form, and that taking two pills provokes a greater placebo response than taking just one.


pages: 322 words: 107,576

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre


Asperger Syndrome, correlation does not imply causation, experimental subject, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, offshore financial centre, p-value, placebo effect, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, the scientific method, urban planning

We know that the colour of pills, their packaging, how much you pay for them and even the beliefs of the people handing the pills over are all important factors. We know that placebo operations can be effective for knee pain, and even for angina. The placebo effect works on animals and children. It is highly potent, and very sneaky, and you won’t know the half of it until you read the ‘placebo’ chapter in this book. So when our homeopathy fan says that homeopathic treatment makes them feel better, we might reply: ‘I accept that, but perhaps your improvement is because of the placebo effect,’ and they cannot answer ‘No,’ because they have no possible way of knowing whether they got better through the placebo effect or not. They cannot tell. The most they can do is restate, in response to your query, their original statement: ‘All I know is, I feel as if it works. I get better when I take homeopathy.’

Let’s imagine we’re talking—maybe even arguing—with someone who thinks that homeopathy works, someone who feels it is a positive experience, and who feels they get better, quicker, with homeopathy. They would say: ‘All I know is, I feel as if it works. I get better when I take homeopathy.’ It seems obvious to them, and to an extent it is. This statement’s power, and its flaws, lie in its simplicity. Whatever happens, the statement stands as true. But you could pop up and say: ‘Well, perhaps that was the placebo effect.’ Because the placebo effect is far more complex and interesting than most people suspect, going way beyond a mere sugar pill: it’s about the whole cultural experience of a treatment, your expectations beforehand, the consultation process you go through while receiving the treatment, and much more. We know that two sugar pills are a more effective treatment than one sugar pill, for example, and we know that salt-water injections are a more effective treatment for pain than sugar pills, not because salt-water injections have any biological action on the body, but because an injection feels like a more dramatic intervention.

We are human, we are irrational, we have foibles, and the power of the mind over the body is greater than anything you have previously imagined. 5 The Placebo Effect For all the dangers of CAM, to me the greatest disappointment is the way it distorts our understanding of our bodies. Just as the Big Bang theory is far more interesting than the creation story in Genesis, so the story that science can tell us about the natural world is far more interesting than any fable about magic pills concocted by an alternative therapist. To redress that balance, I’m offering you a whirlwind tour of one of the most bizarre and enlightening areas of medical research: the relationship between our bodies and our minds, the role of meaning in healing, and in particular the ‘placebo effect’. Much like quackery, placebos became unfashionable in medicine once the biomedical model started to produce tangible results.


pages: 220 words: 66,518

The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles by Bruce H. Lipton


Albert Einstein, Benoit Mandelbrot, correlation does not imply causation, discovery of DNA, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Isaac Newton, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Mars Rover, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, stem cell

When patients get better by ingesting a sugar pill, medicine defines it as the placebo effect. My friend Rob Williams, founder of PSYCH-K, an energy-based psychological treatment system, suggests that it would be more appropriate to refer to it as the perception effect. I call it the belief effect to stress that our perceptions, whether they are accurate or inaccurate, equally impact our behavior and our bodies. I celebrate the belief effect, which is an amazing testament to the healing ability of the body/mind. However, the “all in their minds” placebo effect has been linked by traditional medicine to, at worst, quacks or, at best, weak, suggestible patients. The placebo effect is quickly glossed over in medical schools so that students can get to the real tools of modern medicine like drugs and surgery. This is a giant mistake. The placebo effect should be a major topic of study in medical school.

The message from the drug companies is clear to me: if you can’t beat placebo pills fairly, simply remove the competition! The fact that most doctors are not trained to consider the impact of the placebo effect is ironic because some historians make a strong case that the history of medicine is largely the history of the placebo effect. For most of medical history, doctors did not have effective methods to fight disease. Some of the more notorious treatments once prescribed by mainstream medicine include bloodletting, treating wounds with arsenic, and the proverbial cure-all, rattlesnake oil. No doubt some patients, the conservatively estimated one third of the population who are particularly susceptible to the healing power of the placebo effect, got better with those treatments. In today’s world, when doctors wearing white coats deliver a treatment decisively, patients may believe the treatment works—and so it does, whether it is a real drug or just a sugar pill.

She insisted that the researchers double-check their records to make absolutely sure she wasn’t on the drug. Nocebos: The Power of Negative Beliefs While many in the medical profession are aware of the placebo effect, few have considered its implications for self-healing. If positive thinking can pull you out of depression and heal a damaged knee, consider what negative thinking can do in your life. When the mind, through positive suggestion improves health, it is referred to as the placebo effect. Conversely, when the same mind is engaged in negative suggestions that can damage health the negative effects are referred to as the nocebo effect. In medicine, the nocebo effect can be as powerful as the placebo effect, a fact you should keep in mind every time you step into a doctor’s office. By their words and their demeanor, physicians can convey hope-deflating messages to their patients, messages that are, I believe, completely unwarranted.


pages: 383 words: 108,266

Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely


air freight, Al Roth, Bernie Madoff, Burning Man, butterfly effect, Cass Sunstein, collateralized debt obligation, computer vision, corporate governance, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, endowment effect, financial innovation, fudge factor, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, housing crisis, invisible hand, lake wobegon effect, late fees, loss aversion, market bubble, Murray Gell-Mann, payday loans, placebo effect, price anchoring, Richard Thaler, second-price auction, Silicon Valley, Skype, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Upton Sinclair

Greenspan, Alan, xvii–xix gridlock, legislative, 151, 152 Guidelines for Lawyer Courtroom Conduct (Sweeney), 213 guilt, social norms and, 77 H habits: first decisions translated into, 36–38 questioning, 44 Halloween experiment, 56–58 Hamlet (Shakespeare), xxviii–xxix, 232 Harford, Tim, 291–92 Harvard Business School, 197–98 honesty experiment at, 198–202 health care, 110–11 bundling of medical tests and procedures and, 119–21 conflicts of interest in, 293, 295 defeating procrastination in, 117–21 FREE! procedures and, 62–63 mandatory checkups and, 118 patient compliance and, 260–64 placebo effect and, 173–94, 275–78; see also placebo effect price of medical treatments and, 176, 180–87, 190 public policy and spending on, 190 scientifically controlled trials and, 173–76 self-imposed deadlines and, 118–19 helping, thinking about money and, 74, 75 herding, 36–38 self-herding and, 37–38 Heyman, James, 69–71, 136, 336–37 HIV-AIDS, 90 Holy Roman emperors, placebo effect and, 188 Home Depot, 78 Honda, 120, 121 honesty, 195–230 contemplation of moral benchmarks and, 206–9, 213 dealing with cash and, 217–30 importance of, 214–15 as moral virtue, 203 oaths and, 208–9, 211–13, 215 reward centers in brain and, 203, 208 Smith’s explanation for, 202, 214 superego and, 203–4, 208 see also dishonesty Hong, James, 21 honor codes, 212–13 hormones, expectation and, 179 house sales: anchoring and, 30-31 relativity and, 8–9, 19 value in owner’s eyes and, 129, 135, 265–69 housing market: bubble in, 289–90 decreasing valuations and, 265–66, 279 I ice cream, FREE!

Moseley argued that his study had been carefully designed and carried out. “Surgeons…who routinely perform arthroscopy are undoubtedly embarrassed at the prospect that the placebo effect—not surgical skill—is responsible for patient improvement after the surgeries they perform. As you might imagine, these surgeons are going to great lengths to try to discredit our study.” Regardless of the extent to which you believe the results of this study, it is clear that we should be more suspicious about arthroscopic surgery for this particular condition, and at the same time increase the burden of proof for medical procedures in general. IN THE PREVIOUS chapter we saw that expectations change the way we perceive and appreciate experiences. Exploring the placebo effect in this chapter, we’ll see not only that beliefs and expectations affect how we perceive and interpret sights, tastes, and other sensory phenomena, but also that our expectations can affect us by altering our subjective and even objective experiences—sometimes profoundly so.

Very interesting—considering that Veladone was just a capsule of vitamin C. FROM THIS EXPERIMENT, we saw that our capsule did have a placebo effect. But suppose we priced the Veladone differently. Suppose we discounted the price of a capsule of Veladone-Rx from $2.50 to just 10 cents. Would our participants react differently? In our next test, we changed the brochure, scratching out the original price ($2.50 per pill) and inserting a new discount price of 10 cents. Did this change our participants’ reaction? Indeed. At $2.50 almost all our participants experienced pain relief from the pill. But when the price was dropped to 10 cents, only half of them did. Moreover, it turns out that this relationship between price and placebo effect was not the same for all participants, and the effect was particularly pronounced for people who had more experience with recent pain.


pages: 269 words: 77,042

Sex, Lies, and Pharmaceuticals: How Drug Companies Plan to Profit From Female Sexual Dysfunction by Ray Moynihan, Barbara Mintzes


business intelligence, clean water, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, New Journalism, placebo effect, profit motive, Ralph Nader

, 16 fundamentally flawed, 192 and gap between science and marketing of (see gap between science and marketing of FSD) and ‘insufficiency’ syndromes, 3, 74–5, 78, 104 its existence a central message of industry-sponsored ‘education,’ 109 and the Journal of Sexual Medicine, 114–6, 186–7 female sexual ‘dysfunction’ (FSD) (Cont.) and the making of a new medical condition, xi and male sexual pressure, 200–1 marketing of (see marketing female sexual ‘dysfunction’) a million dollar market waiting to happen, 118 Pfizer currently has no plans to develop medicines for, 175 and the placebo effect (see placebo effect) and problematic nature of definitions, 53–6, 197–8, 201–6 and ‘unmet need,’ 45, 48, 50, 111, 181–2, 197 Female Sexual Dysfunction Online, 106–7 Female Sexual Function Index, 80–5, 105 female sexuality, 5–6, 7, 24, 54, 196, 208 and differences with male sexuality, 200 and the Hite Report, 30 physical aspects of influenced by animal studies, 74–5 female sexuality and the flawed medical model, 190–201 and call to abandon the label, 198–9 the ‘drive’ model, 191–3 and inhibited sexual desire, 191 lack of interest not regarded as problem for women, 196–7 and sexual desire in women, 195–6 and spontaneous desire, 192 female sexual pleasure, 8, 23, 77, 86, 176, 196, 210 attempts to measure, 67, 68–9, 78–9 misunderstanding of, 41 flibanserin (Boehringer’s HSDD drug), 176–83, 204–5 Freud, Sigmund, 22–3, 25 and clitoridal sexuality, 23, 208 misunderstood female sexual pleasure, 41 and ‘vaginal’ orgasm, 23 frigidity, 23–4, 27, 30, 208 FSD. see female sexual ‘dysfunction’ gap between science and marketing of FSD, 197–8, 201–6 genital blood flow, 27, 33, 35, 86, 111, 158, 180 attempts to enhance, 11, 16, 55, 73, 78, 81, 105, 159, 209 measurement of, 74, 75–6, 78–9, 86, 192 and sexual ‘dysfunction,’ 56, 69, 74, 101, 104, 134, 137, 180, 205 and Viagra, 45, 73, 81, 159 genital gel for women, 16, 34, 176 ghost writing, 189 Godlee, Dr Fiona (editor British Medical Journal), 213 Goldstein, Dr Irwin, 36–7, 75, 169, 187–8, 190, 196, 209 an editor of Women’s Sexual Function and Dysfunction, 49 and animal studies and women’s sexual arousal, 74 and award from World Association for Sexual Health, 209 and claims regarding extent of female sexual ‘dysfunction,’ 63 and the daily use of Viagra, 102–3 as editor-in-chief of Journal of Sexual Medicine, 63 and flibanserin trials, 176 and gap between science and marketing of FSD, 201–2 has consulted for pharmaceutical companies, 103 and the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health, 110 and labelling of HSDD, 186 and Massachusetts Male Aging Study, 128 and medical practitioners’ accredited education programs, 100, 104 as ‘thought leader,’ 167, 176 and Viagra for women, 157–60 Grassley, Senator Chuck, 214–5 Halpern (PR firm), 178, 179 Healthy Scepticism, 211 Hill and Knowlton, testosterone patch and, 149 Hite, Shere, 30, 200 criticises definitions of FSD, 40–2 and role of partner in sexual dissatisfaction of women, 82–3 Hite Report, 30 HIV/AIDS, 46, 142–3 homosexuality, 22, 46 hormone ‘deficiency,’ 3, 104, 205 hormone levels, 35, 75–7, 86, 160 hormone replacement therapy, 154, 159 hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), 19, 61–3, 86, 147, 177–204 see also Boehringer’s marketing campaign for flibanserin; female sexual ‘dysfunction’ (FSD); testosterone patch for women and Boehringer survey, 62–3 and calls for it to be abandoned, 204 and Decreased Sexual Desire Screener, 87–9 defined by expert opinion not scientific data, 179–80 not a medical disorder, 192–6 and oestrogen levels, 76–7 and P & G program: Renewing Sexual Desire: Understanding HSDD in Postmenopausal Women, 105–6 and testosterone levels, 75–6 impotence, 122–45 see also ‘erectile dysfunction’ implications of its displacement by the term ‘erectile “dysfunction”’, 132–5 seen as a judgemental term, 123 and social stereotypes of male sexuality, 131–2 ‘ inhibited sexual desire,’ 191 Institute of Medicine and reform of health professional/ pharmaceutical relationship, 212 ‘insufficiency’ syndromes, 3, 74–5, 78, 104 International Academy of Sex Research, 34 International Society for Sexual Medicine, 116 International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health, 110 internet, 81, 109, 217 internet marketing of drugs, 215–6 Intrinsa (testosterone patch for women), 164 Johnson, Ericka (Swedish researcher), 131, 132–4 Johnson, Virginia. see Masters and Johnson Journal of Sexual Medicine, 114–6, 186–7 Journal of the American Medical Association, 49, 54 and criticism of pharmaceutical industry financial support, 213 and frigidity, 23 and the 43 per cent claim of female sexual ‘dysfunction,’ 42–6 ‘key opinion leaders,’ 91, 92, 97, 100, 126, 213 see also ‘thought leaders’ King, Dr Michael, 58, 59 Kinsey (film), 29, 31 Kinsey, Alfred, 24–5, 28–9, 41, 46, 55, 74, 192 and role of hormones, 77–8 Kinsey Institute survey, 73 and female dissatisfaction not physically based, 53–6 Klein, Naomi, 17 Kohl, Senator Herb, 214–5 Laan, Dr Ellen and ‘Cape Cod’ meeting, 194 and capture of sexual medicine by doctors, 193 and rejection of HSDD as medical disorder, 192–6, 205–6 labelling of disorders, 6–7, 55–8, 89, 168, 184, 190, 200, 215, 218, xi benefits of, 4 and ‘female orgasmic disorder,’ 19 and ‘frigidity,’ 24 and marketing of, 9, 31, 42, 70, 88, 181–2, 211, x–xi Lakartidningen (Swedish medical journal), 133 The Lancet, 143 La Revue Prescrire gives lowest rating to testosterone patch, 166 Laumann, Ed, Chicago University, 45–52, 59–61 as author of article in Journal of he American Medical Association, 45–6 and scientific testing of survey questions, 66 and survey on sexual behaviour of Americans, 46 Leiblum, Sandra, 2 rejects 43 per cent female sexual ‘dysfunction’ finding, 49 Levitra (drug), 125, 126 ‘lies’ and pharmaceutical marketing, x ‘lifestyle’ drugs, 39, 134, 140–1, 142 links between pharmaceutical industry and medical community. see relationships between pharmaceutical industry and medical community little blue pill. see Viagra Loe, Dr Meika and continuing medical education (CME) seminar, 101 The Rise of Viagra, 140 low desire. see hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) low libido. see hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) magnetic resonance imaging machines (MRIs), 78 male sexual desire, 200 marketing female sexual ‘dysfunction,’ 1–4, 6–7, 62 see also Boehringer’s marketing campaign for flibanserin; claims of the prevalence of female sexual ‘dysfunction’; ‘education’ of medical practitioners and construction of a scientific justification, 6 and exaggerated pharmaceutical claims, 63 fits broader pattern of disease promotion, 13 and industry manufacture of new norms, 12 inflated estimates of ‘dysfunction’ can create impression of ‘epidemic,’ 67 and internet, 215–6 as ‘lies,’ x and merging with medical science, (see relationships between pharmaceutical industry and medical community) and Twitter and Facebook, 216 and unmet need, 62, 67, 90, 203 marketing male sexual ‘dysfunction’ worth billions to industry, 17 marketing of Viagra, 124–35 and sexual performance anxiety, 143–4 shifts to performance enhancement, 124–6, 142 and social stereotypes of male sexuality, 131–2 targets healthy men, 140–1 Viagra as essential sexual accessory, 31 Massachusetts Male Aging Study, 128 Masters, William. see Masters and Johnson Masters and Johnson, 26–30, 75, 190, 196 and causes of sexual problems, 27–8 masturbation, 22, 26, 151, 175 measuring female sexual pleasure. see diagnostic testing for female sexual ‘dysfunction’ medicalisation of common sexual difficulties, 1–2, 15–43, 47, 52–6, 192–6 common problems categorised as ‘dysfunctions,’ 53–6 creating markets for lifestyle drugs, 39 and female insecurity, 6 history of treatment approaches, 22–43 ‘In Pursuit of the Perfect Penis,’ 34 overestimates of female ‘dysfunction,’ 44–52 and rejection of (see non-medical approaches to female sexual problems) as a result of the 43 per cent female sexual ‘dysfunction’ finding, 49 tide turning against, 205–7 and the waning of sexual interest, 29 medical labelling. see labelling of disorders medical practitioners. see ‘education’ of medical practitioners; relationships between pharmaceutical industry and medical community medical professional accreditation and sponsorship by pharmaceutical industry, 98–106 medical science merging with pharmaceutical marketing, ix systemically pro-drug, 10 merging of marketing and medical science. see relationships between pharmaceutical industry and medical community Meston, Dr Cindy and placebo effect as a ‘difficulty,’ 167–9 Midlands Therapeutics Review and Advisory Committee recommends against testosterone patch, 164 Mitchell, Kirstin, 66 National Academies of Science, 212 New England Research Institute, 209 The New Scientist and the testosterone patch, 149 New View campaign, 101, 148, 202, 208, 211, 216 see also non-medical approaches to female sexual problems; Tiefer, Dr Leonore New York Times, 49, 160 No Free Lunch, 211 No Logo, 17 non-medical approaches to female sexual problems, 4–5, 11, 20–2, 109, 157, 184, 190–206, 216–8 see also New View campaign online ‘education’ of medical practitioners, 106–7 orgasm, 1, 2, 19, 21, 32, 78, 150–1, 170, 208, 231 and Female Sexual Dysfunction, 40, 47, 52–4, 60–1, 65, 70, 81, 84, 178, 201 and Freud, 23–4 and Hite, 30, 40–2 and Kinsey, 24 and Masters and Johnson, 26–7, 190–1 and non-drug therapies, 175 vaginal, 23–4 and Viagra, 158 Orgasm Inc.

(documentary), 17, 221 pain, 1, 12, 28, 64, 111, 165 everyday, as medical disorder, 18 as female sexual ‘dysfunction,’ 2, 19, 40, 47, 52, 81, 84, 178, 190–1, 197 and Kinsey Institute, 54 and non-drug therapies, 175, 217 and Viagra, 158 Parry, Vince, 17 Pfizer, 3, 115, 121, 125 and disclosure of funding of medical education activities, 214 and ‘educating’ medical practitioners, 91–7, 100, 104–5, 110, 114 and funding research and conferences, 37, 49–50, 60–1, 85 has no current plans to develop FSD medicines, 175 and healthcare fraud case, 118–20 and inducements and kickbacks, 38, 119 and ‘key opinion leaders,’ 112 and new ‘corporate integrity agreement,’ 120 and US AIDS HealthCare Foundation lawsuit, 143 and the US Department of Justice, 92, 113 and US Food and Drug Administration, 142 and Viagra, 31, 33–4, 102–3, 124, 126–7, 131–3, 135 and Viagra for women, 3, 158–60 Pfizer Foundation Hall for Humanism in Medicine, 100 pharmaceutical industry. see also Boehringer; Pfizer; Procter & Gamble; relationships between pharmaceutical industry and medical community attempting to shape sexual concerns, 187 blurs lines between promotion and education, 93, 97 and ‘disease development,’ 17 and drug testing, 11 and financial support for medical journals, 114 fosters creation of medical disorders (see medicalisation of common sexual difficulties) and funding of scientific surveys, 62 funding supports the science of sexual medicine, 116–7 and ghost writing, 189 hungry for new markets, 2 and inflated estimates of female sexual ‘dysfunction’ (see claims of the prevalence of female sexual ‘dysfunction’) and ‘lifestyle’ market, 39 marketing machines, 90 and marketing sexual disorders, 12 and maximising markets for drug solutions, 194 primary aim is to expand markets for medicines, 112 and problems with placebo-controlled tests, 11 and role in defining disease, 15–7 sees the placebo effect as an enemy, 175 selling sickness and disease, 2 and the sponsored creation of a disease, 40 and use of statistics, 153 Pharmacia (pharmaceutical company), 119 Physicians Payment Sunshine Act, 214–5 placebo effect, 11, 86, 150–2, 158–76, 217 an obstacle to be overcome, 169 and Dr Anita Clayton’s plan to resolve, 169–75 and Dr Cindy Meston, 167–9 drugs unable to beat the placebo, 167 and flibanserin, 204–5 a regulatory problem not a failure of medicine, 170–2, 174 seen as an enemy by the pharmaceutical industry, 175 premature ejaculation, 207 prevalence, claimed, of female sexual ‘dysfunction.’ see claims of the prevalence of female sexual ‘dysfunction’ Procter & Gamble (P&G), 3 and ‘education of medical practitioners, 105–14 global survey, 61–2 marketing campaign for testosterone patch for women, 149 sells out of pharmaceutical business, 166 and testosterone patches for women, 85–6, 100, 147–66, 197 professional medical accreditation and sponsorship by pharmaceutical industry, 98–106 Profile of Female Sexual Function, 86 psychometrics. see questionnaires to diagnose ‘dysfunction’ Public Citizen (consumer watchdog), 155 questionnaires to diagnose ‘dysfunction,’ 79–90 and concern they oversimplify complex problems, 89–90 and ‘reliability’ and ‘validity,’ 82 testing pharmaceutical agents a driver of, 83 reform of financial relationships between pharmaceutical industry and medical community and, 211–5 relationships between pharmaceutical industry and medical community, 7, 9–10, 13, 17, 186 can unduly influence practitioners, 13–4 and Cape Cod meeting, 32–6, 42 dangers of mixing marketing and science, 59 the development of ‘sexual medicine,’ 32, 37–9 and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 19 emerging unease with, 13 financial, 32–8, 91–121, 210–5 and Physicians Payment Sunshine Act, 214–5 and public concern with, 116–7 as ‘public-private’ partnerships, 117–8 and reform of financial links, 211–5 and sponsored seminars, 9 Renewing Sexual Desire: Understanding HSDD in Postmenopausal Women (P &G accredited program), 105–6 Richters, Dr Juliet, University of New South Wales, 65 Robert Wood, Johnson Medical School, 33 Rosen, Dr Ray, 105, 173, 194, 196, 202 and approaches to treating sexual problems, 33 author of article in Journal of he American Medical Association, 49–50 and ‘Cape Cod’ meeting, 33–6, 42 and diagnostic questionnaires, 80–5 gives evidence at FDA hearings into testosterone patch, 155–6 and online education of medical practitioners, 106–7 and Procter and Gamble global survey, 62 and Procter and Gamble medical education program, 105–6 as ‘thought leader,’ 167 and wellness approach, 209–10 Sauers, Joan, 217 science of FSD. see sexual medicine ‘scientific’ surveys. see also questionnaires to diagnose ‘dysfunction’ confuse self-reported problems with medical disorder, 66 and funding by pharmaceutical industry, 62 The Second Sex. see de Beauvoir, Simone selling sickness, 2 Selling Sickness: How drug companies are turning us all into patients, ix serotonin, 180 Sex and the City, 5 sexual ‘dysfunction’ in women. see female sexual ‘dysfunction’ Sexual Function Questionnaire, 85 sexualisation of girl children, 5 sexual medicine. see also labelling of disorders; medicalisation of common sexual difficulties and ‘Cape Cod’ meeting, 36 driven by pharmaceutical industry profit motive, 9 emergence of, 8–9, 31–2 entangled in a web of financial relationships, 9 and female sexual ‘dysfunction,’ 7–9 and focus on sexual difficulties as ‘dysfunction’, 38 funded by pharmaceutical industry, 116–7 often ignores patient, 10 patient surveys, 7 and technology, 68–78 sexual performance, 1, 25, 31, 114, 141, 143 and anxiety due to marketing, 144 sexual problems. see also female sexual ‘dysfunction’ (FSD); female sexuality and the flawed medical model; medicalisation of common sexual difficulties are they ‘dysfunctions’?

, 52–9 and ‘bio-psycho-social’ approach to treatment, 33 history of treatment approaches to, 22–43 and improved physical relations, 42 and inflated estimates of (see claims of the prevalence of female sexual ‘dysfunction’) and ‘labelling’ (see labelling of disorders) move from therapy and counselling to medical solutions, 31 and the role for medicines, 55 role of Viagra, 31 and solutions to, 29 (see also non-medical approaches to female sexual problems) sexual science. see sexual medicine side-effects, 21, 55, 154 of testosterone, 149, 151, 165, 183, 204–5 of Viagra, 137–8, 158, 160 of Viagra for women, 160 sildenafil (drug), 105, 143 Soule, Dr Lisa (FDA medical officer), 153 Stephens, Darby (research manager at Vivus), 15–6, 37, 43 ‘Swedish Viagra man,’ 131, 143 testosterone patch for women, 85–6, 100, 105–6, 147–57, 160–6 see also hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) criticised by independent research groups, 164–6 licensed in Europe, 164 and The New Scientist, 149 and the placebo effect (see placebo effect) Procter & Gamble’s application rejected, 163 sold as Intrinsa, 164 still not approved in US, 176 ‘thought leaders,’ 16, 36–7, 40, 97, 167 see also ‘key opinion leaders’ Tiefer, Dr Leonore, 4–5, 11, 20, 29, 146, 163, 203, 208 see also New View campaign and animal models and female sexual difficulties, 75 and concerns of emerging alliance between medical profession and pharmaceutical industry, 34–5, 117 and continuing medical education seminar, 101 and the daily use of Viagra, 103–4 and diagnostic measuring, 70 documents sponsorships, 40 and Dr John Dean, 185 and HSDD, 148, 181 and International Academy of Sex Research, 34 and male spontaneous desire, 200 and the medical takeover of sex, 39 reconsiders plan to shut down New View campaign, 209 rejects label of ‘sexual medicine,’ 117 rejects 43 per cent female sexual ‘dysfunction’ finding, 49 and ‘scientific’ questionnaires as measurement tools, 87 and US Food and Drug Administration approval hearings for testosterone patch, 148, 155–7 and the ‘Viagra phenomenon,’ 134–6 ultrasound, 8, 69–70, 74, 90, 104 University Medical College, 196–7 ‘unmet need’ and female sexual ‘dysfunction,’ 45, 48, 50, 111, 181–2, 197 urologists and Viagra, 135–6 US AIDS HealthCare Foundation and lawsuit against Pfizer, 143 US Department of Justice and Pfizer, 92, 113, 118–21 US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and approval hearings for testosterone patch for women, 147–57, 160–3 criticised for being influenced by drug companies, 154 and encouragement of drug company funding of measurement tools, 84 and role of questionnaire results, 174 and Viagra advertisement, 142 ‘vaginal engorgement insufficiency,’ 3, 74 vaginal orgasm, 23–4 vaginismus, 12, 19 Vaisman, Dr Jack (chief executive Advanced Medical Institute), 207 Viagra, 29, 31–2, 55, 69, 122–45 see also ‘erectile dysfunction’; impotence and AIDS groups concerns, 142 and Bob Dole, 124 as a crutch, 139–40 and daily use of, 102–3 and difficulty in testing on women, 32 and Division J, special sales force, 94 effectiveness of, 136–8 and the emergence of ‘sexual medicine,’ 31–2 and gay community, 142 and impact on relationships, 138–40 increases blood flow, 73 a ‘lifestyle’ drug, 134, 142 marketing of (see marketing of Viagra) and public funding in Sweden, 133–4 and ‘recreational’ use, 140–3 relaxes blood vessels, 124 and role of urologists, 135–6 and Sex and the City, 40 and Sexual Function Questionnaire, 85 and side effects of, 137–8, 158, 160 a symbol of masculinity, 132 and US Food and Drug Administration, 142 The Viagra Ad Venture (Jay Baglia), 143 Viagra for women, 157–60, 175, 180, 209 Vioxx (anti-arthritis drug), 154 Vivus (pharmaceutical company), 15–16, 34, 176 Watson (pharmaceutical company), 100 Wizzard (communications firm), 183 Wolfe, Dr Sid and evidence to FDA testosterone patch hearings, 155 World Association for Sexual Health, 209 World Health Organisation (WHO), 130, 131 Zonagen (pharmaceutical company), 84 RAY MOYNIHAN has been investigating the business of health care as a journalist for over a decade.


pages: 416 words: 106,582

This Will Make You Smarter: 150 New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking by John Brockman


23andMe, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, banking crisis, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, biofilm, Black Swan, butterfly effect, Cass Sunstein, cloud computing, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, data acquisition, David Brooks, delayed gratification, Emanuel Derman, epigenetics, Exxon Valdez, Flash crash, Flynn Effect, hive mind, impulse control, information retrieval, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, mandelbrot fractal, market design, Mars Rover, Marshall McLuhan, microbiome, Murray Gell-Mann, Nicholas Carr, open economy, place-making, placebo effect, pre–internet, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, randomized controlled trial, rent control, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Richard Thaler, Schrödinger's Cat, security theater, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, Thorstein Veblen, Turing complete, Turing machine, Walter Mischel, Whole Earth Catalog

Because there are many settings in which people with a problem, given a placebo, report sizable improvement on average when they are queried (see #3), many scientists have accepted that “placebo effects”—of suggestion—are both substantial and widespread in the scope of what they benefit. The Danish researchers Asbjørn Hróbjartsson and Peter C. Götzsche conducted a systematic review of studies that compared a placebo to no treatment. They found that the placebo generally does . . . nothing. In most instances, there is no placebo effect. Mild “placebo effects” are seen, in the short term, for pain and anxiety. Placebo effects for pain are reported to be blocked by naloxone, an opiate antagonist—specifically implicating endogenous opiates in pain placebo effects, which would not be expected to benefit every possible outcome that might be measured. 3. When hearing that people given a placebo report improvement, scientists commonly presume this must be due to the “placebo effect,” the effect of expectation/suggestion.

Unfortunately, bypassing the need to articulate the conditions and assumptions on which validity of the construct rests may lead to bypassing consideration of whether these conditions and assumptions legitimately apply. Use of the term can then, far from fostering sound discourse, serve to undermine it. Take, for example, the “placebo” and “placebo effects.” Unpacking the terms, a placebo is defined as something physiologically inert but believed by the recipient to be active or possibly so. The term “placebo effect” refers to improvement of a condition when someone has received a placebo—improvement due to the effects of expectation/suggestion. With these terms ensconced in the vernacular, dece(i)bo effects associated with them are much in evidence. Key presumptions regarding placebos and placebo effects are more typically wrong than not. 1. When hearing the word “placebo,” scientists often presume “inert” without stopping to ask, What is that allegedly physiologically inert substance?

The scientists attributed this to a placebo effect. But what’s to say that the subjects weren’t simply telling the scientists what they thought the scientists wished to hear? Denise Grady, writing for the New York Times, has noted: “Growing up, I got weekly hay fever shots that I don’t think helped me at all. But I kept hoping they would, and the doctor was very kind, so whenever he asked if I was feeling better, I said yes . . .” Such desire to please (a form, perhaps, of “social approval” reporting bias) made for fertile ground in which to operate and create what was interpreted as a placebo effect, which implies actual subjective benefit to symptoms. One wonders whether so great an error of presumption would operate were there not an existing term (“placebo effect”) to signify the interpretation the Harvard group chose among the suite of other compelling possibilities.


pages: 505 words: 127,542

If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Happy? by Raj Raghunathan


Broken windows theory, business process, cognitive dissonance, deliberate practice,, epigenetics, fundamental attribution error, job satisfaction, Mahatma Gandhi, market clearing, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, Phillip Zimbardo, placebo effect, science of happiness, Skype, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thorstein Veblen, Tony Hsieh, working poor, Zipcar

As you can see from the light dashed line in the graph, this set of patients experienced the least amount of pain—even lower than that experienced by the group that got the anesthetic! To those who are familiar with placebo effects, these results won’t come as a surprise. Placebo effects are so prevalent in medical contexts that any test of the effectiveness of a new drug involves comparing it with a control condition in which a placebo drug, like a sugar pill, is given to patients. What these placebo effects tell us is that our beliefs can shape our reality. If you think that a pill is going to cure a disease, there seems to be an objectively greater chance that it will cure the disease than if you think that it won’t. As it turns out—and here’s where it gets really interesting—placebo effects are not restricted to medical contexts; they occur in other contexts as well. In marketing, findings show that if you believe imbibing a particular drink will improve your cognitive skills, it will.

Jonas, “Deconstructing the Placebo Effect and Finding the Meaning Response,” Annals of Internal Medicine 136(6) (2002): 471–76; B. E. Wampold et al., “The Placebo Is Powerful: Estimating Placebo Effects in Medicine and Psychotherapy from Randomized Clinical Trials,” Journal of Clinical Psychology 61(7) (2005): 835–54; A. Hróbjartsson and P. C. Gøtzsche, “Placebo Interventions for All Clinical Conditions,” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 1(1) (2010). Consider one study: L. Vase, M. E. Robinson, G. N. Verne, and D. D. Price, “The Contributions of Suggestion, Desire, and Expectation to Placebo Effects in Irritable Bowel Syndrome Patients: An Empirical Investigation,” Pain 105(1) (2003): 17–25. improve your cognitive skills, it will: B. Shiv, Z. Carmon, and D. Ariely, “Placebo Effects of Marketing Actions: Consumers May Get What They Pay For,” Journal of Marketing Research 42(4) (2005): 383–93.

See also Davis, Nolen-Hoeksema, and Larson, “Making Sense of Loss and Benefiting from the Experience.” lives have changed for the better: S. E. Taylor, R. R. Lichtman, and J. V. Wood, “Attributions, Beliefs About Control, and Adjustment to Breast Cancer,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 46(3) (1984): 489–502. placebo effects: The most cited article on the placebo effect is by Beecher, which appeared in 1955. Although there are some questions about whether the original set of studies conducted by Beecher documented evidence for the placebo effect or some other effects (see, for example, Kienle and Kiene 1997), there is little doubt that the effect is believed to be prevalent, particularly in the medical domain (see Hróbjartsson & Norup 2003). That said, however, there is ongoing debate about the potency and prevalence of the effect (see Hróbjartsson et al. 2001; Moerman et al. 2002; Wampold et al. 2005; and Hróbjartsson et al. 2010).


pages: 377 words: 97,144

Singularity Rising: Surviving and Thriving in a Smarter, Richer, and More Dangerous World by James D. Miller


23andMe, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, Asperger Syndrome, barriers to entry, brain emulation, cloud computing, cognitive bias, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping,, feminist movement, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Netflix Prize, neurotypical, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, phenotype, placebo effect, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture

Unfortunately, however, these tests suffer from two serious biases. First, these tests don’t fully take into account the placebo effect which occurs when you get better all by yourself simply because you think the medicine you took is supposed to make you better. For example, when my young son bumped his head, I took advantage of the placebo effect by telling him that the Vaseline I put on his head would make him feel better. I even told him that I didn’t want to put too much of the medicine on him because it was “extremely powerful,” and I didn’t think he could handle it. When he predictably objected to my moderation, I “gave in” and put extra salve on his boo-boo. My son claimed that the medicine made him feel better. The placebo effect is a widespread and mysterious phenomenon, and there’s a reasonable chance that it also works for cognitive-enhancement drugs.

Double-blind tests understate the efficacy of cognitive enhancement drugs to the extent that the placebo effect holds. For example, assume that: A. If you took a drug and were truthfully told it was a real drug, your performance would improve by 15 percent. This 15 percent improvement comes from both the inherent medical value of the pill and the placebo effect. B. If you took a real drug and were told that there was a 50 percent chance that it was real (as is the case when you participate in a double-blind drug trial), then you would experience a 10 percent performance improvement.265 C. If you took a sugar pill and were told that there was a 50 percent chance that it was real, then you would experience a 4 percent performance improvement, all of it coming from the placebo effect. A double-blind test would compare the performance improvements in (B) and (C) and claim that the drug yielded a 6 percent improvement.

A double-blind test would compare the performance improvements in (B) and (C) and claim that the drug yielded a 6 percent improvement. But if you used the drug outside of this experiment, you would see a 15 percent improvement, which shows that factoring in placebo effects likely causes double-blind tests to underestimate the power of cognitive-enhancement drugs. “File-drawer effects,” however, result in double-blind tests overestimating the efficacy of cognitive-enhancement drugs. Suppose that three groups of scientists investigate the effects of some compound: 1.The first group finds that the compound made test subjects much smarter. 2.The second group finds that using the compound didn’t have any effect on the test subjects. 3.The third group gave up the experiment halfway through because the results didn’t seem to be interesting. The first group will have the easiest time getting published because their results are the most interesting and important.


pages: 898 words: 266,274

The Irrational Bundle by Dan Ariely


accounting loophole / creative accounting, air freight, Albert Einstein, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, Burning Man, business process, cashless society, Cass Sunstein, clean water, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, endowment effect, Exxon Valdez, first-price auction, Frederick Winslow Taylor, fudge factor, George Akerlof, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, Jean Tirole, job satisfaction, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, lake wobegon effect, late fees, loss aversion, Murray Gell-Mann, new economy, Peter Singer: altruism, placebo effect, price anchoring, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Saturday Night Live, Schrödinger's Cat, second-price auction, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, ultimatum game, Upton Sinclair, Walter Mischel, young professional

“Surgeons . . . who routinely perform arthroscopy are undoubtedly embarrassed at the prospect that the placebo effect—not surgical skill—is responsible for patient improvement after the surgeries they perform. As you might imagine, these surgeons are going to great lengths to try to discredit our study.” Regardless of the extent to which you believe the results of this study, it is clear that we should be more suspicious about arthroscopic surgery for this particular condition, and at the same time increase the burden of proof for medical procedures in general. IN THE PREVIOUS chapter we saw that expectations change the way we perceive and appreciate experiences. Exploring the placebo effect in this chapter, we’ll see not only that beliefs and expectations affect how we perceive and interpret sights, tastes, and other sensory phenomena, but also that our expectations can affect us by altering our subjective and even objective experiences—sometimes profoundly so.

Very interesting—considering that Veladone was just a capsule of vitamin C. FROM THIS EXPERIMENT, we saw that our capsule did have a placebo effect. But suppose we priced the Veladone differently. Suppose we discounted the price of a capsule of Veladone-Rx from $2.50 to just 10 cents. Would our participants react differently? In our next test, we changed the brochure, scratching out the original price ($2.50 per pill) and inserting a new discount price of 10 cents. Did this change our participants’ reaction? Indeed. At $2.50 almost all our participants experienced pain relief from the pill. But when the price was dropped to 10 cents, only half of them did. Moreover, it turns out that this relationship between price and placebo effect was not the same for all participants, and the effect was particularly pronounced for people who had more experience with recent pain.

Bruce Moseley, Kimberly O’Malley, Nancy Petersen, Terri Menke, Baruch Brody, David Kuykendall, John Hollingsworth, Carol Ashton, and Nelda Wray, “A Controlled Trial of Arthroscopic Surgery for Osteoarthritis of the Knee,” New England Journal of Medicine (2002). Baba Shiv, Ziv Carmon, and Dan Ariely, “Placebo Effects of Marketing Actions: Consumers May Get What They Pay For,” Journal of Marketing Research (2005). Rebecca Waber, Baba Shiv, Ziv Carmon, and Dan Ariely, “Commercial Features of Placebo and Therapeutic Efficacy,” JAMA (2008). RELATED READINGS Tor Wager, James Rilling, Edward Smith, Alex Sokolik, Kenneth Casey, Richard Davidson, Stephen Kosslyn, Robert Rose, and Jonathan Cohen, “Placebo-Induced Changes in fMRI in the Anticipation and Experience of Pain,” Science (2004). Alia Crum and Ellen Langer, “Mind-Set Matters: Exercise and the Placebo Effect,” Psychological Science (2007). Chapter 12: The Cycle of Distrust BASED ON Ayelet Gneezy, Stephen Spiller, and Dan Ariely, “Trust in the Marketplace: A Fundamentlly Disbelieving State of Mind,” Working Paper, Duke University (2010).


pages: 480 words: 138,041

The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry by Gary Greenberg


Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, back-to-the-land, David Brooks, impulse control, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Snow's cholera map, late capitalism, Louis Pasteur, McMansion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, neurotypical, phenotype, placebo effect, random walk, statistical model, theory of mind, Winter of Discontent

Isn’t this what we go to doctors for—to learn, from someone who knows, the true nature of our suffering, to find out whether that nagging pain is the leading edge of something horrible or just a random twinge, to find out if our persistent malaise is grief or depression or maybe even a malfunctioning thyroid? Even before we ask for remedy, this is what we ask of our doctors: to lay bare the beginnings of our suffering, to elicit our present crisis, to tell us what is going to happen in the end. Without that story, we might not take their pills, and—since so much of our response to medication is the result of placebo effects, and placebo effects in turn depend on the patient’s belief in his or her doctor—the pills might not work. On the other hand, most of us won’t accept just any tale about our woes. We want our doctors’ stories about us to be based in fact, not opinion. We want them to make sense, which, if they start telling us that grieving the loss of a parent is an illness, they don’t. That’s why the bereavement exclusion was necessary: without it, the DSM loses its credibility, and the doctors who use it cannot perform their healing magic

He lived before autonomy and equality were expectations for a good life, before universal justice was the hallmark of a good society, and before a couple thousand years of history had revealed what can happen when people with power—even virtuous people—act in the supposed interests of those with none. Not that Frances’s concern about the effect of diagnostic squabbling on patients was less than beneficent or only about maintaining psychiatry’s dominion over our inner lives. “Like most medical specialties4, our field depends heavily on placebo effects,” he pointed out. And pills aren’t the only way to deliver the placebo effect. Even if “the diagnostic label is just a description, and not really an explanation for what has gone wrong,” Frances says, still it is crucial to treatment. Delivering a diagnosis gives us solace: that we are not making it up, that the doctor understands, that there are others like us, that there is hope for a cure. “If you puncture that noble lie,” Frances warned me, “you’ll be doing a disservice to our patients.”

And maybe they did, because at least for a little while you felt better; but then you got tired of feeling numb14, of gaining weight, of not wanting sex and not being able to have an orgasm even if you did; and then you tried to get off the drugs only to find that your brain off drugs is an unruly thing, that your old difficulties returned or new ones arose when you stopped taking them. Which might mean, you told yourself, that you indeed have that disease, but every once in a while—when you read about the placebo effect15, or you hear that this chemical imbalance does not, as far as doctors know16, really exist, or when you look at the DSM and realize that there are more than seventy combinations of symptoms17 that can result in this one diagnosis and that any two people with the diagnosis may have only one symptom in common—you wonder whether what your doctor told you is true and whether you have now changed your brain chemistry, perhaps irreversibly, to cure a disease that doesn’t exist.


pages: 321 words: 97,661

How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-Based Medicine by Trisha Greenhalgh


call centre, complexity theory, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, deskilling, knowledge worker, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, New Journalism, p-value, personalized medicine, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, the scientific method

JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 2005;293(16):1995–2002. 8 Sackett DL, Haynes RB, Tugwell P. Clinical epidemiology: a basic science for clinical medicine. Boston, USA: Little, Brown and Company, 1985. 9 Goldacre B. Bad pharma: how drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients. London, Fourth Estate: Random House Digital Inc., 2013. 10 Rajagopal S. The placebo effect. Psychiatric Bulletin 2006;30(5):185–8. 11 Price DD, Finniss DG, Benedetti F. A comprehensive review of the placebo effect: recent advances and current thought. Annual Review of Psychology 2008;59:565–90. 12 Gøtzsche PC, Liberati A, Torri V, et al. Beware of surrogate outcome measures. International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care 1996;12(02):238–46. 13 Connolly SJ. Use and misuse of surrogate outcomes in arrhythmia trials. Circulation 2006;113(6):764–6. 14 Guermazi A, Hayashi D, Roemer FW, et al.

Anyone who works face-to-face with patients knows how often it is necessary to seek new information before making a clinical decision. Doctors have spent time in libraries since libraries were invented. In general, we don't put a patient on a new drug without evidence that it is likely to work. Apart from anything else, such off-licence use of medication is, strictly speaking, illegal. Surely we have all been practising EBM for years, except when we were deliberately bluffing (using the ‘placebo’ effect for good medical reasons), or when we were ill, overstressed or consciously being lazy? Well, no, we haven't. There have been a number of surveys on the behaviour of doctors, nurses and related professionals. It was estimated in the 1970s in the USA that only around 10–20% of all health technologies then available (i.e. drugs, procedures, operations, etc.) were evidence-based; that figure improved to 21% in 1990, according to official US statistics [4].

Pharmaceutical reps do not tell nearly as many lies as they used to (drug marketing has become an altogether more sophisticated science), but as Goldacre [9] has shown in his book ‘Bad Pharma’, they still provide information that is at best selective and at worst overtly biased. It often helps their case, for example, to present the results of uncontrolled trials and express them in terms of before-and-after differences in a particular outcome measure. Reference to section ‘Cross-sectional surveys’ and the literature on placebo effects [10] [11] should remind you why uncontrolled before-and-after studies are the stuff of teenage magazines, not hard science. Dr Herxheimer, who edited the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin for many years, undertook a survey of ‘references’ cited in advertisements for pharmaceutical products in the leading UK medical journals. He tells me that a high proportion of such references cite ‘data on file’, and many more refer to publications written, edited and published entirely by the industry.


pages: 307 words: 94,069

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath, Dan Heath


Atul Gawande, Cass Sunstein, clean water, cognitive dissonance, corporate social responsibility,, fundamental attribution error, impulse control, medical residency, Piper Alpha, placebo effect, publish or perish, Richard Thaler, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs

One way to motivate action, then, is to make people feel as though they’re already closer to the finish line than they might have thought. 3. The researchers Crum and Langer chalked up the maids’ weight loss to a placebo effect. In other words, they concluded that awareness of the exercise value of their activities triggered the weight loss, independent of any physical changes in the maids’ behavior. The placebo effect is one of the most reliable phenomena in modern medicine, so at first glance, this explanation seems reasonable. We’ve all got friends who swear by the healing powers of questionable remedies—stinkweed supplements or goat horn extract. Maybe the maids got a similar mental boost from their new knowledge. But notice what placebo-effect situations have in common: They apply to conditions that are self-reported. You take a pain pill, and the doctor asks you afterward, “How much pain do you feel now?”

So it’s understandable (though still fundamentally weird) that the patients who get placebos, rather than Advil or Prozac, might report feeling a bit better. But this isn’t one of those situations. No one was asking these maids how they felt or whether they perceived themselves to be healthier. The maids simply stepped onto a scale, and the scale reported a lower weight. Scales aren’t subject to placebo effects. OK, but if you’ve suddenly discovered that you’re a good exerciser, might not that trigger some kind of mind-body effect? Couldn’t it kick your metabolism into overdrive or something? It’s not impossible, we suppose, but let’s be honest: If the power of thinking could indeed make you skinnier, that would be a scientific revelation on par with cold fusion (as well as a billion-dollar self-help book—Think Yourself Thin).

Positive emotion also makes it easier for people to make connections among dissimilar ideas, and it makes them less likely to slip into an “us versus them” mentality. All of these tendencies—flexible problem solving, innovative solutions, less political infighting—would be very useful in a change situation. Chapter Six A study of hotel maids. See Alia J. Crum and Ellen J. Langer (2007), “MindSet Matters: Exercise and the Placebo Effect,” Psychological Science, 18, 165–171. Car-wash loyalty cards. See J. C. Nunes and X. Dreze (2006), “The Endowed Progress Effect: How Artificial Advancement Increases Effort,” Journal of Consumer Research, 32, 504–512. 50 percent of the money in the bag. This practice was discussed in an interview between Chip Heath and Jan Alfieri, of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, in February 2009.


pages: 371 words: 108,317

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly


3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, bank run, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bitcoin, blockchain, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, cloud computing, computer age, connected car, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, Freestyle chess, game design, Google Glasses, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, index card, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, linked data, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Minecraft, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, placebo effect, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Snapchat, social graph, social web, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, transport as a service, two-sided market, Uber for X, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Review

What helps overcome some of our self-fooling in an N=1 experiment in the new era of self-tracking is automatic instrumentation (having a sensor make the measurement many times for long periods so it is “forgotten” by the subject) and being able to track many variables at once to distract the subject, and then using statistical means later to try to unravel any patterns. We know from many classic large population studies that often the medicine we take works because we believe it will work. This is otherwise known as the placebo effect. These quantified-self tricks don’t fully counter the placebo effect; rather they work with it. If the intervention is producing a measurable improvement in you, then it works. Whether this measurable improvement is caused by the placebo effect doesn’t matter since we only care what effect it has on this N=1 subject. Thus a placebo effect can be positive. In formal studies, you need a control group to offset your bias toward positive results. So in lieu of a control group in an N=1 study, a quantified-self experimenter uses his or her own baseline. If you track yourself long enough, with a wide variety of metrics, then you can establish your behavior outside (or before) the experiment, which effectively functions as the control for comparison

See also work environments on-demand expectations, 64–65, 114–17 OpenOffice, 151 open source industry, 135, 141–42, 143, 271 oral communication, 204 Oscar Awards, 187–88 overfitting, 170 ownership, 112–13, 117–18, 121–22, 124–25, 127, 138 Page, Larry, 36–37 Pandora, 169 parallel computation, 38–39, 40 passive archives, 249 passwords, 220, 235 patents, 283 PatientsLikeMe, 145 patronage, 71–72 PayPal, 65, 119–20, 124 pedometers, 238 peer-to-peer networks, 129–30, 184–85 Periscope, 76 “personal analytics” engine, 239 personalization, 68–69, 172–73, 175, 191, 240–41, 261–62 pharmaceutical research, 241–42 pharmacies, 50 phase transitions, 294–97 phones automatic updates of, 62 cameras in, 34 and clouds, 126 and decentralized communications, 129–31 and on-demand model of access, 114 directories, 285 and interactivity, 219 lifespan of apps for, 11 as reading devices, 91–92 in rural China, 56 and self-tracking technology, 239–40 and tracking technology, 239–40, 250, 253 and virtual reality technology, 215, 222 photography and images and artificial intelligence, 33–34 and classic film production, 198–99 and content recognition, 43, 203 and Creative Commons licensing, 139 democratization of, 77 and digital storage capacity, 266 and facial recognition, 39, 43 flexible images, 204 and Google Photo, 43 and lifelogging, 248–49 and new media genres, 195 and photo captioning, 51 and reproductive imperative, 87 sharing of, 140 Picard, Rosalind, 220 Picasso, Pablo, 288 Pichai, Sundar, 37 Pine, Joseph, 172–73 Pinterest, 32, 136, 139, 140, 183 piracy, 124 placebo effect, 242 platform synergy, 122–25, 131 PlayStation Now, 109 porn sites, 202–3 postal mail, 253 postindustrial economy, 57 “presence,” 216–17 printing, 85, 87. See also books privacy, 124, 253, 255 processing speeds, 293 Progressive Insurance, 251 Project Jacquard, 225 Project Sansa, 218 property rights, 207–8 prosumers (freelancers), 113, 115, 116–17, 148, 149 proxy data gathering, 255 public commons, 121–22 public key encryption, 260–61 publishing and publishers, 149 purchase histories, 169 Quantified Self Meetup groups, 238–40 Quantimetric Self Sensing, 247 quantum computing, 284 Quid, 32 Quinn, David, 17 Radiohead, 72 randomized double-blind trials, 242 reading, 89, 91–92, 94–95, 103–4.


pages: 381 words: 78,467

100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family And by Sonia Arrison


23andMe, 8-hour work day, Albert Einstein, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, attribution theory, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, Clayton Christensen, dark matter, East Village,, epigenetics, Frank Gehry, Googley, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, placebo effect, post scarcity, Ray Kurzweil, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Singularitarianism, smart grid, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Thomas Malthus, upwardly mobile, World Values Survey, X Prize

In 1920, Serge Voronoff, a Russian doctor based in Paris, started transplanting parts of chimps in an effort to restore youth to men under the theory that the sex glands drove energy.58 We have seen that the linking of sex and youth is not a new idea, but the use of animal transplants in this way was fairly novel. Many of Dr. Voronoff’s patients died, but those who didn’t thought they actually saw results (most likely a placebo effect). And he wasn’t the only one wedded to this theory. In America, doctors in prisons were experimenting with similar techniques. Eventually, some well-known people underwent similar procedures, including former middleweight champion boxer Frank Klaus and Irish poet William Butler Yeats.59 Indeed, Yeats felt the placebo effect so strongly that the sixty-nine-year-old entered into an affair with a twenty-seven-year-old actress.60 We now know that grafting animal tissue onto humans is useless because the body rejects it, but we have also learned a lot more about the endocrine system and the impact that hormones have on our bodies.

After all, it was lack of willpower that had gotten Adam and Eve into the perilous position of eating from the tree of knowledge in the first place, so maybe willpower was the cure for their descendants. “The implication,” argue S. Jay Olshansky and Bruce A. Carnes in their book The Quest for Immortality, “is that by reasserting control over the mind, the supernatural power taken by God could be restored.” 11 This idea of mind over matter was, and still is, shared by many as powerful medicine and certainly isn’t limited to the religious sphere. The very fact of a placebo effect, in which people’s symptoms subside simply because they think they are taking a drug when they are instead taking a sugar pill (the placebo), is a reminder of how powerful the mind can be. Such power led Irish writer George Bernard Shaw to advocate for the Lamarckian idea that characteristics could be acquired and passed down through generations. Hence, a giraffe’s neck evolved over time, he reasoned, as members of each generation reached up, willing themselves to get the leaves on higher and higher branches.

Thomas Perrott, Kevin Perry, Daniel “Personalized Life Extension Conference: Anti-Aging Strategies for a Long Healthy Life” (conference) Personalized medicine Peterson, Christine Peterson, Dr. Michael Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends survey on aging Phoenix, Chris Picture of Dorian Gray, The (Wilde) Pink Army Cooperative Pinochet, Augusto Placebo effect Plec, Julie Pluralism, religious Political issues Pollution Ponce de León, Juan Pons, Stanley Popenoe, David Population Bomb, The (Ehrlich) Population growth (fig.) and innovative ideas Population Growth and Economic Development (National Academy of Sciences) Posner, Richard Poverty Precautionary principle President’s Council on Bioethics Preston, Samuel Prey (Crichton) Prices Productivity Prometheus Property and Environment Research Center Property rights(fig.)


pages: 254 words: 72,929

The Age of the Infovore: Succeeding in the Information Economy by Tyler Cowen


Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, Cass Sunstein, cognitive bias, David Brooks,, endowment effect, Flynn Effect, framing effect, Google Earth, impulse control, informal economy, Isaac Newton, loss aversion, Marshall McLuhan, Naomi Klein, neurotypical, new economy, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, phenotype, placebo effect, Richard Thaler, Silicon Valley, the medium is the message, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind

There are cases when we want to be tricked by our messengers, even though we don’t quite want to describe the process to ourselves in those terms. The more expensive wine really can taste better, simply because it is more expensive, and we want to keep that as one of our pleasures in life. It’s what helps to make “special occasions” feel so special, namely that we went to considerable trouble to do something. In part our expectations make the difference a real one through a kind of placebo effect. But if we have chosen that placebo effect, such a “trick” can bring real human benefits. Dan Ariely did a famous study where he showed that more expensive pain relief medication, even of similar quality, does a better job at alleviating pain. Or maybe I love my wife more because I had to court her with great passion. These are often opportunities rather than problems. These results, by the way, aren’t all new and revolutionary but rather they reflect some age-old wisdom.

There are plenty of studies that measure the economic “rate of return” on education and these studies come up with fairly high numbers. In other words, if you graduate from college, or with a postgraduate degree, you will earn more. But what are these studies comparing education to? It’s now well-known in the medical literature that a medicine needs to be compared to a placebo, rather than to simply doing nothing. Placebo effects can be very powerful and many supposedly effective medicines do not in fact outperform the placebo. The sorry truth is that no one has compared modern education to a placebo. What if we just gave people lots of face-to-face contact and told them they were being educated? I’m not sure I want to know the answer to that question. Maybe that’s what current methods of education already consist of.

See ordering of information metaphysics, 203–5 Michelangelo, 166 micro-blogging services, 74–78 Microsoft Network (MSN), 47 Midnight Economist, 49 migrants, 106 “The Mind as a Consuming Organ” (Schelling), 117–19, 138–39 mindfulness, 95, 100 minorities, 212 mobility, 216–17 monotonizing existence, 141–42 Monty Python’s Holy Grail, 137 morality, 206 Moriarty, James (fictional character), 153 Mormons, 107, 105 movies, 114, 134 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 57–58, 166 multitasking, 51–53, 56–57 music access to, 43 and amusia, 179–80 atonal music, 182–86, 187, 188 and autistics, 18, 26, 180–81, 187–91 duration of, 42, 44 live music, 114 music industry, 4–6 order in, 186 pitch perception, 18, 180 and self-assembled bits of culture, 57–58 serialist music, 188 and social validation, 84 subscription services, 6 Musicophilia (Sacks), 179 MyLifeBits, 97–98 My Mile Marker, 12 MySpace, 46 Napkin Fiction, 44 Napster, 6 narrative psychology, 126 National Association of Blind Lawyers, 25 nationalism, 197–99 Nausea (Sartre), 142 Nazeer, Kamran, 12 nerds, 22–23, 110–11 neurodiversity and aesthetic values, 189 and atonal music, 182, 184, 185 historical figures with, 166–67 importance of, 125 and politics, 198 relation to autism, 22 and respect for the individual, 223 and support groups, 23–24 understanding of, 211 See also autism and autistic individuals, 35 neuroeconomics, 125, 202 neurology and aesthetic values, 174, 175–79, 184–92 and Dalai Lama, 95–96 and Kant, 205 and politics, 201 and respect for the individual, 222 neuroplasticity, 96 New Age religions, 101–2 Newmark, Craig, 24 Newton, Isaac, 25, 166 The New Yorker, 44 The New York Review of Books, 44 The New York Times, 34, 56, 104 New Zealand, 207 Nordic counties, 207 Nordon, Pierre, 160 novelty, 141–42 Nozick, Robert, 142–45 Nudge (Thaler and Sunstein), 124 Obama, Barack, 87 objectivity of autistics, 194–95 obsession, 103 Odadeo, 9 Oe, Hikari, 181–82 Oe, Kenzaburo, 181 “Of the Standard of Taste” (Hume), 177 optical illusions, 18 ordering of information, 2–14 and autistics, 2–3, 10–14, 20, 24, 36, 57, 140–41, 213 and Buddhism, 91, 92, 94, 96, 99–100, 105 collecting as form of, 102 and education, 111 in fictional characters, 148–49 and importance of the medium, 67 and information overload, 55 and Kant, 203–6 and multitasking, 56–57 and music, 186 and recording daily life, 96–98 in social networking contexts, 6–9 and stories, 126–29, 140–41 and web, 4–9, 10–12, 13 Orwell, George, 166 Ostwald, Peter, 167 otaku culture, 218–19 Overcoming Bias website, 193–94 Page, Tim, 180–81 pain relief medication, 81 pain tolerance, 19 Paradiso (Dante), 128 parents of autistic children, 36 patience, 53, 54 patriotism, 197 pattern recognition, 18, 150, 189, 201 PDF documents, 71 peers, 87 perception and aesthetic values, 177 effect on human behavior of, 121–23 perceptual abilities of autistics, 36, 148–49, 176, 189 perseverations, 31, 169 Pessoa, Fernando, 120, 141–42 phone, talking on, 31 photographs, 11 Pierrot Lunaire (Schoenberg), 183 pitch perception, 18, 180 placebo effect, 80–81, 115 Poe, Edgar Allan, 160 political connections, 87–88 politics, 193–209 and abstract reasoning, 199–203 and cosmopolitanism, 196–99, 201, 203 and endowment effect, 195–96, 199 and human cognition, 193 and objectivity, 194–95 and ordering, 203–6 and rule-governed behavior, 206–9 postmodernism, 45 Pownce, 74 Predictably Irrational (Ariely), 124 The Princess Bride, 127 print media, 43–44, 66, 201 production, 9 propaganda, 140 prosopagnosia, 25, 132 prosperity, 1, 228 psychology, 124 Psychology Today, 174–75 quests, 126–28 Quine, Willard Van Orman, 166 Rae, John, 168 Raffman, Diana, 185 Rain Man (film), 15 Rangaswami, J.


pages: 281 words: 79,958

Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives by Michael Specter


agricultural Revolution, Anne Wojcicki, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Drosophila, food miles, invention of gunpowder, out of africa, personalized medicine, placebo effect, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, Simon Singh, Skype, stem cell, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Upton Sinclair, X Prize

Weil believes in what he calls “stoned thinking” and in intuition as a source of knowledge. This he juxtaposes with “straight” or “ordinary” thinking. You know, the type weighed down by silly rules and conventional thought. Like every alternative healer, Weil believes in the supremacy of faith and compassion. I certainly wouldn’t argue against faith (if only because for many people it provides the single form of alternative medicine that seems clearly to work, a placebo effect). And here is my definition of compassion: the desire to alleviate suffering. Nothing in the course of human history meets that definition so fully as the achievements of evidence-based, scientifically verifiable medicine. The world of CAM is powered by theories that have almost never been tested successfully, and its proponents frequently cite that fact as proof of their unique value, as if they represent a movement that cannot be confined (or defined) by trivialities.

“I think that there is a tension in this area, and I feel this as a practitioner—that while I’m comfortable in trying to reassure people, I’m not comfortable in fooling them. And you know, I think any physician is aware that some of the confidence you build in someone is part of helping them get better, and when is that being a confidence man? That tension is kind of inherent in healing practices. It’s interesting; it’s not easily solvable.” Briggs has become fascinated with the causes of the placebo effect—how it works on a biochemical level, and why. That the mind can affect the chemistry of the human body is not in doubt, and researchers have shown direct relationships between what a patient expects from a drug and its therapeutic results. In one experiment, Fabrizio Benedetti, professor of clinical and applied physiology at the University of Turin Medical School in Italy, demonstrated that a saline solution works just as well as conventional medicine to reduce tremors and muscle stiffness in people with Parkinson’s disease.

INDEX abortion abstinence ACT UP acupuncture Adamchak, Raoul Aetiology Africa: arable land in declining food production in desertification in drug resistance in fears and denialism in and HIV/AIDS hunger in malaria in population growth in poverty in African Americans: and disease. See also race Age of Autism ageism Aggrastat agriculture. See organic foods AIDS activism AIDS deniers AIDS epidemic AIDS virus albuterol Aleve (naproxen) alternative medicines and antioxidents and Briggs CAM dangers of deregulation of and food additives and food labeling and health care and HIV/AIDS homeopathy and nutrition and placebo effect and snake oil and supplements and Weil Alzheimer’s disease amalgam protestors American Association for the Advancement of Science American Medical Association (AMA) American Museum of Natural History, New York American Neurological Association, Eugenical Sterilization Ames, Bruce N. amorphadiene Amyris Biotechnologies anthrax attacks (2002) antibiotics antioxidents APOE protein Apollo 13 mission APP (amyloid precursor protein) APPROVe study Armstrong, Neil artemisinin arthritis, and Vioxx ashwagandha Asilomar Conference, California (1975) aspirin asthma: and genetics in Hispanics AstraZeneca atomic bomb Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine authority, questioning autism: advocacy groups on anecdotal evidence on blame sought in cases of definitions of developmental disorders in and fear genetic research on litigation-driven hypotheses on research funding on rise in cases of and special education and state aid symptoms similar to mercury poisoning and vaccines avian influenza ayurvedic medicine Bacon, Francis Baltimore, David BASF, and canola Benedetti, Fabrizio Berg, Paul Bextra Big Oil Big Pharma Big Tobacco Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation BioBricks biochemistry Biodesic biofuels biotech games biotechnology: birth of and organic food risks of and world hunger bioterrorism bird flu birth control pills, deaths from Blair, Cherie Blair, Tony Blake, William Blue Heron Borlaug, Norman Borloo, Jean-Louis Briggs, Josephine Bromley.


pages: 512 words: 162,977

New Market Wizards: Conversations With America's Top Traders by Jack D. Schwager


backtesting, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Black-Scholes formula, butterfly effect, commodity trading advisor, Elliott wave, fixed income, full employment, implied volatility, interest rate swap, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market clearing, market fundamentalism, paper trading, pattern recognition, placebo effect, prediction markets, Ralph Nelson Elliott, random walk, risk tolerance, risk/return, Saturday Night Live, Sharpe ratio, the map is not the territory, transaction costs, War on Poverty

But since they did, they’ll attribute the change to the seminar. In the seminar example you just cited, isn’t it also possible that people will feel and perform better because of the placebo effect? For that matter, isn’t it possible that the results attributed to NLP may also be a placebo effect? Charles Faulkner / 419 In part, this contention may be valid, and it fascinates me that this is supposed to be a criticism. Medical science researchers take the view that the placebo effect is something had. You can hear it in their language: “We have to rule out the placebo effect.” However, Bandler and Grinder looked at it differently. They saw the placebo effect as a natural human ability—the ability of the brain to heal the rest of the body. This actually presents exciting possibilities. What if this ability can be called forth when we want it or need it’?

What if this ability can be called forth when we want it or need it’? What if our brains can literally make us feel better’? NLP is concerned with results. If the favorable results are partially due to the placebo effect—that is, the natural ability of the brain to affect how we feel, heal, and function, mentally and physically—let’s use it deliberately. NLP makes claims of being able to change behaviors and feelings very quickly through simple mental exercises. Can you give me an example of such an exercise in order to give readers who are completely unfamiliar with NLP some flavor of the approach? Let me offer an example that will probably be of use to most of your readers. We’ve all been in trading situations where the market moved dramatically against our position. The question is: How unsettling or disconcerting was it?


pages: 566 words: 151,193

Diet for a New America by John Robbins


Albert Einstein, carbon footprint, clean water, Flynn Effect, haute cuisine, Isaac Newton, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Review

However, in 1960, there appeared in the American Journal of Cardiology a remarkable report that shed a completely different light on the reasons why angina sufferers who underwent the surgery experienced decreased pain.26 It seems that a number of surgeons, aware that this particular procedure had never been adequately tested and also aware that angina is notoriously responsive to placebo treatment, had begun to consider the possibility that the patients experienced a decrease in pain only because they believed in the surgery—in other words, that this major operation was, in fact, totally worthless. Doctors have known for centuries of the placebo effect. You can give patients pills specifically designed to be devoid of any conceivable medical efficacy, and some of these patients, because they believe they are receiving substances with genuine medical value, will report improvement. Now doctors were beginning to consider the staggering possibility that the reported benefits from the angina surgery were the result of a placebo effect. How were they to find out? It’s relatively easy to test pills for a placebo effect. You simply do a double-blind study, giving some patients the real thing, others placebos, and see what happens. But it’s not so easy to put surgery to the test.

In this case, however, the doctors were sure enough of their hunch that they did, in fact, eventually perform a number of sham, or placebo, operations. They then reported the results in the American Journal of Cardiology.27 Amazingly, the patients who underwent the sham surgery reported the same degree of angina relief as those undergoing the real surgery! The verdict was unavoidable. The fashionable operation had derived its efficacy entirely from the placebo effect. Surgeons now realized that this operation was no longer ethically justifiable. But they were not so easily to be deprived of a chance to operate on angina sufferers. They conceived an even more intrusive procedure—internal mammary artery implant. This involved poking a hole in the heart muscle, cutting the artery, and then inserting the cut end of the artery into the heart, hoping it would sprout new branches, thus supplementing the coronary arteries and bringing more blood to the heart.

Again, patients who underwent the surgery reported decreases in angina pain after recovering from the surgical trauma, and again the surgeons trumpeted their success. No one ever put this procedure to the test of comparison with sham surgery. However, autopsies later done on patients who received this surgery showed that the implanted arteries had not sprouted new branches or provided any new blood supplies to the heart, as had been hoped. In short, any success this massive intervention had was due, again, to the placebo effect. So great had been the faith of the patients in surgery as a healing modality, that even though they underwent traumatic surgery that was, in fact, physically worthless, many of them reported symptomatic relief. It seems we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of understanding how profound and powerful a thing faith is. Is it any wonder, then, given the faith we have all been continuously programmed to have in meat, that some people report they feel better when meat is part of their diet?


pages: 213 words: 61,911

In defense of food: an eater's manifesto by Michael Pollan


back-to-the-land, cognitive dissonance, Community Supported Agriculture, Gary Taubes, placebo effect, Upton Sinclair

It could just as easily be due to the reduction in calories or the addition of carbohydrates or polyunsaturated fats. For every diet hypothesis you test, you can construct an alternative hypothesis based on the presence or absence of the substitute nutrient. It gets messy. And then there is the placebo effect, which has always bedeviled nutrition research. About a third of Americans are what researchers call responders—people who will respond to a treatment or intervention regardless of whether they’ve actually received it. When testing a drug you can correct for this by using a placebo in your trial, but how do you correct for the placebo effect in the case of a dietary trial? You can’t: Low-fat foods seldom taste like the real thing, and no person is ever going to confuse a meat entrée for a vegetarian substitute. Marion Nestle also cautions against taking the diet out of the context of the lifestyle, a particular hazard when comparing the diets of different populations.

., rickets in oat bran oats obesity Ames’s theory of Harvard theory of omega-3s and refined carbohydrates and Western diet and O’Dea, Kerin oils: in flour see also vegetable oils Okinawa olive oil omega-3 fatty acids deficiencies of in flour foods fortified with omega-6 compared with role of omega-6 fatty acids role of omnivores Omnivore’s Dilemma, The (Pollan) ”1A plus 2B,” oranges Organic Center organic food orthorexics overnutrition overweight Packer, The parking-lot science pasta peaches peanut butter pellagra Perfection Salad (Shapiro) Perry, George H. pesticides Petrini, Carlo phosphorus photosynthesis phytic acid phytochemicals phytoestrogens pigs placebo effect plants, plant food absence of for animals biodiversity and as diet mainstay freezer use and growth of omega-3 fatty acids in protein from shift from leaves to seeds of and skepticism for nontraditional foods supplements and traditional diets and well-grown and healthy soil rule for wild foods and wine use and pleasure, eating and nutritionism and ”Pleasures of Eating, The” (Berry) polyphenols polyunsaturated fat saturated fat vs.


pages: 473 words: 121,895

Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski Ph.d.


cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, delayed gratification, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, Skype, Snapchat, spaced repetition, the scientific method

Once you’ve read this chapter, I want you to feel that your accelerator and your brakes are as basic, as integral to your sexual functioning, as your clitoris and your desire. If I do my job in the next few pages, you’ll be telling everyone you know: “OMG, everybody, there’s a brake!” The Power of Context Erectile dysfunction drugs don’t improve women’s sexual functioning, but they do have one of the strongest placebo effects observed in medical research. Around 40 percent of participants in the placebo group of a clinical trial of sexual dysfunction medication report that the “drug”—actually a sugar pill—improved their sex lives; this is a response size so large that one particularly brilliant study reported only the effects of an eight-week “treatment” with a placebo.2 This is just one small hint at the power of context in shaping our sexual experience, which we’ll discuss in chapter 3.

Something particularly interesting about the study of brain functioning in people with chronic back pain: When they directed their attention to the burning sensation on the skin of their back, they reported that the heat hurt; when they directed their attention to the pain in the muscles of their back, they reported that the heat felt good. Where we focus our attention is part of context. The NAc even appears to be important in placebo studies (Zubieta and Stohler, “Neurobiological Mechanisms of Placebo Responses; Tracey, “Getting the Pain You Expect”). Remember the placebo effect from chapter 2—about 40 percent of people taking a sugar pill that they are told will increase their interest in sex, do indeed experience more interest in sex. I expect that future research will find that the nucleus accumbens is involved in that effect. 15. Berridge and Kringelbach, “Neuroscience of Affect,” 295. 16. Jaak Panksepp and Lucy Bevin (Archaeology of Mind ) include in their taxonomy of the limbic brain SEEKING, RAGE, FEAR, LUST, CARE, PANIC/GRIEF, and PLAY.

., 177–78 Bonobo copulation, images of, 194, 207, 208 Bottom-up approach to coping with trauma, 128–29 Brain, 40 arousal nonconcordance and, 197–99, 221–22 context and, 75–76, 80–83, 94 desire and, 233–34 dual control model and, 48, 60 imaging studies of, 132 pleasure centers of, 84 stress and, 117–18 Brain stem parabrachial nucleus, 84 Breathing technique, 268 Brotto, Lori, 238–39 Buck, Ross, 199 Bulb of penis, 22 Bulb of vestibule, 22, 274–75 Camilla (composite), 7, 149, 326 arousal nonconcordance and, 191–92, 221 context and, 70–71, 92–93 cultural messages and, 161–62 desire and, 225, 228–29 dual control model and, 58–59 on genital diversity, 33–34 orgasm and, 278–79, 314–15 trauma and, 126–27 Carpopedal spasms, 44 Central nervous system, 48, 197–99 Challenges, meaningful, 246–47 Chamberlin, Kristen, 129 Chasing dynamic, 89, 226, 238, 318 described, 245 desperate measures to defuse, 251–55 Chivers, Meredith, 194, 210 Christmas Carol, A (Dickens), 145–46 Chronic stressors, 120–21 Circumcision (male), 26 Clitoral hood, 22, 23 Clitoris, 19, 20–25, 44 anatomy of, 17, 20–23, 22 distance between urethra and, 16, 274 early scientific view of, 277 manual exploration of, 23 orgasm through stimulation of, 272, 274, 275, 292, 322 size of, 15–16, 205–6 visual exploration of, 23–25, 41 Cocaine addicts, study of, 90 Coffey, Kelly, 168–69 Cognitive-based therapy, 128 Cognitive dissonance, 156, 182 Common humanity, 178, 317 Conception-arousal myth, 210, 276, 277 Condoms, 219, 220 Context, 5–6, 70–108. See also Cultural context; Emotional context arousal nonconcordance and, 212–13 desire and, 223–29, 239 dual control model and, 65, 67–68, 78–79, 92 importance of understanding, 91–92 meta-emotions and, 322–23 orgasm and, 270–71, 280, 282–86 placebo effect and, 47 pleasure and, 291, 302 sensation and, 77–83, 94 two elements in, 75 worksheets, 95–108 Corpora cavernosa, 21, 22 Corpus spongiosum, 21, 22 Cosmopolitan (magazine), 161 Cowper’s gland, 30 Criterion velocity, 235–36, 281, 289, 300 changing, 320–21 defined, 235 Crura of clitoris, 21, 22 Crura of penis, 22 Crying, 122, 137–38, 290 Cues for sexual desire study, 72–73 worksheet, 107–8 Cujo (film), 194 Cultural context, 6, 153–88.


pages: 836 words: 158,284

The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss


23andMe, airport security, Albert Einstein, Black Swan, Buckminster Fuller, carbon footprint, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, correlation does not imply causation, Dean Kamen, game design, Gary Taubes, index card, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, microbiome, p-value, Parkinson's law, Paul Buchheit, placebo effect, Productivity paradox, publish or perish, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Thorstein Veblen, wage slave, William of Occam

After I found that flaxseed oil improved balance, I used self-experimentation to figure out the best dose (three to four tablespoons per day). One complaint about self-experimentation is that you’re not “blind.” Maybe the treatment works because you expect it to work. A placebo effect. I have never seen a case where this appeared to have happened. When treatment 10 helps after treatments 1 through 9 have failed to help (my usual experience), it’s unlikely to be a placebo effect. Accidental discoveries cannot be placebo effects. My experience has shown that improve-your-life self-experimentation is remarkably powerful. I wasn’t an expert in anything I studied—I’m not a sleep expert, for example—but I repeatedly found useful cause-and-effect relationships (breakfast causes early awakening, flaxseed oil improves balance, etc.) that the experts had missed.

I found this particularly bothersome. Bothersome because I appeared to heal faster using oral 30C arnica. There are a few potential explanations: HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES WORK AS ADVERTISED The water actually retains some “essential property” of the original substance because of the beatings and shakings. I give this a 0% probability. It violates the most basic laws of science and makes my head hurt. THE PLACEBO EFFECT I didn’t realize it was a homeopathic remedy until after four or five doses, and I had been told it could reduce pain by up to 50% in 24 hours. Placebo is strong stuff. People can become intoxicated from alcohol placebos, and “placebo” knee surgeries for osteoarthritis, where incisions are made but nothing is repaired, can produce results that rival the real deal. This explanation gets my vote.

Nutrition Data nuts: Brazil nuts, 22.1, 46.1, 46.2 and cholesterol overeating and testosterone as travel snack O Obama, Michelle obesity, 9.1, 9.2 observer effect Occam’s Protocol adapting the program cardio frequency objective of, 18.1, 18.2 Occam’s feeding, 17.1, 18.1 Occam’s frequency Occam’s prescriptions questions and criticisms slower gains starting weights Occam’s Razor ofuro oil, rancid oligosaccharides OneTaste, 20.1, 20.2, 20.3, 20.4 oral contraceptives orange juice orgasm: and bad science clitoral glans and clitoris, 20.1, 20.2 definition of Doing Method, 20.1, 20.2, 20.3 facilitation of female focused repetition for and grounding and g-spot, 19.1, 20.1 guidelines for beginners and masturbation, 19.1, 20.1 positions practice and how-to precondition the quest questions about vibrator for O’Rourke, Dara Ottey, Merlene Joyce oversimplification Owen (monkey) oxygen-assisted static apnea Ozolin, Nikolay P Pagan, Eben PAGG warnings about Paleolithic “paleo” diet palmitoleic acid Palumbo, Dave “Jumbo,” 150, 13.1, 17.1 Parazynski, Scott Pareto, Vilfredo Pareto’s Law Parisi, Bill Parkinson’s Law partial completeness Paul (testosterone) Pavlina, Steve PC (phosphocreatine) PC (pubococcygeus) muscle Pearl, Bill pear shape peer pressure Penn, B. J. periodization Perls, Tom Phelps, Michael pheromones Phillips, Bill phlebotomy phosphocreatine (PC) phosphoric acid photos, before/after, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 Picasso, Pablo placebo effect, 29.1, 42.1, 44.1 platelet-rich plasma (PRP) Plato, Peggy, 3.1, 16.1 Plese, Elliott plyometrics Polanyi, John policosanol, 10.1, 10.2 Poliquin, Charles, 16.1, 17.1, 22.1, 25.1, 46.1 Pollan, Michael, 43.1, 48.1 polysomnograms poo, weighing pork belly Portland Marathon Pose Method, 30.1, 30.2, 31.1 potassium Pottenger, Francis M. Jr. Powerlifting USA PPBD, use of term prebiotics pressure, removing Price, Weston A., 9.1, 46.1, 46.2, 48.1 probiotics productivity and observer effect prolotherapy, 25.1, 25.2 proprioception protein cookies (recipe) protein cycling proteins BMP-7 in breakfast daily intake of and kidneys per meal and sleep, 8.1, 23.1 TEF of and vegetarians, 8.1, 47.1, 48.1 protein shake (recipe) Prout, William PRP (platelet-rich plasma) Pugh, Lewis purines p-value PWAs (people with AIDS) Q quality of life R randomness range of motion (ROM), 15.1, 25.1 Raw Dino Kale Salad (recipe) recipes: Blueberry Protein Power Shake Garlicky Greens Go Raw Carob Cashew Smoothie Green Machine Pudding Lime Tamari Tempeh On the Go Hummus protein shake Raw Dino Kale Salad snack Sweet Potatoes Tempeh Tacos Vanilla Walnut Protein Cookies for weight gain recomposition recreation, exercise vs.


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NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman


Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, crowdsourcing,, epigenetics, experimental subject, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, index card, Isaac Newton, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mother of all demos, neurotypical, New Journalism, pattern recognition, placebo effect, scientific mainstream, side project, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, union organizing, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War

In the pharmaceutical industry, the gold standard of drug development is the so-called double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Volunteers are randomly assigned to receive either the active drug or an inert placebo, and neither the volunteers nor the experimenters are aware of who is getting the real drug and who is getting the equivalent of sugar pills. Inevitably, both groups of patients will show some improvement because of a phenomenon known as the placebo effect. At the root of the placebo effect is the fact that the attention of medical professionals, in an environment of care, produces beneficial changes in the mind and body of the patient even in the absence of an active drug. Researchers like Ted Kaptchuk at Harvard and Fabrizio Benedetti at the University of Milan have discovered that the mere act of swallowing a pill triggers cascades of hormones and neurotransmitters that can reduce pain and inflammation, enhance motor coordination, boost brain activity, lift mood, and improve digestion.

Researchers like Ted Kaptchuk at Harvard and Fabrizio Benedetti at the University of Milan have discovered that the mere act of swallowing a pill triggers cascades of hormones and neurotransmitters that can reduce pain and inflammation, enhance motor coordination, boost brain activity, lift mood, and improve digestion. These effects are pervasive, as if the body contains a self-healing network that is activated by the knowledge that one is receiving care. (Exercise and meditation also prompt this network into action.) While no one has ever cured cancer or dispelled pneumonia with a sugar pill, powerful placebo effects have been observed in an astonishingly broad range of conditions, from Parkinson’s and hypertension to chronic depression and Crohn’s disease. In placebo-controlled trials, if the volunteers in the placebo group and the experimental group show comparable amounts of benefit, the FDA judges the drug to be ineffective—often at the cost of tens of millions of dollars to the company that spent years developing it.

A Navy statistician with access to the raw data concluded that no reliable information about the reaction to the vitamins by various subtypes in the sample population could be obtained by using Rimland’s computer-clustering scheme. Furthermore, the design of the experiment—with parents as evaluators of changes in their children’s behavior—was anything but “blind” in the statistical sense, and a perfect incubator for placebo effects. Rimland knew that accurately gauging the efficacy of new treatments for autism is tricky because the condition is so mercurial. “These children spurt ahead or fall apart periodically for no discernible reason,” he said, “and whatever treatment is being used at the time gets the credit or the blame.” Yet even Rimland was not immune to the pitfalls of wishful thinking. A thinly veiled account of his experiments with Deaner appeared in his book, referencing an unnamed “four-year-old autistic child who unquestionably belonged to the Kanner category.”


pages: 412 words: 115,266

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris


Albert Einstein, banking crisis, cognitive bias, endowment effect, energy security, experimental subject, framing effect, hindsight bias, impulse control, John Nash: game theory, loss aversion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, out of africa, pattern recognition, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, ultimatum game, World Values Survey

., & Damasio, A. R. (1997). Deciding advantageously before knowing the advantageous strategy. Science, 275 (5304), 1293–1295. Begg, I. M., Robertson, R. K., Gruppuso, V., Anas, A., & Needham, D. R. (1996). The Illusory-knowledge effect. Journal of Memory and Language, 35, 410–433. Benedetti, F., Mayberg, H. S., Wager, T. D., Stohler, C. S., & Zubieta, J. K. (2005). Neurobiological mechanisms of the placebo effect. J Neurosci, 25 (45), 10390–10402. Benedict, R. (1934). Patterns of culture. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin. Benjamin, J., Li, L., Patterson, C., Greenberg, B. D., Murphy, D. L., & Hamer, D. H. (1996). Population and familial association between the D4 dopamine receptor gene and measures of novelty seeking. Nat Genet, 12 (1), 81–84. Bilefsky, D. (2008, July 10). In Albanian feuds, isolation engulfs families.

L., Benson, P. J., Bullmore, E. T., Brammer, M., et al. (2000). Towards a functional neuroanatomy of self processing: Effects of faces and words. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res, 10 (1–2), 133–144. Kircher, T. T., Senior, C., Phillips, M. L., Rabe-Hesketh, S., Benson, P. J., Bullmore, E. T., et al. (2001). Recognizing one’s own face. Cognition, 78 (1), B1–B15. Kirsch, I. (2000). Are drug and placebo effects in depression additive? Biol Psychiatry, 47 (8), 733–735. Klayman, J., & Ha, Y. W. (1987). Confirmation, disconfirmation, and information in hypothesis testing. Psychological Review, 94 (2), 211–228. Koenig, L. B., McGue, M., Krueger, R. F., & Bouchard, T. J., Jr. (2005). Genetic and environmental influences on religiousness: Findings for retrospective and current religiousness ratings.

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 10 (12), 24–28. Libet, B., Gleason, C. A., Wright, E. W., & Pearl, D. K. (1983). Time of conscious intention to act in relation to onset of cerebral activity (readiness-potential). The unconscious initiation of a freely voluntary act. Brain, 106 (Pt. 3), 623–642. Lieberman, M. D., Jarcho, J. M., Berman, S., Naliboff, B. D., Suyenobu, B. Y., Mandelkern, M., et al. (2004). The neural correlates of placebo effects: a disruption account. Neuroimage, 22 (1), 447–455. Litman, L., & Reber, A. S. (2005). Implicit cognition and thought. In K. J. Holyoak & R. G. Morrison (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of thinking and reasoning (pp. 431–453). New York: Cambridge University Press. Livingston, K. R. (2005). Religious practice, brain, and belief. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 5 (1–2), 75–117. Llinás, R. (2001).


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The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine Is in Your Hands by Eric Topol


23andMe, 3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Anne Wojcicki, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, bioinformatics, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, computer vision, conceptual framework, connected car, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data acquisition, disintermediation, don't be evil, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk,, Erik Brynjolfsson, Firefox, global village, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, license plate recognition, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, placebo effect, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, Snapchat, social graph, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Turing test, Uber for X, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize

A buzzword these days for unnecessary or ineffective medical procedures or care is “low value.”33,35–39 A recent example is arthroscopic (performed via a scope to limit the size of incision) knee surgery known as “partial meniscectomy”—the most common operation in the United States, with over seven hundred thousand performed each year with direct medical costs of $4 billion.40 In a randomized trial conducted by Canadian researchers, patients with a torn meniscus were randomized to arthroscopic partial meniscectomy or a sham operation, such that the patient or researchers collecting the data for the patients did not know which had been performed.40 There was no difference in outcomes, emphasizing the profound placebo effect of surgery itself. What makes the trial truly notable is the rarity of such experimental rigor in testing surgeries. Although using sham controls for comparison with actual procedures is the best way to distinguish the placebo effect, surgeons and patients are typically quite reluctant to participate in such a trial design. For this reason, there may well be many operations and procedures that are ineffective, but there have not been any rigorous trials putting them to the test. FIGURE 8.2: Sources of waste of US health care dollars.

Let’s consider a patient with depression, a condition for which mobile apps are already starting to make a difference.95b A medication has been prescribed and there is a question as to whether it is working. The patient reports feeling subjectively better, but all of the objective indices—tone and inflection of voice, frequency of communication, activity and movement, breathing pattern, facial expression, vital signs, HRV and GSR—show no sign of improvement whatsoever. Does this diagnose a placebo effect of the medication? The patient looks at the integrated data and notes a dissociation of symptoms and the metrics. A whole new discussion can ensue as to whether a medication is necessary, whether it’s really working, and the potential to explore other alternative nonmedical treatments. Or another patient with a history of frequent asthma attacks is now using the lung smartphone add-appter, which gathers environmental exposures that include pollen count and air quality, ambient temperature and humidity, along with activity, vital signs, lung function (forced expiratory volume in one second via the microphone), chest movement, and breathing pattern.

Osborne, Joshua, 96–97 Otoscope, smartphone, 122 Outpatient procedures, 183–186 Outsourcing health care, 147–149 Ovarian cancer, 55(quote), 56–57, 59, 66, 75, 110 Ownership of property, 281–282 Ozcan, Aydogan, 262 Pa, Roy, 197–198 Page, Larry, 198 Pandora, 243 Panoramic GIS view, 81–82 Paper-based analytic devices, 262, 269 Paracelsus, 279–280 Parker, Randy, 168 Parkinson, Jay, 174 Patents, gene, 72–76 Paternalism, Age of, 20 Paternalism, medical American Medical Association, 21–26 data access and ownership, 125–127, 129 disrespect for patients, 29–31 dissemination of knowledge through printing, 13–14 doctor’s orders, 27–28 FDA quashing consumer genome testing, 64–71 historical path of, 17–21, 49–54 modern technology transforming health care, 275–277 patient access to radiation exposure data, 115 patient access to test results, 107–108 professional guidelines for physicians, 31–32 signs of the persistence of, 26–34 Pathway Genomics, 68–69 Patient, Heal Thyself (Veatch), 18, 29–30 Patient records, 4 Patient-generated data, 135–136 Patients in waiting, 91 PatientsLikeMe, 10–11, 173, 203, 211–212 Pentland, Alex “Sandy,” 79(quote) Percival, Thomas, 20 Personal Genome Project (PGP), 199 Personal Genome Service (PGS), 63–71 Phablet, 40 Pharmacists and pharmaceuticals clinical trial data, 213–216 prescription testosterone gels, 144 telemonitoring, 162 Theranos blood test process, 106–107 waste, 144–145 Pharmacogenomics, 100–101, 102(table), 134 Phenlyketonuria (PKU), 91–92 Phenome, 81–83 Phlebotomy, 106 Physicals, annual, 146–147 Physics of the Future (Kaku), 119 Physiome, 81–83 Pickrell, Joe, 70–71 PillPack, 206 Placebo effect, 142–144 Polygenic diseases, 93–94 Ponemon Institute, 225 Portable Legal Consent, 199–200 Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 251–252 Practice Fusion, 138 Prakash, Manu, 262–263 Predictive analysis artificial intelligence and machine learning, 244–246 at the individual level, 242–246 at the population level, 240–242 diagnosis, misdiagnosis and disease prevention, 247–253 molecular stethoscope and machine learning, 253–256 Pregnancy and childbirth costs associated with, 149 DNA data, 254 medical GIS in the developing world, 269 smartphone use in the developing world, 263 ultrasound use, 275–276 Premature babies, 252–253 Prenatal genomic screening, 89–91 Prevention of disease artificial intelligence and machine learning, 244–246 diagnosis, misdiagnosis and prevention through predictive analysis, 247–253 dream and possibility of, 238–239 examples of preventable diseases, 254(table) GIS data used for, 93–96 predictive analysis, 240–242 the individual and the Internet of Medical Things, 246–247 Preventive Services Task Force, US, 33 Prewomb medicine, 89–90 Price comparator websites, 153–154 Priests, 13–14, 17–18, 50 Printing press, 13–14, 37–39, 39(fig.), 40–41, 41(fig.), 45–47, 46(fig.), 47–49, 285 The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (Eisenstein), 38–42, 47–49 Privacy concerns, 219–235 Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, 228–229 Project Artemis, 252 Project Masiluleke (South Africa), 261–262 Pronovost, Peter, 186 Prostate cancer screening, 118 Protective alleles, 102 Protein biology, 86 Proteome, 81–82, 86 Proteus, 133–134 Proton beam radiation, 146 Qualcomm, 286 Quality in healthcare, 156–157 QuantuMDs, 264, 265(fig.)


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I Think You'll Find It's a Bit More Complicated Than That by Ben Goldacre


call centre, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, Desert Island Discs,, experimental subject, Firefox, Flynn Effect, jimmy wales, John Snow's cholera map, Loebner Prize, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, Simon Singh, statistical model, stem cell, the scientific method, Turing test, WikiLeaks

In two of them, the consent form contained a statement outlining various gastrointestinal side effects, and in these centres there was a sixfold increase in the number of people reporting such symptoms, and many more people dropping out of the trial, compared with the one centre that did not list such side effects on the form. This is the amazing world of the nocebo effect, the evil twin of the placebo effect, where negative expectations can induce unpleasant symptoms in the absence of a physical cause. Sadly, though, it doesn’t help homeopaths: in 2003 Professor Edzard Ernst conducted a systematic review of every single homeopathy trial that reported side effects. This found, in total, fifty episodes of side effects in patients treated with placebo and sixty-three in patients treated with homeopathically diluted remedies, with no statistically significant difference in the rates of side effects between the two groups. Quacks like to present themselves as holistic, but in reality this research into the placebo effect and the nocebo effect suggests quite the opposite. The world of the homeopath is reductionist, one-dimensional, and built on the power of the pill: it cannot accommodate the fascinating reality of connections between mind and body, which have been revealed in these experiments, and many more.

When they pervert the activities of people who should know better – medicines regulators, or universities – it throws sharp relief onto the role of science and evidence in culture. Characters from this community who wonder why people keep writing about them should look at their libel cases and their awesomely bad behaviour under fire. You are a comedy factory. Don’t go changing. Next: the real story of how the world works is much weirder than anything a quack can make up. The placebo effect is maddening, the nocebo effect more so, but the research on how we make decisions, and are misled by heuristics and mental shortcuts, is the wildest of all. Knowing about these belief-hacks gives you thrills, and power. Pharmaceutical companies can behave dismally. Most important, they still won’t publish all the results of all the clinical trials conducted on humans. This is indefensible, and because we tolerate it, we don’t know the true effect sizes of the medicines that we give.

: ‘Nanniebots’ to Catch Paedophiles ‘Nanniebots’: New Scientist’s chat with Nanniebot: talk to it online: Nanniebots and Neverland Nanniebots and Neverland: making false claims: modified the device to stream shows: posting did state: Artificial Intelligence Artificial Intelligence: BOOKENDS Be Very Afraid: The Bad Science Manifesto Be Very Afraid: What Eight Years of Writing the Bad Science Column Has Taught Me finish a book: what I’ve learned: in eight years: writing this column: Alternative therapists: great teaching tool: medicines regulators: universities: science and evidence in culture: their libel cases: comedy factory: how the world works: the placebo effect: misled by heuristics: thrills, and power: Pharmaceutical companies: still won’t publish all: we tolerate it: Journalists: can mislead the public: the methods and techniques: Politicians misuse evidence: and distort it: to shameful degrees: trials of policies: if they achieve: no honourable excuse: the fairest tests: Real scientists: clear line between the results: nerds are more powerful: best teaching gimmick: for explaining:


pages: 300 words: 65,976

The Gospel of Food: Everything You Think You Know About Food Is Wrong by Barry Glassner


Gary Taubes, haute cuisine, income inequality, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Urbanism, placebo effect, profit motive, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Saturday Night Live, stem cell, urban sprawl, working poor

But when it comes to medical care, things are never equal, and I prefer Hahn over docs who take at face value what they read in the health section of the local newspaper. “What we think we know about nutrition is not supported by real scientific inquiry,” he told me on a subsequent occasion. Little biological evidence exists, he said, to support the claims of those who caution against particular foods. If some people are healthier for having eschewed those foods, the reason may well be psychological. “Because of the placebo effect, people feel better when they adopt certain dietary habits,” Hahn contended. When I reminded him that his views are at odds with what one hears from physicians at the American Heart Association and diet advisory panels of the U.S. government, he recommended I do a small study myself to see how much those docs are really willing to attribute to diet.41 False Prophets 25 “You have to ask the right question,” said Hahn.

The pitch for Glacéau Revive differs from what McDonald’s used to do for its supersized fries only in audience. Both companies have implored people to pay extra for something they can do without. The McDonald’s customer at least got what was promised. The functional-foods consumer gets only a promise. People who feel more mentally adept after drinking fortified water are probably responding 46 The Gospel of Food either to the sugar in the product or to the placebo effect (having been told they will feel revived, they do). Even in the case of products whose additives have a legitimate scientific basis, the promised benefits can prove illusory. Gold Circle Farms promises better vision, brain function, and cardiovascular health to those who buy its eggs enriched with DHA omega-3, a fatty acid that research has found to be beneficial for protecting against a range of diseases.

., 97, 247n. 10 organic foods Cascadian Farm, 71–73 “expectancy confirmation,” xii farm cooperatives and, 64–65 food industry and, 62–63, 71–75, 245n. 15 health and environmental benefits, 64–65, 242n. 1 “industrial organic,” 72 lunch at expo, 64–65 milk, 62, 65 nutrients vs. nonorganic, 62 rejection of irradiation, 65–68 Rodale and, 63–64 small farmers and, 70–72 TV dinners, 71–72 Organic Gardening (Rodale), 63–64 Organic Valley cooperative, 64–65, 70 Ornish, Dean, 176 Orwell, George, 156 Palms Thai restaurant, 119 Panda Express restaurants, 137–41 best-selling item, 143 training of employees, 143 Paradise Tomato Kitchens, 81–83 pasta, dried vs. fresh, 83 282 Index Pastinelli, Madeleine, 128 Paz, Octavio, 128–29 peanuts, 211 peas, frozen vs. fresh, 83 Pepsico Aquafina water, 45 Mother’s Toasted Oat Bran Cereal, 48 Propel Fitness Water, 48 perfectionism, 200 food snobs and, 202–5 nutritional imperialists and, 201, 202 Per Se restaurant, 94–95, 109, 115 pesticides, 65 Peters, Lulu Hunt, 176 Petrini, Carlo, 220 Philip Morris, 48 Phillips Barbecue, 124 Phrack magazine, 148 Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), 207 anti-Atkins Web site, 214 on beef, 213 studies sponsored by, 214 pineapple, 80–81 Pirate’s Booty, 53 pizza hunger-relief organizations and, 201 as perfect food, 201 Pizza Hut, 141, 142 placebo effect, 24 fortified water and, 46 pleasure in food absorption of nutrients and, 1–2 American attitude vs., 3 Americans sacrificing of, 197–98 bò 7 món, 228 gospel of naught vs., 4 as important for health, 1–3 potato and, 5–6 self-denial of, effects, 3–6 study on food attitudes and, 2–3 Plotkin, Mark, 64 Pochapin, Cheryl, 126 Poe, Tracy, 84–85 Pollan, Michael, 70–72, 74 countercuisine, 72 Pork Board, 32 Post, Charles W., 43 potato as anti-depressive, 4–5 contradictory opinions and, 7–8 as ethnic slur on Irish, 226 health risks of, perceived, 4 marketing health benefits, 211 nutritional and health benefits, 4–5, 6 pleasures of eating, 5–6 specialist farmers for, 110 Yukon gold, 6 Potatoes Not Prozac, 4–5 Powles, John, 21 Powter, Susan, 176 Probyn, Elsbeth, 43, 148 processed and frozen foods convenience of, 61, 84–87 feminism and, 85 history, 84–86 nutrients and, 83 organic TV dinners, 71–72 pineapple wedges breakthrough, 80–81 Procter & Gamble, 79 Propel Fitness Water, 48 Public Citizen, 67 Puck, Wolfgang, 97–99, 115, 116, 156 Putnam, Robert, 121 Putney Swope (fi lm), 43 Index 283 Quaker Oats, 52–53 Quorn, 68–70 R & D operations, 77–81 Burger King, 34–35, 146–47 Flavurence Corporation, 37–40 fresh pineapple wedges, 80–81 Rain restaurant, 41 Ravnskov, Uffe, 22 Reichl, Ruth, 89–90, 91, 92, 93, 112–13, 217, 246n. 5 Renaud, Serge, 2 Restaurant, The (TV show), 103–6, 247n. 21 restaurants.


pages: 353 words: 98,267

The Price of Everything: And the Hidden Logic of Value by Eduardo Porter


Asian financial crisis, Ayatollah Khomeini, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, British Empire, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Credit Default Swap, Deng Xiaoping, Edward Glaeser, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Ford paid five dollars a day, full employment, George Akerlof, Gordon Gekko, guest worker program, happiness index / gross national happiness, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, informal economy, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, means of production, Menlo Park, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, new economy, New Urbanism, pension reform, Peter Singer: altruism,, placebo effect, price discrimination, price stability, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, superstar cities, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, ultimatum game, unpaid internship, urban planning, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, Yom Kippur War, young professional

Moved by any number of unacknowledged biases, they are easy prey to manipulative devices deployed by those who want to sell them things. Prices help us understand these cognitive lacunae. They provide a road map of people’s psychological quirks, of their fears, their unacknowledged constraints. Prices—how they are set, how people react to them—can tell us who people really are. Most of us have heard of the placebo effect—in which a pill with no therapeutic properties relieves a real ailment by making us believe that we are being cured, setting in motion some inner psychological process. A few years ago, psychologist Dan Ariely from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and some colleagues performed an experiment that uncovered an interesting variant. They told a bunch of students they were getting a new type of painkiller but gave them a placebo instead.

H. Meckling, “The Nature of Man,” Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Vol. 7, No. 2, Summer 1994, pp. 4-19. The data on wages and gas prices was drawn from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Energy Information Administration. Data on gas mileage was drawn from the Environmental Protection Agency’s 1974 Gas Mileage Guide for Car Buyers. 15-22 The Price of Things: The experiment on placebo effects is found in Dan Ariely, Baba Shiv, Ziv Carmon, and Rebecca Waber, “Commercial Features of Placebo and Therapeutic Efficacy,” Journal of the American Medical Association , Letters, Vol. 299, No. 9, 2008, pp. 1016-1017. The relation between lap-dancer tips and menstrual cycles is drawn from Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tybur, and Brent Jordan, “Ovulatory Cycle Effects on Tip Earnings by Lap Dancers: Economic Evidence for Human Estrus?

happiness in restaurants in service industries in New York Sports Club New York Times New York Times Magazine New Zealand Nine Inch Nails 99 Cents Only chain of stores Nixon, Richard Nordhaus, William Norway Nu au Plateau de Sculpteur (Picasso) Obama, Barack campaign spending of health care and Occupational Safety and Health Administration O’Connor, Sandra Day oil Olympics (1988) Oneida community opera companies “Orange Juice and Weather,” Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) overweight Owen, Robert Page, Talbot Papua New Guinea Paraguay Paris Parliament, British Pascal, Blaise patents patriarchy PC World Pelé Pengajian Pennsylvania, University of pensions People’s Liberation Army Perú Pew Global Attitudes Project Pew Project on the Internet and American Life Pew Research Center pharmaceutical industry photography Picasso, Pablo Piso Firme (Firm Floor) Pitt, William Pitt’s Pictures placebo effect pneumococcal disease politics culture and pollution air polygamy pop stars population replacement rate of Portugal Pound, Ezra precautionary principle price discrimination prices: history of misfiring of overview of rule of taming of Prince, Charles Princeton University printers printing, in Great Britain Prisco, Giulio productivity agricultural slavery and wages and property intellectual Prospect Theory Protestant Reformation Protestants public goods publishing Puerto Rico Punjab Pythagoras quality-adjusted life year (QALY) Quiverfull radio Radiohead Rapa Nui rationality Rawls, John Reagan, Ronald recession reciprocity Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) record labels regulation of banking Reinhart, Carmen religion, see faith; specific religions Renaissance reproduction male vs. female investment in Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) resources allocation of free restaurants Reznor, Trent Ricardo, David Ricos También Lloran, Los (telenovela) risks, risk taking Roach, Stephen Rogoff, Kenneth Rome, classical Roosevelt, Franklin D.


pages: 220 words: 73,451

Democratizing innovation by Eric von Hippel


additive manufacturing, correlation coefficient, Debian, hacker house, informal economy, inventory management, iterative process, James Watt: steam engine, knowledge economy, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Network effects, placebo effect, principal–agent problem, Richard Stallman, software patent, transaction costs, Vickrey auction

We looked for (and did not find) differences in the capabilities or motivation of LU and non-LU project team members with respect to achieving a major new product advance. 3M managers also said that there was no difference in these matters, and a content analysis of formal annual performance goals set for the individual LU and non-LU team members in a division that allowed access to these data supported their views. We also found no major differences in the innovation opportunities teams faced. They also looked for Hawthorne or placebo effects that might 138 Chapter 10 affect the project teams differentially, and found none. (The Hawthorne effect can be described as “I do better because extra attention is being paid to me or to my performance.” The placebo effect can be described as “I expect this process will work and will strive to get the results I have been told are likely.”) We concluded that the 3M samples of funded LU and non-LU idea-generation projects, though not satisfying the random assignment criterion for experimental design, appeared to satisfy rough equivalence criteria in test and control conditions associated with natural or quasi-experimentation.


pages: 275 words: 77,017

The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers--And the Coming Cashless Society by David Wolman


Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Bretton Woods, carbon footprint, cashless society, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, cross-subsidies, Diane Coyle, fiat currency, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, German hyperinflation, greed is good, Isaac Newton, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, mental accounting, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, offshore financial centre, Peter Thiel, place-making, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, Steven Levy, the payments system, transaction costs

For people living in countries that have more recently experienced rip-roaring inflation or currency crises, this relativity is easier to grasp. One week 10,000 pesos pays the rent, the next week it can’t buy a tank of gas. The money illusion in the modern age can have a bizarre influence on our decisions. Because we have a built-in bias for bigger numbers, we presume that the higher-priced wine, automobile, restaurant, college, or hotel will offer better quality, better value. Economists have even shown that the placebo effect of a pretend medication (vitamin C pills, for instance) is stronger when the price of the “drug” is higher.18 The money illusion also helps to explain why we value a $100 gift card or check as less than an equivalent amount of cash, which is to say we are more apt to spend it. The artifice with gift cards is that they have no value, so we act as if they’re play money. To economists, a restaurant coupon worth $100 equals $100 in cash, equals $100 in a bank account.

See also Police Leapfrog scenario Learning Channel Legal Tender Lens array Libertarians Liberty Dollar discounts for Move Up mechanism for Liberty Services Liliuokalani (Queen) Liquid assets Loans Locke, John Longshot magazine Lott, Trent Lydia (Greek kingdom) McDonald’s Madoff, Bernie Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mann, Ronald Manta currency Mark of the Beast Mark Twain Mas, Ignacio Massachusetts Bay Colony MasterCard Media Mercy Corp Metals, prices of Mexico Microchips Migrant laborers Military Review Millennium Prize Problems Minority Report (film) Monetary sovereignty Money creation of definition of vs. equity faith in value of(see also Currencies; confidence in) and feces functions of hoarding language of minting mobile money (see also Cellphones: used for money transactions) money clips money illusion money supply new ideas about origin of and religion as representing pure interaction and states/governments various objects as See also Cash; Coins; Currencies; Digital money; Electronic money; Paper money; Saving(s) Money Illusion, The (Fisher) Money laundering M-Pesa service Mundell, Robert Musulin, Toni Napoleonic Wars Natural disasters Nazism Netherlands New Jersey Transit train Newton, Sir Isaac New Yorker, The New York Times New Zealand Nicaragua Nickel Nigeria Nixon, Richard Non-native’s Tipping Anxiety NORFED North Korea Norway Nuclear weapons Numismatists/notaphilists Obama, Barack Oil prices Onion, The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Oyster cards Pain Panama Paper money burning constitutionality of as contaminated high-denomination banknotes and history/identity of issuing country inks used for legacy features of U.S. paper money manufacturing $1 bills $100 bills origin of plastic banknotes printing redeem-ability of redesign/reissue of security features for (see also Security issues) in seventeenth century Europe size of stashing varieties of See also Cash; Dollar currency Papua New Guinea Paul, Ron Pawn Stars (reality show) Payday lenders Payment technologies and small-value transactions See also Cellphones: used for money transactions; Credit cards; PayPal PayPal Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Peer-to-peer transactions Pennies Peru Peso currency Pew Research Center Philippines Central Bank Philosophy of Money, The (Simmel) Placebo effect Plasectomy Platinum Poland Police Polo, Marco Ponzi schemes Portugal Pound sterling currency Poverty. See also under Cash Power grid Precious metals. See also Gold; Platinum; Silver Presley, Telle Prices. See also Inflation Priming (psychological) Privacy issues Progressives (political) Promissory notes Prostitution P versus NP problem Pyramid schemes Quicken software Raghubir, Priya Ramsey, Dave Rapture Regulations Rejection, feelings of Religion.


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The Complete Thyroid Book by Kenneth Ain, M. Sara Rosenthal


follow your passion, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, place-making, placebo effect, Post-materialism, post-materialism, randomized controlled trial, upwardly mobile

But as of this writing, anyone who first suggests to you that T3 should be routinely added to your T4 or other medications you might be taking or used as a solo therapy is not up to date. In the peer-reviewed literature, there is some discussion of whether a long-acting T3 therapy could be developed. Additionally, there is recognition that there is a subset of patients who simply feel better on T3/T4 for reasons we don’t yet understand. Many attribute this to a placebo effect, which is a real physiological effect where an individual’s strong belief in a medication or therapy produces endorphins in the brain that actually help the individual feel better. Why Do I Still Feel Hypothyroid? If you have normal TSH levels but still have symptoms of hypothyroidism, then you will be relieved to know that the symptoms that persist are not likely to be related to your hypothyroidism and you can, at last, investigate other causes and remedies.

Biochemically, if you give people with normal thyroid function T3 when they don’t need it, they will become thyrotoxic (see Chapter 4). Also, even if we assume these testimonials are real, they fail to account for two well-known facts. First, a lot of people will just get better on their own because these symptoms tend to resolve once certain stressors are removed—even in people who have symptoms for months at a time. And second, the placebo effect (the power to heal yourself based solely on the belief that you’re taking effective medicine) often makes people feel better, as discussed further on. “My Obesity Is Caused by Hypothyroidism, Even Though My TSH Levels Are Normal” How many euthyroid people are obese? Millions! Why is that? Because they eat more food than they burn off in activity. We are a sedentary society that is aging and out of shape.

If you are hypothyroid and depressed, then T4 will do the same job on your depressed brain as taking T3, but its beneficial effects will be more long-lasting, yet not as immediate, since T4 has a longer half-life. When you give depressed people a placebo and tell them it is T3, assuring them that it will lift depression, at least half of those people will report an improvement because of the placebo effect, which is a real pharmacologic effect caused by our natural endorphins and the power of our beliefs. In fact, several medical ethics articles point out that clinical control trials using placebos are actually testing two types of “drugs,” since placebo is not the same as “nothing.” 262 THYROI D M ISCONCEPTIONS AN D M ISI N FOR M ATION Misconceptions About Radioactive Iodine (RAI) Radioactive iodine (RAI) is used for thyroid scans (see Chapter 2) as well as therapy for Graves’ disease and thyroid cancer (see Chapter 12).


pages: 402 words: 129,876

Bad Pharma: How Medicine Is Broken, and How We Can Fix It by Ben Goldacre


data acquisition, framing effect, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, income per capita, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, Simon Singh, WikiLeaks

From their perspective this was ‘a wonderful drug’, they explained, ‘light-years better than previous treatment’. It ‘began to eliminate cancer symptoms in seven days’. Tumours were ‘90 per cent gone in three months’, said one. Whether that was exaggeration or fluke, the reality is that fair tests showed no benefit. But the desperate patients disagreed, and asserted their case plainly and simply: Iressa ‘will save lives’. This personal testimony was in all likelihood a combination of the placebo effect and the natural fluctuation in symptoms that all patients experience. That didn’t seem to matter. When the committee charged with approving the drug cast their votes, they went 11–3 in favour. It’s hard to know what to make of this process, since the vote went against not only the surrogate outcome data, but also the evidence from very large trials showing no benefit on real-world outcomes or survival.

These simple trials have one disadvantage, which you may already have spotted, in that they aren’t ‘blinded’, so the patients know the name of the drug they’ve received. This is a problem in some studies: if you believe that you’ve been given a very effective medicine, or that you’ve been given a rubbish one, then the power of your beliefs and expectations can affect your health, through a phenomenon known as the placebo effect. If you’re comparing a painkiller against a dummy sugar pill, then a patient who knows they’ve been given a sugar pill for pain is likely to be annoyed and in more pain. But it’s harder to believe that patients have firm beliefs about the relative benefits of atorvastatin and simvastatin, and that these beliefs will then impact on cardiovascular mortality five years later. In all research, we make a trade-off between what is ideal and what is practical, giving careful consideration to the impact that any methodological shortcomings will have on a study’s results.

The FDA saw this coming a long way off, so it declined to license the product at all, specifically citing concerns about off-label use after the approval committee’s unanimous ‘no’ vote.33 This might be a good moment to mention that the evidence for testosterone patches being any use, even after surgery, is extremely weak, from two trials in very unrepresentative ‘ideal patients’, showing marginal benefits against a massive placebo effect, with common side effects (sometimes apparently irreversible), and no long-term safety data.34 It’s worth noting that almost no treatments for FSD have come to market, and crucially, all of the disease-mongering activity we have seen happened in the lead-up to their approval. This was simply the academic groundwork in the companies’ ‘publication planning’ programme, where they prove that a problem is widespread, and create a desire for a cure.


pages: 685 words: 203,949

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin


airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Anton Chekhov, big-box store, business process, call centre, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer vision, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Donald Trump,, epigenetics, Eratosthenes, Exxon Valdez, framing effect, friendly fire, fundamental attribution error, Golden Gate Park, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, impulse control, index card, indoor plumbing, information retrieval, invention of writing, iterative process, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, life extension, meta analysis, meta-analysis, more computing power than Apollo, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, placebo effect, pre–internet, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Skype, Snapchat, statistical model, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Turing test, ultimatum game

Just looking at the table, you can see that a cold is twice as likely to develop if you take echinacea as not (the right column of the table). To put this into Bayesian form, the probability of getting a cold, given that you took echinacea, still equals .67. By the way, the placebo effect—that we feel better and often get better just from taking something, even if it has no medicinal ingredients—is very real and very strong. Larger pills have a bigger placebo effect than small pills. Sham injections have a larger effect than pills. A great deal of the effect of products with no known medicinal value may simply be this placebo effect. This is why double-blind, randomized clinical control trials are necessary: Everyone in the study gets a pill and nobody knows who got what. Many of the people taking the “empty” pill are going to improve relative to people who got nothing, but if the medicine really works, it should work even better than placebo.

See brain physiology news media, 338–40 Newton, Isaac, 162 New Yorker, 120, 336 New York Times, 6, 339, 365 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 375 Nixon, Richard, 201 NMDA receptor, 167 nonlinear thinking and perception, 38, 215, 217–18, 262, 380 Norman, Don, 35 number needed to treat metric, 236, 240, 247, 264, 264 Obama, Barack, 219, 303 object permanence, 24 Office of Presidential Correspondence, 303 Olds, James, 101 Old Testament, 151 O’Neal, Shaquille, 352–53 One Hundred Names for Love (Ackerman), 364–65 online dating, 130–34, 422n130, 423n132 optical character recognition (OCR), 93, 119, 119 optimal information, 308–10 orders of magnitude, 354–55, 358–59, 361, 363, 400n7 organizational structure, 271–76, 315–18, 470n315, 471n317 Otellini, Paul, 380–81 Overbye, Dennis, 6, 19 Oxford English Dictionary, 114 Oxford Filing Supply Company, 93–94 Page, Jimmy, 174 pair-bonding, 128, 142 paperwork, 293–306 Pareto optimality, 269 parking tickets, 237, 451n237 Parkinson’s disease, 167–68 passwords, xx, 103–5 Patel, Shreena, 258 paternalism, medical, 245, 257 pattern recognition, 28, 249 Patton, George S., 73–74 peak performance, 167, 189, 191–92, 203, 206 Peer Instruction (Mazur), 367 perfectionism, 174, 199–200 periodic table of elements, 372–73, 373, 480n372 Perry, Bruce, 56 Peterson, Jennifer, 368 pharmaceuticals, 256–57, 343, 345–46 Picasso, Pablo, 283 Pierce, John R., 73 Pirsig, Robert, 69–73, 89, 295–97, 300 placebo effect, 253, 255 place memory, 82–83, 106, 293–94 planning, 43, 161, 174–75, 319–26 Plato, 14, 58, 65–66 plausibility, 350, 352, 478n352 Plimpton, George, 200 Plutarch, 340 Poldrack, Russ, 97 Polya, George, 357 Ponzo illusion, 21, 22 positron emission tomography (PET), 40 prediction, 344–45 prefrontal cortex, 161 Area 47, 287 and attention, 16–17, 43, 45–46 and changing behaviors, 176 and children’s television, 368 and creative time, 202, 210 and decision-making, 277, 282 and flow state, 203, 207 and information overload, 8 and literary fiction, 367 and manager/worker distinction, 176 and multitasking, 96, 98, 307 and procrastination, 197, 198, 200–201 and sleep, 187 and task switching, 171–72 and time organization, 161, 165–66, 174, 180 See also brain physiology preselection effect, 331, 343 Presidential Committee on Information Literacy, 365 primacy effect, 55, 408n56 primates, 17–18, 125–26, 135 Prince, 174 Princeton Theological Seminary, 145–46 prior distributions, 249 prioritization, 5–7, 33–35, 379–80 probability.


pages: 559 words: 174,054

The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug by Bennett Alan Weinberg, Bonnie K. Bealer


British Empire, clean water, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Haight Ashbury, Honoré de Balzac, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Lao Tzu, placebo effect, spice trade, trade route, traveling salesman

In the twentieth century, medical studies have credibly linked caffeine to causing or aggravating PMS, lowering rates of suicide and cirrhosis, fostering more efficient use of glycogen and other energy sources such as body fat and blood sugars, improving performance of simple tasks, impairing short-term memory, potentiating analgesics, improving athletic performance, causing insomnia, alleviating migraine headaches, depressing appetite, relieving asthma, and so on. There remains considerable ambiguity about many of these putative effects. For example, some researchers have found that caffeine improves mood and performance only when people are aware that they have consumed it, which if true would mean that even the most widely acknowledged results of taking the drug are simply placebo effects! However, if you have any doubt that caffeine is a drug, and a potent one, consider that a dose of only 1 gram, equivalent to about six strong cups of coffee, may produce insomnia, restlessness, ringing in the ears, confusion, tremors, irregular heartbeat, fever, photophobia, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe intoxication may also cause nausea, convulsions, and gastrointestinal hemorrhage. The lethal dose for a two-hundred-pound adult is estimated at about 10 to 15 grams.

He concluded that it was impossible to flunk the IOC test as a result of the ordinary consumption of caffeinated beverages and that any athlete who failed to pass should be presumed to have resorted to caffeine to enhance his performance.85 Although a number of athletes have run into trouble over their urinary levels of caffeine, so far the IOC itself has disqualified only one participant on this account, an Australian pentathlon competitor in the Seoul Olympics in l988.86 Interest in caffeine’s benefits to exercise increased in the late 1970s after studies from the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University suggested that 200 mg of caffeine exerted a significant effect on an athlete’s endurance. Other studies have failed to confirm this conclusion, and some have suggested that the observed improvements were a consequence of a placebo effect. Determining the answer comes down to evaluating whether caffeine has ergogenic effects—that is, whether it can improve aerobic performance or the capacity of the body for physical work. The body gets the energy needed to power muscles in at least three different ways, depending on whether the energy expenditure is of short, moderate, or extended duration. Energy is also burned differently by muscles of different sizes.

In some individuals, therefore, heavy use of caffeine apparently provokes sleepiness. This is difficult to explain since caffeine is a stimulant.... The unusual magnitude of the sleepiness and the rarity of this apparent association between caffeine and excessive sleepiness, even in sleep clinic patients, suggest an idiosyncratic phenomenon.32 Another strange effect, which might be called the “reverse placebo” effect, was observed by A.Goldstein in a 1964 study. Participants in his experiment were all given caffeine. Those who knew they had taken the drug were less likely to complain of wakefulness than those who were not informed whether they had taken caffeine or a placebo.33 Perhaps this could also be called the “bravado effect,” whereby people are reluctant to confess a disturbance from what is ordinarily considered a mild agent, such as caffeine.


pages: 460 words: 107,712

A Devil's Chaplain: Selected Writings by Richard Dawkins


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, Desert Island Discs, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, Necker cube, out of africa, phenotype, placebo effect, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method

If the pills cannot pass this test – if numerous strenuous efforts fail to distinguish them from a neutral placebo – I presume the company might be in danger of prosecution under the Trades Descriptions Act. Homeopathic remedies are big business, they are advertised as efficacious in various ways, yet they have never been demonstrated to have any effect at all. Personal testimony is ubiquitous, but it is useless evidence because of the notorious power of the placebo effect. This is exactly why ‘orthodox’ medicines are obliged to prove themselves in double-blind trials.8 I do not want to imply that all so-called ‘alternative medicines’ are as useless as homeopathy. For all I know, some of them may work. But they must be demonstrated to work, by double-blind placebo-control trials or some equivalent experimental design. And if they pass that test, there is then no longer any reason to call them ‘alternative’.

The randomizing will be done by computer, in such a way that nobody will know which patients are experimentals and which controls. The patients themselves won’t know; the therapists won’t know; the pharmacists preparing the doses won’t know, and the doctors judging the results won’t know. The bottles of medicine will be identified only by impenetrable code numbers. This is vitally important because nobody denies placebo effects: patients who think they are getting an effective cure feel better than patients who think the opposite. Each patient will be examined by a team of doctors and homeopaths, both before and after the treatment. The team will write down their judgement for each patient: has this patient got better, stayed the same, or got worse? Only when these verdicts have all been written down and sealed will the randomizing codes in the computer be broken.


Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander


Alistair Cooke, conceptual framework, dematerialisation, full employment, invention of agriculture, Menlo Park, music of the spheres, placebo effect, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Stewart Brand, the medium is the message, trickle-down economics

Spectator sports are excellent, so are circuses, elec- tions, and any spectacles in which focus is outward and interpersonal exchange is subordinated to mass experience. 4) Unify experience, especially encouraging mental ex- perience at the expense of sensory experience. Separate people's minds from their bodies, as in sense-deprivation experiments, thus clearing the mental channel for implanta- tion. Idealize the mind. Sensory experience cannot be eli- minated totally, so it should be driven into narrow areas. An emphasis on sex as opposed to sense may be useful because it is powerful enough to pass for the whole thing and it has a placebo effect. S) Occupy the mind. Once people are isolated in their minds, fill the brain with prearranged experience and thought. Content is less important than the fact of the mind being filled. Free-roaming thought is to be discouraged at all costs, because it is difficult to control. 6) Encourage drug use. Recognize that total repression is impossible and so expressions of revolt must be con- tained on the personal level.

The cancers may be imagined in the form of animals, snakes, armies, non-objective force-fields, whatever seems to have meaning in a particular patient." The Simontons also use photos of cells, photos of cancers, X ray photos of the person's own cancer to aid the process of imaging and at some point they ask patients to visualize themselves totally well. Critics of the Simontons' success statistics like to argue that it is not the visualizations themselves which have produced the results, but rather the belief in them, the placebo effect. But, of course, this is an absurd criticism, because the belief in the cure is itself likely to come in the form of a visualization of the healthy body. In either event, it is the image that effects the cure. The Samuelses' book is an amazing and fascinating work. They quote from virtually every religious discipline, every healing system in the history of the world about which any evidence exists.


pages: 316 words: 106,321

Switched On: My Journey From Asperger's to Emotional Awakening by John Elder Robison


Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, cognitive dissonance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, Minecraft, neurotypical, placebo effect

First of all, there’s a large body of evidence to suggest that belief in a cure makes a cure more likely, and more successful. Pharmaceutical researchers grapple with this issue all the time, as the success rate of placebos and real pills is often surprisingly similar. A few years ago researchers dismissed the placebo response as imaginary and of no medical value. Yet recent studies have shown the opposite: not only can the placebo effect deliver real lasting benefits, but the belief that something is making us sicker can actually lead to real deterioration, even death. Saying “It’s all in your mind” used to be a way to dismiss unexpected effects, but all of psychiatry is in the mind, so that dismissal is not so relevant when it comes to how we feel. It’s possible that some of us went into the TMS study believing in its power while others were largely neutral and we were now having different experiences as a result.

I couldn’t talk to the other participants to learn how they felt. Might something similar have happened in the depression studies I read about? When treating a disorder of the mind, “believing it’s so” might well be tantamount to “making it so,” in a way that’s dramatically different from treating chronic disease elsewhere in the body. There was also another important difference when comparing the placebo effect in TMS and medications. In drug therapy, a placebo pill is truly inert. It’s flour, or sugar, something we know does not have curative properties. That’s not the case with sham TMS. Scientists create sham TMS in many ways, including by firing the TMS coil into space beside your head, firing it at a different area of your head, or firing it at a low power level. The thing is, all those sham actions still have the potential for neurological effect.


pages: 346 words: 92,984

The Lucky Years: How to Thrive in the Brave New World of Health by David B. Agus


3D printing, active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, butterfly effect, clean water, cognitive dissonance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, Drosophila, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory,, epigenetics, Kickstarter, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, microcredit, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, placebo effect, publish or perish, randomized controlled trial, risk tolerance, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Thomas Malthus, wikimedia commons

When Miss Lunsford, a nutritionist and graduate student at Cornell University working in the lab of biochemist and gerontologist Clive McCay, shared these results at a gathering to focus on the problems of aging led by the New York Academy of Medicine, no one—not even Lunsford and her teammates—could explain this “age-reversal” transformation. The year was 1955, the same year the Food and Drug Administration approved the polio vaccine, the power of the placebo effect was first written about, Albert Einstein died at the age of seventy-six, and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were born.2 Miss Lunsford’s procedure, anatomically linking two organisms, had a name by then—parabiosis. But while this wasn’t the first time it had been performed, her explorations were among the first to use parabiosis to study aging. And they weren’t without their challenges. According to one description of the research, “If two rats are not adjusted to each other, one will chew the head of the other until it is destroyed.”3 Of the sixty-nine pairs of rats that Lunsford had helped conjoin in Clive McCay’s lab, eleven died from a peculiar condition that developed about one to two weeks after partners were united; it was likely a form of tissue rejection.

In the words of Gibson: “In contrast to our first study . . . we could find absolutely no specific response to gluten.”8 Although this was also a small study, another larger one published later on confirmed the findings. How do we explain this unexpected result? This is where the science gets interesting. It could be that people expected to feel worse on the study’s diets, so they did—a phenomenon called the “nocebo” effect, a wordplay on the placebo effect. After all, they did have to pay close attention to how their tummies felt, which alone might entail some psychosomatic response. Moreover, it’s been suggested that gluten may be the wrong villain and that these other potential triggers, especially the FODMAPs, are to blame. These ingredients often travel with gluten. It may in fact be the carbohydrate component rather than the gluten part of the wheat that is causing symptoms.


pages: 100 words: 28,911

A Short Guide to a Long Life by David B. Agus


Danny Hillis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, personalized medicine, placebo effect, risk tolerance, the scientific method

Whether or not we have faith in our health has everything to do with whether or not we have a healthy body. If we believe we can be healthier, guess what: we will be. Some of the most dramatic experiments putting this idea to the test are those in which people unknowingly receive fake (placebo) treatments for real health problems and come out reporting that they have improved just as much as those who got the real treatment. The placebo effect is all about a positive belief system. On the other side of the equation are stories that reveal the power of a negative belief system, one of which was famously documented in 1974 when Sam Londe was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. At the time such a diagnosis was a death sentence, so no one was surprised when he died a few weeks later, despite treatment. But what shocked the medical community was the discovery upon autopsy that Sam didn’t have esophageal cancer at all.


pages: 1,197 words: 304,245

The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution by David Wootton


agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, British Empire, clockwork universe, Commentariolus, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double entry bookkeeping, double helix,, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, germ theory of disease, Google X / Alphabet X, Hans Lippershey, interchangeable parts, invention of gunpowder, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, knowledge economy, lone genius, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, placebo effect, QWERTY keyboard, Republic of Letters, spice trade, spinning jenny, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

Probability is next to truth, and the search of a hidden cause finds out visible effects.26 Of course reliability is a slippery concept. We only need to turn to the doctors of Montaigne’s day for a cautionary example. They thought they were using their knowledge to cure patients. In fact, their preferred remedies (bleedings and purges) did no good at all.27 They mistook the patients’ spontaneous recovery (thanks to the workings of their immune systems), combined with the placebo effect, for cures brought about by medical therapy (and intelligent bystanders such as Montaigne suspected as much).v In medicine there were no reliable methods of measuring success until the nineteenth century. But the Ptolemaic astronomers of Montaigne’s day were very different from the Hippocratic doctors. Clavius claimed that eccentrics and epicycles must exist, otherwise the success of the predictions made by astronomers were inexplicable: But by the assumption of eccentric and epicyclic circles not only are all the appearances already known preserved, but also future phenomena are predicted, the time of which is altogether unknown. . . . it is not credible that we should force the heavens (but we seem to force them, if eccentrics and epicycles are fictions, as our adversaries would have it) to obey our fictions and to move as we wish or as agrees with our principles .28 Clavius was wrong – there are no eccentrics and epicycles – but he was right to claim that he could predict the future movements of the heavenly bodies with a high degree of reliability.

Taylor) 550 Ortelius, Abraham 125 Osborne, Dorothy 456n Osiander, Andreas 388 Othello (William Shakespeare) 201 Ottoman empire 105 Outline of Pyrrhonism (Sextus Empiricus) 558 Oviedo 132 ovism 238 Oxford, Earl of 9n Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Charleton quoted many times 398 ‘evidence’ 400, 402 ‘experiment’ 312 ‘fact’ 252, 254 ‘knowledge’ 420 ‘observation’ 313 ‘propeller’ 552n ‘scientific’ 22n search facilities 592 ‘theory’ 395n Oxford University 31n, 34, 41n, 143–4, 146, 536 oxygen 86–7, 88, 91, 97 Pacioli, Luca 173, 175–6, 205 Padua astrarium 436 centre of anatomical studies 86 Copernicus in 142 Galileo living and lecturing in 8, 118 Harvey in 516 library 273 Regiomontanus lectures at 187 Paesi novamenti retrovati (pub. Vicenza) 76 Paine, Thomas 20 Palais Royal, Paris 436 Paley, William 419, 446 Panofsky, Erwin 201 Pantagruel (François Rabelais) 239 Papin, Denis 491–508, 645–8nn39–79 countries worked in 516 Newcomen and 499–508 North’s notebook and 494 placebo effect 569n Royal Society pays 32 Savery and 496–8 Paracelsus 198n, 294, 409 paradigms 585 parallax 190–5, 197, 303 parapsychology 463 Pardies, Ignatius 383–4 Paris 311 Parisian school 114, 120, 138, 140, 337 Parker, Bishop Samuel 40–1, 433 Parmenides 66, 91 Parsons, Robert 404–5, 409, 411 Pascal, Blaise announces to Mersenne 348 barometers and Torricellian tubes 335, 336, 352 Borges on 239 Boyle and 350–2 change of direction 310n eternal science of infinite spaces 448 evidence used by 415 experience, the authority of 417–18 ‘fact’, the word 291, 294, 295 first real experiment and 311–12, 315 Guiffart defends 77n imagining the earth from space 230 Jansenism, in defence of 290 liquid pressure study 317–18n micro-organisms 239 on the universe 243 practical knowledge and theoretical knowledge 395n Puy-de-Dôme see Puy-de-Dôme science and religion 358 theory and observation 394 Treatise on the Equilibrium of Liquids 338 types of knowledge 341 undermining respect for antiquity 346 vacuums 105, 297–8, 324, 439 weighing the air 52 works by 293 Pascal, Étienne 97, 101 Pascal’s barrel 318n Pascal’s Snail 97, 97 Passi, Pietro 278 patents 106 Pathologia hæreditaria generalis (Edmund O’Meara) 74 Patriarch of Antioch, the 353–4 Patrick, Simon 486 Patrizi, Francesco 25n Paul III, Pope 223n Paul of Burgos 113 Pecquet, Jean 338, 339–40 peer review 96 Peiresc, Nicolas-Claude Fabri de 306, 341 Peking 180, 182 Pemberton, John 473 pendulum clocks 305, 445, 446, 481 see also clocks penicillin 16 Pensées (Blaise Pascal) 310n Pereira, Duarte Pacheco 125n Périer, Florin 310, 340, 348, 352 perspective painting 164–80 Brunelleschi 58n, 165–72 Father Niceron 173, 174 Masaccio 172, 177–8 mathematics and 175–6, 200 mirrors 169–71 Pacioli 173, 175–6 surveying and 190 tiled floors 201 Vitruvius 251 Peter Martyr 121 Peter of Abano 72 Petit, Pierre 335, 349, 352 Petrarch 119, 146, 186n Petri, Franciscus 106 Petty, William 260, 412 Peuerbach, Georg 187, 228, 229, 246 Phalaris, letters of 466 ‘Phases of Venus before 1610’ (Roger Ariew) 228n phenomena 266 Philolaus the Pythagorean 78 Philosophia pia (Joseph Glanvill) 460 Philosophical Investigations (Ludwig Wittgenstein) 42 Philosophical Transactions (Royal Society) alchemy generally excluded from 357 book review in 347n ‘evidence’, use of word 417 first journal devoted to new science 341 intellectual property concept 337 Papin and 501, 502, 506 ‘theory’, first use of word by 383, 396 Philosophical Writings (René Descartes) 388n philosophy (use of term) 7–11, 25, 27–8, 36–7, 425, 536 see also corpuscular philosophy; mechanical philosophy Physica (Jacques Rohault) 473 physical world, the 457 Physico-Mechanical Lectures (John Theophilus Desaguliers) 475 Physico-Theology (William Derham) 473 Physiologia Epicuro-Gassendo-Charletonia (Walter Charleton) 296 Physiological Essays (Robert Boyle) 26, 280, 294 physiology 27 Piccolomini, Alessandro 71, 130, 230n, 414 Pickering, Andrew 517n, 589 Pierre, Georges 353–4 ‘Pierre Duhem and the History of Late-medieval Science’ (John Murdoch) 16n Pillars of Hercules ii, 79, 103, 119 pineal gland 377 Pinelli, Giovanni Vincenzo 273 Pinta (ship) 57, 89 Pisa 80, 335 placebo effect 569n plagiarism 101–2, 337 planets 223 Plato an innovator 66 book frontispiece 204 Charleton envisages 402 doubling the area of a square 100 knowledge and reminiscence 75 movement in the heavens 144 nominalism and 322 on experience 52 recovery of texts 50n Renaissance and 203 signatures, theory of 409 types of knowledge 321 Pliny see also Natural History distances 611n10 flood accounts 113 Madeira 62 magnets that repel iron 278 medieval view of 7 omissions in work of 67 reputation in decline 26 unreliability of 12 water levels 137 wine adulterated with water 272 Ziegler’s commentary 128 Plus ultra (Joseph Glanvill) 37–8, 358, 453 Plutarch Galileo and 216, 217 Madeira 62 on experience 268–9, 277–8, 282 Pluto 99 Pole Star 120, 188, 190n, 320 politeness 470–1 Politics (Aristotle) 61 Polybius 412 Pope, Alexander 361 Popper, Karl Open Society and Its Enemies, The 357n quoted 249, 556 refutation of belief systems 45n science and common sense 529, 543 science and free societies 360 showing limitation of argument from fact 289 three worlds of 96n Popular Errors (Laurent Joubert) 304 Porter, Roy 588–9 Portuguese (people) African coast 98 carracks 104 effect of voyages 61n equator 72, 73, 120 Maçao 205 Pillars of Hercules 103 spice trade 524 take lead in voyages of discovery 58 Portuguese language 29, 57, 408 Portuguese Voyages to America (Samuel Eliot Morison) 125n positivism 586 Postan, M.

Vicenza) 76 Paine, Thomas 20 Palais Royal, Paris 436 Paley, William 419, 446 Panofsky, Erwin 201 Pantagruel (François Rabelais) 239 Papin, Denis 491–508, 645–8nn39–79 countries worked in 516 Newcomen and 499–508 North’s notebook and 494 placebo effect 569n Royal Society pays 32 Savery and 496–8 Paracelsus 198n, 294, 409 paradigms 585 parallax 190–5, 197, 303 parapsychology 463 Pardies, Ignatius 383–4 Paris 311 Parisian school 114, 120, 138, 140, 337 Parker, Bishop Samuel 40–1, 433 Parmenides 66, 91 Parsons, Robert 404–5, 409, 411 Pascal, Blaise announces to Mersenne 348 barometers and Torricellian tubes 335, 336, 352 Borges on 239 Boyle and 350–2 change of direction 310n eternal science of infinite spaces 448 evidence used by 415 experience, the authority of 417–18 ‘fact’, the word 291, 294, 295 first real experiment and 311–12, 315 Guiffart defends 77n imagining the earth from space 230 Jansenism, in defence of 290 liquid pressure study 317–18n micro-organisms 239 on the universe 243 practical knowledge and theoretical knowledge 395n Puy-de-Dôme see Puy-de-Dôme science and religion 358 theory and observation 394 Treatise on the Equilibrium of Liquids 338 types of knowledge 341 undermining respect for antiquity 346 vacuums 105, 297–8, 324, 439 weighing the air 52 works by 293 Pascal, Étienne 97, 101 Pascal’s barrel 318n Pascal’s Snail 97, 97 Passi, Pietro 278 patents 106 Pathologia hæreditaria generalis (Edmund O’Meara) 74 Patriarch of Antioch, the 353–4 Patrick, Simon 486 Patrizi, Francesco 25n Paul III, Pope 223n Paul of Burgos 113 Pecquet, Jean 338, 339–40 peer review 96 Peiresc, Nicolas-Claude Fabri de 306, 341 Peking 180, 182 Pemberton, John 473 pendulum clocks 305, 445, 446, 481 see also clocks penicillin 16 Pensées (Blaise Pascal) 310n Pereira, Duarte Pacheco 125n Périer, Florin 310, 340, 348, 352 perspective painting 164–80 Brunelleschi 58n, 165–72 Father Niceron 173, 174 Masaccio 172, 177–8 mathematics and 175–6, 200 mirrors 169–71 Pacioli 173, 175–6 surveying and 190 tiled floors 201 Vitruvius 251 Peter Martyr 121 Peter of Abano 72 Petit, Pierre 335, 349, 352 Petrarch 119, 146, 186n Petri, Franciscus 106 Petty, William 260, 412 Peuerbach, Georg 187, 228, 229, 246 Phalaris, letters of 466 ‘Phases of Venus before 1610’ (Roger Ariew) 228n phenomena 266 Philolaus the Pythagorean 78 Philosophia pia (Joseph Glanvill) 460 Philosophical Investigations (Ludwig Wittgenstein) 42 Philosophical Transactions (Royal Society) alchemy generally excluded from 357 book review in 347n ‘evidence’, use of word 417 first journal devoted to new science 341 intellectual property concept 337 Papin and 501, 502, 506 ‘theory’, first use of word by 383, 396 Philosophical Writings (René Descartes) 388n philosophy (use of term) 7–11, 25, 27–8, 36–7, 425, 536 see also corpuscular philosophy; mechanical philosophy Physica (Jacques Rohault) 473 physical world, the 457 Physico-Mechanical Lectures (John Theophilus Desaguliers) 475 Physico-Theology (William Derham) 473 Physiologia Epicuro-Gassendo-Charletonia (Walter Charleton) 296 Physiological Essays (Robert Boyle) 26, 280, 294 physiology 27 Piccolomini, Alessandro 71, 130, 230n, 414 Pickering, Andrew 517n, 589 Pierre, Georges 353–4 ‘Pierre Duhem and the History of Late-medieval Science’ (John Murdoch) 16n Pillars of Hercules ii, 79, 103, 119 pineal gland 377 Pinelli, Giovanni Vincenzo 273 Pinta (ship) 57, 89 Pisa 80, 335 placebo effect 569n plagiarism 101–2, 337 planets 223 Plato an innovator 66 book frontispiece 204 Charleton envisages 402 doubling the area of a square 100 knowledge and reminiscence 75 movement in the heavens 144 nominalism and 322 on experience 52 recovery of texts 50n Renaissance and 203 signatures, theory of 409 types of knowledge 321 Pliny see also Natural History distances 611n10 flood accounts 113 Madeira 62 magnets that repel iron 278 medieval view of 7 omissions in work of 67 reputation in decline 26 unreliability of 12 water levels 137 wine adulterated with water 272 Ziegler’s commentary 128 Plus ultra (Joseph Glanvill) 37–8, 358, 453 Plutarch Galileo and 216, 217 Madeira 62 on experience 268–9, 277–8, 282 Pluto 99 Pole Star 120, 188, 190n, 320 politeness 470–1 Politics (Aristotle) 61 Polybius 412 Pope, Alexander 361 Popper, Karl Open Society and Its Enemies, The 357n quoted 249, 556 refutation of belief systems 45n science and common sense 529, 543 science and free societies 360 showing limitation of argument from fact 289 three worlds of 96n Popular Errors (Laurent Joubert) 304 Porter, Roy 588–9 Portuguese (people) African coast 98 carracks 104 effect of voyages 61n equator 72, 73, 120 Maçao 205 Pillars of Hercules 103 spice trade 524 take lead in voyages of discovery 58 Portuguese language 29, 57, 408 Portuguese Voyages to America (Samuel Eliot Morison) 125n positivism 586 Postan, M.


pages: 504 words: 147,660

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction by Gabor Mate, Peter A. Levine


Albert Einstein, Anton Chekhov, corporate governance, epigenetics, ghettoisation, impulse control, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, phenotype, placebo effect, Yogi Berra

While the women were under the spell of sad memories, these receptors were much less active.6 On the other hand, positive expectations turn on the endorphin system. Scientists have observed, for example, that when people expect relief from pain, the activity of opioid receptors will increase. Even the administration of inert medications—substances that do not have direct physical activity—will light up opioid receptors, leading to decreased pain perception.7 This is the so-called “placebo effect,” which, far from being imaginary, is a genuine physiological event. The medication may be inert, but the brain is soothed by its own painkillers, the endorphins. Opiate receptors can be found throughout the body and in each organ they play a specific role. In the nervous system they are tranquilizers and painkillers, but in, say, the gut, their role is to slow down muscle contractions. In the mouth, they diminish secretions.

Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater (Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Classics, 1994), 143 and 146. 4. A. Moles, “Deficit in Attachment Behavior in Mice Lacking the Mu-opioid Receptor Gene,” Science, 25 June 2004, 1983–86. 5. Panksepp et al., “The Role of Brain Emotional Systems,” 459–69. 6. J.-K. Zubieta, “Regulation of Human Affective Responses by Anterior Cingulate and Limbic µ-Opioid Neurotransmission,” Archives of General Psychiatry 60(2003): 1145–53. 7. J.K. Zubieta et al., “Placebo Effects Mediated by Endogenous Opioid Activity on Mu-opioid Receptors,” Journal of Neuroscience 25(34) (24 August 2005): 7754–62. 8. J. Panksepp, Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 250. 9. Ibid, 256. 10. A.N. Schore, Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994), 142–43. 11.


pages: 349 words: 134,041

Traders, Guns & Money: Knowns and Unknowns in the Dazzling World of Derivatives by Satyajit Das


accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bretton Woods, BRICs, Brownian motion, business process, buy low sell high, call centre, capital asset pricing model, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cuban missile crisis, currency peg, disintermediation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial innovation, fixed income, Haight Ashbury, high net worth, implied volatility, index arbitrage, index card, index fund, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, Marshall McLuhan, mass affluent, merger arbitrage, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Journalism, Nick Leeson, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Parkinson's law, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, regulatory arbitrage, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, technology bubble, the medium is the message, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, value at risk, Vanguard fund, volatility smile, yield curve, Yogi Berra, zero-coupon bond

DAS_A01.QXD 5/3/07 8:01 PM Page viii Contents List of figures and tables xii Preface xiii Prologue 1 Miracles and mirages Serial crimes Beginning of the end/end of the beginning Knowns and unknowns Unreliable recollections Summary judgment 2 5 9 12 13 17 1 Financial WMDs – derivatives demagoguery 19 School days It’s all Chinese to me A derivative idea Betting shops Secret subtexts Leveraged speculations Under the radar Whole lotta swapping going on The golden age/LIBOR minus 50 Warehouses Serial killings Forbidden fruit Derived logic 2 Beautiful lies – the ‘sell’ side Smile and dial Market colour Rough trade Analyze this 21 22 23 25 27 29 32 33 37 40 43 45 50 53 55 56 59 62 DAS_A01.QXD 5/3/07 ix 8:01 PM Page ix Tr a d e r s , G u n s & M o n e y Class wars Ultra vires Feudal kingdoms Uncivil wars Golden rules Business models The medium is the message Bondage Tabloid cultures Conspicuous currency Ethnic cleansing Foreign affairs FILTH Lost in translation A day in the life 3 True lies – the ‘buy’ side Turn of the fork Risky business Magic kingdoms Stripping or stacking/hedging perils, again Me too ‘Zaiteku’ or the bride stripped bare The gamble in P & G Tobashi, baby Gnomes of Zermatt and Belgian dentists Death swaps Investment fashions Alpha, beta, zeta Looking after the relatives Agents all Unique selling propositions 4 Show me the money – greed lost and regained Money uncertainty Toll booths Take a seat Efficient markets On the platform A day at the races Black swans, black sheep Trading places 64 66 67 68 70 71 74 75 76 77 79 80 81 82 83 87 88 89 91 95 97 98 101 105 107 108 110 112 115 116 117 121 122 123 125 126 127 129 130 131 DAS_A01.QXD 5/3/07 8:01 PM Page x Contents Secret intelligence Overwhelming force Oracle of Delphi Free money The colour of money In reserve A comedy of errors Black holes What’s the number? Nothing like excess Nice work if you can get it Dukes of Hazard 5 The perfect storm – risk mismanagement by the numbers Shock therapy Holy risk! Risk spin Risqué matters Placebo effects Among the unbelievers Risk cults In the long run . . . Modus operandi Secret trader’s business Let the good times roll The perfect storm Weather forecasts Endgame Mean risk Extreme sports 6 Super models – derivative algorithms Out of the sheltered workshops Rocket science Culture wars Conveyor belts Trivial pursuits Grand oprey The quest Genesis Gospels x 133 134 135 137 138 140 141 143 146 148 149 151 153 154 155 156 158 160 162 164 167 169 170 171 172 173 175 176 177 181 182 184 185 187 188 189 190 193 196 DAS_A01.QXD 5/3/07 8:01 PM Page xi Tr a d e r s , G u n s & M o n e y xi Greek tragedies Failing the model test CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) 1987 – ‘Oh LOR-dy!’

The banks championing the new standard discovered that the cost was horrendous. It was too late to back out. Fischer Black, one of the creators of the Black–Scholes–Merton model, did not like false degrees of precision, too many decimal points were misleading when the information was inexact. Risk managers and modellers largely ignore this. Spreadsheets with floating 16 decimal points provide false comfort in the perfect storm. Risk is itself a risky business. Placebo effects Risk management abounds in myths, for example the 4:15 Report. The title refers to the time in New York at which the chairman of JP Morgan received a daily report summarizing the bank’s risk. The idea was that the entire bank’s risk was reduced to this simple number; the popular mythology was that you pressed a button and out popped the report, but the reality was probably less glamorous. Someone in risk painstakingly pulled data from a myriad of systems of varying degrees of accuracy and reliability and collated them on a spreadsheet.


The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy by Seth Mnookin


Albert Einstein, AltaVista, British Empire, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky,, illegal immigration, index card, Isaac Newton, loss aversion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, neurotypical, pattern recognition, placebo effect, Richard Thaler, Saturday Night Live, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

“By contrast, the views expressed in the paper are unambiguously clear: ‘we did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described.’ ” 26 There are several ways to conduct randomized trials. The ideal one is through a double blind test, in which neither the researcher nor the test subjects know who is being studied and who is a control. Double blind trials protect against the placebo effect on the part of the subject and observer bias (or wishful thinking) on the part of the researcher. 27 A real-world example of a theory proven to be true after all three types of studies were performed is the beneficial effects of fluoridation. First was the case series: A dentist noticed that patients with mottled teeth seemed to have less tooth decay. Next was the case control study: Children who’d spent their whole lives in an area with naturally fluoridated water were compared to those who’d moved there after their teeth had fully developed.

An indiscriminate attitude toward treatment also makes it hard to determine what changes are due to the natural rhythms of disease: Temporary ailments by definition get better and the symptoms of lifelong conditions almost always wax and wane, which means that even the most far-fetched cure is bound to look like a winner every now and again. In his book Innumeracy, the mathematician John Allen Paulos describes how proponents of pseudoscientific therapies rely on this reality to shade their products in the best light possible. “To take advantage of the natural ups and downs of any disease (as well as of any placebo effect),” Paulos writes, “it’s best to begin your worthless treatment when the patient is getting worse. In this way, anything that happens can more easily be attributed to your wonderful and probably expensive intervention. If the patient improves, you take credit; if he remains stable, your treatment stopped his downward course. On the other hand, if the patient worsens, the dosage or intensity of the treatment was not great enough; if he dies, he delayed too long in coming to you.”


pages: 372 words: 111,573

10% Human: How Your Body's Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness by Alanna Collen


Asperger Syndrome, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Berlin Wall, biofilm, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, discovery of penicillin, Drosophila, Fall of the Berlin Wall, friendly fire, germ theory of disease, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, Maui Hawaii, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, phenotype, placebo effect, the scientific method

In a French clinical trial, fifty-five normal, healthy volunteers – humans this time – were given either a fruity-tasting bar containing two strains of live bacteria, or a matching bar but without the bacteria (a placebo). After a month of eating one bar daily, the volunteers given the live bacteria scored happier, less anxious and less angry than they had been before the trial – and the changes went beyond the placebo effect. As trials go, it’s short and small, but it offers a glimpse of research avenues worth exploring. How can eating live bacteria make you feel happier? Pleasingly, one potential mechanism seems to have to do with a chemical that’s well known to be involved in mood regulation: serotonin. This neurotransmitter is actually mainly found in the gut, where it keeps everything moving along nicely. But around 10 per cent of serotonin belongs in the brain, regulating mood and even memory.

The butyrate-producing team of Faecalibacterium and Bifidobacterium, too, were far more numerous after my dietary intervention than before. I like to think of them helping the cells of my gut lining stay tightly knit together and calming my immune system. So far, so satisfying, but what about its impact on my health? It feels as if things are improving – my fatigue has eased off and my rashes have cleared up, for now at least. Time will tell whether that’s luck, the placebo effect, or a genuine result of eating more fibre, but it’s not something I’ll be giving up. The changes to my microbiota after dabbling in a high-fibre diet are not permanent, of course; to sustain the microbes they feed indefinitely, I have to keep the fibre content of my meals up where it belongs. Eating for a beneficial microbiota has a pertinence for me beyond my own health. As I contemplate embarking on motherhood, it strikes me that I have more reasons than ever to look after all my cells, both human and microbial.


pages: 420 words: 121,881

The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution by Jonathan Eig


Albert Einstein, experimental subject, feminist movement, placebo effect, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Rosa Parks, Upton Sinclair, women in the workforce

He extracted fluid from the testicles of freshly killed dogs and guinea pigs and injected it into his own body. Almost instantly, he reported, he felt like a new man. The scientist reported that the injections invigorated him, sharpened his intellect, relieved his constipation, and even increased the strength of his urine flow. Scientists today believe Brown-Séquard was the beneficiary of a placebo effect, but his experiment nevertheless gained wide attention and inspired other researchers to explore the secretions of internal organs. By 1905, scientists were learning about the body’s endocrine glands, which include the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, pineal gland, parathyroid glands, thymus, pancreas, testicles, ovaries, and adrenal glands. The glands are small capsules of tissue. The biggest of the bunch, the pancreas, weighs less than three ounces.

., 68 in Woodbine, N.J., 64–65 at Worcester State Hospital, 93 writings of, 75–76, 314 Pincus, Joseph, 63–64 Pincus, Laura, 79, 82, 84, 87–88, 194, 217, 272–73, 299–300, 322–23 Pincus, Lizzie Lipman, 64, 66, 67–68 Pincus Progesterone Project (PPP), 132–34, 143–44 pinups, 18 Pittsburgh Press, 195 pituitary gland, 122, 205, 216 Pius XI, Pope, 107–8, 224, 225 Pius XII, Pope, 225, 270, 271, 284 placebo effect, 122, 250 placenta, 10 Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 11, 22, 27, 58–61, 95, 98, 99, 123–24, 128–30, 140, 143–44, 164, 147–48, 155–56, 163, 169, 170–71, 185–86, 193–97, 199, 203–4, 212, 224–25, 231, 236, 268, 284, 291, 300, 305–6, 310, 312 Playboy, 17–18, 188–89, 265 Playboy Club, 294 “Plight of the Young Mother, The,” 197 pneumonia, 45–46, 96 pogroms, 62–63 polio vaccine, 162, 300 pomology, 67 Popular Library, 125 population control, 20, 24–25, 42–43, 58–61, 100, 123–25, 150–51, 160, 163–64, 167, 168, 193–97, 200, 223–24, 248, 285, 288, 304–6 Population Council, 103, 236 pornography, 17–18, 43–44, 56, 188–89, 279–80 Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 251–52 Portet, Lorenzo, 42 Post Office, U.S., 41, 44 Pratt, Caroline, 45 preeclampsia, 292 pregnancy, 1, 6, 10, 19–20, 29–30, 33, 34–39, 49–50, 55–56, 58, 73–75, 77, 105, 108–9, 115–17, 118, 126, 147–48, 165–66, 172–73, 177–78, 183–84, 205, 225–26, 240–41, 269–71, 278, 319–20 pregnanediol, 234 pregnenolone, 80–81 premarital sex, 186–87 prescriptions, 4, 49, 50–51, 257, 258–59, 260–61, 264, 270, 277–78, 280, 285–86, 289, 297, 301–3, 305, 316, 320–21 President Cleveland, 210 Presley, Elvis, 124–25, 188, 223 primates, 12–13 Private Life of Helen of Troy, The, 125 Procter & Gamble, 160 Productos Esteroides, 256 progesterone, 9–11, 20–28, 58–61, 73, 103, 110, 115–20, 122, 123, 128–39, 143–46, 154, 156, 163, 165, 171–73, 175, 180, 181–84, 190–95, 201, 204, 205, 217–18, 225, 232–33, 234, 278, 301 progestins, 138, 144–45, 154–56, 190–95, 201, 205, 232–33, 296, 301 promiscuity, 14, 54–55 prostitution, 14, 49, 53, 211, 313 Protestantism, 6, 50, 242, 297, 307 “pseudo pregnancies,” 115, 288 psychoanalysis, 187 psychosomatic symptoms, 249–50 psychotics, 179, 180 puberty, 10, 122 Puerto Rican Association of Population Studies, 170 Puerto Rico, 124, 158–73, 180, 189, 190, 192–95, 198, 201–2, 205, 213, 217, 227, 229–32, 238–43, 248, 249–54, 256, 260–61, 272–74, 292, 300, 304, 307–8 Puerto Rico, University of, 158, 172, 201–2 Puritanism, 6 Queens County Penitentiary, 47 Quines, Fanny, 241–42 rabbit experiments, 2, 8, 9–11, 21–23, 58, 72–77, 80, 98–99, 116, 123, 128, 130, 134, 153, 157 “racial hygiene,” 148 Rainbow, Jackie, 188 Rainwater, Lee, 150 rape, 65, 295 rat experiments, 22–23, 71, 98–99, 116, 128, 130, 134, 144, 153 Raymond, Albert L., 27, 144–45, 247–48, 331n Reader’s Digest, 111, 126, 306 Rebel Without a Cause, 222 reflexes, 70 Reich, Wilhelm, 16, 18 Reiland, Karl, 50 Remarque, Erich Maria, 125 reproductive rights, 3, 52, 55, 95–96, 105–6, 163–65, 183–84 Reston, James, 195–96 “rhythm method,” 38, 108–9, 112, 225–28, 271, 310 Rhythm of Sterility and Fertility in Women, The (Latz), 108–9 Rice-Wray, Edris (Edie), 168–71, 172, 195–96, 238–43, 248, 249–50, 251, 282, 312 Richardson-Merrell Inc., 293–94 Rio Piedras neighborhood, 229–32, 238–43, 253–54, 272–73, 274 Road to Survival, The (Vogt), 58, 123–24 Roberts, Mary Louise, 124 Rock, Anna Thorndike, 106 Rock, Jack, 182 Rock, John: abortion as viewed by, 105 background of, 104–5 biography of, 227 as birth control advocate, 104, 109–13, 144, 181–89, 204, 227–28, 232–34, 242–43, 249, 259, 277–79, 287–90, 299, 306–7, 308, 309, 321–22 birth control pill promoted by, 249, 259, 277–79, 287–90, 299, 306–7, 308 as Catholic, 104, 105, 106, 110–11, 112, 113, 144, 181, 182, 184, 205, 227–28, 230, 232–34, 259, 269, 270, 277, 299, 306–7, 309–10, 311 correspondence of, 205 DeFelice’s meeting with, 287–90 estrogen treatments of, 115–17, 118, 132 finances and funding for, 181, 195, 277–79, 311 as gynecologist, 103–7, 111–13, 116, 182, 184, 287–90 at Harvard, 105, 181, 195 health of, 182–83 human trials conducted by, 156–58, 159, 171–72, 173, 195, 205, 206, 217, 229, 234, 260–61, 281–82, 283, 304 infertility research of, 111–18, 128, 130, 132–34, 140, 141, 145, 156–57, 161, 181–89, 193–94, 225, 226, 232 marriage as viewed by, 110–11 marriage of, 106, 277 personality of, 104–5, 110, 189, 234 physical appearance of, 105 Pincus’s relationship with, 103–4, 116, 117–18, 132–34, 140, 141, 156–57, 161, 181–82, 205, 207, 216, 218, 287, 312 as Planned Parenthood member, 182, 184–86, 188 population control supported by, 184 press coverage of, 111, 306–7 progesterone treatments of, 115–18, 128, 132–34, 181–84, 205, 232–33, 234 progestin tested by, 205, 232–33 Puerto Rican trials as viewed by, 159, 161, 189, 229, 230 “rebound effect” discovered by, 117, 134, 181, 257 reputation of, 110–11, 116, 181–89, 232–34, 287–90 Sanger’s views on, 109–10, 144, 181–82, 269 Searle’s support for, 260–61, 277–79, 311 sexuality as viewed by, 104–6, 110–11, 184–85 speeches of, 184–86, 188 women’s rights as viewed by, 105–6, 110–11 writings of, 111, 306–7, 309–10 Rockefeller, John D., Jr., 60–61, 284 Rockefeller Foundation, 24, 61, 136–38 Rockefeller Institute, 136–38 “Rock Rebound,” 117, 134, 181, 257 Rodriguez, Iris, 231–32, 240 Rome, 14 Roosevelt, Eleanor, 55 Roosevelt, Franklin D., 55 roosters, 121 Root Chemicals Inc., 256 Rosenkranz, George, 138 Rosset, Barney, 279 Rotary Club, 22 Roth, Philip, 279 Royal Scientific Society, 121 Royal Swedish Endocrine Society, 231 RU-486 pill, 314 rubber, 7, 47 Rublee, Juliet Barrett, 145–46, 203 Russell, Bertrand, 42, 54 Russia, 63 Ryan, John A., 109 Ryder Memorial Hospital, 250–51 Sabsovich, Hirsch Loeb, 63 Sachs, Sadie, 35 sacraments, 226–27 “safe periods,” 108, 225–26 St.


pages: 384 words: 118,572

The Confidence Game: The Psychology of the Con and Why We Fall for It Every Time by Maria Konnikova


attribution theory, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, endowment effect, epigenetics, hindsight bias, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, Milgram experiment, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, publish or perish, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, side project, Skype, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, tulip mania, Walter Mischel

The assistant “magnetized” a tree to see whether a blindfolded twelve-year-old could tell it from the other trees. He could not. There was no basis for animal magnetism, the commission reported back. The whole thing was a sham—at least from a scientific standpoint. From what standpoint was it not? If it was all a con, how had it had physical effects on so many people? Mesmerism is one of the earliest examples of the power of our beliefs to change reality: the placebo effect, or dissonance reduction at its finest, in full action. We want to believe something works, and so we will it to work. Our mind literally changes the reality of our body’s health. Mesmer clearly possessed strong powers of suggestion, and people really did get better in his presence. Scientifically, what he was doing was worthless. But people latched on to his purported claims, and the more popular were his successes, the more they conveniently forgot those patients he wasn’t able to help.

John ref1 moon ref1 Morrison, Bil ref1 Mother Teresa ref1 Motherwell, Robert ref1, ref2 motivated cognition ref1 motivation ref1, ref2 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus ref1, ref2 Nacro ref1 Nambu, Yoichiro ref1 name, remembering ref1 narcissism ref1, ref2 Nash, Jay Robert ref1 Nayfeh, Ali ref1 negative recency effect ref1 Neter, Efrat ref1 New Republic, ref1 Newsweek, ref1 New Yorker, ref1, ref2 New York Herald, ref1 New York Sun, ref1 New York Times, ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9, ref10, ref11, ref12, ref13, ref14 Nigerian prince ref1 Niigaki, Takashi ref1 Nisbett, Richard ref1 Nixon, Richard ref1 nonchalance ref1 Norfleet, James Franklin ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9 nudges ref1 Nuland, Sherwin ref1 Nygaard, Bob ref1, ref2 obedience ref1 Observer, ref1 Oesterline, Franzl ref1 oil development scheme ref1 omega ref1 optimism ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8 O’Reilly, William ref1 Oriña, Minda ref1 Orwell, George ref1 Ossorio, Alfonso ref1, ref2 Ostrom, Elinor ref1 Overbeck, Jennifer ref1 oxytocin ref1, ref2 Pak, Karla ref1 Pane, Sal ref1 Park, Bernadette ref1 Patten, Bebe ref1, ref2 Patten, Carl Thomas ref1, ref2 Paulhus, Delroy ref1 Pehl, Julie ref1 Penn and Teller ref1, ref2 Perenyi, Ken ref1 Perloff, Linda ref1 person perception ref1 persuasion ref1 Peters, Justin ref1 Peters, Tom ref1 phantom fixation ref1 phishing ref1, ref2, ref3 pig in a poke ref1, ref2 Pinker, Steven ref1 placebo effect ref1 play ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6 Poe, Edgar Allan ref1 Polcari, Stephen ref1 Pollock, Jackson ref1, ref2, ref3 Ponzi, Charles ref1, ref2 Ponzi schemes ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 of Madoff ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9, ref10 of Miller ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6 Popper, Karl ref1 position effects ref1 power ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5 Poyais ref1, ref2 Pratkanis, Anthony ref1 predictions ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 prejudice ref1 pressure ref1, ref2, ref3 Preuss, Carl ref1 Prévert, Jacques ref1 primates ref1 prisoner’s dilemma ref1, ref2 proposition bets ref1 Proska, Harold ref1 psychics ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9 Madame Zingara ref1, ref2 Rachel Lee ref1 Sylvia Mitchell ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8 Psychology Today, ref1 Psychopath Inside, The (Fallon), ref1 psychopathy ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 Publishers Clearing House ref1 put-up ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9, ref10 Qian, Pei-Shen ref1 Quesenberry, Keith ref1 Quest, Richard ref1 radium ref1 Raine, Adrian ref1 Raines, Ralph, Jr., ref1, ref2 Randi, James ref1 rationalization ref1, ref2 Raven, Bertram ref1, ref2 reason, rationality and logic ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9, ref10, ref11, ref12, ref13, ref14 reciprocity ref1, ref2 recovery room scams ref1 regret ref1 religion ref1, ref2, ref3 cults ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 Renée ref1 reputation ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 requests ref1, ref2, ref3 Reynolds, James ref1, ref2, ref3 Robbins, Apollo ref1, ref2 Robison, Robert ref1 Rockefeller family ref1 Rodenstock, Hardy ref1 Roese, Neal ref1 Rolling Stone, ref1 rope ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 Rosales, Glafira ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8 Rosenthal, Robert ref1 Rosenzweig, Saul ref1 Rothko, Christopher ref1 Rothko, Mark ref1, ref2 Russell, Bertrand ref1 Russo, J.


pages: 251 words: 44,888

The Words You Should Know to Sound Smart: 1200 Essential Words Every Sophisticated Person Should Be Able to Use by Bobbi Bly


Albert Einstein, Alistair Cooke, Anton Chekhov, British Empire, Columbine, Donald Trump, haute couture, Honoré de Balzac, John Nash: game theory, Network effects, placebo effect, Ralph Waldo Emerson, school vouchers, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs

homage (HOM-ij), noun Respect paid and deference shown to a superior or other person one admires, fears, or wishes to emulate or praise. Gary took black and white photos with a non-digital camera in HOMAGE to Ansel Adams, whose works he greatly admired. homeopathy (HOME-ee-oh-path-ee), noun The medical practice of giving patients minerals, metals, herbs, and other bioactive compounds in extremely diluted form. Most modern scientists believe the effectiveness of HOMEOPATHY in some cases is due mainly to the placebo effect. homeostatis (ho-me-oh-STAY-sis), noun A dynamic system in which balance between input and output has been achieved, so no net changes take place. When HOMEOSTATIS is achieved in a sealed biosphere, the animals and plants can live without outside air, food, or water. homogenous (ho-mo-JEAN-yus), adjective Consistent in composition or uniform in structure. “By the mere act of watching television, a heterogeneous society could engage in a purely HOMOGENEOUS activity.” – William J.


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo


complexity theory, placebo effect

It is a silent ritual that only takes about two minutes, but it does elicit some strange looks from my clients. I began this custom quite naturally based on the etiquette of worshipping at Shinto shrines. I don’t remember exactly when I started doing it, but I believe I was inspired to do so because the tense expectancy in the air when a client opens the door resembles the atmosphere when one passes under a shrine gate and enters the sacred precincts. You may think that this ritual could only have a placebo effect, but I have noticed a real difference in the speed with which tidying occurs when I perform it. Incidentally, I don’t wear sweats or work clothes when I tidy. Instead, I usually wear a dress and blazer. Although occasionally I don an apron, my priority is on design over practicality. Some clients are surprised and worry that I might ruin my clothes, but I have no trouble moving furniture, climbing onto kitchen counters, and doing the other active work involved in tidying while dressed up.


pages: 172 words: 61,599

My Journey as a Combat Medic: From Desert Storm to Operation Enduring Freedom by Patrick Thibeault


affirmative action, placebo effect

I saw a plaque outside this small hospital that recognized several European countries that helped modernize it. There was an airstrip right outside the town that could easily handle a C-130 cargo plane landing. This was important in case we had to call in a medical evacuation request. We stayed in an enclosed area that belonged to the Afghan government, sleeping in the same large room with the Afghan Army soldiers. Some of those soldiers knew that I was a medical person, so I had to practice the placebo effect. They would walk up to me, pat their stomach like it was hurting, and then touch their forehead like they were in pain, letting out a large sigh. I had seen this act several times now on different missions that I went on with the Afghan Army. I interpreted this gesture as the universal sign meaning, “there is really nothing wrong with me, but I saw you giving the other soldiers some pills, so I want some pills too.”


pages: 275 words: 62,757

The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet: A Revolutionary Plan for Managing IBS and Other Digestive Disorders by Sue Shepherd, P. R. Gibson


placebo effect, Skype

Four out of five found the diet easy to stick to for a long period of time (months and years), and three out of four found that all of their IBS symptoms (pain, bloating, and change in bowel habits) improved markedly. This improvement was greater than we had seen for any drug or other treatment approach. This was only a preliminary experiment, however. It was still necessary to prove that the results were not due to the “placebo effect.” To do this, we rechallenged the patients whose symptoms improved on the low-FODMAP diet, this time with a double-blind, quadruple-arm, randomized, cross-over, placebo-controlled rechallenge trial in twenty-five people. This means that we tested twenty-five people by putting them on or off the diet, without them or us knowing whether or not they were taking in FODMAPs. We supplied these twenty-five people, all of whom had fructose malabsorption, with all their food, which contained no FODMAPs, for twenty-two weeks.


pages: 252 words: 75,349

Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-From Global Epidemic to Your Front Door by Brian Krebs


barriers to entry, bitcoin, Brian Krebs, cashless society, defense in depth, Donald Trump, employer provided health coverage, mutually assured destruction, offshore financial centre, payday loans, pirate software, placebo effect, ransomware, Silicon Valley, Stuxnet, the payments system, transaction costs, web application

For Rx-Promotion, revenue from repeat orders was as much as 23 percent of overall revenue. “This says a number of things, and one is that a lot of people who bought from these programs were satisfied,” Savage said, noting, however, that many of the repeat customers were purchasing controlled and habit-forming prescription drugs, including painkillers. “Maybe the drugs they bought had a great placebo effect, but my guess is these are satisfied customers and they came back because of that.” ♦ ♦ ♦ By far the most important question about the pills pimped by the spam business is the efficacy and safety of the drugs. I interviewed hundreds of U.S. residents who purchased prescription drugs from the pharmacy sites advertised through SpamIt, and received a panpoly of responses about the effectiveness of these pills.


pages: 623 words: 448,848

Food Allergy: Adverse Reactions to Foods and Food Additives by Dean D. Metcalfe


Albert Einstein, bioinformatics, epigenetics, impulse control, life extension, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, pattern recognition, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, statistical model, stem cell

Juto et al. [40] studied 21 infants with AD, of which only 20 were treated with a strict elimination diet for up to 6 weeks. Seven infants had complete resolution of their rash, 12 had some skin improvement while on the diet, and the remaining infant had no change in skin condition. While the cumulative results of the above studies provide support for the role of food allergy in AD, most of the trials failed to control confounding factors such as other potential AD triggers, placebo effect, or observer bias. In one of the original prospective follow-up studies of the natural history of food hypersensitivity in children with AD, Sampson and Scanlon [41] studied 34 subjects with AD, of whom 17 had food allergy diagnosed by doubleblind, placebo-controlled food challenges (DBPCFCs). These 17 subjects were placed on appropriate elimination diets and experienced significant improvement in their clinical symptoms.

In reviewing the literature it is difficult to draw a definitive conclusion. This is largely because reports of tartrazine-induced effects on mental function and behavior are plagued by poorly designed studies, imprecise definitions of hyperactivity, and poor reliability of behavioral outcome measures. Furthermore, it has been difficult to define study populations and segregate them from the background noise of a larger heterogeneous population of children. Placebo effects, as detected by vigilant parents, have consistently reflected parental attitudes and bias in favor of tartrazine as a perceived cause of their child’s problems. A number of articles, where poorly performed studies of tartrazine and hyperkinesis were reported, were not selected for mention in this review. Despite this gloomy introduction, there are a few studies that address most of the investigative issues and present a reasonable case in support of occasional children having tartrazine-induced mental abnormalities.

The placebo treatment was olive oil, and 2-month treatments were followed by a 1-month washout, followed by 2 months of the other treatment. Headache frequency and severity were both reduced compared to baseline by both fish oil and olive oil (p 0.0001 and p 0.01–0.03, respectively). Reductions were in the range of 65–87% for severity, duration, and frequency for both treatments. The authors suggested both modalities were having an active effect, and the magnitude of the improvement argued against placebo effect. Association of food allergy and migraine Allergy to food is self-reported more commonly in migraineurs than those with non-migrainous headache or without headache [13]. Pinnas and Vanselow have pointed out that the association between allergy and migraine is more than a 100 years old [14]. In 1885, Trousseau had included periodic headache in the allergic diathesis; Tileston in 1918 likened migraine to asthma; and the following year, Pagniez considered migraine as a manifestation of anaphylaxis [14].


pages: 728 words: 182,850

Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter


3D printing, A Pattern Language, carbon footprint, centre right, Community Supported Agriculture, crowdsourcing, double helix,, European colonialism, fear of failure, food miles, hacker house, haute cuisine, helicopter parent, Internet Archive, iterative process, Parkinson's law, placebo effect, random walk, slashdot, stochastic process, the scientific method

After six hours of stewing, repeat the procedure: remove a few pieces, verify that the temperature is about the same, and stash the second batch in a second container in the fridge. (You could heat up the 30-minute batch, but then we’d be changing more than one variable: who’s to say that reheating doesn’t change something?) Once both samples are cold, do a taste comparison. Got kids? Do a single-blind experiment to remove the placebo effect: blindfold the kids and don’t let them know which is which. Got a spouse and kids? Do a double-blind experiment to control for both placebo effect and observer bias: have your significant other scoop the beef into the containers and label them only "A" and "B," not telling you which is which, and then go ahead and administer the blindfold test to your kids. 158°F / 70°C: Vegetable Starches Break Down Whereas meat is predominately proteins and fats, plants are composed primarily of carbohydrates such as cellulose, starch, and pectin.


pages: 778 words: 227,196

The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, British Empire, Copley Medal, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, Etonian, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Harrison: Longitude, music of the spheres, placebo effect, polynesian navigation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, trade route, unbiased observer, University of East Anglia, éminence grise

Against this, it is interesting to read the defence of the necessary and dynamic notion of ‘mystery’ by Humphry Davy in his lectures (see my Prologue), or by the great twentieth-century American physicist Richard Feynman in The Meaning of it All (posthumously published in 1999). Though not a religious man, Feynman believed that science was driven by a continual dialogue between sceptical enquiry and the sense of inexplicable mystery, and that if either got the upper hand true science would be destroyed. See James Gleick, Richard Feynman and Modern Physics (1992). ♣ This is possibly the first scientific identification of the famous ‘placebo effect’, although it would not be properly tested and defined until the 1950s. It has been claimed that over 30 per cent of all patients show a ‘placebo’ response, most notably in cases of depression, heart disease and chronic muscular pain. This figure has recently been questioned, since the earlier trials may have been methodologically flawed (they lacked a neutral ‘control’ group of patients); and the definition of ‘cure’ itself is open to a high degree of subjective distortion. e.g.

.): Journal of a Voyage on…the Endeavour, 44 Parkinson, Sydney: on Endeavour voyage, 11, 14; on Banks’s humanity, 15; drawings, 15, 48; troubled by flies, 17; on promiscuity in Tahiti, 18; on Banks’s quarrel with Monkhouse, 29; on leaving Tahiti, 35; death in Batavia, 40, 45; drawings officially appropriated, 44; journal published, 44-5 Parliamentary Select Committee on Mining Accidents (1835), 375 Parry, William Edward, 51, 232, 395-6, 404-5 Paulze, Marie-Anne see Lavoisier, Marie-Anne Payne, William, 348 Peacock, Thomas Love, 233 Peel, Sir Robert: friendship with Davy, 403-4 Peninsular War, 347 Pennant, Thomas, 12, 40-1 Penzance, 236-7, 239, 241, 268, 400 & n Penzance Grammar School, 434 Periodic Table, 247 Philosophical Magazine, 286 Phipps, Captain Constantine John (later 2nd Baron Mulgrave), 9 phlogiston theory, 245 Physical and Medical Knowledge, principally in the West of England (Beddoes’s annual), 154 Pilâtre de Rozier, Jean-François: ballooning, 129-31, 133, 148-9, 152, 161; killed on cross-Channel balloon flight, 153-5 Pisania, West Africa, 214-16 Pitt, John, 165, 182 Pitt, Mary see Herschel, Mary, Lady Pitt, Paul, 165, 183-4, 202 Pitt, William, the Younger, 138, 223, 252 placebo effect, 314n Plato: on wonder, xx Playfair, John, 294, 315, 338, 369-70 Pneumatic Institute, Bristol, 235, 251, 253, 255-7, 265, 272, 278, 282, 285-6 pneumatics: as science and study, 245 Poe, Edgar Allan, 464 polar exploration, 395, 404-5 Pole Star: Herschel identifies as two, 87 Polidori, Dr William: travels with Byron, 307, 327; and Ritter, 330; ‘The Vampyre’, 327 Polwhele, Richard: ‘The Pneumatic Revellers’, 273 Poole, Tom, 265, 293, 353, 362, 401, 419-20, 424 Pope, Alexander: Essay on Man, 322 Porter, Roy: The Greatest Benefit to Mankind, 303n potassium: Davy discovers, 297-8 Potin (Swedish scientist), 296 Presumption: or The Fate of Frankenstein (play), 334-5 Priestley, Joseph: friendship with Joseph Wright of Derby, xix; Banks recruits for expedition, 47; discovers hydrogen with Cavendish, 127; and early ballooning, 137, 158; Blake satirises, 143; library burned by mob, 199; and phlogiston theory, 245; on photosynthesis, 245; on transformation processes, 247; Marie-Anne Paulze (Lavoisier) translates into French, 248; considers nitrous oxide lethal, 259; in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, 328; Davy praises, 344; British Association drinks to health of, 447; Experiments on Different Kinds of Air, 127 Prix Napoléon: awarded to Davy, 299, 353 Provence, Josephine (of Savoy), Comtesse de (‘Madame’), 129 Public Characters: Biographical Memoirs of Distinguished Subjects (series), 200, 303 Quarterly Review, 317-18, 446, 449 Queensberry, William Douglas, 4th Duke of, 177 race: classification, 311 Radcliffe, Ann, 53 Raffles, Sir Thomas Stamford, 404 rainbow, 319, 321, 323-4, 443 Ray, Martha, 53 Regent’s Park: zoological gardens, 404 religion: and science, 313 & n, 317-20, 449-50, 459 Rennell, Major John: ‘Sketch of the Northern Parts of Africa’, 212 Resolution, HMS, 47 Resonico, Prince, 168 respiration, 245-6, 259 Revesby, 52 Reynolds, Sir Joshua: portrait of Banks, 43; portrait of Omai, 51; impressed by Lunardi’s ballooning, 140-1 Richmond, Tom, 14 Rickman, John, 53, 264 Ridley, Matthew, 429n Ritchie, Joseph, 234 Ritter, Johann Wilhelm, 315, 328-30; Fragments of a Young Physicist, 329 Robert, M.


pages: 743 words: 189,512

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz


Albert Einstein, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, Gary Taubes, Indoor air pollution, meta analysis, meta-analysis, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, Robert Gordon, the scientific method, Upton Sinclair

An ideal trial is designed to prevent either party from knowing whether a participant is assigned to the treatment or the control group. The hope is to avoid the preferential treatment that an experimenter might feel inclined to give to the intervention group (a form of bias called the “performance effect”) or, equally, the participant’s often-unconscious positive response to knowing that he or she is receiving an intervention (known as the “placebo effect”). The latter is the reason why drug studies usually hand out placebos to the control group: so that everyone has the same experience of taking a pill. Realistically, though, a diet that includes butter, cream, and meat does not look or taste like a diet without them, so a truly blind diet experiment is difficult. And unlike an experiment on exercise, where you can compare exercisers to nonexercisers, the same cannot be done for eaters and noneaters.

., 126 omega-3 fatty acids, 8, 205, 210, 275–76 omega-6 fatty acids, 8, 275–76 OmniHeart, 321 O’Neill, Molly, 198 Ong, Tan Sri Augustine, 234–36 Oreo cookies, 271–72 Ornish, Dean, 184–85, 189, 197, 309n Atkins and, 289–90, 305 heart disease reversal and, 140–43 near-vegetarian diet and, 140, 143, 145–46, 289 Osler, Sir William, 118, 293 Oslo study, 78–79, 91n, 95, 324 overweight, 49, 55, 172, 266, 294, 306, 310, 326n, 330 see also obesity Ozonoff, David, 250 Paleo diet, 6, 139n palm oil: campaigns against, 228–30, 232–33, 235–37 defense of, 234–37 of Malaysia, 232–34, 236–37, 277 saturated fats and, 8, 26, 230, 320 as trans-free option, 270, 272, 275 Pariza, Michael, 264 pasta, 4, 28, 101, 286, 288, 335 Mediterranean diet and, 177, 187, 198 pastries, 42, 140, 223, 226–27, 237 peanut oil, 8, 25–26, 86, 199, 279 Pediatrics, 147–48 Pennington, Alfred, 316 and hormones in obesity, 296–97, 311 low-carbohydrate diet of, 294, 296–98 People, 125, 169 Pepperidge Farm, 229, 230, 235, 251 Percy, Charles H., 120 performance effect, 80 Philippines, 56, 232, 234 Phinney, Stephen D., 86n, 303–6, 311 pigs, pork, 16, 73, 84, 88, 114, 148, 246, 289, 293n, 336 Pinckney, Edward R., 46n, 331 placebo effect, 80 plaque, 15, 128 children and, 155–56 cholesterol and, 21, 23n, 317n heart disease and, 20n, 21, 30, 62, 142n Poli, Giuseppi, 281, 283 Pollan, Michael, 13, 191, 313 polyunsaturated fats, 26, 176, 187n, 282–85, 325 AHA and, 49, 241, 279 cancer and, 125, 167, 284 chemical structure of, 25, 199n, 282 children and, 147, 157 cholesterol and, 32, 85 margarine and, 33, 76, 85, 91 political issues and, 106, 125 research on, 74, 76–79, 94n, 210, 279–80, 284 vegetable oils and, 8, 16, 25, 83, 85–87, 85, 102, 167, 199n, 282–84, 333 popcorn, 82, 228, 237 Popper, Karl, 57 Portugal, 34, 185, 187 potatoes, 112, 180, 186, 195, 207, 270 poultry, 112, 120 clinical trials and, 73, 213n history of consumption of, 115, 115, 116 Mediterranean diet and, 174, 187, 188, 207, 213n, 219 USDA and, 186, 188 see also chicken; turkey Prentice, Andrew M., 157 Prentice, George, 15, 301 Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea (PREDIMED), 214–16 Pritikin, Nathan, 104, 139–40 Procter & Gamble (P&G), 194n, 228, 236 and AHA, 47–48, 85 and hydrogenated oils, 87–88, 239–40, 244 and trans fats, 249–50, 252, 256 and vegetable oils, 85, 87–88 protective foods, 149–50, 207 proteins, 29, 101, 107, 124, 191, 281n, 288, 297, 304, 309n, 315n, 334–35 Atkins and, 287, 290, 310n children and, 148, 152 heart disease and, 24, 34, 35n Mediterranean diet and, 188, 219 USDA and, 188, 328 prudent diet, 53, 73, 95 AHA and, 48–49, 52, 90, 241 Ahrens and, 101–2 clinical trials and, 74, 76, 127, 130, 137–38 vegetable oils and, 82, 86, 91 Putting Meat on the American Table (Horowitz), 114–15 Quaker Oats, 91, 105–6, 126, 137, 235 randomization, 37 rapeseeds, rapeseed oil, 84, 86, 337 Ravnskov, Uffe, 23, 45 Regional Medical Programs Service, 69 Reiser, Raymond, 61–62, 79n Renaud, Serge, 192 rice, 4, 14, 59, 157, 187, 302 Rifkind, Basil, 127, 129–33 Ronk, Richard J., 235 Roseto, Pa., 55–57, 97 Rossouw, Jacques, 170 Ryther, Robert, 277–78 Sacks, Frank M., 140, 310n safflower seeds, safflower oil, 8, 25–26, 75, 84, 176, 199, 282, 337 salad dressings, 24, 82, 85, 149, 169, 173, 199 salads, 28, 117, 149, 335 salt, 120, 222n, 305 Samburus, 11–12, 101 saturated fats, 1–4, 11, 14, 26, 86, 90, 97, 102, 136, 139, 185, 201, 225–37, 244, 248, 284–86, 288, 308n, 316–31, 333–34 AHA and, 49–50, 240, 306, 319–20 Ahrens and, 26–27, 31, 58, 122 campaigns against, 228–31, 237 chemical structure of, 25, 267, 282 children and, 147, 152, 154–55, 157–58 cholesterol and, 26–27, 31–32, 44, 50, 61, 131, 159, 161, 163–64, 228, 253, 285, 316–23, 325–27, 330, 334 Consensus Conference and, 132, 132 and domesticated and wild animals, 16–17 fat-cancer hypothesis and, 166–67 food labeling and, 235–36, 268–69 heart disease and, 3, 6, 13, 19, 33, 38–40, 49, 51, 54, 58, 61, 66, 73–74, 76–77, 80, 97n–98n, 98–100, 112, 122, 132, 159, 175–76, 218, 222, 228–31, 234, 314n, 318, 320–21, 324, 326 high-fat diet and, 302, 308n, 330 in history, 114, 336 Keys and, 19, 31–32, 38–39, 44, 50, 51, 54, 61, 73–74, 106–7, 176, 178, 226, 258, 264, 316, 320 Krauss and, 316, 318–20, 323–24, 329 limits on consumption of, 319–22, 327 Mann and, 66–67 meat and, 6, 106–7, 320 Mediterranean diet and, 175, 187n, 216, 218–20, 222, 320 political issues and, 104, 106, 112, 119–22, 126, 228, 232–33, 235–37 sources of, 8, 14n, 25–26, 230, 320 and studies and trials, 38–40, 44, 66–67, 73–76, 78, 80, 93, 96, 97n–98n, 98–99, 129, 131, 137–38, 152, 154, 169–70, 178, 210, 216, 256, 308n, 321–22, 324, 326, 334, 336 trans fats and, 253, 256, 267 tropical oils and, 230, 232–37 women and, 159, 164–65, 167, 169–71, 322 sauces, 2, 88, 145n, 157–58, 173, 177, 198, 270, 334 sausage, 89, 244, 289, 335 Schaefer, Otto, 298–302 Schatzkin, Arthur, 168 Schaur, Rudolf Jörg, 282 Science, 124, 127, 130, 133, 147, 240, 311 seeds, 84, 149, 207, 210–11, 287 selection bias, 56–57, 95 Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, 104–6, 112, 119–21, 123n, 124, 126–27, 146, 166, 182 Atkins and, 288–89 Serra-Majem, Lluís, 211–12, 214, 216, 222–24 sesame oil, 56, 84 Seven Countries study, 191n Crete and, 38–41, 176, 177, 178, 216–18, 220, 222–23 diet-heart hypothesis and, 37, 39, 42–45, 53, 72 Greece and, 37–41, 176, 192, 195, 216 heart disease and, 37–39, 42, 178, 216, 223 of Keys, 36–45, 55n, 62, 72, 74, 96, 176–78, 195, 216–20, 222–23 Mediterranean diet and, 176–78, 192, 206, 216–18, 220, 222–23 nutritional data in, 38, 40–41, 55n paradoxical outcomes in, 39–40 saturated fats and, 38–40, 44, 74, 178 sugar and, 42–43, 223 Seventh-day Adventist study, 108–10 sex, sexuality, 21, 289–90 Shai, Iris, 310, 315 Shaper, A.


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The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van Der Kolk M. D.


anesthesia awareness, British Empire, conceptual framework, deskilling,, epigenetics, false memory syndrome, feminist movement, impulse control, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, phenotype, placebo effect, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, theory of mind, Yogi Berra

Our Trauma Clinic team enrolled thirty-three nonveterans and my collaborators, former colleagues at the VA, enrolled thirty-one combat veterans. For eight weeks half of each group received Prozac and the other half a placebo. The study was blinded: Neither we nor the patients knew which substance they were taking, so that our preconceptions could not skew our assessments. Everyone in the study—even those who had received the placebo—improved, at least to some degree. Most treatment studies of PTSD find a significant placebo effect. People who screw up their courage to participate in a study for which they aren’t paid, in which they’re repeatedly poked with needles, and in which they have only a fifty-fifty chance of getting an active drug are intrinsically motivated to solve their problem. Maybe their reward is only the attention paid to them, the opportunity to respond to questions about how they feel and think. But maybe the mother’s kisses that soothe her child’s scrapes are “just” a placebo as well.

., 333 Maier, Steven, 29–30 Main, Mary, 115–17, 381n Mamet, David, 331 managers, in IFS therapy, 282, 286–88, 291–92, 293 Mandela, Nelson, 356 map of the world, internal: in childhood trauma survivors, 127–30 of children, 109, 127, 129 March of the Penguins (film), 96 Marlantes, Karl, 233–34 martial arts, 86, 208, 355 Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, 253 Massachusetts General Hospital, 192, 251 Neuroimaging Laboratory of, 40 Massachusetts Mental Health Center, 19–20, 22, 26, 28, 36, 142, 259–60 see also Children’s Clinic (MMHC); Trauma Clinic massage therapy, 89, 92 Matthew, Elizabeth, 253–54 Maurice, Prince of Orange, 333–34 MDMA (ecstasy), 223–24 meaning-making, as human trait, 16–17 medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), 62, 63, 69, 91, 92, 96, 274, 274 accessing emotional brain through, 206, 206, 236, 353 balance between amygdala and, 62–64 sensory self-awareness and, 90–91, 206, 354, 376n, 408n, 417n Medicaid, 37 medicine, non-Western, 76, 86, 207–8 meditation, 208 mindfulness, 63, 321, 400n in yoga, 270 Meltzoff, Andrew, 112 memory: level of arousal and, 175–76 as narrative, 176, 179, 194, 219 rewriting of, 175, 191, 236, 255–56, 398n see also repressed memory; traumatic memory mental health, safety as fundamental to, 351, 352 mental hospitals, population of, 28 mental illness: disorder model of, 27 genetics and, 151–52 pharmacological revolution and, 36–38 as self-protective adaptations, 278–79 social engagement and, 78–79 methylation, 152 militarism, 186 mindfulness, 62, 63, 96, 131, 207, 208–10, 224, 225, 269, 270, 283, 292, 321 meditation for, 63, 321, 400n Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), 209 Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation, 160–61 Minsky, Marvin, 281 mirror neurons, 58–59, 78, 102, 111–12 misdiagnosis, of childhood trauma survivors, 136–48, 150, 151, 157, 226 model mugging program, 218–19, 308 monomethylhydrazine (MMH), 315 mood dysregulation disorder, 226 mood stabilizing drugs, 225 Moore, Dana, 269 MPFC, see medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) multiple personality disorder, 277–78 Murray, Henry, 105–6 Murrow, Ed, 43 muscular bonding, 333–34 music, in trauma recovery, 242–43, 349, 355 Myers, Charles Samuel, 185, 187, 189 Myers, Frederic, 189 naltrexone, 327 Nathan Cummings Foundation, 155 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), 315 National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, 159 National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), 155–56, 157, 351, 356 National Institutes of Health, 28, 138, 207, 251, 254, 315, 329 DSM-5 diagnostic criteria rejected by, 165–66, 329 nature vs. nurture debate, 153–55, 160 Nazis, shell-shock victims as viewed by, 186–87 neocortex, see rational brain nervous system, 76–77 autonomic (ANS), 60, 63–64, 77, 80, 225, 266–67 parasympathetic (PNS), 77, 83–84, 264, 266–67 sympathetic (SNS), 77, 82, 82, 209, 266–67 neuroception, 80 neurofeedback, 207, 312–29, 313, 418n ADHD and, 322 alpha-theta training in, 321, 326 author’s experience of, 313–14 dissociation and, 318 epilepsy and, 315 history of, 315 learning disabilities and, 325 performance enhancement and, 322 PTSD and, 326–28 self-regulation in, 313 substance abuse and, 327–28 Trauma Center program for, 318–20 neuroimaging, see brain scans neuroplasticity, 3, 56, 167 neuroscience, 2, 29, 39, 275, 347 neurotransmitters, 28–29 see also specific neurotransmitters Newberger, Carolyn and Eli, 355 New England Journal of Medicine, 374n–75n New York Times, 334, 375n nightmares, 8, 9, 14, 15, 20, 44, 134–35, 327 Nijenhuis, Ellert, 281 1984 (Orwell), 109 non-Western medicine, 76, 86, 207–8 norepinephrine, 29 North American Association for the Study of Obesity, 144 numbing, 14–15, 67, 71–73, 84, 87–89, 92, 99, 119, 124, 162–63, 198, 205, 247, 265–66, 273, 279, 304–5, 306 see also freeze response (immobilization) obesity, 144, 147, 162, 266 Ogden, Pat, 26, 96, 217–18 Olds, David, 167 On the Origin of Species (Darwin), 74 oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), 150, 151, 157, 282, 392n orbital prefrontal cortex, 91 Oresteia (Aeschylus), 332 Orr, Scott, 33 Orwell, George, 109 out-of-body experiences, 100, 132–33, 286, 386n oxytocin, 223 Packer, Tina, 330, 335, 345–46 “Pain in Men Wounded in Battle” (Beecher), 32–33 painkillers, 146, 349 panic attacks, 97, 172 Panksepp, Jaak, 334, 387n, 398n paralysis, episodic, 228–29 paranoid schizophrenia, 15 parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), 77, 83–84, 264, 266–67 parent-child interactive therapy (PCIT), 215 parietal lobes, 91 Pascual-Leone, Alvaro, 417n Pasteur, Louis, 164 Patton, George, 186 Pavlov, Ivan, 39 Paxil, 35, 225, 254 PBSP psychomotor therapy, see psychomotor therapy Pearlman, Chester, 409n pendulation, 217–18, 245, 286, 333, 408n Peniston, Eugene, 326, 327 Pennebaker, James, 239–41, 243 performance enhancement, neurofeedback and, 322 periaqueductal gray, 102 Perry, Bruce, 56 Perry, Chris, 138, 141, 296 Pesso, Albert, 297–99 pharmaceutical industry, power of, 374n–75n pharmacological revolution, 27–29, 36–38, 310 profit motive in, 38 phobias, 256 physical actions, completion of, in trauma survivors, 96 physical activity: calming effect of, 88 in trauma therapy, 207–8 physiology: self-regulation of, 38 see also body; brain Piaget, Jean, 105 Pilates, 199 Pitman, Roger, 30, 33, 222 placebo effect, 35 plane crashes, survivors of, 80 Plutarch, 334 pneumogastric nerve, see vagus nerve Pollak, Seth, 114 polyvagal theory, 77–78, 86 Porges, Stephen, 77–78, 80, 83, 84–85, 86 positron emission tomography (PET), 39 Possibility Project, 335, 340–42 posterior cingulate, 90–91, 91 Posttraumatic Cognitions Inventory, 233 pranayama, 86, 270 prefrontal cortex, 59, 68–69, 102 executive function in, 62 see also medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) prefrontal lobes, 254 Prince, Morton, 184 Principles of Psychology, The (James), 277 prisons: population of, 348 spending on, 168 prolactin, 223 propranolol, 225 proprioceptive (balance) system, 247 protagonists, in psychomotor therapy, 297, 300–302 proto-self, 94 Prozac (fluoxetine), 34–35, 37, 223, 262 PTSD and, 35–36, 225, 226, 254, 261 psychiatry: drug-based approach of, 315, 349 socioeconomic factors ignored in, 348 psychoanalysis, 22, 184, 230–31 see also talk therapy (talking cure) psychodynamic psychotherapy, 199 Psychology Today, 315 psychomotor therapy, 296–308 author’s experience in, 298–99 feeling safe in, 300, 301 protagonists in, 297, 300–302 structures in, 298–308 witnesses in, 297, 300, 301, 306 psychopharmacology, 20, 206 psychotherapy, of child neglect survivors, 296–97 psychotropic drugs, 27–29, 37–38, 101, 136, 315, 349–50 PTSD and, 254, 261, 405n in trauma recovery, 223–27 see also specific drugs PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder): acupuncture and acupressure in treatment of, 410n–11n amygdala-MPFC imbalance in, 62–64 attention and concentration problems in, 311–12 brain scans of, 102, 347, 408n brain-wave patterns in, 311, 312 CBT and, 194, 220–21 children of parents with, 118–19 diagnosis of, 136–37, 142, 150, 156–57, 188, 319 dissociation in, 66–68 EMDR in treatment of, 248–49, 253–54 exposure therapy and, 256 flashbacks in, 72, 327 in Holocaust survivors, 118–19 HRV in, 267, 268 hypersensitivity to threat in, 102, 327, 408n language failure in, 244–45 MDMA in treatment of, 223–24 memory and, 175, 190 numbing in, 72–73, 99 psychotropic drugs and, 254, 261, 405n reliving in, 66–68, 180–81, 325 and security of attachment to caregiver, 119 sensory self-awareness in, 89–92 social engagement and, 102 substance abuse and, 327 yoga therapy for, 207, 228–29, 268–69 PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), of accident and disaster survivors, 41–43, 142–43, 348 EMDR and, 260 flashbacks in, 66–67, 68, 68, 196–98 hypersensivity to threat in, 45–47, 68 irritability and rage in, 68, 248–49 Lelog as, 177–78 numbing in, 198 PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), of combat veterans, 1–2, 106, 348, 371n antipsychotic drugs and, 226–27 attention and concentration problems of, 312 CBT and, 194, 220–21 diagnosis of, 19–21 downside of medications for, 36–37 flashbacks in, 8, 13, 16, 227 hypersensitivity to threat in, 11, 327 hypnosis and, 187, 220 in-or-out construct in, 18 irritability and rage in, 10, 14 neurofeedback and, 326–28 nightmares in, 8, 9, 14, 15, 134–35 numbing in, 14–15 pain and, 33 prevalence of, 20 Prozac and, 35–36, 226 serotonin levels in, 33–34, 36 shame in, 13 shell-shock as, 11, 184–85 sleep disorders in, 409n stress hormone levels in, 30 suicide and, 17, 332 theater as therapy for, 331–32, 343–44 traumatic event as sole source of meaning in, 18 VA and, 19, 187–88, 222–23 yoga therapy for, 270 PTSD scores, 254, 319, 324 Puk, Gerald, 252–53 purpose, sense of, 14, 92, 233 Putnam, Frank, 30, 161–64, 251 qigong, 86, 208, 245, 264 quantitative EEG (qEEG), 323 rage, 83 displacement of, 133–34, 140 in PTSD, 10, 14, 68, 248–49 in trauma survivors, 46, 95, 99, 285, 304 “railway spine,” 177 rape, 1–2, 17, 88, 213–14 increased incidence of, in survivors of childhood abuse, 85, 146–47 prevalence of, 20–21 rational brain, 55, 57–58 balance between emotional brain and, 64–65, 129–30, 205, 310 feelings and, 205 Rauch, Scott, 40, 42 reactive attachment disorder, 150, 151 reciprocity, 79–80 reckless behavior, 120 reenacting, 31–33, 179, 180, 181, 182 relationships: emotional brain and, 122 mental health and, 38, 55 in trauma recovery, 210–13 see also intimacy; social engagement reliving, 66–68, 180–81 Relman, Arnold, 374n–75n Remarque, Erich Maria, 171, 186 Rembrandt van Rijn, 215 Remembering, Repeating and Working Through (Freud), 219 REM sleep, 260–61, 309–10, 409n repressed memory, 183, 184–99 of childhood sexual abuse survivors, 190, 397n false memories and, 189, 190, 191–92 reliability of, 191 see also traumatic memory Research Domain Criteria (RDoC), 165–66 resilience, 105, 109, 161, 278–79, 314, 316, 351, 355, 356 Respiridol, 215 rhesus monkeys: peer-raised, 154 personality types in, 153 rheumatoid arthritis (RA), IFS in treatment of, 291–92 rhythmic movement, in trauma therapy, 85, 207, 208, 214, 242–43, 333–34, 349 right temporal lobe, 319, 324 Rilke, Rainer Maria, 87 Risperdal, 37, 226, 227 Ritalin, 107, 136 ritual, trauma recovery and, 331–32 Rivers, W.


pages: 624 words: 104,923

QI: The Book of General Ignorance - The Noticeably Stouter Edition by Lloyd, John, Mitchinson, John


Admiral Zheng, Albert Einstein, Barry Marshall: ulcers, British Empire, discovery of penicillin, Dmitri Mendeleev, Fellow of the Royal Society, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, invention of the telephone, James Watt: steam engine, Kuiper Belt, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, Olbers’ paradox, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, placebo effect, Pluto: dwarf planet, trade route, V2 rocket, Vesna Vulović

Recent research involving subjects aged twenty-four to forty-five found that half an hour’s exercise three to five times a week has the same (or better) effect on depression than drugs, regularly reducing symptoms by nearly 50 per cent. According to Science News, placebos are more effective at curing depression than either drugs or herbal remedies. In a series of trials carried out between 1979 and 1996, Seattle psychiatrist Dr Arif Khan found that St John’s Wort completely cured 24 per cent of cases, the anti-depressant drug Zoloft cured 25 per cent of cases, but the sugar-pill placebos effected a complete cure in 32 per cent of patients. In a more recent study comparing the anti-depressants Prozac and Efexor with placebos, the drugs won with a 52 per cent cure rate, but the placebos still scored impressively with 38 per cent. But as soon as the deception was revealed, the patients’ condition worsened rapidly. Many commentators believe that the context of the treatment – a clinical trial with lots of professional attention being paid to the participants – was an important factor.


pages: 316 words: 105,384

Moneyball by Michael Lewis


Cass Sunstein, high batting average, placebo effect, RAND corporation, Richard Thaler, systematic trading, the scientific method, upwardly mobile

Which made what happened now even more astonishing: as Billy Beane sat in his office in July, just a few months after he’d chucked out three eighths of the starting lineup, he insisted that the shake-up hadn’t been the least bit necessary. Between phone calls to other general managers he explained how the purge he’d conducted back in May, in which he’d ditched players left and right, “probably had no effect. We were 21–26 at the time. That’s a small sample size. We’d have been fine if I’d done nothing.” The most he will admit is that perhaps his actions had some “placebo effect.” And the most astonishing thing of all is that he almost believes it. Two months later, he still didn’t want to talk about Jeremy Giambi. All that mattered was that the Oakland A’s were winning again. But they were still in third place in the absurdly strong American League West, and Billy worried that this year good might not be good enough. “We can win ninety games and have a nice little season,” he said.


pages: 321 words: 85,893

The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith


British Empire, car-free, clean water, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, Drosophila, dumpster diving,, Gary Taubes, Haber-Bosch Process, McMansion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, out of africa, peak oil, placebo effect, Rosa Parks, the built environment

Anthony Colpo describes what that perfect clinical trial would look like: Such a trial would compare a group of subjects of similar sex, age and health status, who have been randomly assigned to eat diets that are identical in every respect, except that one contains a significant amount of saturated fat (the control group), while the other contains a greatly reduced amount (the treatment group). Ideally, this trial would be ‘double-blind’, meaning that both researchers and participants would be unaware of who is in the treatment group and who is in the control group, a safeguard that would help prevent researcher bias and the possibility of a placebo effect amongst the subjects.78 In fact, such studies have been done, and done relentlessly, trying to prove some link between saturated fat, cholesterol, and CHD. Some of them meet standards that are scientifically rigorous; others must be read with a cautious and educated eye. The very first was designed by Lester M. Morrison in 1946. It specifically sought to investigate the relationship between the reduction of fat consumption and cardiac deaths.


pages: 313 words: 92,907

Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are Thekeys to Sustainability by David Owen


A Pattern Language, active transport: walking or cycling, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, delayed gratification, distributed generation, drive until you qualify, East Village, food miles, garden city movement, hydrogen economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, linear programming, McMansion, Murano, Venice glass, Negawatt, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, placebo effect, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas L Friedman, unemployed young men, urban planning, urban sprawl, walkable city

A copy of the study summary can be found at: 45 The website of Transportation Alternatives can be found at: 46 Newman and Kenworthy, Sustainability and Cities, p. 183. 47 “A Bolder Plan: Balancing Free Transit and Congestion Pricing in New York City,” Nurture New York’s Nature, Inc. A digital copy of the proposal can be found at: 48 Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman, Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior (New York: Currency/Doubleday, 2008), pp. 48-49. For the SoBe study, see Baba Shif, Ziv Carmon, and Dan Ariely, “Placebo Effects of Marketing Actions: Consumers May Get What They Pay For,” Journal of Marketing Research, November 2005, .http://www 49 “A Bolder Plan,” pp. 14-15, 24. 50 Jeff Sabatini, “Daimler’s Minicar: More Charming Than Smart,” The Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2008. 51 Eric A. Taub, “Ready for Its Hollywood Close-Up,” The New York Times, May 11, 2008. 52 The City Car website is:, and additional information about the project can be found on other MIT websites. 4.


pages: 411 words: 108,119

The Irrational Economist: Making Decisions in a Dangerous World by Erwann Michel-Kerjan, Paul Slovic


Andrei Shleifer, availability heuristic, bank run, Black Swan, Cass Sunstein, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cross-subsidies, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, endowment effect, experimental economics, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, George Akerlof, hindsight bias, incomplete markets, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Loma Prieta earthquake, London Interbank Offered Rate, market bubble, market clearing, moral hazard, mortgage debt, placebo effect, price discrimination, price stability, RAND corporation, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, statistical model, stochastic process, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, transaction costs, ultimatum game, University of East Anglia, urban planning

All three of the world’s great monotheisms entail prayer, “a reverent petition made to a deity or other object of worship” (American Heritage Dictionary ). It is no insult to those who pray to observe that a response to a reverent petition would be a miracle as defined above, “an event that appears unexplainable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of god.” I doubt whether the authenticity of prayer can be experimentally disproven. Prayer certainly has been shown to have a placebo effect. Whether the prayer itself can be deemed responsible for the success of the petition depends on whether the outcome can be identified with any certainty as not due to natural causes. Any negative results in an experiment designed for the purpose of testing the deity’s responsiveness would surely violate the Third Commandment and could be discarded on that account. If we have now arrived at the junction of myth, superstition, and religion, it’s time for me to close.


pages: 290 words: 87,084

Branded Beauty by Mark Tungate


augmented reality, Berlin Wall, call centre, corporate social responsibility, double helix, East Village, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, haute couture, invention of the printing press, joint-stock company, placebo effect, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, stem cell

BEAUTY TIPS • Much of beauty marketing is based on the quest for eternal youth – an age-old yearning. • Renaissance beauties like Diane de Poitiers believed that drinking gold potions granted them a more youthful appearance. Gold is still used in some beauty products today. • While moisturizer improves the appearance of the skin, there is scant evidence that anti-wrinkle creams have any significant impact, although they do have a placebo effect. • Consumers are wary of the claims made by the marketers of anti-ageing creams, but feel that taking action is better than doing nothing: ‘more hope than help’. • They agree that creams can defend against future damage to the skin, particularly from overexposure to the sun. • Fear of ageing has spawned an ‘immortality business’, with doctors, scientists and thinkers considering ways in which we might live forever


pages: 317 words: 100,414

Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip Tetlock, Dan Gardner


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, availability heuristic, Black Swan, butterfly effect, cloud computing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, desegregation, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, forward guidance, Freestyle chess, fundamental attribution error, germ theory of disease, hindsight bias, index fund, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohammed Bouazizi, Nash equilibrium, Nate Silver, obamacare, pattern recognition, performance metric, place-making, placebo effect, prediction markets, quantitative easing, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

Not all days are the same. Some days, you feel fine; others, you feel some pain but not a lot; and occasionally it’s awful. Of course it’s when you have one of those awful days that you are most likely to seek help by visiting a homeopath or some other dispenser of medical treatments unsupported by solid scientific evidence. The next day you wake up and … you feel better! The treatment works! The placebo effect may have helped, but you probably would have felt better the next day even if you had received no treatment at all—thanks to regression to the mean, a fact that won’t occur to you unless you stop and think carefully, instead of going with the tip-of-your-nose conclusion. This modest little mistake is responsible for many of the things people believe but shouldn’t. Keep regression to the mean in mind, however, and it becomes a valuable tool.


pages: 292 words: 94,324

How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman


affirmative action, Atul Gawande, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, fear of failure, framing effect, index card, iterative process, medical malpractice, medical residency, Menlo Park, pattern recognition, placebo effect, stem cell, theory of mind

In the 1950s, many patients with angina and coronary artery disease underwent an operation that involved tying off an artery that runs under the breastbone. At the time, physicians believed that the procedure would increase blood flow to a heart starved of its normal supply by blockages in the coronary arteries. Then, at the end of the decade, a clinical trial showed that patients who had a sham operation did just as well as those who had the real one. Apparently, the placebo effect accounted for the fact that many patients felt better after the surgery. Other once popular procedures resulted from a misunderstanding of the biology of a particular condition. William Halstead pioneered the radical mastectomy in 1895 at the Johns Hopkins Hospital; it became routine therapy for breast cancer. When I was a medical student at Columbia in the early 1970s, no one questioned it.


pages: 312 words: 89,728

The End of My Addiction by Olivier Ameisen


Albert Einstein, epigenetics, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, statistical model

Moreover, the necessity for life-long baclofen treatment could be studied in the newly described addiction model in rats (Deroche-Gamonet et al., 2004). The major limitation of this report is that it is a self-case report, not a study. But it suggests a new concept of treatment: the blockade of the expression of substance dependence symptoms with simultaneous intervention on anxiety. This case could result from a placebo effect, but I believe this to be unlikely since there has been no report of such complete and prolonged effects in clinical trials. The efficacy of high-dose baclofen should be tested for reproducibility in randomized trials under strict medical surveillance to confirm the validity of the concept of dose-dependent suppression of symptoms of alcohol dependence. Acknowledgements A physician’s signed corroboration of the author’s self-report has been provided by Dr Jean-Paul Descombey, former chief of psychiatry at Hôpital Sainte-Anne, Paris, and a member of the Administrative Council of the French Society of Alcohology.


pages: 209 words: 89,619

The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class by Guy Standing


8-hour work day, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, call centre, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, corporate governance, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, deskilling, fear of failure, full employment, hiring and firing, Honoré de Balzac, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, land reform, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, marginal employment, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, mini-job, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, nudge unit, pensions crisis, placebo effect, post-industrial society, precariat, presumed consent, quantitative easing, remote working, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, Tobin tax, transaction costs, universal basic income, unpaid internship, winner-take-all economy, working poor, working-age population, young professional

Richard Tomkins (2009) cited fortytwo universities offering eighty-four courses in subjects such as reflexology, aromatherapy, acupuncture and herbal medicine, including fifty-one BSc degree courses. They reflect an ‘Endarkenment’, a drift from rationalist Enlightenment thinking to an emotional way of thinking associated with religion and superstition. In the absence of evidence, advocates of alternative medicine cite patient testimonials. And there is a placebo effect from treatment in which there is faith. Commodifying higher education legitimises irrationality. Any course is acceptable if there is a demand for it, if it can be sold to consumers willing to pay the price. Anybody can take a pseudo-course giving a credentialist degree ‘because you’re worth it’, which means because you or your parents can pay and because we are here to give you what you want, not what we believe to be scientific or valid based on generations of knowledge.


pages: 322 words: 88,197

Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson


Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Book of Ingenious Devices, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, colonial exploitation, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Drosophila, Fellow of the Royal Society, game design, global village, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, HyperCard, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Landlord's Game, lone genius, megacity, Minecraft, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres, Necker cube, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition,, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Oldenburg, spice trade, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, talking drums, the built environment, The Great Good Place, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, Victor Gruen, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog, working poor, Wunderkammern

In Middlemarch, George Eliot described this process, evoking the history of alchemy and its delusions, but it could just as easily be applied to the sham medicine of the spicers: “Doubtless a vigorous error vigorously pursued has kept the embryos of truth a-breathing: the quest of gold being at the same time a questioning of substances, the body of chemistry is prepared for its soul, and Lavoisier is born.” Mostly these folk remedies were harmless, medically speaking; given the placebo effect, they might well have had a slightly beneficial impact. But, at least once, the use of spices as medicine seems to have backfired in a truly catastrophic way. The aromas of Oriental spice were said to combat the miasmatic air that conveyed plague. An Oxford fellow named John of Eschenden recommended “a powder of cinnamon, aloes, myrrh, saffron, mace, and cloves” to ward off the Black Death.


Personal Development for Smart People: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth by Steve Pavlina


Buckminster Fuller, fear of failure, financial independence, placebo effect, side project, unbiased observer

Your beliefs should allow you to experience whatever is technically possible; they should never mislabel the possible as impossible. Subject, of course, to ethical and moral considerations, your beliefs shouldn't unduly limit your abilities. If y o u think something is impossible for y o u , then it must truly be impossible, regardless of your thinking. If a mental shift w o u l d alter your abilities via the placebo effect, then your belief is both disempowering and inaccurate. Take a m o m e n t to write d o w n some of your current beliefs about reality. W h a t do y o u believe to be true about your health, career, relationships, finances, spirituality, and so on? Then go over the eight criteria above to see how your beliefs measure up. If y o u don't like w h a t y o u see, craft more effective tenets to replace the old ones.


pages: 327 words: 97,720

Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection by John T. Cacioppo


Alfred Russel Wallace, biofilm, butterfly effect, Celebration, Florida, corporate governance, delayed gratification, experimental subject, impulse control, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, post-industrial society, Rodney Brooks, Ted Kaczynski, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, theory of mind, urban planning, urban renewal, Walter Mischel

The more strongly individuals were attached to Chinese traditions, the more years of life they lost.3 So the idea of sympathetic threads, or the idea that “our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects,” cannot be entirely dismissed as hocus-pocus. There is such a thing as “cause at a distance” even within the highly rational realm of physics, and magnetism and gravity are two examples that come readily to mind. If you read about health in the newspapers, you are no doubt also familiar with the placebo effect, whereby patients respond positively to the actions of physicians even when those actions are neutral. Pills with no active ingredients—placebos—are administered as a control measure in clinical trials in order to measure the specific action of the new drug being tested versus the therapeutic benefit of simply interacting with the patient and appearing to do something—anything—for them. This is sometimes described as “mind over matter,” sometimes dismissed with “it’s all in your head.”


pages: 502 words: 107,657

Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die by Eric Siegel


Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, backtesting, Black Swan, book scanning, bounce rate, business intelligence, business process, call centre, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data is the new oil,, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, Google Glasses, happiness index / gross national happiness, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, personalized medicine, placebo effect, prediction markets, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, risk-adjusted returns, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, software as a service, speech recognition, statistical model, Steven Levy, text mining, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize, Yogi Berra

This demonstrates in a nutshell what I call The Prediction Effect. Predicting better than pure guesswork, even if not accurately, delivers real value. A hazy view of what’s to come outperforms complete darkness by a landslide. The Prediction Effect: A little prediction goes a long way. This is the first of five Effects introduced in this book. You may have heard of the butterfly, Doppler, and placebo effects. Stay tuned here for the Data, Induction, Ensemble, and Persuasion Effects. Each of these Effects encompasses the fun part of science and technology: an intuitive hook that reveals how it works and why it succeeds. The Field of Dreams People . . . operate with beliefs and biases. To the extent you can eliminate both and replace them with data, you gain a clear advantage. —Michael Lewis, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game What field of study or branch of science are we talking about here?


pages: 357 words: 98,853

Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome by Nessa Carey


dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Downton Abbey, Drosophila, epigenetics, mouse model, phenotype, placebo effect, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs

A single nucleotide difference that alters splicing patterns distinguishes the SMA gene SMN1 from the copy gene SMN2. Hum Mol Genet. 1999 Jul;8(7):1177–83 20. Cooper TA, Wan L, Dreyfuss G. RNA and disease. Cell. 2009 Feb 20;136(4):777–93 21. 22. Chapter 18 1. Ameres SL, Zamore PD. Diversifying microRNA sequence and function. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2013 Aug;14(8):475–88 2. For a more detailed description of classes of smallRNAs, see Castel SE, Martienssen RA. RNA interference in the nucleus: roles for small RNAs in transcription, epigenetics and beyond. Nat Rev Genet. 2013 Feb;14(2):100–12 3. Kang SG, Liu WH, Lu P, Jin HY, Lim HW, Shepherd J, Fremgen D, Verdin E, Oldstone MB, Qi H, Teijaro JR, Xiao C.


pages: 324 words: 93,175

The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home by Dan Ariely


Burning Man, business process, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, endowment effect, Exxon Valdez, first-price auction, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, happiness index / gross national happiness, Jean Tirole, job satisfaction, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, loss aversion, Peter Singer: altruism, placebo effect, Richard Thaler, Saturday Night Live, second-price auction, software as a service, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, ultimatum game, Upton Sinclair, young professional

Once the procedure is over, you send the man home and tell him to rest for a week. If the man stops complaining, you assume that the leech treatment worked. Unfortunately for both of you, you didn’t have the benefit of modern technology back then, so you couldn’t know that a tear in the cartilage was the real culprit. Nor was there much research on the effectiveness of rest, the influence of attention from a person wearing a white coat, or the many other forms of the placebo effect (about which I wrote in some length in Predictably Irrational). Of course, physicians are not bad people; on the contrary, they are good and caring. The reason that most of them picked their profession is to make people healthy and happy. Ironically, it is their goodness and their desire to help each and every one of their patients that makes it so difficult for them to sacrifice some of their patients’ well-being for the sake of an experiment.


pages: 350 words: 112,234

Korea by Simon Winchester


Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, life extension, placebo effect, union organizing

If it is, as claimed, an elixir that promotes spermatogenesis, then I am happy to know but have no access to proof. All I do know is this: when I take ginseng, I end up feeling pretty good. (Not that I feel bad if I don’t take it—there is no suggestion that ginseng is in any way addictive.) People tell me I look fitter than for some time. And I like the taste. Maybe it is all some mighty Korean confidence trick; maybe ginseng extracts have no more than a placebo effect, and one that works wonders on the suggestible psyches of people like me. I am well aware that I might be being taken for an almighty ride and that Mr Ha and his brother tricksters at Korea’s Office of Monopoly may well be laughing behind their hands at how all the yangnom fall for all this guff about saponins and terpenoids and help jolly along Korea’s millions of dollars in profits each year.


pages: 205 words: 18,208

The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom? by David Brin


affirmative action, airport security, Ayatollah Khomeini, clean water, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, data acquisition, death of newspapers, Extropian, Howard Rheingold, illegal immigration, informal economy, Iridium satellite, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, means of production, mutually assured destruction, offshore financial centre, open economy, packet switching, pattern recognition, pirate software, placebo effect, Plutocrats, plutocrats, prediction markets, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Saturday Night Live, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, telepresence, trade route, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Yogi Berra, Zimmermann PGP

Later, when the county went bankrupt in one of Americaʼs biggest financial scandals, Moorlachʼs earlier jeremiads appeared on journalistsʼ computer screens. He subsequently was hailed as a visionary. The idea of a predictions registry may have originated when Sir Francis Galton (1822—1911) attempted to perform experiments statistically measuring the efficacy of prayer. (He discovered what skeptics now call the “placebo effect.”) In the 1970s, efforts were made to catalog predictions using the crude technique of mailing postcards to a post office box in New York City, but sorting through shoe boxes did not prove an efficient or comprehensive method of correlating results, and the effort collapsed. The Internet has changed all that. For example, a “predictions market” has been set up by Robin Hanson, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley.


pages: 561 words: 120,899

The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes' Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant From Two Centuries of Controversy by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne


bioinformatics, British Empire, Claude Shannon: information theory, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, double helix, Edmond Halley, Fellow of the Royal Society, full text search, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, linear programming, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nate Silver, p-value, placebo effect, prediction markets, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, speech recognition, statistical model, stochastic process, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, uranium enrichment, Yom Kippur War

In 1961 he taught probability and statistics on NBC’s early-morning Continental Classroom series; his lectures were viewed by more than a million people and taken for credit by 75,000. In medical research Mosteller pioneered meta-analysis and strongly advocated randomized clinical trials, fair tests of medical treatments, and data-based medicine. He was one of the first to conduct large-scale studies of placebo effects, evaluations of many medical centers, collaborations between physicians and statisticians, and the use of large, mainframe computers. How did Mosteller juggle a massive Bayesian analysis on top of his other work? He looked tubby and rumpled, but he was a superb organizer and utterly unfazed by controversy. He was genial; he engaged critics with a touch of humor, and he seemed to believe they were entitled to opinions he disagreed with.


pages: 663 words: 119,916

The Big Book of Words You Should Know: Over 3,000 Words Every Person Should Be Able to Use (And a Few That You Probably Shouldn't) by David Olsen, Michelle Bevilacqua, Justin Cord Hayes


deliberate practice, haute couture, haute cuisine, jitney, Lao Tzu, place-making, placebo effect, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Rosa Parks, Upton Sinclair

The umpire asked us to remove our PLACARD from the bleacher wall, claiming that it obstructed the view of the hitters. placebo (pluh-SEE-bo), noun A medicine having no fixed medical purpose or healing property given either to pacify a patient or, as a control method, to test the effectiveness of another drug. A placebo is administered as though it were a medication or drug, yet is neutral from a medical standpoint. Scientists are still uncertain as to exactly what causes the PLACEBO effect, in which some patients taking a “ fake” drug actually improve. placid (PLAH-sid), adjective Undisturbed; smooth. That which appears calm or undisturbed on the surface can be said to be placid. The PLACID country surroundings were just the change Caitlyn needed after three months in noisy Manhattan. plague (playg), noun A broad-based affliction. A plague is a widespread calamity usually associated with a severe and sudden incidence of disease in a population.


pages: 542 words: 132,010

The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain by Daniel Gardner


Atul Gawande, availability heuristic, Black Swan, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, Doomsday Clock, feminist movement, haute couture, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, medical residency, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Y2K, young professional

This proved something important about imagining: It’s not merely the act of imagining that raises Gut’s estimate of how likely something is, it’s how easy it is to imagine that thing. If imagining is easy, Gut’s estimate goes up. But if it is a struggle to imagine, it will feel less likely for that reason alone. It may be a little surprising to think that the act of imagining can influence our thoughts, but in many different settings—from therapy to professional sports—imagining is used as a practical tool whose effectiveness is just as real as the famous placebo effect. Imagination is powerful. When the ads of lottery corporations and casinos invite us to imagine winning—one lottery’s slogan is “Just Imagine”—they do more than invite us to daydream. They ask us to do something that elevates our intuitive sense of how likely we are to win the jackpot—which is a very good way to convince us to gamble. There is no “just” in imagining. This isn’t the only potential problem with Gut’s use of the Example Rule.


pages: 402 words: 123,199

In the Company of Heroes by Michael J. Durant, Steven Hartov


back-to-the-land, friendly fire, job satisfaction, placebo effect, Saturday Night Live, trade route, urban sprawl, V2 rocket

It was empty and desolate, and everything I’d accumulated at the previous location was gone. I had no bed, no food, no water, no medicine, no radio. But all I cared about was the incredible pain that wasn’t subsiding now, even as I lay still. The trip in the car had aced it. That splint had to come off. The fire in my thigh was incredibly intense, and I didn’t even have the aspirin now for a “placebo effect.” Firimbi squatted down beside me. I must have looked bad, because he looked pretty worried. I gripped his forearm, hard. “You’ve got to get the doctor,” I said. My voice was dry and raspy. “Dr. Kediye. Right now. This goddamn thing has got to come off.” I must have been fairly convincing, because he hustled out of the place. Without his oil lantern it was pitch dark. I lay there for a long time, not moving, just breathing and waiting.


pages: 607 words: 133,452

Against Intellectual Monopoly by Michele Boldrin, David K. Levine


accounting loophole / creative accounting, agricultural Revolution, barriers to entry, cognitive bias, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Dean Kamen, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping,, Ernest Rutherford, experimental economics, financial innovation, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of radio, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jean Tirole, John Harrison: Longitude, Joseph Schumpeter, linear programming, market bubble, market design, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, new economy, open economy, pirate software, placebo effect, price discrimination, profit maximization, rent-seeking, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, software patent, the market place, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Y2K

Clarinex is a differently packaged version of Claritin, which is of questionable efficacy in the first place and is sold over the counter abroad for vastly less. Promoted as though it must be some sort of elixir, the ubiquitous “purple pill,” Nexium, is essentially AstraZeneca’s old heartburn drug Prilosec with a minor chemical twist that allowed the company to extend its patent. (Perhaps not coincidentally researchers have found that purple is a particularly good pill color for inducing placebo effects.)35 Sad but ironically true, me-too or copycat drugs are pretty much the only available tool capable of inducing some kind of competition in an otherwise monopolized market. Because patent protection lasts long enough to make future entry by generics nearly irrelevant, the limited degree of substitutabil-ity and price competition that copycat drugs bring about is actually valuable. We are not kidding here, and this is a point that many commentators are often missing in their anti–Big Pharma crusade.


pages: 427 words: 30,920

The Autoimmune Connection by Rita Baron-Faust, Jill Buyon


Columbine, mouse model, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, stem cell

(After all, glucosamine was once on the fringes, and now it’s an accepted therapy for osteoarthritis.) Some drugs may make your condition worse or cause interactions with medications you’re taking (such as evening primrose oil and anticoagulants); many herbs should not be taken before surgery; and some herbs (like kava) may even be toxic to the liver. This is one area where you need to do your homework. Realize that many remedies have a powerful placebo effect—if you believe something is going to help you, chances are it will. It sounds weird, but if you have to have one of these diseases, this is a great time. They have made leaps and bounds in research. There is some real hope 378 The Autoimmune Connection for MS and other diseases, and you need to hang on to that hope. They’ve made more progress in the last few years than they have in the last twentyfive years.


pages: 498 words: 153,927

The River at the Centre of the World by Simon Winchester


British Empire, Deng Xiaoping, Khartoum Gordon, offshore financial centre, out of africa, placebo effect, South China Sea, trade route

Dr Ho ground his plants to powder and soaked them in hot spring waters – trying them out on the villagers, varying the amounts and the mixes depending on the ailments presented and the age and sex of those he treated. Before long he had a following: the Chinese have always been eager for natural cures, for their own version of the Ayurvedic arts practised farther west, and Dr Ho's discoveries on the mountainsides seemed to work wonders, either from their chemistry or from their placebo effect. He next combined his newfound pharmaceutical skills with his professed lifelong commitment to the way of Taoism – a philosophy that in any case sets great store by internal hygiene, the quest for immortality, internal alchemy and healing. And in 1985, formally and with some ceremony attended by Taoist priests, he established himself as a full-blown Taoist herbal healer. He sat back and anticipated a late middle age of well-meaning obscurity.


pages: 606 words: 157,120

To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov


3D printing, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Automated Insights, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, citizen journalism, cloud computing, cognitive bias, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, disintermediation, East Village,, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, frictionless, future of journalism, game design, Gary Taubes, Google Glasses, illegal immigration, income inequality, invention of the printing press, Jane Jacobs, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Narrative Science, Nicholas Carr, packet switching, PageRank, Paul Graham, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel,, placebo effect, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, smart meter, social graph, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, transaction costs, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks

Meet Seth Roberts, who claims that eating butter makes him faster—well, this is what his data says anyway (“Two years ago I discovered that butter—more precisely, substitution of butter for pork fat—made me faster,” begins his blog post)—or Sanjiv Shah, who thinks that wearing yellow glasses before going to bed improves his sleeping patterns (it’s all in the data, stupid!). Of course, some self-trackers are aware that their conclusions may not be, well, scientifically valid; as one such enthusiast told the Economist, “With self-tracking you never really know whether it is your experiment that is affecting the outcome, or your expectations of the experiment.” In science, this is widely known as the placebo effect, and in academic experiments every effort is made to minimize its influence. With the Quantified Self, however, what matters is not knowledge per se but, rather, the utility of various knowledge claims in helping improve one’s health or sex life. Most curiously, one doesn’t need to know how such knowledge will be used; much of it is generated and stored preemptively. As Wolf points out about his fellow Quantified Self members, “Although they may take up tracking with a specific question in mind, they continue because they believe their numbers hold secrets that they can’t afford to ignore, including answers to questions they have not yet thought to ask.”


pages: 422 words: 131,666

Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back by Douglas Rushkoff


affirmative action, Amazon Mechanical Turk, banks create money, big-box store, Bretton Woods, car-free, colonial exploitation, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, computer age, corporate governance, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, death of newspapers, don't be evil, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, easy for humans, difficult for computers, financial innovation, Firefox, full employment, global village, Google Earth, greed is good, Howard Rheingold, income per capita, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, loss aversion, market bubble, market design, Marshall McLuhan, Milgram experiment, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, peak oil, place-making, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, price stability, principal–agent problem, private military company, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, RFID, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, social software, Steve Jobs, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, trade route, trickle-down economics, union organizing, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, Victor Gruen, white flight, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Y2K, young professional

Most of the spiritual teachers in The Secret are wealth-seminar leaders who display the book’s logo on their ads and websites. The Secret has certainly worked wonders for its marketers: as of this writing, more than two million DVDs have been sold, and the book hit number one on the New York Times Best-Seller List of hardcover advice books. While positive thinking no doubt has its benefits—from the placebo effect to good old self-confidence—The Secret tries to justify itself not only in the language of pop psychology but also in that of modern physics. According to the book, happy thoughts will do more than affect behavior. The Secret claims that interrelatedness of matter and energy—Einstein’s E = mc2—allows people to change reality to their liking by changing the way they think about it. Thought is presumably the energy in this schema, and reality is the matter.


pages: 513 words: 141,963

Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari


Airbnb, centre right, failed state, glass ceiling, illegal immigration, McJob, Naomi Klein, placebo effect, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, Steven Pinker, traveling salesman, War on Poverty

page=obesity-facts, accessed February 27, 2013, says: “Nearly 70 percent of diagnosed cases of cardiovascular disease are related to obesity.” 19 I originally learned about the report from Sullum, Saying Yes, 15. I then read the original study: see American Psychologist, May 1990, 612–30. 20 Sullum, Saying Yes, 15. If that seems odd, remember the strong evidence showing that childhood trauma can actually physically stunt a child’s growth—and putting them into a loving home can make it start again. See Daniel E. Moerman, Meaning, Medicine and the Placebo Effect, 133. 21 Maté, Hungry Ghosts, 189. 22 Ebony, July 1949, 32. 23 Anslinger, Murderers, 174. 24 Julia Blackburn archives, box 18, Linda Kuehl notes 1, Memry Midgett interview. 25 Julia Blackburn archives, box 18, Linda Kuehl notes, vol. VIII, interview with Peter O’Brien and Michelle Wallace. 26 As explained to me by Liz Evans. 27 Maté, Hungry Ghosts, 75. 28 Ibid., 82–83. 29 Ibid., 84. 30 Ibid., 120. 31 Ibid., 118. 32 Maté, Hungry Ghosts, 21. 33 Ibid., 30.


pages: 436 words: 123,488

Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine by John Abramson


germ theory of disease, Louis Pasteur, medical malpractice, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, p-value, placebo effect, profit maximization, profit motive, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, stem cell, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

The reverse could also have been true: the women who were already going to have a lower mortality rate might have been more likely to take hormones. In other words, perhaps it was their greater propensity toward health or the absence of disease that led them to take the hormones, and not the reverse. The third possibility is that the women who took the hormones believed that they were doing something that would protect their health and that this placebo effect played a role in keeping them healthier. The Nurses’ Health Study researchers statistically adjusted their results for many potentially confounding factors: body weight, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, early heart attack in a parent, history of breast cancer in mother or sister, previous use of birth control pills, number of children, age of onset of period, diet, alcohol use, multivitamin use, vitamin E use, aspirin use, and regular exercise.


pages: 478 words: 142,608

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins


Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Ayatollah Khomeini, Brownian motion, cosmological principle, David Attenborough, Desert Island Discs, double helix,, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, invisible hand, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, placebo effect, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, unbiased observer

In George Bernard Shaw’s words, ‘The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.’ Part of what a doctor can give a patient is consolation and reassurance. This is not to be dismissed out of hand. My doctor doesn’t literally practise faith-healing by laying on of hands. But many’s the time I’ve been instantly ‘cured’ of some minor ailment by a reassuring voice from an intelligent face surmounting a stethoscope. The placebo effect is well documented and not even very mysterious. Dummy pills, with no pharmacological activity at all, demonstrably improve health. That is why double-blind drug trials must use placebos as controls. It’s why homoeopathic remedies appear to work, even though they are so dilute that they have the same amount of active ingredient as the placebo control – zero molecules. Incidentally, an unfortunate by-product of the encroachment by lawyers on doctors’ territory is that doctors are now afraid to prescribe placebos in normal practice.


pages: 405 words: 130,840

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt


crack epidemic, delayed gratification, feminist movement, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, invisible hand, job satisfaction, Lao Tzu, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Peter Singer: altruism, placebo effect, prisoner's dilemma, Ralph Waldo Emerson, stem cell, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, the scientific method, ultimatum game, Walter Mischel

In the most direct test of this catalyst hypothesis, Walter Pahnke,39 a physician working on a dissertation in theology, brought twenty graduate students in theology into a room below the chapel at Boston University on Good Friday 1962. He gave ten of the students 30 milligrams of psilocybin; the other ten were given identical-looking pills containing vitamin B5 (nicotinic acid), which creates feelings of tingles and flushing on the skin. T h e vitamin B5 is what's known as an active placebo: It creates real bodily feelings, so if the beneficial effects of psilocybin were just placebo effects, the control group would have good reason to show them. Over the next few hours, the whole group listened (via speakers) to the G o o d Friday service going on in the chapel upstairs. Nobody, not even Pahnke, knew who had taken which pill. But two hours after the pills were taken, there could be no doubt. T h o s e who had taken the placebo were the first to feel something happening, and they a s s u m e d they had gotten the psilocybin.


pages: 565 words: 164,405

A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World by William J. Bernstein


Admiral Zheng, asset allocation, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, British Empire, call centre, clean water, Columbian Exchange, Corn Laws, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Doha Development Round, domestication of the camel, double entry bookkeeping, Eratosthenes, financial innovation, Gini coefficient, ice-free Arctic, imperial preference, income inequality, intermodal, James Hargreaves, John Harrison: Longitude, Khyber Pass, low skilled workers, non-tariff barriers, placebo effect, Port of Oakland, refrigerator car, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile, working poor

Spices and perfumes permeated gloves, hot beverages, liqueurs, and most of the recipes used in wealthy households. Historians have suggested that rare spices were originally valued because of their medicinal properties. For example, one authority points out that the contents of a medieval French spice store and a nineteenth-century American pharmacy would have been nearly identical. But were these "drugs" effective? The placebo effect, one of the most powerful forces in the therapeutic armamentarium, derives in no small part from the exoticism of the ingredients or methods used. None of the spices mentioned in this chapter has any scientifically proven medicinal value, and those plant products that do are often quite common, such as the heart drug digitalis, from the lovely but lowly foxglove. Roman and Greek physicians prescribed the rare spice galangal "for the kidneys .114 Precisely what medical conditions were meant by this?


pages: 479 words: 144,453

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari


23andMe, agricultural Revolution, algorithmic trading, Anne Wojcicki, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, call centre, Chris Urmson, cognitive dissonance, Columbian Exchange, computer age, Deng Xiaoping, don't be evil, European colonialism, experimental subject, falling living standards, Flash crash, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, glass ceiling, global village, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, Kevin Kelly, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Minecraft, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, mutually assured destruction, new economy, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, placebo effect, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, stem cell, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, too big to fail, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, ultimatum game, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

What would happen if we could rewrite our inner monologues, or even silence them completely on occasion?8 As of 2016, transcranial stimulators are still in their infancy, and it is unclear if and when they will become a mature technology. So far they provide enhanced capabilities for only short durations, and even Sally Adee’s twenty-minute experience may be quite exceptional (or perhaps even the outcome of the notorious placebo effect). Most published studies of transcranial stimulators are based on very small samples of people operating under special circumstances, and the long-term effects and hazards are completely unknown. However, if the technology does mature, or if some other method is found to manipulate the brain’s electric patterns, what would it do to human societies and to human beings? People may well manipulate their brain’s electric circuits not just in order to shoot terrorists, but also to achieve more mundane liberal goals.


pages: 936 words: 252,313

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease by Gary Taubes


Albert Einstein, California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, collaborative editing, Drosophila, experimental subject, Gary Taubes, invention of agriculture, John Snow's cholera map, meta analysis, meta-analysis, phenotype, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Gordon, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbiased observer, Upton Sinclair

Insulin was “an excellent fattening substance,” Erich Grafe wrote in Metabolic Diseases and Their Treatment. Grafe believed that the fattening effect of insulin is likely “due to improved combustion of carbohydrate and increased synthesis of glycogen and fat.” In the United States, however, the conventional wisdom came from Louis Newburgh and his colleagues at the University of Michigan. When insulin increases weight, Newburgh said, it does so either through the power of suggestion—a placebo effect—or by a reduction of blood sugar to the point where the patient eats to avoid very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and the accompanying symptoms of dizziness, weakness, and convulsions. When Rony reviewed the experimental and clinical reports in 1940, he considered any conclusion to be premature. Because obese individuals tend to have high blood sugar, rather than low, Rony said, it was hard to imagine how insulin, which lowered blood sugar, could cause obesity.


pages: 651 words: 180,162

Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb


Air France Flight 447, Andrei Shleifer, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, discrete time, double entry bookkeeping, Emanuel Derman, epigenetics, financial independence, Flash crash, Gary Taubes, Gini coefficient, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, informal economy, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, moral hazard, mouse model, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, principal–agent problem, purchasing power parity, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Silicon Valley, six sigma, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, stochastic volatility, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, Yogi Berra, Zipf's Law

Still, the CDC shows that life expectancy at age 20 only increased from 42.79 (additional years) in 1900–1902 to 51.2 in 1949–1951 and to 58.2 in 2002. 2 A technical comment: in the so-called Bayesian (or conditional probability) analysis, it would be equivalent to looking at A conditional on B rather than B conditional on A. 3 One example of lack of empirical wisdom in the use of “evidence”: in a New York Times Magazine article, a doctor who claimed that he stopped eating sugar because of its potential harm was apologetic for doing so “without full evidence.” The best test of empirical wisdom in someone is in where he puts the burden of evidence. 4 I am trying to avoid discussing the placebo effect; I am in the business of nonlinearities and it does not relate to the nonlinearities argument. 5 Some people claim that we need more fat than carbohydrates; others offer the opposite (they all tend to agree on protein, though few realize we need to randomize protein intake). Both sides still advocate nonrandomness in the mixing and ignore the nonlinearities from sequence and composition. 6 The principal disease of abundance can be seen in habituation and jadedness (what biologists currently call dulling of receptors); Seneca: “To a sick person, honey tastes better.”


pages: 506 words: 167,034

Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut by Mike Mullane


affirmative action, Berlin Wall, blue-collar work, dark matter, Donald Trump, Donner party, feminist movement, financial independence, invisible hand, Magellanic Cloud, placebo effect, Potemkin village, publish or perish, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, space pen, Stephen Hawking, urban sprawl, Winter of Discontent

She circled her rosary like a Tibetan monk on a prayer wheel. But my situation was so perilous she wasn’t going to leave it just to heaven to deliver a fix. Having suffered months of morning sickness while carrying the twins, she was an expert on puking and was convinced I could be cured with the right breakfast. The specifics of the meal she cooked for me have long left my memory, but it worked. No doubt it was just a placebo effect, but I didn’t care. I got through a flight without seeing that breakfast again. And then another. And another. My self-confidence roared back. My flying career was saved by Donna. From Mt. Home I was directed to Saigon, Republic of Vietnam. I would be flying with the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron from Tan Son Nhut Air Base. Donna and the babies would wait out my tour in a Kirtland AFB house in Albuquerque.