placebo effect

161 results back to index


pages: 357 words: 110,072

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

animal electricity, 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, publication bias, 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.


Suggestible You: The Curious Science of Your Brain's Ability to Deceive, Transform, and Heal by Erik Vance

fixed income, hive mind, impulse control, Isaac Newton, meta analysis, meta-analysis, personalized medicine, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, side project, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Yogi Berra

Something surprising happened when he analyzed the data: What people said about their pain tracked perfectly with the activation of several parts of the brain associated with pain, such as the anterior cingulate cortex (which plays a role in emotions, reward systems, and empathy), the thalamus (which handles sensory perception and alertness), and the insula (which is related to consciousness and perception). Those reporting less pain from the placebo effect showed less activity in key pain-related brain regions. And those who felt less of the placebo showed more. People were not imagining less pain; they were feeling it. Wager’s study not only conclusively showed that the placebo effect is a real phenomenon in the brain; it also showed that people experiencing a placebo effect aren’t crazy or deluded or gullible. Most important, Wager observed the route that the placebo response takes from anticipation to the release of drugs inside the brain. Normally, pain signals begin in the more primitive base of the brain (relaying information from wherever in the body the pain starts) and radiate outward.

Zhang insists that the efficacy of her work has nothing to do with belief or faith that the treatment will work, but with the treatment itself. Sitting in Zhang’s lovely office in the heart of the world’s largest state-sponsored institution of alternative medicine, I think of vasopressin, the drug Colloca has used to boost placebo effects, and Leonie Koban’s work with peer pressure. Any time a group of people get together, there’s a good chance that vasopressin and oxytocin are flowing. Could it be that the same brain chemistry involved in how we interact with each other actually boosts the placebo effect? Koban found that peer pressure jacks up the placebo effect. Is it such a leap to think that the number of people using a given therapy is not just an effect of how well that therapy works but the cause of how well it works? Viewed this way, vasopressin and oxytocin might be the difference between saying, “Take this; it works” and “Take this; a billion people say it works.”

All this is to say that the placebo effect is a multibilliondollar problem for the drug industry and certainly keeps good drugs from getting to market. Take a depression drug like Prozac. The development of Prozac was bedeviled by high placebo rates that made it hard to tell if it worked. It obviously made it to your pharmacist’s shelf, but nowadays many scientists say it is not effective enough to outperform placebos. (It’s still on the market because once a drug clears the FDA, it cannot be recalled just because the placebo effect gets stronger.) There are two possible reasons for this. One, the expectation for relief from Prozac has grown. Today Prozac (and drugs like it) is a household name, and everyone knows what to expect when they take it. Thus the expectation—and the placebo effect—is higher than it was back in 1987, when it was cleared by the FDA.


pages: 322 words: 107,576

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

Asperger Syndrome, correlation does not imply causation, experimental subject, hygiene hypothesis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nelson Mandela, offshore financial centre, p-value, placebo effect, publication bias, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), 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: 304 words: 84,396

Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success by Matthew Syed

barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, combinatorial explosion, deliberate practice, desegregation, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, Isaac Newton, Norman Mailer, pattern recognition, placebo effect, zero-sum game

In 1998, Carol Dweck and a colleague took four hundred fifth-graders: This research is in Andrei Cimpian et al., “Subtle Linguistic Cues Impact Children’s Motivation,” Psychological Science 18 (2007): 314–16. “Enron was the ultimate ‘talent’ company”: Malcolm Gladwell, “The Talent Myth,” New Yorker, July 22, 2002. See also the documentary film The Smartest Guys in the Room. 5. THE PLACEBO EFFECT But Beecher was not the first doctor to have been astonished by the placebo effect: For a brilliantly written introduction to the placebo effect, see Ben Goldacre, Bad Science (London: Fourth Estate, 2008). Henry Beecher’s research on the subject is in “The Powerful Placebo,” Journal of the American Medical Association 159, no. 17 (1955): 1602–06. See also P. Skrabanek and J. McCormick, “Peter Parker,” in Fads and Fallacies in Medicine (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus, 1990).

And we will arrive at the paradoxical conclusion that the thing that often separates the best from the rest is a capacity to believe things that are not true but which are incredibly effective. That was the point of the story of Edwards and Ali. At least one of them (or both) benefited from false beliefs. But those were anecdotes. Is there further evidence about how false beliefs can help to produce positive outcomes? We start with the world of medicine and the placebo effect, one of the most perplexing phenomena in science. By the end of the chapter we’ll see that the placebo effect provides a prism through which to understand how top athletes—and other top performers—are so consistently able to hit peak performance when it really matters. In early 1944, Allied forces launched an offensive foray at Anzio in northern Italy during World War II. It turned out to be a disastrous maneuver, with American forces trapped in the caves of Pozzoli for over a week.

But Beecher was not the first doctor to have been astonished by the placebo effect. Theodor Kocher, a Swiss surgeon, successfully performed 1,600 thyroidectomies without anesthesia in Berne in the 1890s after taking careful steps to ensure that his patients believed that they had been fully anesthetized. According to journalist and doctor Ben Goldacre, “Surgeons from before the invention of anesthesia often described how some patients could tolerate knife cutting through muscle, and saw cutting through bone, perfectly awake, and without even clenching their teeth.” “You may be tougher than you think,” Goldacre writes. But if these examples provide compelling testimony to the power of mind over matter, only in the last few years has the full bizarreness of the placebo effect been revealed, leading doctors to radically rethink the connection between brain and body.


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, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), 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, IKEA effect, 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: 401 words: 93,256

Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life by Rory Sutherland

3D printing, Alfred Russel Wallace, barriers to entry, basic income, Black Swan, butterfly effect, California gold rush, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dava Sobel, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, double helix, Downton Abbey, Elon Musk, Firefox, George Akerlof, gig economy, Google Chrome, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Hyperloop, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, IKEA effect, information asymmetry, James Dyson, John Harrison: Longitude, loss aversion, low cost airline, Mason jar, Murray Gell-Mann, Peter Thiel, placebo effect, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Rory Sutherland, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, the map is not the territory, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, ultimatum game, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, US Airways Flight 1549, Veblen good

The assistance of doctors (whether witch or NHS), exotic potions (whether homeopathic or antibiotic) or the caring presence of relatives and friends can all create this illusion, yet policymakers hate the idea of any solution that involves such unconscious processes – too little is spent on researching the placebo effect in proportion to its importance.* Understanding the placebo effect is a useful way to begin to understand other forms of unconscious influence; it explains why we often behave in apparently irrational ways in order to influence unconscious processes – both our own and those of others. Additionally, our reluctance to exploit the placebo effect may offer some clues about our wider reluctance to adopt psychological solutions to problems, particularly when they are slightly counterintuitive or not conventionally logical. Let me explain. The placebo effect, like many other forms of alchemy, is an attempt to influence the mind or body’s automatic processes. Our unconscious, specifically our ‘adaptive unconscious’ as psychologist Timothy Wilson calls it in Strangers to Ourselves (2002), does not notice or process information in the same way we do consciously, and does not speak the same language that our consciousness does, but it holds the reins when it comes to much of our behaviour.

’, ‘You May Not Know Where You’re Going Until You’ve Got There’, WPP Annual Report (2014). ‘. . . or instruction needed.”, Don Norman, The Design of Everyday Things (1988). ‘In the word of Jonathan Haidt . . .’ The Righteous Mind (2012). ‘. . . offered a possible evolutionary explanation.’, Colin Barras, ‘Evolution could explain the placebo effect’, New Scientist (6 September 2012). ‘. . . and more by our perception of it’, ‘The Vodka-Red-Bull Placebo Effect’, Atlantic (8 June 2017). ‘. . . the father of ‘Nudge Theory’, Richard Thaler’ Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (2008). ‘. . . often outdone by the taste of the latter’.’, Lucas Derks and Jaap Hollander, Essenties van NLP (1996). ‘. . . for leather car seats than for books on tape.”, Daniel Kahneman, ‘Focusing Illusion’, Edge (2011).

Uncovering Our Unconscious Motivations 1.5: The Real Reason We Clean Our Teeth 1.6: The Right Thing for the Wrong Reason 1.7: How You Ask the Question Affects the Answer 1.8: ‘A Change in Perspective Is Worth 80 IQ Points’ 1.9: Be Careful with Maths: Or Why the Need to Look Rational Can Make You Act Dumb 1.10: Recruitment and Bad Maths 1.11: Beware of Averages 1.12: What Gets Mismeasured Gets Mismanaged 1.13: Biased about Bias 1.14: We Don’t Make Choices as Rationally as We Think 1.15: Same Facts, Different Context 1.16: Success Is Rarely Scientific – Even in Science 1.17: The View Back Down the Mountain: The Reasons We Supply for Our Experimental Successes 1.18: The Overuse of Reason 1.19: An Automatic Door Does Not Replace a Doorman: Why Efficiency Doesn’t Always Pay 2: An Alchemist’s Tale (Or Why Magic Really Still Exists) 2.1: The Great Upside of Abandoning Logic – You Get Magic 2.2: Turning Lead into Gold: Value Is in the Mind and Heart of the Valuer 2.3: Turning Iron and Potatoes into Gold: Lessons from Prussia 2.4: The Modern-Day Alchemy of Semantics 2.5: Benign Bullshit – and Hacking the Unconscious 2.6: How Colombians Re-Imagined Lionfish (With a Little Help from Ogilvy and the Church) 2.7: The Alchemy of Design 2.8: Psycho-Logical Design: Why Less Is Sometimes More 3: Signalling 3.1: Prince Albert and Black Cabs 3.2: A Few Notes on Game Theory 3.3: Continuity Probability Signalling: Another Name for Trust 3.4: Why Signalling Has to Be Costly 3.5: Efficiency, Logic and Meaning: Pick Any Two 3.6: Creativity as Costly Signalling 3.7: Advertising Does Not Always Look Like Advertising: The Chairs on the Pavement 3.8: Bees Do It 3.9: Costly Signalling and Sexual Selection 3.10: Necessary Waste 3.11: On the Importance of Identity 3.12: Hoverboards and Chocolate: Why Distinctiveness Matters 4: Subconscious Hacking: Signalling to Ourselves 4.1: The Placebo Effect 4.2: Why Aspirin Should Be Reassuringly Expensive 4.3: How We Can ‘Hack’ What We Can’t Control 4.4: ‘The Conscious Mind Thinks It’s the Oval Office, When in Reality It’s the Press Office’ 4.5: How Placebos Help Us Recalibrate for More Benign Conditions 4.6: The Hidden Purposes Behind Our Behaviour: Why We Buy Clothes, Flowers or Yachts 4.7: On Self-Placebbing 4.8: What Makes an Effective Placebo?


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, moral panic, 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: 340 words: 94,464

Randomistas: How Radical Researchers Changed Our World by Andrew Leigh

Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Anton Chekhov, Atul Gawande, basic income, Black Swan, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, Donald Trump, ending welfare as we know it, Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science, experimental economics, Flynn Effect, germ theory of disease, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, Indoor air pollution, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Lyft, Marshall McLuhan, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, Netflix Prize, nudge unit, offshore financial centre, p-value, placebo effect, price mechanism, publication bias, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, statistical model, Steven Pinker, uber lyft, universal basic income, War on Poverty

It reflects the fact that people can respond differently when they receive what they believe is an effective treatment. When medical researchers see a change in outcomes among people who have only taken sugar pills, they call it ‘the placebo effect’. Early research on the placebo effect turns out to have overstated the power of placebos, wrongly conflating the natural tendency of patients to recover with the impact of placebos. Modern researchers now doubt that the placebo effect actually helps our bodies heal faster. But it does seem to affect self-reported impacts, such as pain.38 For alleviating discomfort, the placebo effect works in surprising ways. For example, placebo injections produce a larger effect than placebo pills.39 Even the colour of a tablet changes the way in which patients perceive its effect. Thanks to randomised trials, we know that if you want to reduce depression, you should give the patient a yellow tablet.40 For reducing pain, use a white pill.

The editors went so far as to argue that because no ‘right-minded patients’ would participate in sham surgeries, the results would ‘not be generalizable to mentally healthy patients’.10 Yet sham surgeries are growing in importance, as people realise that the placebo effect in surgery is probably bigger than in any other area of medicine. A recent survey of fifty-three sham surgery trials found that the treatment only outperformed the placebo 49 per cent of the time. But in 74 per cent of cases, patients appeared to respond to the placebo.11 In other words, three out of four patients feel that a surgery has made them better, even though half of the evaluated surgeries don’t work as intended. The results suggest that millions of people every year are undergoing surgeries that make them feel a bit better – yet they would feel just as good if they had undergone placebo surgery instead. Such a huge placebo effect is probably explained by the fact that surgery is a more invasive procedure than other medical interventions, and by the particularly high status of surgeons.

Petersburg Times 60 Stark, William 16 Stewart, Matthew, and The Management Myth 138 Stigler, Stephen 50 Street Narcotics Unit experiment 92–3 streptomycin trial 56 see also Austin Bradford Hill Sullivan, Andrew, and Pyrotron 14 Suskind, Dana 70 Syed, Matthew 142 teacher payment trial 111 see also Karthik Muralidharan Telford, Dick 201–2 text messages, and use of 9, 78, 82, 123, 154 textbook trial 123–4 see also Karthik Muralidharan The Battered Women’s Movement 89 the book of Daniel 22 ‘the brevia’ and ‘the scrutiny’ 181 the ‘gold standard’ 194 The Lancet 24, 55, 120 The Matrix 30 ‘the paradox of choice’ 195 the placebo effect see placebo effect ‘the Super Bowl impossibility theorem’ 140 Thirty Million Words initiative 79–80 ‘three strikes’ law’ 99, 101 ‘Triple P’ positive parenting program 68–9 ‘True Love Waits’ program 47 Trump campaign 154 Tseng, Yi-Ping 37 see also ‘Journey to Social Inclusion’ UK Department for International Development 103 unemployment 36, 44–6, 78, 103 see also German government unemployment incentive; job training programs; ‘universal basic income’ ‘universal basic income’ 46 University of Chicago, and ‘Science of Philanthropy Initiative’ 159 University of London 54 University of Queensland, and ‘Triple P’ positive parenting program 68 University of Wollongong 187 US Agency for International Development 103, 210 US Behavioural Insights Team 186 see also Elizabeth Linos US Congressional Budget Office 194 US National Academy panel 100 US Police Foundation 89 ‘verbal bombardment’ and Perry Preschool 67 Vienna General Hospital 24–5 see also Ignaz Semmelweis Vietnam war draft 42–3 Virgin Atlantic Airways 136 ‘virginity pledges’ in the US 46–7 Wagner, Dan 159 Waiting for Superman 79 Washington Post 7 Washington Times 60 Weikart, David 66–7, 71 West Heidelberg centre 71 What Works Clearinghouse 76–7, 208 Western Union 130 Wilson, James 184–5 Wootton, David 26, 203–4 and Bad Medicine 26 World Bank 103, 111 World Health Organization 112–13, 115, 199 World Medical Association 186 Wydick, Bruce 114–15 Yale University, and Innovations for Poverty Action 123 YouWiN!


pages: 476 words: 134,735

The Unpersuadables: Adventures With the Enemies of Science by Will Storr

Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, battle of ideas, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, call centre, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Credit Default Swap, David Attenborough, David Brooks, death of newspapers, full employment, George Santayana, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, Simon Singh, Stanford prison experiment, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, twin studies

Holman Foundation 118 chemotherapy 35, 93 Chibnall, Albert 256, 257 chick-sexers 186–87 childhood abuse 165–72, 173–75, 176–78, 179 sexual 145, 146, 156–57, 162, 180 children 75 China 83 Christ Church, Oxford 200, 201 Christians 4, 6, 7, 133, 134 condemnation of homosexuality 14–15, 18 morality 15–16, 122 see also creationists Churchill, Winston 208, 235, 249, 250 Clancy, Susan 50 climate-change sceptics 200, 203–204, 216 Clinic for Dissociative Studies 171 Clinton, Hilary 118 Coan, Chris 166–67 Coan, Jim 166–67 cochlear implants 78 cognitive bias 85, 87–88, 90–91, 103–104, 111, 183, 186, 244, 272 see also confirmation bias cognitive dissonance 84–87, 96, 102, 181 coin toss tests 262 Colapinto, John 312 cold war 149, 212, 215 Coleman, Ron 136–37, 141, 146, 148, 157, 162, 186, 306 colour, perception of 80 Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) 275 Communists 212, 222, 249–50 con artists 107 concentration camps 220–21, 224, 230, 245 confabulation 189–90, 192–96, 203, 207, 218, 253, 307, 315 confirmation bias 85, 87, 96, 181, 182, 188, 221, 243, 246, 312 consciousness 267–68 as Hero-Maker 306 conviction, unconscious 33 Conway, Martin 201 Cooper, Alice 275 Copenhagen Climate Conference 204 Copenhagen Treaty 2009 216 core beliefs 183 cows, sacred 40 Creation Research 5 Creation Science Foundation 12 creationists 2–10, 13–19, 20, 26, 30, 100, 162, 261, 308, 310 Crick, Francis 258, 268 CSICOP see Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal culture, power of 211, 302 ‘culture heroes’ 311 ‘culture wars’ 30, 309 Daily Mail (newspaper) 225, 228, 232 Daily Telegraph (newspaper) 243–44, 263 Dali, Salvador 275 Darwin, Charles 2, 10, 11, 94 Davenas, Elisabeth 110–11 Dawkins, Richard 2, 6, 10, 19, 94, 142, 259, 261, 271, 272, 287, 290, 308 DDT 211 de-individuation 69 deafness 78, 82 decision-making 181, 267 and emotion 184–85, 189 dehumanization 69–70 delusions 103–104, 130, 178–79, 182, 272 finding evidence for 135 and Morgellons 120 of parasitosis (DOP) 120, 122, 124, 125, 129, 162 democracy, end of 216 Demon-Marker function 308–309 depression 33, 43, 45, 128, 141, 148 Dermatologic Therapy (journal) 128 development factors 183 Devil, Australia see Gympie Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) 143, 144 dialogue-ing 149, 151–52 Diana, Princess of Wales 286 diazepam (Valium) 42 dinosaurs 13, 19 Dog World (magazine) 293–94 dogma 106–107, 258 domestic abusers 89 DOP (delusions of parasitosis) 120, 122, 124, 125, 129, 162 dopamine 155, 196 doubt 133, 257 sensitivity to 261 dragons 13 dreaming 193, 195 lucid 76 drunkenness, cultural determinants of 83–84 DSM see Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Eagleman, David 74, 79, 80, 185, 186, 192, 193, 268–69 eccentricity 310 Economist, The (weekly publications) 312 Eden 14 Eden, Anthony 208 Edward V111 208 ‘effectance motive’ 184 ego 224 dream 195 ego-bolstering, unconscious 96, 103, 181 egoists 88, 196 Eichmann, Adolf 245 Einstein, Albert 201, 285 Eliade, Mircea 302 emotions 183, 184–85, 187, 194, 305 and beliefs 188, 189, 196–97 culturally unique 83 and decision-making 184, 185, 187 see also anger; happiness energy clean 25 Enfield Gazette (newspaper) 280 Enfield Poltergeist case 280 Enlightenment 255 envy 218 epinephrine 189–90 Epley, Nicholas 88 escapology 273–74 ESP see extrasensory perception Ethics Committee of the Federal Australian Medical Association 39 European Union (EU) 212 European Union Parliament House 234 Evans, Dylan 83 Evans, Richard 224 Eve 5, 12 Eve, Mitochondrial 73 Everett, Daniel 312 evidence, denial of 221, 261 evil psychology of 69–70, 307–308 ‘supremely good’ motivations for 89 evolution 73 arguments against 2–7, 10–13 arguments for 19–20, 100–101 experimental psychology 88, 101, 142, 316 extrasensory perception (ESP) 255, 266, 274, 294 alien 24 sense of ‘being stared at’ 254–55, 258, 262 facts and belief 183 inefficiency 26 fairies 83 faith, as journey 21, 134 false memories 156, 165–70, 173–74, 178, 194 familiar, the, attraction to 183 ‘fan death’ 83 Fate magazine 281 fear 203, 205, 206 Feinberg, Todd E. 82 Felstead, Anthony 160, 164 Felstead, David 159–60, 164, 171, 175, 176 Felstead, Joan 164 Felstead, Joseph 160, 161, 164, 165 Felstead, Kevin 160, 161, 164 Felstead, Richard 159–160, 164, 176–77 Felstead family 163, 165, 166, 168, 170, 176 Festinger, Leon 85, 188 Financial Service Act 214 First World War 231 Fisher, Fleur 161, 163, 165, 166, 176, 307 Flim Flam (Randi, 1982) 271, 279, 288, 295 Flood, biblical 14 fMRI see Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging foetal development 74 fossil record 10, 13–14, 19, 101 Fourth Annual Morgellons Conference 121–28 Fox, Kate 84 Franklin, Wilbur 282, 293 free will 193, 217, 307 as confabulation 193 French Assembly 204 French, Chris 50, 104, 108, 169, 173, 288, 315 French Revolution 204 Freud, Sigmund 171, 302 Frith, Chris 70, 77, 206, 315 Fromyhr, Liam 13 Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) 71 fundamentalists 261 Garvey, James 203, 218 Gates, Bill 212 Gazzaniga, Michael 184, 190–92 Geertz, Clifford 75 Geller, Uri 99, 275, 280, 281, 287, 288, 290, 293 genes 221 genetic factors 205 and beliefs 221 and political attitude 205 and schizophrenia 145, 154 genome 205, 206 Genus Epidemicus 115 George, St, and the dragon 13 ghost-hunters 21 ghosts 104 Gilovich, Thomas 86 Gindis, Alec 277, 278 global financial crisis 213 global governance 216–217 global warming 203 gnomes 83 God 17, 202, 305 Catholic interpretations of 21 and creation 3, 4, 5–6, 10 creation of 26 Darwin’s arguments against the existence of 11 deference to 18 existence of as scientifically testable 11 knowableness of 11, 22 and morality 15 see also anti-God rhetoric Goebbels, Joseph 230, 232, 239, 245 Goenka, S.N. 57, 60, 61–63, 306 Goldacre, Ben 97 Göring, Hermann 232 Gottschall, Martin 25–26 Gottschall, Sheryl 26 governance, models of 217 Gray, Honourable Mr Justice 221, 223 Gray, John 81 Great Rift Valley 74 ‘greys’ (aliens) 23, 33 group psychology 69, 88, 197 conformity to group pressure 70, 72 and the production of evil 70 Guardian (newspaper) 6 Gururumba tribe 83 Gympie, Australia 2–7, 10, 14, 16, 22, 33–53 gympie-gympie tree 2, 19 Hahnemann, Samuel 96, 115 Haidt, Honathan 83, 184, 193, 194–95, 205, 216–17, 315 Hale, Rob 172 hallucinations 82 auditory 137, 139, 141, 144, 145 see also voice-hearing visual 152 halo effect 84 Ham, Ken 12 happiness, and religious belief 197 ‘hard problem, the’ 267 Harrow 209 Harvard University 28–29, 30, 50, 285 Hawthorne Effect 107 hearing, sense of 262 Hearing Voices Network (HVN) 137, 140–41, 154, 162 Hebard, Arthur 279, 280, 295 Hebb, Donald 266 herbal remedies 36 Hercules 302 hero, the, how your memory rebuilds you as 194, 231 hero narratives 302–303, 306–309, 311–13 parasite 307, 312 Hero-Maker 306–307, 310–311, 312, 314 Heydrich, Reinhard 245 Himmler, Heinrich 235 Himmler bunker 236, 245 Hitler, Adolf 228, 231, 238, 239, 242, 243, 244, 246, 247, 248, 151–52 Hitler Youth 204 Hitler’s bunker 238 HIV 207 see also AIDS HMS Edinburgh (ship) 231 Hoefkens, Gemma 92–95, 96–97, 115–16, 141, 142, 181, 310 Holocaust denial 155, 221, 226, 229–30, 243, 244 Homeopathic Research Institute 109 homeopathy 94–102, 105–107, 109–121, 134, 181, 269, 277, 278 evidence for 106–114, 121, 134, 269 ‘overdose’ protest against 96, 99, 105, 108–109 ‘radionic’ method 115 Homerton Hospital 132 hominins 74 Homo sapiens 73 homophobia 188 homosexuality 137 Christian condemnation of 14–15, 18 Horsey, Richard 186 Horst Wessel Song (Nazi Party anthem) 239 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee 94 Hrab, George 108 Hume, David 203 Humphrey, Nicholas 43 Huntington’s disease testing 197 HVN see Hearing Voices Network hypnotherapy and false memory generation 166 and past-life regression 44–45, 47 hypnotism 189 ‘I’, sense of 194, 196, 258 IBS seeirritable bowel syndrome Iceland 83 identity 203 ideology 272 Illuminati 286–87, 288, 304 imitation 206 immigration 206, 223 Mexican 223 in-groups 84, 133 incest 168 information field 257, 266 INSERM 200 110 intelligence, and cognitive bias 224 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 216 International Academy of Classical Homeopathy 277 Internet 112 intuition 187, 216, 238 irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) 43 Irving, David 269, 307, 308, 209, 333–335, 344, 345 Irving, John 219, 221, 238, 244 Irving, Nicholas 243 itch disorders 117–119 see also Morgellons Jackson, Peter 312 James, William 106 James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) 99, 260, 275, 276, 290, 294 jealousy, sexual 64, 66, 104 Jesus 142 knowableness of 11 Jewish Chronicle (newspaper) 230 Jews 221, 230, 231, 244–51, 253, 309 see also Holocaust denial Josefstadt Prison, Vienna 220 Journal of the American Medical Association 41 Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 113–114 Journal of Philosophical Studies 182 JREF see James Randi Educational Foundation Jutland, Battle of 231 Kahneman, Daniel 184, 303 Kaku, Michio 27 Kaptchuk, Ted 43 Keegan, Sir John 243–44 Keen, Montague 284 Keen, Veronica 283–88, 304 Kerry, John 87 KGB 212, 215 Kilstein, Vered 44–51, 53, 168, 305–306 King’s Cross station 136 ‘koro’ 83 Krepel, Scott 78 Krippner, Stanley 288–89, 295 Krupp 233 Kuhn, Deanna 86 Los Angeles LA Times (newspaper) 118 LaBerge, Stephen 76, 195 Labour Party 210 Lancet (journal) 109, 113 Langham, Chris 171 Lawrence, Stephen 236 Lebanese people 223 left, political 204–207, 211, 215 Leitao, Mary 118 Leitao’s Morgellons Research Foundation 118 Lemoine, Patrick 42 Lennon, John 49 Letwin, Oliver 214 Leuchter, Fred 229 Leviticus 14 Lewis, Andy 109, 114 Lipstadt, Deborah 221, 224, 243, 246, 309 Literary and Scientific Institutions Act 1854 210 Lo, Nathan 19–20, 22, 30, 100, 308 Loftus, Elizabeth 166, 173 love 44, 59 memories of 63, 133 Lucifer 4 see also Satan McCain, John 118 McCullock, Kay 23–25 McDonald’s 67–68, 84 Mack, John E. 28–30, 51, 102–103, 142, 145, 272, 284–85 Mackay, Glennys 22–23, 30, 33 Mackay, John 1, 4–6, 1–11, 15–20, 30, 33, 53, 91, 100, 109, 182, 305, 306, 308 MacLeish, Eric 29 Maddox, Sir John 271, 287 magic-makers 7 magnetometers 279 Majdanek concentration camp 224, 230 Mameli, Matteo 182 manic depression 141 Mann, Nick 130–31, 134, 162 Marianna, Dame of Malta 208 Marshall, Michael ‘Marsh’ 105–109 Marxists 210 ‘matchbox sign’ 124 materialism 256, 257–58, 259, 260–1, 266, 268–69 May, Rufus 148–49, 156, 182, 196, 304 meditation, Buddhist 52–53, 62, 182, 196 Meffert, Jeffrey 120 Mein Kampf (Hitler) 232, 233, 242 memory autobiographical 194 fallibility of 201 see also false memories; recovered- memory therapy mental illness 137, 141, 146, 147, 165 as continuum 147 depression 33, 42–43, 45, 89, 100, 120, 148, 197 manic depression 141 multiple personality disorder 165, 171, 173–74 obsessive compulsive disorder 128 sectioning 137, 140, 161 see also psychosis; schizophrenia mental models 76, 85, 87, 90, 102, 133, 142, 147, 183, 302, 303, 316 meta-analysis 112, 146, 157, 262, 267 Metzinger, Thomas 195 Mexican immigration 223 micro-stories 206 Milgram, Stanley 70–71 mind and the brain 255, 257–58, 266–67 as ‘out there’ 267 theory of 303 miners’ strike (mid-1980s) 212, 214–15 Mitchell, Joni 118 mites, tropical rat 132, 135 ‘Mitochondrial Eve’ 73 Moll, Albert 189 Monckton, Christopher Walter, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley 200, 203–205, 207–16, 218, 304, 305, 309, 310 Monckton, Major General Gilbert, 2nd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley 208 morality 193, 202 Christian 15 Morgellons 118–35, 162, 307 see also Fourth Annual Morgellons Conference, Austin, Texas morphine 41 Mosley, Sir Oswald 232 Mragowo 233 multiple personality disorder 165, 171, 173–74 murder, past-life 44, 48 murderers 89 Murray, Robin 183 Myers (formerly Felstead), Carole 159–61, 163–66, 168, 171–73, 176–80, 307 myoclonic jerk 195 myth 302, 304, 312–313 narratives hero 302–303, 306–14 master 206 nation state, end of 216 National Front 234, 305 National Health Service (NHS) 94, 148, 171 National Secular Society 5 National Union of Teachers 5 Native Americal tradition 186 Natural History Museum 132 natural selection 10 Nature (journal) 110–11, 257, 271, 287, 304 Nazi Party (German) 220, 239 Nazis 48, 89, 231, 239 Neanderthals 26 necrophilia 12, 18 neurological studies 87 neurons 74–75, 220, 253, 267 neuroscience 142 New Guinea 83 New Science of Life, A (Sheldrake) 256–57 New Scientist (journal) 257–266 New York Times (newspaper) 72, 120, 271, 272 New Yorker (magazine) 268, 312 Nix, Walte, Jr. 68 Noah 3, 5, 13, 14 Novella, Steven 107, 112, 120, 135, 272, 287, 309 Oaklander, Anne Louise 129–130 Oatley, Keith 303 Obama, Barack 118, 286 obedience studies 84 Observer (newspaper) 222, 257 obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) 128, 147 Oedipus 302 Offer, Daniel 194 Ogborn, Louise 67–68, 70, 84 Olsen, Clarence W. 82 openness 205 Origin of Species, The (Darwin) 2, 4 original sin 3 Orkney 166 ‘other people’, judgement of 67 out-groups 69, 105 Oxford Union 203, 207, 218 paedophilia 15 pain perception of 41 and the placebo effect 41, 42–43 palm reading 105 paranoia 30, 64, 150, 154, 178, 180 parapsychology 261–62, 265–67, 269, 279, 280, 287 past-life regression (PLR) 44–45, 47, 53, 168, 170 Patanjali Yog Peeth Trust 31 Paul McKenna Show, The (TV show) 263 Pearson, Michele 119 penis ‘koro’ effect 83 phantom 82 Penn and Teller 271, 290 perception and the brain 72, 76 of pain 41 and the placebo effect 41, 42, 43 of reality 27, 72, 76–77, 80, 81 see also extra-sensory perception peripeteia 303 Perkins, David 244 personality disorder 165 see also multiple personality disorder pesticides 211 Peter March’s Traveling Circus 274 Peters, Maarten 50 ‘phantom limbs’ 82 ‘Pagasus’ awards 260, 276, 288 Pirahã tribe 312 placebo effect 41–43, 45–46, 50–51, 53, 72, 107, 113, 134 and homeopathy 107, 113, 134 Playfair, Guy Lyon 280–82, 287, 293 political affiliation 205 political beliefs, and self-interest 217 political left 204, 206, 210, 211 political right 204, 205 Polonia Palace Hotel, Warsaw 219 poltergeists 280 Popoff, Peter 288 power, leftwing 211–12 Power, Joe 105, 106 ‘Pranayama’ (breath control) 32–36, 38, 40, 41, 45, 56, 134, 196 prefrontal cortex 73 prejudice 29, 53, 84, 86, 90, 100, 181, 248, 305 Pressman, Zev 280–82, 286, 288, 295 prophets 307 Prozac 42 psi phenomena 265–66 see also parapsychology psychiatry 28–29, 42, 71, 120, 130, 136, 137, 140–41, 142–43, 145–46, 150, 152, 162, 183, 189 psychic powers 253 animals with 258, 260, 261, 265, 266 testing 253, 258, 260, 263, 274, 279–80 psychics 98, 104 psychology of evil 69–70, 105, 243, 307 experimental 88, 101, 142, 316 parapsychology 261–62, 265, 266, 267, 269, 280, 287 situational 69 see also schizophrenia 157, 180, 310 Puthoff, Harold 279, 280 racism 104, 221, 223, 229, 305 radiotherapy 35, 401 Ramachandran, V.S. 75, 81, 82 Ramdev, Swami 31–41, 43, 134, 182, 306 Randi, Angela 291 Randi, James 98–99, 107, 108, 109–110, 112, 260–61, 269, 270, 271–98, 306, 309, 310, 312, 313 blindness to his own cognitive biases 272 childhood 273 death threats 275, 306 early adult life 274 emotional problems 292 homosexuality 292 interview with the author 291–98 psychic challenge prize 99, 260, 272, 276, 277, 278, 289 social Darwinism 296, 297 views on drug users 296–97 see also James Randi Educational Foundation Rank, Otto 302 Rasputin study 88, 103 rationalists, radicalised 9 reality, perceptions of 27, 72, 76–77, 80, 81, 91 ‘reality monitoring’, errors in 50 reason 26 inefficacy of 26–27 as not enough 309 recovered-memory therapy (RMT) 166, 170, 173, 176 Rees, Laurence 311 ‘regression to the mean’ 45 religious belief, and happiness 197 religious conversion mechanisms of 8 repression 169 right, political 204–207 Robertson, Shorty Jangala 300 robots, alien 23, 33 Rogo, Scott 279 Romme, Marius 137, 140, 143–45, 148, 154, 155 Rosenbaum, Ron 245 Royal College of Psychiatry 154 Royal Free Hospital, Camden 136, 139 Royal Institute of Philosophy 203 Royal Society 5 saccades 79 sacredness, irrationality surrounding 217 Sagan, Carl 266 Santayana, George 209 Satan 18 see also Lucifer santanic abuse 165–66, 168–70, 174–75, 177, 180 Saucer Smear magazine 281 Savely, Ginger 126, 127, 130 Schizophrenia 51, 136–37, 140, 141, 143, 145, 148, 150, 154, 162, 169, 178, 183, 309 as salience disorder 183 Schlitz, Marilyn 262 Schmidt, Stefan 262, 265 Schwartz, Gary 287, 188–89 science 8–9, 95–96, 255–59, 268, 273, 310 scientific method 305 Scientologists 155 sectioning 137, 140 Secular Student Alliance 290 Seeman, Mary 120 Segal, Stanley S. 172 self ideal 148, 313 multiple selves model 147 senses 77–91, 190, 196, 258 sensory deprivation 78 sexism, unconscious 86 sexual abuse 145, 146, 156–57, 162, 180 sexual assault 145–46 sexual jeaoulsy 64, 66, 104, 212 Shang, Aijing 112, 113–14 Sheldrake, Rupert 255–61, 262–70, 272–73, 276–77, 287, 289, 293–94, 307 Shermer, Michael 102 Silent Spring, The (Carson) 211 sin 17–18, 61, 66, 189 original 2 Sinason, David 171, 175, 179 Sinason, Valerie 170, 171, 178, 180, 304 Singer, Peter 304 situational psychology 69 Skeptic, The (magazine) 104, 108, 169, 271, 288 Skeptics 9, 95–112, 115, 120–21, 134, 142, 162, 260, 265, 271–73, 276–79, 290–91, 298, 309–310, 313–14 and Morgellons 134 and psi phenomenon 265–66, 279 and Sheldrake 260 ‘The Amazing Meeting’ of 290 see also Randi, James sleep 195 smell, sense of 184 Smith, Greg 122, 124, 130, 131 social Darwinism 296, 297 social roles, and the production of evil 69–70, 105 socialism 212 Sorel, George 304 ‘source-monitoring error’ 50 South Koreans 83 Soviet Union 212 sprinal tumours 129 spirituality 26 ‘split-brain’ patients 190–92 spoon-benders 98 spotlight effect 89 Stalin, Joseph 234 Stanford Prison Experiment 69–70 Stern Review 310 Stipe, Catherine 6 storytelling 183, 188, 189, 192, 194, 302, 206, 207, 312 see also confabulation; narratives ‘strip-search scams’ 68–69, 84 stroke patients 82 suicidal ideation 147 suicide 144 and voice-hearing 151, 154 Summers, Donna 67 survival of the fittest 3, 296–97 taboo violation scenarios, harmless 194 Targ, Russel 279, 280 Tavris, Carol 84, 88, 194, 243 Tea Party movement 204204 telepathy 257–59, 266, 269, 280 terrorism 9 Thatcher, Margaret 174, 204, 208, 212, 215 theft 66, 104 theory of mind 303 therapy 45, 169 group 133 placebo effect 45 This American Life (US radio show) 78 Thyssen 233 Time magazine 102 Times, The (newspaper) 263 ‘tjukurpas’ (Aboriginal stories) 275 Toronto Evening Telegram (newspaper) 274 Toronto Star (newspaper) 293 totalitarianism 216 Tournier, Alexander 109, 112, 113 traumatic experience repression 166 and voice-hearing 137, 139–41, 143–45, 148–49, 150–58 tribalism 84–85, 133, 171, 196, 217 truth 218 coherence theory of 218 and group pressure 44–45 and storytelling 312–13 Turing, Alan 266 Turner, Trevor 154–57, 162, 169, 178 twin studies 205 UFOs 22–27, 29–30, 272, 308 UK Independence Party (UKIP) 204 Ullman, Dana 107, 112, 309 Ultimate Psychic Challenges, The (TV Show) 284 unconscious 33, 44, 58–59, 60, 41–42, 183–88, 194, 269–70, 304 United Nations (UN) 216, 304 US Armed Forces Institute of Pathology 119 Vipassana Meditation Centre 52–53, 55, 57, 70 vision 79–80, 92–93, 96 Vithoulkas, George 99, 277–79, 295–96 voice-hearing 136–45, 148–59, 162, 169, 180 Wade, Kimberly 168–69 Warren, Jeff 76 Washington Post (newspaper) 120, 328, 344 water dreaming 300 Watson, Rebecca 107 ‘we mode’ 70 Wegner, Daniel 193, 331 welfare state 209–10 Western, Drew 87, 204, 206–7 Western medicine, disillusionment with 36, 39–40, 182, 306 Wexler, Bruce E. 75, 183, 185, 303 ‘wild pig, being a’ 83 Wilson, David Sloan 304 Wilson, Timothy D. 81 Wired (magazine) 271 Wiseman, Richard 259–66, 271–72, 287, 290, 335–37 Wolpert, Lewis 183–84, 189, 259, 313 Wootton, David 42 wormholes 27 Wymore, Randy 121–22, 124, 126, 128 yoga 31–39 Yuendumu 299–300 Zimbardo, Philip 68–70, 72, 104 WILL STORR is a novelist and longform journalist.

It is why four sugar pills work more effectively than two; why sham injections work better than sham capsules, capsules work better than pills, big pills work better than small pills; and why healing effects can be summoned from complicated but useless electrical equipment, pointless electrodes in the brain and an application of smelly brown paint. One study has even indicated that the unspoken thoughts of your doctor can alter the efficacy of pain-relief drugs. More recent research suggests that the placebo effect might even work when we know that our medication is pharmacologically useless. In one small study, Professor Ted Kaptchuk of the Harvard Medical School arranged for thirty-seven patients with irritable bowel syndrome to take an inert pill twice a day. Even though they were informed that the treatment worked only ‘through the placebo effect’, these participants reported almost double the improvement of a forty-three-strong control group, who received nothing. If this experiment proves satisfactorily replicable, it will suggest that even when we know a drug to be bogus, the very act of being treated, of swallowing something, of being caught in the ritual of science and authority and focused attention, can still trigger our body’s various neurochemical healing tools.

Summer, ‘On the efficacy of alcohol placebos in inducing feelings of intoxication’, Psychopharmacology 15, nos. 1–2 (1994). 42 why completely fake drugs can benefit the symptoms: This list is a compilation of all the sources noted in this section, as well as Dylan Evans, Placebo, HarperCollins, 2004; and Ben Goldacre, Bad Science, 4th Estate, 2008. 42 athletes go faster: Thomas Trojian and Christopher Beedie, ‘Placebo Effect and Athletes’, Current Sports Medicine Reports, July–August 2008. 42 for longer: C. J. Beedie, D. A. Coleman and A. J. Foad, ‘Positive and negative placebo effects resulting from the deceptive administration of an ergogenic aid’, International Journal of Sport, Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism, 17 June 2007. 42 with less pain: F. Benedetti, A. Pollo and L. Colloca, ‘Opioid-mediated placebo responses boost pain endurance and physical performance – is it doping in sport competitions?’


Healing_Back_Pain__The_Mind.pdf by Unknown

placebo effect, the scientific method

In thinking about how to review the subject it occurred to me that the best approach might be to consider each treatment modality from the standpoint of its intended purpose. Of course, all treatments are supposed to relieve pain but the important question is how. What is the rationale for each treatment? Before we get into this let’s review once more the subject of the placebo effect because 120 The Traditional (Conventional) Treatments 121 of its crucial importance in any discussion of treatment. THE PLACEBO EFFECT A placebo is any treatment that produces a good therapeutic result despite the fact it has no intrinsic therapeutic value. A sugar pill is the classic example. It is clear that the desirable outcome must be attributed to the ability of the mind to manipulate the various organs and systems of the body. In order to do this the mind must believe in the efficacy of the treatment and/or the treater.

One can say the same thing about this as for the two above. However, there is a real question whether this functions as anything but a placebo. A group at the Mayo Clinic published a study in 1978 in which they demonstrated that a placebo worked equally well (G. Thorsteinsson, H. H. Stonnington, G. K. Stillwell and L. R. Elveback, “The Placebo Effect of Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation,” Pain, Vol. 5, p. 31). When there is prolonged relief as a result of any of these treatments one must suspect a placebo effect; there can be no other explanation, for they do not attack the cause of the problem. Treatments to Promote Relaxation To the prescribers of treatments to promote relaxation I would put the question, “To what end?” “What is your purpose in trying to relax the person?” “What do you hope to accomplish?” There is considerable fuzziness about this subject in the area 124 Healing Back Pain of pain relief.

It took that long for me to fully break with all the old traditions in which I had been schooled. Conceptually, prescribing physical therapy contradicts what we have found to be the only rational way to treat the problem; that is, by teaching, and thereby invalidating, the process where it begins— in the mind. Further, it had become obvious that some patients had put all their confidence in the physical therapy (or therapist) and were having placebo cures (see “The Placebo Effect”), which meant that sooner or later they would be in pain again. The principle is that one must renounce any structural explanation either for the pain or its cure, or the symptoms will continue. Manipulation, heat, massage, exercise and acupuncture all presuppose a physical disorder that can be treated by some physical means. Unless that whole concept is repudiated, the pain and other symptoms continue.


pages: 428 words: 126,013

Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari

basic income, Berlin Wall, call centre, correlation does not imply causation, Donald Trump, gig economy, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, John Snow's cholera map, Joi Ito, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, Occupy movement, open borders, placebo effect, precariat, publication bias, randomized controlled trial, Rat Park, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), the scientific method, The Spirit Level, twin studies, universal basic income, urban planning, zero-sum game

And if you start experiencing these effects, it can be hard to stop—about 20 percent of people experience serious withdrawal symptoms.19 So, he says, “if you want to use something to get its placebo effect, at least use something that’s safe.” We could be giving people the herb St. John’s Wort, Irving says, and we’d have all the positive placebo effects and none of these drawbacks. Although—of course—St. John’s Wort isn’t patented by the drug companies, so nobody would be making much profit off it. By this time, Irving was starting, he told me softly, to feel “guilty” for having pushed those pills for all those years. In 1802, John Haygarth revealed the true story of the wands to the public. Some people are really recovering from their pain for a time, he explained, but it’s not because of the power in the wands. It’s because of the power in their minds. It was a placebo effect, and it likely wouldn’t last, because it wasn’t solving the underlying problem.

So when one of his graduate students—a young Israeli named Guy Sapirstein—approached Irving with a proposal, he was intrigued, but not wildly excited. Guy explained that he was curious to investigate something. Whenever you take a drug, there’s always some placebo effect, on top of the effects of the chemicals. But how much? With powerful drugs, it’s always assumed to be a minor element. Guy thought the new antidepressants were an interesting place to try to figure this out—to see what small percentage of the effect is down to our belief in the drugs themselves. Irving and Guy both knew that if they started exploring this, they’d certainly find that most of the effect was chemical, but it would be intellectually interesting to look at the more minor placebo effect, too. So they started with a pretty simple plan. There’s an easy way to separate out how much of the effect of any drug you take is caused by the chemicals it contains and how much is caused by your belief in them.

The numbers showed that 50 percent Ibid., 9–11. For this and the next chapter, I also drew on (amongst many other studies): Irving Kirsch and Guy Sapirstein, “Listening to Prozac but Hearing Placebo: A Meta-Analysis of Antidepressant Medication,” Prevention & Treatment 1, no. 2 (June 1998); Kirsch, “Anti-depressants and the Placebo Effect,” Z Psychol 222, no 3 (2014): 128–134, doi: 10.1027/2151-2604/a000176; Kirsch, “Challenging Received Wisdom: Antidepressants and the Placebo Effect,” MJM 11, no. 2 (2008): 219–222, PMCID: PMC2582668; Kirsch et al., “Initial Severity and Antidepressant Benefits: A Meta-Analysis of Data Submitted to the Food and Drug Administration,” http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050045; Kirsch et al., “The emperor’s new drugs: An analysis of antidepressant medication data submitted to the U.S.


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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, mandelbrot fractal, market design, Mars Rover, Marshall McLuhan, microbiome, Murray Gell-Mann, Nicholas Carr, open economy, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, placebo effect, pre–internet, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, randomized controlled trial, rent control, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Richard Thaler, Satyajit Das, Schrödinger's Cat, security theater, selection bias, Silicon Valley, Stanford marshmallow experiment, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, Thorstein Veblen, Turing complete, Turing machine, twin studies, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

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, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, fundamental attribution error, hedonic treadmill, job satisfaction, longitudinal study, 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, zero-sum game, 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).


The End of Pain: How Nutrition and Diet Can Fight Chronic Inflammatory Disease by Jacqueline Lagace

longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, stem cell

How is it possible that neither the health professional nor the patient knows the diet the patient is following? Also, for ethical reasons, Dr. Seignalet was opposed to confining any patients in his studies to a control group and thereby excluding them from the benefits of his diet. The placebo effect Some people might think that Dr. Seignalet’s results could have been due to the placebo effect. A close look at the numerous studies carried out on the placebo effect clearly indicates that it is very variable and generally limited to subjective evaluations of pain.1 Also, meta-analyses of the placebo effect have provided a new perspective on the real value of placebos. A systematic review by A. Hróbjartsson and P. Gøtzsche of thirty-two clinical trials in a study including 3,795 patients, during which patients were randomly given either a placebo or no treatment, did not show any significant clinical effects of the placebo.

The authors concluded that there was little evidence that, in general, placebos have a significant clinical effect.3 In another meta-analysis based on fifty-two new studies on the placebo effect, Hróbjartsson and Gøtzsche4 once again concluded that they did not find any evidence of a significant, generalized clinical effect due to placebos. They did, however, agree that there could be a very small effect on certain patients, especially as far as pain is concerned. Other recent, well-controlled experimental studies targeting the duration of the placebo effect on pain reduction strongly suggest that the placebo effect is very short-lived.5 All these studies show that no placebo can produce a success rate of about 80 percent, like the rates obtained by Dr. Seignalet in his treatment of ninety-one chronic inflammatory diseases.

Seignalet, L ’ Alimentation ou la troisième médecine, 5e édition, Paris, Office d’Edition Impression Librairie, 2004, 660 p. R. Béliveau and D. Gingras, Les Aliments contre le cancer, Québec, Éditions du Trécarré, 2005, 213 p. 3. 3 Clinical Testing and Results 1. 2. L. Vase, J.L. Riley and D.D. Price, “A comparison of placebo effects in clinical analgesic trials versus studies of placebo analgesia,” Pain, vol. 99, 2002, p. 443–52. A. Hróbjartsson and P.C. Gøtzsche, “Is the placebo powerless?” New Engl J Med, vol. 344, 2001, p. 1594–99. < 225 2 2 6 > t h e e n d o f pa i n 3. L. Vase, J.L. Riley and D.D. Price, “A comparison of placebo effects in clinical analgesic trials versus studies of placebo analgesia,” Pain, vol. 99, 2002, p. 443–52. 4. A. Hróbjartsson and P.C. Gøtzsche, “Is the placebo powerless? Update of a systematic review with 52 new randomized trials comparing placebo with no treatment,” J Intern Med, vol. 256, 2004, p. 91–100. 5.


Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang, Nate Pedersen

Albert Einstein, complexity theory, germ theory of disease, helicopter parent, Honoré de Balzac, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, Louis Pasteur, placebo effect, stem cell, the scientific method, traveling salesman, Upton Sinclair, wikimedia commons, Y2K

So impressed that he took back twenty thousand tablets to Rome in 167 ce. Terra sigillata distribution waned with the fall of the Classical world, not appearing again until it made its way back into Europe via the invading forces of the Ottoman Turks, who were convinced that a special clay from Armenia was a cure for the plague. Although ingesting Armenian clay would have been technically ineffective against the bacterial onslaught of the bubonic plague, the placebo effect of ingesting something sacred or special may indeed have contributed to the occasional recovery. One area the Turks occupied? The land around Striga (present-day Strzegom, Poland), where Andreas Berthold lived and worked as a miner. Quick, you’ve just been poisoned and have three choices for your terra sigillata antidote: silver, gold, or red. Building an Empire out of Clay Berthold had shown up in several towns in Germany, advertising his terra sigillata to the local leaders.

The dirt of choice for Southerners was clay, which does in fact have some medicinal qualities to it; depending on the source, it can have high levels of calcium, copper, magnesium, iron, and zinc, all of which are important for human health, and, in the case of pregnant women—who occasionally engaged in geophagy across cultural groups—crucial for it. The soils of West Africa and the American South happen to be rich in these minerals, which might explain the development and continuation of the practice. The placebo effect was boosted by aesthetics: From Lemnos to Striga, the pieces of terra sigillata were also beautiful objects, so much so that part of their efficacy could be attributed to the patient’s belief in a magical, almost talismanic quality of the little clay tablets. There was even a special magic that resulted from just being near terra sigillata. Some physicians, hovering on the blurry renaissance line between science and magic, simply recommended that their patient wear a terra sigillata tablet around the neck to enjoy its curative properties.

Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard used cautery to “wake people up” from deep comas (which technically wouldn't work—he probably just woke sleeping patients). Counterirritation via cautery was also used to treat melancholy and suspected werewolfism “when all other remedies fail.” Practitioners claimed it even cured headaches, sunstroke, and paralysis. Surely, though, cautery imparted a hefty placebo effect, or at least distraction from the actual problem. In 1610, Jacques Ferrand recommended cauterizing the forehead with a searing-hot iron for lovesickness. For swelling, a twelfth-century physician recommended no less than twenty burns all over the body, including the temples, chest, ankles, under the lip, collarbones, hips. . . . You get the idea. It shouldn’t be surprising that counterirritation wasn’t exactly a hit with patients.


pages: 371 words: 108,105

Under the Knife: A History of Surgery in 28 Remarkable Operations by Arnold van de Laar Laproscopic Surgeon

Albert Einstein, Ayatollah Khomeini, clean water, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, Louis Pasteur, placebo effect, the scientific method, wikimedia commons

The great disadvantage of this is that the patient becomes increasingly labelled as a chronic sufferer, making the step back to a normal, healthy life more and more difficult. The placebo effect is nothing new. The walls of the Lady Chapel in the Cathedral of St John in the Dutch city of ’s-Hertogenbosch are adorned with votive offerings in silver or wax, in the form of small legs or arms, donated by grateful patients who have been cured of their diseases and ailments throughout the centuries. In the cave at Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary is alleged to have appeared to a young shepherdess, hang the crutches of cripples who found they could walk again. The placebo effect conforms to a number of rules. First, the patient must be convinced that it will work. He or she must therefore not know (or want to know) that the treatment is fake.

This is known as a double-blind experiment or, in full, a double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled test. The results showed that more than two-thirds of the patients displayed an improvement of their symptoms, irrespective of whether they had undergone the real or the fake operation. It is difficult to say to what extent the placebo effect contributes to the success of surgery in general. It is probably more significant than we think. Fortunately, thanks to double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled testing, operations like that performed on Alan B. Shepard, which have purely a placebo effect, are performed less and less frequently. In the past, however, the outcomes of operations were not systematically recorded and the scientific publication of surgical results was usually limited to descriptions of successful individual cases rather than presenting average figures for large groups of patients.

Bloodletting continued until the end of the nineteenth century, when it quietly died out, perhaps because, as more and more real treatments were found for a growing variety of diseases and ailments, doctors and surgeons no longer believed in its beneficial properties and its placebo effect became less effective. After bloodletting had been abandoned, however, more operations were developed that we would now consider as pure placebo procedures. In the nineteenth century, at an advanced age, French physiologist Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard injected himself with a potion concocted from the testicles of guinea pigs and announced that it had a rejuvenating effect. With such experiments, he laid the basis for endocrinology, a branch of medical science that deals with hormones, and surgeons started implanting patients with slivers of animal testicles for their rejuvenative properties, with surprisingly beneficial effects. But many more recent operations rely to a greater or lesser extent on a placebo effect, including removing the uvula to relieve sleeping problems or varicose veins in patients with restless legs, hernia operations to alleviate chronic back pain, anti-reflux surgery for people with chest pains, implanting spinal electrodes for chronic pain, operating on the blood vessels in the penis to cure impotence, laparoscopic groin hernia operations on athletes with pain in the groin, brain operations on Parkinson’s patients, and operating on tennis elbow.


pages: 287 words: 81,014

The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism by Olivia Fox Cabane

airport security, cognitive dissonance, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, hedonic treadmill, Lao Tzu, Nelson Mandela, Parkinson's law, Peter Thiel, placebo effect, Ralph Waldo Emerson, randomized controlled trial, risk tolerance, social intelligence, Steve Jobs

Whatever your mind believes, your body will manifest. Just by getting into a charismatic mental state, your body will manifest a charismatic body language. In medicine, the mind’s powerfully positive effect on the body is known as the placebo effect. A placebo is a simulated medical procedure: patients given “pretend” pills are told they’re receiving real ones; or people are told they’ve received a medical intervention when in fact nothing has been done. In a surprising number of cases, patients given these inert treatments still experience a real improvement in their medical condition. The placebo effect was discovered during World War I when medicine stores had run out and doctors found they could sometimes still ease their patients’ suffering by telling them that they had administered pain-relieving treatments.

Through much of human history, most of medicine was in fact pure placebo: doctors would prescribe potions or interventions that we now know to be fundamentally ineffective. Yet people’s conditions still often improved, thanks to the mind’s impressive ability to affect the body. The placebo effect can sometimes be remarkably powerful. Ellen Langer, a Harvard University professor of psychology, gathered a group of elderly patients in a nursing-home-like environment and surrounded them with the decor, clothing, food, and music that was popular when they were in their twenties. In the following weeks, physical exams showed tighter skin, better eyesight, increased muscle strength, and even higher bone density than before. The placebo effect is the basis for many of the best charisma-enhancing techniques, and we’ll refer to it often throughout the book. In fact, this is probably something you already do naturally, and many of the practices will make intuitive sense to you.

Instead, it helps you to be less affected by it, drawing you out of the negative mental and physical states that often accompany a position of not knowing. The outcome of your situation may still be uncertain, but you’re no longer so anxious about it. By presenting your mind with the possibility that responsibility has been transferred, you’re putting to good use the wonderful placebo effect—the brain’s inability to distinguish between imagination and reality. As we’ll see in later chapters, the placebo effect works even when we know we’re self-deceiving, perhaps thanks to this natural cognitive delay in disbelief.5 One of my clients used this technique just before stepping on stage to give a key presentation. It had the potential to be a turning point in his career, and he’d been feeling tense for a week. In the hour leading up to his big moment, his anxiety rose and his stomach started churning.


pages: 631 words: 177,227

The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter by Joseph Henrich

agricultural Revolution, capital asset pricing model, Climategate, cognitive bias, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, demographic transition, endowment effect, experimental economics, experimental subject, Flynn Effect, impulse control, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, Nash equilibrium, out of africa, phenotype, placebo effect, profit maximization, randomized controlled trial, risk tolerance, side project, social intelligence, social web, Steven Pinker, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, ultimatum game

However, the action and effectiveness of a placebo often depends entirely on how much faith a patient puts in a particular placebo or medical treatment. The more you believe it will work, the more it may actually work. Not only that, there appears to be a synergistic interaction between the size of the placebo effects and the size of the chemical effects; that is, the more one believes a drug like morphine will reduce pain (measured by using placebomorphine), the more effective real morphine actually is. Some drugs don’t work at all if administered without the patient’s conscious knowledge—that is, the drug requires some placebo effect to catalyze the chemical effects.18 Culture enters powerfully here because our beliefs and expectations are either set by our own direct experience (what placebo researchers call “conditioning”) or by cultural learning. Cultural learning could set the beliefs we bring into the doctor’s office, or they could be set by the doctor herself after we enter.

Germans worry a lot about having low blood pressure, which no one else seems very concerned about, so the placebo effect may be inhibited by this culturally transmitted concern.19 The biology of placebo processes are best mapped out for pain. Some chemically active pain relievers work by firing up the opioid neurotransmission system in brain regions like the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and nucleus accumbens. Placebo pain relievers fire up these same systems and activate the same brain regions. This effect suggests that placebos are probably doing the same thing biologically as the chemicals; thus, they are chemically inert but biologically active. To say placebo effects are “in your head” is merely to group them with so many other chemically active treatments. Placebos also help patients with Parkinson’s disease.

“Lethal intergroup aggression leads to territorial expansion in wild chimpanzees.” Current Biology 20 (12):R507–R508. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2010.04.021. Mithun, M. 1984. “How to avoid subordination.” Berkeley Linguistics Society 10:493–523. Moerman, D. 2002. “Explanatory mechanisms for placebo effects: Cultural influences and the meaning response.” In The Science of the Placebo: Toward an Interdisciplinary Research Agenda, edited by H. A. Guess, A. Kleinman, J. W. Kusek, and L. W. Engel, 77–107. London: BMJ Books. ———. 2000. “Cultural variations in the placebo effect: Ulcers, anxiety, and blood pressure.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 14 (1):51–72. Mokyr, J. 1990. The Lever of Riches. New York: Oxford University Press. Moll, J., F. Krueger, R. Zahn, M. Pardini, R. de Oliveira-Souzat, and J. Grafman. 2006. “Human fronto-mesolimbic networks guide decisions about charitable donation.”


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, en.wikipedia.org, 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, Norman Macrae, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, phenotype, placebo effect, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, 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, twin studies, 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: 289 words: 87,137

What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear by Danielle Ofri

big-box store, Columbine, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nelson Mandela, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, stem cell

This type of study provides hard evidence for what healers, shamans, witch doctors, and assorted mystics have known for millennia: that a substantial portion of “healing” comes from the personal connection that is formed with the patient. It’s no great secret, of course. Wise physicians and experienced nurses (not to mention astute patients) have also keyed into this, even if only subconsciously. Nevertheless, it’s intriguing to see this effect borne out in controlled scientific studies. These studies bring me to the whole idea of placebo. The placebo effect, as most people know, is a change in someone’s health from a treatment that contains no active medical substance. The effect is well known, which is why every clinical trial worth its salt is placebo-controlled. The treatment under investigation must be compared with a placebo, not to “doing nothing,” because the placebo group always registers an effect. The treatment has to score better than placebo, otherwise it’s deemed useless.

Before we had treatments that could actually impact the pathology of disease—antibiotics, chemotherapy, stents, organ transplants, transfusions—the “everything else” was the mainstay of medical care, and in many cases it was remarkably effective. But in the twentieth century, now that there were actual medical treatments, placebos were considered psychological mumbo jumbo, more akin to hypnotism than real medicine. The biological breakthrough came in 1978, when researchers showed that not only was the placebo effect real, but that it could be reversed by administering naloxone—a chemical that blocks our endorphins.5 Endorphins are intriguing neurochemicals that act as our homegrown painkillers. The term, in fact, was coined by my PhD adviser Eric Simon as a contraction of “endogenous morphine” because that’s how these neurochemicals behaved, just like morphine.6 (I spent several wonderful years escaping med school in Eric’s lab, as we researched the biochemistry of the receptors for these endorphins.)

In one of his experiments, patients with irritable bowel syndrome randomly received either a placebo or no treatment at all.7 The patients in the placebo group were explicitly told that the pills were made of inert substances. They were also told that research had demonstrated that placebos relieve pain. This “open-label” placebo is a direct contrast to standard clinical trials in which participants don’t know if they are getting the active medication or the placebo. The blinding in clinical trials is deliberate because, presumably, if you knew you were getting the blank pills you wouldn’t experience any placebo effect and the true effect of the test medication couldn’t be accurately teased out. In Kaptchuk’s study, however, the patients knowingly took the placebo. There was no effort to dress it up with the chance that they might be receiving an active medication. Yet after three weeks these patients who openly took an inert pill experienced a decrease in their symptoms and an increase in their quality-of-life ratings.


pages: 347 words: 101,586

Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain by António R. Damásio

Albert Einstein, Benoit Mandelbrot, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, discovery of DNA, experimental subject, longitudinal study, mandelbrot fractal, placebo effect, Richard Feynman, social intelligence, theory of mind

Medicine has been slow to realize that how people feel about their medical condition is a major factor in the outcome of treatment. We still know very little about the placebo effect, through which patients respond beneficially in excess of what a given medical intervention would lead one to expect. (The placebo effect can be assessed by investigating the effect of tablets or injections which, unbeknownst to the patient, contain no active pharmacological ingredient and are thus presumed to have no influence whatever, positive or negative.) For instance, we do not know who is more likely to respond with a placebo effect, or if all of us can. We also do not know how far the placebo effect can go and how close to the effect of the real thing it can get. We know little about how to enhance the placebo effect. And we have no idea about the degree of error the placebo effect has created for so-called double-blind studies.

., 276, 286 Parker, Dorothy, 223 Pascal, Blaise, 165, 200, 240, 285, 288 Passingham, R. E., 70, 133, 274, 283 Passions of the Soul (Descartes), 124 Patient A case, 54–56 Pauker, S. G., 272 Penfield, Wilder, 56, 134, 273 Peptides, feelings and, 144-45, 160 Pericman, E., 284 Peripheral nervous system, 26 Pert, C. B., 281 Petersen, S. E., 72, 275, 277, 288 Petrides, Michael, 182, 287 Phrenology, 14–17 Placebo effect, 256 Plum, Fred, 238, 275, 277, 286 Poggio, T. A., 277 Poincaréé, Henri, 188–89, 287 Positron emission tomography (PET), 101 Posner, Jerome, 238 Posner, M. I., 72, 275, 277, 288 Powell, T. P. S., 92, 276 Powers, P. S., 285 Prefrontal leucotomy, 58–60 Preorganized mechanisms, 117 Pribram, K. H., 133, 283, 294 Price, B. H., 273 Primary emotions, 131–34 Principles of Philosophy (Descartes), 248 Projections and pathways, 59 Prozac, 77–78, 266–67 Purves, D., 297 Quesney, L.


pages: 898 words: 266,274

The Irrational Bundle by Dan Ariely

accounting loophole / creative accounting, air freight, Albert Einstein, Alvin Roth, assortative mating, 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, end world poverty, endowment effect, Exxon Valdez, first-price auction, Frederick Winslow Taylor, fudge factor, George Akerlof, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, hedonic treadmill, IKEA effect, Jean Tirole, job satisfaction, Kenneth Arrow, 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 Thaler, Saturday Night Live, Schrödinger's Cat, second-price auction, Shai Danziger, 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: 403 words: 106,707

Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson

airport security, animal electricity, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, Frederick Winslow Taylor, glass ceiling, Iridium satellite, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Stanford marshmallow experiment, technoutopianism, Walter Mischel

Leeder, “Cold Water Immersion and Recovery from Strenuous Exercise: A Meta-Analysis,” British Journal of Sports Medicine 46, no. 4 (2012). 6. a “placebo-controlled” ice bath: J. R. Broatch et al., “Postexercise Cold Water Immersion Benefits Are Not Greater than the Placebo Effect,” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 46, no. 11 (2014). 7. paradigm-altering demonstration: J. D. Levine et al., “The Mechanism of Placebo Analgesia,” Lancet 2, no. 8091 (1978). 8. placebo-driven expectations: Sumathi Reddy, “Why Placebos Really Work: The Latest Science,” Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2016. 9. treat irritable bowel syndrome: Kathryn Hall et al., “Catechol-O-Methyltransferase val158met Polymorphism Predicts Placebo Effect in Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” PLoS One 7, no. 10 (2012). 10. cyclists rode 1.3 percent faster: C. J. Beedie et al., “Placebo Effects of Caffeine on Cycling Performance,” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 38, no. 12 (2006). 11. whether lucky charms actually work: L.

If your body can store enough carbohydrate for 90 minutes or more of exercise, why do some studies find subtle performance boosts from sports drinks in exercise bouts lasting as little as half an hour?28 And moreover, why do those boosts kick in pretty much instantaneously, long before the carbohydrates have even left your stomach? The easy answer is that the benefits are all in your head—that it’s a placebo effect. But that’s only partially correct. A series of studies by Asker Jeukendrup, the sports nutrition researcher who led the development of glucose-fructose mixtures, found that glucose-based sports drink boosted performance in a one-hour cycling time trial. But when, instead of drinking a glucose drink, the cyclists had glucose infused directly into their bloodstream—which should have been more effective—the benefits disappeared.

So, in 2004, Jeukendrup and his colleagues tried a different approach: this time they asked the cyclists to swish the sports drink in their mouths and then spit it out without swallowing. It worked: simply having sports drink in your mouth seemed to be more important than getting it into your bloodstream and to your muscles.29 It’s important to note that these studies were placebo-controlled: the drinks all tasted the same. Still, it’s hard to shake the feeling that a placebo effect must have crept in, and many scientists remained skeptical of the findings. It wasn’t until 2009 that researchers at the University of Birmingham settled the debate, with a study that confirmed the performance benefits of swishing and spitting a carbohydrate drink—and used functional magnetic resonance imaging to show that brain areas associated with reward were lighting up as soon as the subjects had carbohydrate in their mouth.30 Crucially, neither the brain scan nor cycling performance showed any effects when the drink was artificially sweetened, but the benefits returned when maltodextrine, a tasteless and undetectable carbohydrate, was added to the artificially sweetened drink.


The Other Side of Happiness: Embracing a More Fearless Approach to Living by Brock Bastian

cognitive dissonance, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, helicopter parent, impulse control, income inequality, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Steven Pinker, upwardly mobile, women in the workforce

Researchers were then able to show that these effects were due to the increased activation of neurotransmitters that commonly help people cope with pain (opioids and cannabinoids). Simply changing the purpose of pain led the brain to alter how it processed the message of pain. A particularly poignant illustration of just how much our experience of pain is based on our expectations comes from work on the placebo effect. Placebos are used in clinical trials when testing the effectiveness of a new drug. Patients will be split into two groups, with one group receiving the actual drug and the other receiving a sugar pill. These trials are generally called ‘double-blind trials’ as both the patients and researchers do not know which group is the placebo group and which is the experimental group until the end of the study, thereby reducing the possibility of bias.

These trials are generally called ‘double-blind trials’ as both the patients and researchers do not know which group is the placebo group and which is the experimental group until the end of the study, thereby reducing the possibility of bias. Researchers in these trials began to notice that patients in the placebo groups would often show significant improvement in their symptoms. Of course, this was inconvenient for the researchers as it meant that for any new drug to be deemed ‘effective’ it needed to outperform the beneficial effects of the placebo. In order to better understand the placebo effect, researchers have begun to study it on its own terms. In one study, researchers from Oxford University administered a potent opioid analgesic (remifentanil) to volunteers while they were exposed to thermal pain (heat).14 This took place in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner so the researchers could examine neural responses while the volunteers rated the intensity of the pain and their feelings of anxiety with regard to it.

The fact that our expectations can so fundamentally alter the effectiveness of a drug provides a major challenge to the pharmaceutical industry. Drugs are rolled out on to the market once they have been tested and shown to be effective but not harmful. This means they have been demonstrated to be more effective than a control baseline condition where people expected the benefits of a drug but receive a placebo instead (usually saline solution or a sugar tablet). Yet, it is important to note that this placebo effect is equal across both conditions. Whether people are taking the actual drug or a fake drug, they are still experiencing the psychological effect of pill taking, and this makes them feel better independently of any actual pharmacological effects. This means that when we pop a Panadol or an aspirin we are not only getting the benefits of the medication, we are also getting the psychological benefit of the expectation that taking the pill will make our pain better.


pages: 258 words: 79,503

The Genius Within: Unlocking Your Brain's Potential by David Adam

Albert Einstein, business intelligence, cognitive bias, Flynn Effect, job automation, John Conway, knowledge economy, lateral thinking, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, Skype, Stephen Hawking, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray

Was I making this sensation up, imagining it? Was this just a placebo effect, the power of suggestion? Did it even matter? I had taken a drug supposed to sharpen my senses and release my cognition, and my senses felt sharp and my cognition free. I felt like I wanted to keep typing. So I did. I could FOCUS and I felt MOTIVATED. In previous days two hours of book writing was about enough for one sitting. I would kid myself I was still making progress beyond that, but my attention would wander and the writing slow. That wasn’t happening that day. Several hours in and I was still alert. The screen seemed bigger and more welcoming. I felt like I was leaning in, the words as they presented themselves seemed to be close and moving smoothly and quickly. This was terrific. If it was a placebo effect then bring it on. If pilots fly helicopters and fighter aircraft on these drugs then I’m not sure if that’s a good idea.

People wouldn’t believe me of course, so I would have to ask Mike to send an email confirming what had happened and how amazed he had been at my cool, clinical, focused play that night. Then I could publish it as a footnote. No, an appendix. ‘6:3’. What? ‘The score. It’s 6:3 to me,’ said Mike as he served. I tried a clever return, playing it off the side wall to die in the front corner. Risky but he would never expect it. The ball hit the line. Out. ‘7:3’. Whatever I had, the mental boost of a banned stimulant, the confidence of the placebo effect or just the increased concentration from thinking so much about the mental side of the game, it had gone. The bad old me returned to court. The TCUP well and truly dropped. Mike won the next three games and the match. He won and I lost 3:2 in a thriller, so I suppose we both got what we wanted. Those first two games were so strange, Mike said to me in the pub later. I just couldn’t get going and I kept making the wrong decisions.

On my IQ tests, maybe I just got lucky second time around and that could explain the higher score. Or maybe the practice, drugs and brain stimulation put me in a position where I could make the most of that luck. This is a world, remember, where until recently an IQ score of 70 would see someone executed and a score of 69 would let them live. Try telling that person a rise of a single IQ point carries no statistical difference. Then there’s the placebo effect. I knew I was taking genuine modafinil and I knew the current was flowing through the electrode sponges squeezed against my head. More, I knew they might increase my IQ, and, for the sake of having a decent ending for this book, I wanted them to. Maybe I subconsciously tried harder in the second test (I don’t think I did so deliberately) or maybe I had more confidence because I believed my efforts at cognitive enhancement had made me more intelligent.


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, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, New Journalism, p-value, personalized medicine, placebo effect, publication bias, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, 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: 480 words: 138,041

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

addicted to oil, Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, back-to-the-land, David Brooks, impulse control, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Snow's cholera map, Kickstarter, late capitalism, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, McMansion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, neurotypical, phenotype, placebo effect, random walk, selection bias, 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.”

Indeed, he has always insisted he doesn’t care about his own image, and while that may be a little too much protest, it’s not hard to believe that his worries are genuine, and that my real betrayal is using his comment to harm the people who need to have confidence in their doctors (and keep taking their drugs) to get better. If the discrepancy between opportunity and knowledge remains under wraps, it seems, that’s not bullshit. That’s wisely deploying the placebo effect. That’s medicine. The camera is rolling, or whatever it is that digital cameras do. I’m pinned and wriggling, scrambling for some way to explain why I don’t seem to care about what happens when people glimpse what’s behind the curtain. It isn’t the first time a psychiatrist has warned me that criticizing the profession would lead to dire consequences. It’s the profession’s stock response to anyone who attacks it, and I have a stock rebuttal: that I am sure more people have been hurt by the DSM, or at least by the treatments that follow diagnosis, than by anything I ever wrote.


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, en.wikipedia.org, fundamental attribution error, impulse control, longitudinal study, 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: 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, disruptive innovation, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Frank Gehry, Googley, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kickstarter, 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, business cycle, Cass Sunstein, cognitive bias, David Brooks, en.wikipedia.org, 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, selection bias, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, 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 mosttraveledpeople.com, 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 neurodiversity.com, 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: 371 words: 108,317

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

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, commoditize, 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, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, lifelogging, linked data, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Minecraft, Mitch Kapor, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, old-boy network, peer-to-peer, 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, uber lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Review, zero-sum game

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: 281 words: 79,958

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

23andMe, agricultural Revolution, Anne Wojcicki, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Asilomar, 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: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, Simon Singh, Skype, stem cell, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, twin studies, 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: 566 words: 151,193

Diet for a New America by John Robbins

Albert Einstein, carbon footprint, clean water, Flynn Effect, haute cuisine, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 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: 547 words: 148,732

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan

1960s counterculture, Albert Einstein, Anton Chekhov, Burning Man, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Douglas Engelbart, East Village, experimental subject, Exxon Valdez, Golden Gate Park, Google Earth, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, Internet Archive, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Marshall McLuhan, Mason jar, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral panic, Mother of all demos, placebo effect, Ralph Waldo Emerson, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, scientific mainstream, scientific worldview, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Whole Earth Catalog

“That’s above my pay grade,” Tony Bossis said with a shrug when I asked him whether he thought the experiences of cosmic consciousness described by his patients were fictive or real. Asked the same question, Bill Richards cited William James, who suggested we judge the mystical experience not by its veracity, which is unknowable, but by “its fruits”: Does it turn someone’s life in a positive direction? Many researchers acknowledge that a strong placebo effect may be at work when a drug as suggestible as psilocybin is administered by medical professionals with legal and institutional sanction: under such conditions, the expectations of the therapist are much more likely to be fulfilled by the patient. (And bad trips are much less likely to occur.) Here we bump into one of the richer paradoxes of the psilocybin trials: while it succeeds in no small part because it has the sanction and authority of science, its effectiveness seems to depend on a mystical experience that leaves people convinced there is more to this world than science can explain.

New treatments always look shiniest and most promising at the beginning. In early studies with small samples, the researchers, who are usually biased in favor of finding an effect, have the luxury of selecting the volunteers most likely to respond. Because their number is so small, these volunteers benefit from the care and attention of exceptionally well-trained and dedicated therapists, who are also biased in favor of success. Also, the placebo effect is usually strongest in a new medicine and tends to fade over time, as observed in the case of antidepressants; they don’t work nearly as well today as they did upon their introduction in the 1980s. None of these psychedelic therapies have yet proven themselves to work in large populations; what successes have been reported should be taken as promising signals standing out from the noise of data, rather than as definitive proofs of cure.

abuse of psychedelics, low risk of, 50 Acid Tests, 184, 206 active placebos, psychedelics as, 159 Adamic moments, 25 addiction, 358–75 and autobiographical narratives, 387–88, 391 and awe-inspiring experiences, 373–75 and ayahuasca, 369n banality of insights after treatments, 361–62, 363–64 and default mode network, 387–88 depression’s links to, 383 and ego dissolution, 271, 366 and excess of order in brain, 313, 329, 385 and mental time travel, 387 and negative thinking habits, 383 Nutt’s conclusions on, 300n and overview effect, 359–60 and rat park experiment, 372–73 and risks of psychedelics, 14, 30 See also alcoholism; smoking cessation Addiction Research Foundation in Toronto, 151 adrenaline, 146 afterglow of psychedelic experiences, 24–25, 254 agnostics and atheists mystical experiences of, 74, 222, 284–85, 345 and value of meaning, 355 Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), 141, 152–53, 370 alcoholism and Bill W’s psychedelic experiences, 152–53, 370 and Hubbard’s treatment facilities, 171 LSD as treatment for, 141, 148–53, 368–69, 370 and Osmond/Hoffer’s research, 170 and personal history/environment, 370–72 peyote used to treat, 368 and psychotherapy, 369 results from treatment of, 368–69 and Spring Grove’s research, 57, 218 and suppression of psychedelic research, 141–42 Allen, Don, 176–77, 178, 181n, 198, 206n Alpert, Richard (later Ram Dass) and counterculture, 205 criticisms of research, 194, 195 defense of research, 196 dismissal from Harvard, 202–3 and Fadiman, 177 and Harvard Psilocybin Project, 188, 189, 190 and International Federation for Internal Freedom, 203 and Johnson, 360 post-Harvard life of, 205 and psychedelics’ escape from the lab, 197 and Weil, 202–3 Altered States of Consciousness (Tart), 99 altruistic behavior, 373–74 amadou, 87, 117 American Psychiatric Association (APA), 141 Ampex, 44, 176 Animals and Psychedelics (Samorini), 123–24 animals’ consumption of Psilocybes, 93, 98, 122–23 antidepressants discovery of, 147 and loss of effectiveness, 335 and neurochemistry field, 293 and placebo effect, 335n, 382 range of disorders addressed by, 383 anxiety and autobiographical narratives, 387–88 and default mode network, 387–88 and effect of psychedelics on ego, 271 and mental time travel, 387 and negative thinking habits, 383 during psychedelic experiences, 46, 63 and psycholytic LSD therapy, 156, 159 rumination in, 383 Apollo astronauts, 358–59, 373 artificial intelligence (AI), 325–26 authority of psychedelic experiences, 59, 71, 346, 365–66 autism, 37 autobiographical self, 304, 387–88, 391 awe, experiences of, 306, 373–75, 389 ayahuasca in addiction treatments, 369n in group settings, 405 lack of research on, 18 and Pollan’s psychedelic journeys, 410–13 ritual use of, 402, 404 and UDV court case, 27–28 Aztecs, 2, 108–9 bad trips and backlash against psychedelics, 3 and expectations of therapist, 347 first bad trip, 24 in general population, 209 and LSD therapy for alcoholism, 152 and role of guides, 405 and role of setting, 14 Weil’s “treatment” for, 210 Balick, Michael, 107 Barlow, John Perry, 183 Bay Area tech community, 171, 175–83, 181n Bayesian inferences, 261–63 Bazer, Dinah, 284–85, 344–45, 355 Be Here Now (Ram Dass), 205 Beatles, 143, 204 Beckley Foundation, 228, 297, 299 behaviorism, 149 being/doing duality, 280–81, 282 belladonna, 152, 370 Belser, Alexander, 351 Bergson, Henri, 56, 162 Bessant, Charles, 360, 361, 362–63 Beug, Michael, 101, 121–23 “Bicycle Day” (April 19), 24 Bigwood, Jeremy, 101 bioterrorism, 89 birth experiences, 155, 176, 240, 279–80, 341–42, 344 Blake, William, 82, 161, 194 Bogenschutz, Michael, 369, 370–72 Boothby, Richard, 65, 67–68, 69, 70, 72, 75 Bossis, Tony on authenticity questions, 347 and Bazer’s therapy, 344–45 on cultural fear of death, 404 and Mettes’s therapy, 336, 337–38, 340–43, 346, 357 on results with cancer patients, 336 on role of guides, 402 The Botany of Desire (Pollan), 12–13 brain science, 2–3, 24.


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, twin studies

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: 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, global pandemic, 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: 512 words: 162,977

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

backtesting, beat the dealer, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Black-Scholes formula, butterfly effect, buy and hold, commodity trading advisor, computerized trading, Edward Thorp, Elliott wave, fixed income, full employment, implied volatility, interest rate swap, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market clearing, market fundamentalism, money market fund, 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: 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, lifelogging, Mahatma Gandhi, microbiome, p-value, Parkinson's law, Paul Buchheit, placebo effect, Productivity paradox, publish or perish, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, Thorstein Veblen, Vilfredo Pareto, 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.


The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect by Judea Pearl, Dana Mackenzie

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Asilomar, Bayesian statistics, computer age, computer vision, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Edmond Halley, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, Isaac Newton, iterative process, John Snow's cholera map, Loebner Prize, loose coupling, Louis Pasteur, Menlo Park, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, personalized medicine, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, prisoner's dilemma, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, The Design of Experiments, the scientific method, Thomas Bayes, Turing test

First let’s take the worst-case scenario: none of the noncompliers would have improved if they had complied with treatment. In that case, the only people who would have taken the drug and improved would be the 47.3 percent who actually did comply and improve. But we need to correct this estimate for the placebo effect, which is in the third row of the table. Out of the people who were assigned the placebo and took the placebo, 8.1 percent improved. So the net improvement above and beyond the placebo effect is 47.3 percent minus 8.1 percent, or 39.2 percent. What about the best-case scenario, in which all the noncompliers would have improved if they had complied? In this case we add the noncompliers’ 31.5 percent plus 7.3 percent to the 39.2 percent baseline we just computed, for a total of 78.0 percent.

For example, assuming headache is not contagious, my response to aspirin will not depend on whether Joe receives aspirin. The second assumption in Rubin’s model, also benign, is called “consistency.” It says that a person who took aspirin and recovered would also recover if given aspirin by experimental design. This reasonable assumption, which is a theorem in the SCM framework, says in effect that the experiment is free of placebo effects and other imperfections. But the major assumption that potential outcome practitioners are invariably required to make is called “ignorability.” It is more technical, but it’s the crucial part of the transaction, for it is in essence the same thing as Jamie Robins and Sander Greenland’s condition of exchangeability discussed in Chapter 4. Ignorability expresses this same requirement in terms of the potential outcome variable Yx.

(Biologists typically use a different symbol, A—| B, when cause A inhibits effect B, but in the causality literature it is customary to use A B both for positive and negative causes.) Likewise, we can summarize the effect of citrus fruits on scurvy by the causal model Citrus Fruits Vitamin C Scurvy. We want to ask certain typical questions about a mediator: Does it account for the entire effect? Does Drug B work exclusively through blood pressure or perhaps through other mechanisms as well? The placebo effect is a common type of mediator in medicine: if a drug acts only through the patient’s belief in its benefit, most doctors will consider it ineffective. Mediation is also an important concept in the law. If we ask whether a company discriminated against women when it paid them lower salaries, we are asking a mediation question. The answer depends on whether the observed salary disparity is produced directly in response to the applicant’s sex or indirectly, through a mediator such as qualification, over which the employer has no control.


Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World by Laura Spinney

Albert Einstein, British Empire, colonial rule, dark matter, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, experimental subject, Francisco Pizarro, global pandemic, Hernando de Soto, invisible hand, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, placebo effect, trade route, urban renewal

Ltd, Pondicherry Library of Congress Control Number: 2017933356 ISBNs: 978-1-61039-767-4 (hardcover); 978-1-61039-768-1 (ebook) E3-20170817-JV-PC Contents Cover Title Page Copyright Dedication Map INTRODUCTION: The Elephant in the Room PART ONE: The Unwalled City 1. Coughs and sneezes 2. The monads of Leibniz PART TWO: Anatomy of a Pandemic 3. Ripples on a pond 4. Like a thief in the night PART THREE: Manhu, or What is it? 5. Disease eleven 6. The doctors’ dilemma 7. The wrath of God PART FOUR: The Survival Instinct 8. Chalking doors with crosses 9. The placebo effect 10. Good Samaritans PART FIVE: Post Mortem 11. The hunt for patient zero 12. Counting the dead PART SIX: Science Redeemed 13. Aenigmoplasma influenzae 14. Beware the barnyard 15. The human factor PART SEVEN: The Post-Flu World 16. The green shoots of recovery 17. Alternate histories 18. Anti-science, science 19. Healthcare for all 20. War and peace 21. Melancholy muse PART EIGHT: Roscoe’s Legacy AFTERWORD: On Memory Acknowledgements About the Author By the same Author Illustration Credits Notes Index For RSJF and the lost generations INTRODUCTION: The Elephant in the Room Japanese schoolgirls wearing protective masks during the pandemic, 1920 The brevity of the influenza pandemic of 1918 posed great problems to doctors at the time… It has posed great problems to historians ever since.

Qavam survived the turbulence of General Reza Khan’s British-backed coup in 1921, and finding favour with the new shah, went on to serve five terms as the country’s prime minister. The shah eventually rebuilt Mashed on a rectilinear plan, linked it to Tehran by a modern road, and demolished its graveyards. Hoffman, who stayed on there until 1947, witnessed the transformation: ‘The bones of centuries were shovelled into wheelbarrows and dumped into unmarked pits, the gravestones being used for street curbs and sidewalks.’31 9 The placebo effect Much like today, when a person was sick in Europe or America in the late nineteenth century, he could go to a ‘regular’ doctor, or he could go to a homeopath, a naturopath, an osteopath or a faith healer–or he could hedge his bets and go to all five. The difference between then and now was that the regular doctor had no special status. There was nothing ‘conventional’ about his medicine or ‘alternative’ about theirs.

Witch doctors in the hills of India moulded human figures out of flour and water and waved them over the sick to lure out the evil spirits. In China, besides parading the figures of dragon kings through their towns, people went to public baths to sweat out the evil winds, smoked opium and took yin qiao san–a powdered mix of honeysuckle and forsythia that had been developed under the Qing for ‘winter sickness’. Most of these ‘cures’ were no more effective than placebos. The placebo effect is a manifestation of the power of positive thinking. It derives from a person’s expectation that a drug or other intervention will heal them, and it can be extremely effective in itself. According to some estimates, 35–40 per cent of all medical prescriptions today are not much more than placebos.6 The interesting thing about a placebo is how sensitive it is to the trust that is established between a patient and his doctor.


pages: 412 words: 115,266

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

Albert Einstein, banking crisis, Bayesian statistics, cognitive bias, end world poverty, endowment effect, energy security, experimental subject, framing effect, hindsight bias, impulse control, John Nash: game theory, longitudinal study, loss aversion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, out of africa, pattern recognition, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, scientific worldview, 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).


Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models by Gabriel Weinberg, Lauren McCann

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, anti-pattern, Anton Chekhov, autonomous vehicles, bank run, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, business process, butterfly effect, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Attenborough, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, fear of failure, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, framing effect, friendly fire, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, housing crisis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, income inequality, information asymmetry, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, lateral thinking, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, Lyft, mail merge, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, nuclear winter, offshore financial centre, p-value, Parkinson's law, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, Potemkin village, prediction markets, premature optimization, price anchoring, principal–agent problem, publication bias, recommendation engine, remote working, replication crisis, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school choice, Schrödinger's Cat, selection bias, Shai Danziger, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, survivorship bias, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, uber lyft, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wikimedia commons

These fake surgeries are an example of a placebo, something that the control participants receive that looks and feels like what the experimental participants receive, but in reality is supposed to have no effect. Interestingly, just the act of receiving something that you expect to have a positive effect can actually create one, called the placebo effect. While placebos have little effect on some things, like healing a broken bone, the placebo effect can bring about observed benefits for numerous ailments. The BMJ review reported that in 74 percent of the trials, patients receiving the fake surgeries saw some improvement in their symptoms, and in 51 percent of the trials, they improved about as much as the recipients of actual surgeries. For some conditions, there is even evidence to suggest that the placebo effect isn’t purely a figment of the imagination. As an example, placebo “pain relievers” can produce brain activity consistent with the activity produced by actual pain-relieving drugs.

., 38 oil, 105–6 Olympics, 209, 246–48, 285 O’Neal, Shaquille, 246 one-hundred-year floods, 192 Onion, 211–12 On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (Darwin), 100 OODA loop, 294–95 openness to experience, 250 Operation Ceasefire, 232 opinion, diversity of, 205, 206 opioids, 36 opportunity cost, 76–77, 80, 83, 179, 182, 188, 305 of capital, 77, 179, 182 optimistic probability bias, 33 optimization, premature, 7 optimums, local and global, 195–96 optionality, preserving, 58–59 Oracle, 231, 291, 299 order, 124 balance between chaos and, 128 organizations: culture in, 107–8, 113, 273–80, 293 size and growth of, 278–79 teams in, see teams ostrich with its head in the sand, 55 out-group bias, 127 outliers, 148 Outliers (Gladwell), 261 overfitting, 10–11 overwork, 82 Paine, Thomas, 221–22 pain relievers, 36, 137 Pampered Chef, 217 Pangea, 24–25 paradigm shift, 24, 289 paradox of choice, 62–63 parallel processing, 96 paranoia, 308, 309, 311 Pareto, Vilfredo, 80 Pareto principle, 80–81 Pariser, Eli, 17 Parkinson, Cyril, 74–75, 89 Parkinson’s law, 89 Parkinson’s Law (Parkinson), 74–75 Parkinson’s law of triviality, 74, 89 passwords, 94, 97 past, 201, 271–72, 309–10 Pasteur, Louis, 26 path dependence, 57–59, 194 path of least resistance, 88 Patton, Bruce, 19 Pauling, Linus, 220 payoff matrix, 212–15, 238 PayPal, 72, 291, 296 peak, 105, 106, 112 peak oil, 105 Penny, Jonathon, 52 pent-up energy, 112 perfect, 89–90 as enemy of the good, 61, 89–90 personality traits, 249–50 person-month, 279 perspective, 11 persuasion, see influence models perverse incentives, 50–51, 54 Peter, Laurence, 256 Peter principle, 256, 257 Peterson, Tom, 108–9 Petrified Forest National Park, 217–18 Pew Research, 53 p-hacking, 169, 172 phishing, 97 phones, 116–17, 290 photography, 302–3, 308–10 physics, x, 114, 194, 293 quantum, 200–201 pick your battles, 238 Pinker, Steven, 144 Pirahã, x Pitbull, 36 pivoting, 295–96, 298–301, 308, 311, 312 placebo, 137 placebo effect, 137 Planck, Max, 24 Playskool, 111 Podesta, John, 97 point of no return, 244 Polaris, 67–68 polarity, 125–26 police, in organizations and projects, 253–54 politics, 70, 104 ads and statements in, 225–26 elections, 206, 218, 233, 241, 271, 293, 299 failure and, 47 influence in, 216 predictions in, 206 polls and surveys, 142–43, 152–54, 160 approval ratings, 152–54, 158 employee engagement, 140, 142 postmortems, 32, 92 Potemkin village, 228–29 potential energy, 112 power, 162 power drills, 296 power law distribution, 80–81 power vacuum, 259–60 practice, deliberate, 260–62, 264, 266 precautionary principle, 59–60 Predictably Irrational (Ariely), 14, 222–23 predictions and forecasts, 132, 173 market for, 205–7 superforecasters and, 206–7 PredictIt, 206 premature optimization, 7 premises, see principles pre-mortems, 92 present bias, 85, 87, 93, 113 preserving optionality, 58–59 pressure point, 112 prices, 188, 231, 299 arbitrage and, 282–83 bait and switch and, 228, 229 inflation in, 179–80, 182–83 loss leader strategy and, 236–37 manufacturer’s suggested retail, 15 monopolies and, 283 principal, 44–45 principal-agent problem, 44–45 principles (premises), 207 first, 4–7, 31, 207 prior, 159 prioritizing, 68 prisoners, 63, 232 prisoner’s dilemma, 212–14, 226, 234–35, 244 privacy, 55 probability, 132, 173, 194 bias, optimistic, 33 conditional, 156 probability distributions, 150, 151 bell curve (normal), 150–52, 153, 163–66, 191 Bernoulli, 152 central limit theorem and, 152–53, 163 fat-tailed, 191 power law, 80–81 sample, 152–53 pro-con lists, 175–78, 185, 189 procrastination, 83–85, 87, 89 product development, 294 product/market fit, 292–96, 302 promotions, 256, 275 proximate cause, 31, 117 proxy endpoint, 137 proxy metric, 139 psychology, 168 Psychology of Science, The (Maslow), 177 Ptolemy, Claudius, 8 publication bias, 170, 173 public goods, 39 punching above your weight, 242 p-values, 164, 165, 167–69, 172 Pygmalion effect, 267–68 Pyrrhus, King, 239 Qualcomm, 231 quantum physics, 200–201 quarantine, 234 questions: now what, 291 what if, 122, 201 why, 32, 33 why now, 291 quick and dirty, 234 quid pro quo, 215 Rabois, Keith, 72, 265 Rachleff, Andy, 285–86, 292–93 radical candor, 263–64 Radical Candor (Scott), 263 radiology, 291 randomized controlled experiment, 136 randomness, 201 rats, 51 Rawls, John, 21 Regan, Ronald, 183 real estate agents, 44–45 recessions, 121–22 reciprocity, 215–16, 220, 222, 229, 289 recommendations, 217 red line, 238 referrals, 217 reframe the problem, 96–97 refugee asylum cases, 144 regression to the mean, 146, 286 regret, 87 regulations, 183–84, 231–32 regulatory capture, 305–7 reinventing the wheel, 92 relationships, 53, 55, 63, 91, 111, 124, 159, 271, 296, 298 being locked into, 305 dating, 8–10, 95 replication crisis, 168–72 Republican Party, 104 reputation, 215 research: meta-analysis of, 172–73 publication bias and, 170, 173 systematic reviews of, 172, 173 see also experiments resonance, 293–94 response bias, 142, 143 responsibility, diffusion of, 259 restaurants, 297 menus at, 14, 62 RetailMeNot, 281 retaliation, 238 returns: diminishing, 81–83 negative, 82–83, 93 reversible decisions, 61–62 revolving door, 306 rewards, 275 Riccio, Jim, 306 rise to the occasion, 268 risk, 43, 46, 90, 288 cost-benefit analysis and, 180 de-risking, 6–7, 10, 294 moral hazard and, 43–45, 47 Road Ahead, The (Gates), 69 Roberts, Jason, 122 Roberts, John, 27 Rogers, Everett, 116 Rogers, William, 31 Rogers Commission Report, 31–33 roles, 256–58, 260, 271, 293 roly-poly toy, 111–12 root cause, 31–33, 234 roulette, 144 Rubicon River, 244 ruinous empathy, 264 Rumsfeld, Donald, 196–97, 247 Rumsfeld’s Rule, 247 Russia, 218, 241 Germany and, 70, 238–39 see also Soviet Union Sacred Heart University (SHU), 217, 218 sacrifice play, 239 Sagan, Carl, 220 sales, 81, 216–17 Salesforce, 299 same-sex marriage, 117, 118 Sample, Steven, 28 sample distribution, 152–53 sample size, 143, 160, 162, 163, 165–68, 172 Sánchez, Ricardo, 234 sanctions and fines, 232 Sanders, Bernie, 70, 182, 293 Sayre, Wallace, 74 Sayre’s law, 74 scarcity, 219, 220 scatter plot, 126 scenario analysis (scenario planning), 198–99, 201–3, 207 schools, see education and schools Schrödinger, Erwin, 200 Schrödinger’s cat, 200 Schultz, Howard, 296 Schwartz, Barry, 62–63 science, 133, 220 cargo cult, 315–16 Scientific Autobiography and other Papers (Planck), 24 scientific evidence, 139 scientific experiments, see experiments scientific method, 101–2, 294 scorched-earth tactics, 243 Scott, Kim, 263 S curves, 117, 120 secondary markets, 281–82 second law of thermodynamics, 124 secrets, 288–90, 292 Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S., 228 security, false sense of, 44 security services, 229 selection, adverse, 46–47 selection bias, 139–40, 143, 170 self-control, 87 self-fulfilling prophecies, 267 self-serving bias, 21, 272 Seligman, Martin, 22 Semmelweis, Ignaz, 25–26 Semmelweis reflex, 26 Seneca, Marcus, 60 sensitivity analysis, 181–82, 185, 188 dynamic, 195 Sequoia Capital, 291 Sessions, Roger, 8 sexual predators, 113 Shakespeare, William, 105 Sheets Energy Strips, 36 Shermer, Michael, 133 Shirky, Clay, 104 Shirky principle, 104, 112 Short History of Nearly Everything, A (Bryson), 50 short-termism, 55–56, 58, 60, 68, 85 side effects, 137 signal and noise, 311 significance, 167 statistical, 164–67, 170 Silicon Valley, 288, 289 simulations, 193–95 simultaneous invention, 291–92 Singapore math, 23–24 Sir David Attenborough, RSS, 35 Skeptics Society, 133 sleep meditation app, 162–68 slippery slope argument, 235 slow (high-concentration) thinking, 30, 33, 70–71 small numbers, law of, 143, 144 smartphones, 117, 290, 309, 310 smoking, 41, 42, 133–34, 139, 173 Snap, 299 Snowden, Edward, 52, 53 social engineering, 97 social equality, 117 social media, 81, 94, 113, 217–19, 241 Facebook, 18, 36, 94, 119, 219, 233, 247, 305, 308 Instagram, 220, 247, 291, 310 YouTube, 220, 291 social networks, 117 Dunbar’s number and, 278 social norms versus market norms, 222–24 social proof, 217–20, 229 societal change, 100–101 software, 56, 57 simulations, 192–94 solitaire, 195 solution space, 97 Somalia, 243 sophomore slump, 145–46 South Korea, 229, 231, 238 Soviet Union: Germany and, 70, 238–39 Gosplan in, 49 in Cold War, 209, 235 space exploration, 209 spacing effect, 262 Spain, 243–44 spam, 37, 161, 192–93, 234 specialists, 252–53 species, 120 spending, 38, 74–75 federal, 75–76 spillover effects, 41, 43 sports, 82–83 baseball, 83, 145–46, 289 football, 226, 243 Olympics, 209, 246–48, 285 Spotify, 299 spreadsheets, 179, 180, 182, 299 Srinivasan, Balaji, 301 standard deviation, 149, 150–51, 154 standard error, 154 standards, 93 Stanford Law School, x Starbucks, 296 startup business idea, 6–7 statistics, 130–32, 146, 173, 289, 297 base rate in, 157, 159, 160 base rate fallacy in, 157, 158, 170 Bayesian, 157–60 confidence intervals in, 154–56, 159 confidence level in, 154, 155, 161 frequentist, 158–60 p-hacking in, 169, 172 p-values in, 164, 165, 167–69, 172 standard deviation in, 149, 150–51, 154 standard error in, 154 statistical significance, 164–67, 170 summary, 146, 147 see also data; experiments; probability distributions Staubach, Roger, 243 Sternberg, Robert, 290 stock and flow diagrams, 192 Stone, Douglas, 19 stop the bleeding, 234 strategy, 107–8 exit, 242–43 loss leader, 236–37 pivoting and, 295–96, 298–301, 308, 311, 312 tactics versus, 256–57 strategy tax, 103–4, 112 Stiglitz, Joseph, 306 straw man, 225–26 Streisand, Barbra, 51 Streisand effect, 51, 52 Stroll, Cliff, 290 Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The (Kuhn), 24 subjective versus objective, in organizational culture, 274 suicide, 218 summary statistics, 146, 147 sunk-cost fallacy, 91 superforecasters, 206–7 Superforecasting (Tetlock), 206–7 super models, viii–xii super thinking, viii–ix, 3, 316, 318 surface area, 122 luck, 122, 124, 128 surgery, 136–37 Surowiecki, James, 203–5 surrogate endpoint, 137 surveys, see polls and surveys survivorship bias, 140–43, 170, 272 sustainable competitive advantage, 283, 285 switching costs, 305 systematic review, 172, 173 systems thinking, 192, 195, 198 tactics, 256–57 Tajfel, Henri, 127 take a step back, 298 Taleb, Nassim Nicholas, 2, 105 talk past each other, 225 Target, 236, 252 target, measurable, 49–50 taxes, 39, 40, 56, 104, 193–94 T cells, 194 teams, 246–48, 275 roles in, 256–58, 260 size of, 278 10x, 248, 249, 255, 260, 273, 280, 294 Tech, 83 technical debt, 56, 57 technologies, 289–90, 295 adoption curves of, 115 adoption life cycles of, 116–17, 129, 289, 290, 311–12 disruptive, 308, 310–11 telephone, 118–19 temperature: body, 146–50 thermostats and, 194 tennis, 2 10,000-Hour Rule, 261 10x individuals, 247–48 10x teams, 248, 249, 255, 260, 273, 280, 294 terrorism, 52, 234 Tesla, Inc., 300–301 testing culture, 50 Tetlock, Philip E., 206–7 Texas sharpshooter fallacy, 136 textbooks, 262 Thaler, Richard, 87 Theranos, 228 thermodynamics, 124 thermostats, 194 Thiel, Peter, 72, 288, 289 thinking: black-and-white, 126–28, 168, 272 convergent, 203 counterfactual, 201, 272, 309–10 critical, 201 divergent, 203 fast (low-concentration), 30, 70–71 gray, 28 inverse, 1–2, 291 lateral, 201 outside the box, 201 slow (high-concentration), 30, 33, 70–71 super, viii–ix, 3, 316, 318 systems, 192, 195, 198 writing and, 316 Thinking, Fast and Slow (Kahneman), 30 third story, 19, 92 thought experiment, 199–201 throwing good money after bad, 91 throwing more money at the problem, 94 tight versus loose, in organizational culture, 274 timeboxing, 75 time: management of, 38 as money, 77 work and, 89 tipping point, 115, 117, 119, 120 tit-for-tat, 214–15 Tōgō Heihachirō, 241 tolerance, 117 tools, 95 too much of a good thing, 60 top idea in your mind, 71, 72 toxic culture, 275 Toys “R” Us, 281 trade-offs, 77–78 traditions, 275 tragedy of the commons, 37–40, 43, 47, 49 transparency, 307 tribalism, 28 Trojan horse, 228 Truman Show, The, 229 Trump, Donald, 15, 206, 293 Trump: The Art of the Deal (Trump and Schwartz), 15 trust, 20, 124, 215, 217 trying too hard, 82 Tsushima, Battle of, 241 Tupperware, 217 TurboTax, 104 Turner, John, 127 turn lemons into lemonade, 121 Tversky, Amos, 9, 90 Twain, Mark, 106 Twitter, 233, 234, 296 two-front wars, 70 type I error, 161 type II error, 161 tyranny of small decisions, 38, 55 Tyson, Mike, 7 Uber, 231, 275, 288, 290 Ulam, Stanislaw, 195 ultimatum game, 224, 244 uncertainty, 2, 132, 173, 180, 182, 185 unforced error, 2, 10, 33 unicorn candidate, 257–58 unintended consequences, 35–36, 53–55, 57, 64–65, 192, 232 Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), 306 unique value proposition, 211 University of Chicago, 144 unknown knowns, 198, 203 unknowns: known, 197–98 unknown, 196–98, 203 urgency, false, 74 used car market, 46–47 U.S.


pages: 786 words: 195,810

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

Albert Einstein, animal electricity, Asperger Syndrome, assortative mating, crowdsourcing, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, experimental subject, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, index card, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, Kickstarter, Larry Wall, 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, twin studies, 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: 299 words: 81,377

The No Need to Diet Book: Become a Diet Rebel and Make Friends With Food by Plantbased Pixie

Albert Einstein, David Attenborough, employer provided health coverage, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, publication bias, randomized controlled trial

When an individual is in a vulnerable position, they are far more likely to accept these ideas about restriction and elimination of foods without questioning, which can set them down the path of orthorexia – particularly if the elimination helps them to feel better within a few days or weeks, as is often the case. Usually the foods suggested for elimination tend to be things like sugar, high-carbohydrate foods or processed foods, which tends to result in higher consumption of vegetables, an overall increase in nutrients and feeling healthier. There is also often a strong desire to feel better, because of the high cost involved, and that in itself can produce a placebo effect in the short term, before the increased restriction and anxiety leaves them feeling worse. Dieting Although the focus of orthorexia doesn’t tend to be weight and weight loss, that doesn’t mean that diets don’t play a role. Diets may have gone a little out of fashion, but rather than disappear they have simply been rebranded as ‘lifestyles’. Call it what you want, it’s still a diet. The best example of this is ‘clean eating’.

The fact that leading researchers in the field of addiction say there isn’t enough evidence to suggest sugar is addictive, and that calling it addictive isn’t helpful on a public health level,77 is irrelevant and holds little power in the face of scaremongering. The nocebo effect Fearmongering tactics are so powerful that they can produce physical symptoms in people, despite a complete lack of allergy or any real issue with a food. This is the nocebo effect, and shows just how incredible the mind can be. We are all familiar with the placebo effect, whereby improvements in symptoms can occur even without any medical intervention. Give someone a sugar pill and tell them it’s a painkiller and it’s likely that their headache will improve. Place someone on the operating table, cut them open and sew them immediately back up again and they’ll report feeling better afterwards, despite a lack of actual surgery taking place. Of course, this doesn’t work 100 per cent of the time, but it works far more often than can be attributed to chance.

adenosine 210 adolescents 39, 201 adrenaline (hormone) 54, 55, 225 advertising food 91, 165–6 television 169 aerobic exercise 184 ageing population 185, 214, 272 Ainscough, Jess 8 air pollution 237 alcohol intake 33 and sleep 211 and stress 216 Allison, Michelle 5 Alzheimer’s disease 185 American Psychological Association 84 anger 65–7 anorexia nervosa in Fiji 163 hunger and 31 men and 168 and orthorexia 105–7 social media and 155 UK population and 198 anxiety 153–4, 161, 176, 188, 197–9 artificial flavourings 90, 130 artificial vs natural 127–31, 147 atherosclerosis 215–16 avoidance, food 6 ‘bad’ foods 89–90 bad/unhealthy, good/healthy 89–91, 101, 128, 141, 255 balanced diet 39, 45, 70 BDD (body dysmorphic disorder) 192, 199 beauty ideals 17, 109 Beauty Myth, The (Wolf) 248 bias, weight 37–8, 42, 50 quiz 50 binge-eating 39 binge-restrict cycle 84–5 black women, fat 42–3, 273–4 blood lipids 33, 45 blood pressure 29, 33, 45, 145, 184 blood sugar 29, 143, 184, 216 BMI (Body Mass Index) 22–3, 32, 33–4 body dissatisfaction eating disorders and 18, 103 girls/women and 164, 167 men and 196 weight bias and 37–8 body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) 38, 192, 199 body image 273–8 improving 117–18 negative 104, 191–2, 217 quiz 204–5 Body Mass Index (BMI) 22–3, 32, 33–4 ‘body positivity’ movement 273–4 body shapes 17 bone mass, reduced 36 boredom 67–9 Brandolini, Alberto 13 Bratman, Steven 99–100 bread ‘bad’ food 261 white 126 wholewheat 129 British diet, typical 145 bulimia 32, 168 caffeine 210 calories counting 3, 31, 36 empty 88–9 ‘low-calorie’ food 90–1 camps, weight-loss 39 cancer bloggers and 8 chronic inflammation and 216 pesticides and 262 scares 140–2 sugar and 148 carbohydrates 69, 70, 71, 261 carbphobia 142–7, 148 cardio exercise 192, 194–5 CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) 222 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 208 cheat meals 84–6 cheese 146, 261 chemicals 132 chemotherapy 89, 142 ‘chewing’ diet 3 childhood close family and 226 epilepsy and 142 food 63, 244–5 food as a reward 93 and food language 257–8 free school meals 234 overweight 27 school weight-loss programmes 27–8 socio-economic factors 231–4, 236–9 Chinese medicine 14–15 cholesterol 29, 45, 145 Christmas dinner 62, 245 circadian rhythm 210 clean eating 78–80, 112, 155 cleansing 82–4, 104 clock changes, and sleep 212 clock, internal body 210 cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) 222 cold, common 53, 215 colonialism 135 comfort food 53, 61, 62–5, 65 common humanity 276 conditions, chronic 214 confirmation bias 270 control, food and 108 convenience foods 64–5 coping mechanisms 72, 83, 109, 218, 238 coping skills 219 cortisol (hormone) and insulin 216 levels of 56–7, 58–9, 61, 191, 212, 225 production of 36, 54, 55 counselling 113 cravings, food 61 ‘cult’, diet and 5–8, 11–14 dairy products 125, 127, 141, 146 death, premature 22, 24, 223 dementia 185 depression 70–1, 153–4, 168–70, 186–9, 192 detoxing 82–4, 137 diabetes, type 2 exercise and 184 and fearmongering 262 metabolic syndrome and 38 obesity and 24, 28 reversing 143 stress and 216 studies on 29 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) 100 diet books 3, 82, 123 culture 12, 17–20, 128 history of 2–5 industry 24–5 leaders 10 mentality 245 Diet & Health: With Key to the Calories (Peters) 3 dietary guidelines, UK 145 dieting 112–13 dieting theology 8–9 dietitians 119 disability 171, 190, 272 discrimination 37, 42–3, 217 disgust 79 documentaries, food 172–5 dopamine 68, 185 DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) 100 dysmorphia 38, 168, 192, 199 ‘earn’ your food 92–3 eating behaviours 39, 154–6 eating disorders 99–121 and body image 192 HAES® approach 45 and mass media 163 risk of 32 and social media 154–6 weight stigma and 38, 39 education level of 233–4 nutritional 114–15 emotional eating 51–74, 249–52 distraction 251–2 identifying 52, 250–1 quiz 73 weight stigma and 39 emotions, social pressure and 11–12 employment 234–5 endorphins 189, 198 energy-dense food 57, 85 energy intake 95 epilepsy 142 ethnic minority groups 217 eustress 218–19 exercise 179–86 addiction 196–200 attitudes toward 271–3 benefits of 183–6 lack of 222 quiz 203 stress and 220 Facebook 11, 152, 155, 159, 162 fad diet 3 failure, diet 26–7, 32 fasting 6, 39 fat-burning 94–5 ‘fat’ terminology 41 fatphobia 43 fats, unsaturated 146 fear of missing out (FOMO) 153–4 fearmongering 123–48, 260–4 language 172 orthorexia and 111 quiz 149 feminism 248 fight-or-flight response 55–6, 212, 213 fitness environment 194–6 fitspo 180–3, 200–2 5 A Day (fruit and vegetables) 33 fizzy drinks 28 Fletcher, Horace 3 FOMO (fear of missing out) 153–4 food, as identity 5–8 food poisoning 125 Food Standards Agency, UK (FSA) 91 food traditions 4 ‘forbidden’ foods 60, 79, 245 Foresight obesity model 35 free school meals 234 freedom to choose 4–5 frozen foods 124 fuel poverty 236 fullness 46–7, 249 gastrointestinal symptoms 217 ghrelin (hormone) 47, 54, 56, 61, 211 Gibson, Belle 8 glucose 58–9 gluten 14, 101, 104, 123, 139 Gluten Lie, The (Levinovitz) 14 good/healthy, bad/unhealthy 89–91, 128, 141, 255 Goop brand 135–6 GP surgeries 229 Graham, Sylvester 15 green spaces 236–7 guilt 115, 197, 198–9, 250 guilt-free food 86–7 guilty pleasure 87 HAES® (Health At Every Size) 44–8 ‘hangry’ (hungry-angry) 66–7 happiness 52–3, 69–74 Health At Every Size (HAES®) 44–8 health, population 208–9 health-promoting behaviours improvements in 45 lifestyle and 238 messages about 41, 244 and social media 154 types of 33–4 health scares 111–12, 140–2 healthcare systems 228–31 Australian 230–1 US 230 and weight bias 37–8 healthism 17 healthy movement 271–3 heart attacks 212, 215 heart disease exercise and 184 and friends 225 metabolic syndrome and 38 obesity and 24 risk factors 145 stress and 215–16 HFSS (High Fat, Sugar and Salt foods) 91 high stress reactivity 57 HIIT (high-intensity interval training) 180 homophobia 42, 43 hormones 36, 47, 54–7, 61, 69 hospital care 229–30 housing 236 HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis 55, 56, 61, 213, 215 humanity, common 276 hunger diet culture and 19, 30, 31–2 emotional 249 exercise and 183–4 hormones 47 signals 46–7 sleep and 211 hypertension 24 hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis 55, 56, 61, 213, 215 income, levels of 233–4, 237–9 indulgence foods 64 inflammatory response 214–15, 216 insomnia, fatal familial 209 Instagram ‘clean eating’ and 155–6 and fitness 181, 182 food and 113, 116 mental health and 153, 161, 162 social comparison and 160 users of 152 insulin (hormone) cortisol and 216 definition 55 glucose and 58–9 release of 70, 143 sensitivity 33 Internet access 151 intuitive eating 46–7, 244–8 Intuitive Eating (Tribole and Resch) 247 iPhones 265, 266 isolation, social 223 junk food 91–2 Just Eat It (Thomas) 247 ketogenic diet 16, 142–3 Kraut, Robert 152 language, to describe food 75–97, 96–7, 254–8 LCHF (low-carb high-fat) diets see low-carb diet leptin (hormone) cortisol and 56 food cravings and 61 hunger levels and 47, 54, 211 stress and 58 Levinovitz, Alan, The Gluten Lie 14 LGBTQ+ community 42, 161, 217, 248 life expectancy 232 lifestyle changes 33 diseases 40 liposuction 29 loneliness 61–5, 223 quiz 227–8 Love Island 108 low-carb diet books 3, 82 carbphobia 142–7 myths and 70 natural foods and 123–4, 127, 128 and nostalgia 133 ‘low-fat’ food 81, 90–1 maca (superfood powder) 134 magazines 166, 177, 182, 267 Magic Pill,The (documentary) 173, 174 malnutrition 43 matcha (superfood) 134–5 media literacy training 269 media, mass 162–71, 267–71 advertising in 91, 165–6, 169 blamed for eating disorders 109 body image and 18 and body image quiz 177 fearmongering in 148 positives about 170–1 medical care 228–31 Mediterranean style diet 71, 146 melatonin 210 men, and media pressure 167–8 menopause, post 185 mental health 186–96 mental healthcare 229 metabolic syndrome 38–9 metabolism 30, 32, 57, 95 metaphors, food 77 milk 125, 127, 141, 146 mindful eating 252–4 mindfulness 252, 276 misinformation 13–14, 111, 114, 171–5 money, and socio-economic factors 237–9 morality ‘clean’/‘dirty’ foods 78–9 ‘fat’ and 9 food language and 254–5, 258 good/bad foods 13 of health 109 mortality 24, 28, 33 motivation 191 social and cognitive 12–13 muscle dysmorphia 38, 168 National Health Service (NHS) 228–30 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) 41 natural food 81 natural vs artificial 127–31, 147 nature, being around 187, 190–1 Neff, Dr Kristin 275 negative associations, with food 76, 86, 97 Netflix 148, 171–5 neuropeptide Y (hormone) 54, 56 NHS (National Health Service) 228–30, 261, 262 nocebo effect 138–40, 148 non-REM sleep 209, 212 noradrenaline (hormone) 54, 55, 56–7 North–South divide 232 nostalgic foods 63, 132–6, 148 nutrient-dense foods 70–1, 90 nutrient-poor foods 88–9 nutrition 19–20 importance of 279 nutritionists 119 obesity cost of 43 levels 21–4 ‘Obesity causes cancer’ campaign 42 paradox 24 objectification theory 193–4 obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) 106 organic products 129 orthorexia nervosa 99–121, 258–60 and anorexia 105–7 case studies 104–5 causes 107–13 definition 99–100 diagnostic criteria 101–4 quiz 120–1 risk factors 121 symptoms of 100 treatment 113–19 osteoarthritis 28 osteoporosis 36, 185 overcrowding 236 overexercise 196–200 oxytocin (hormone) 225 paleo diet 15, 16 panic disorder 188 pasteurisation 125 perfectionism 110–11 pesticides 129, 262 Peters, Dr Lulu Hunt, Diet & Health: With Key to the Calories 3 pets, and stress 220 physical activity 39, 45, 95 placebo effect 139 pro-anorexia websites/forums 155 processed food 124–7, 147 protein 58, 69–70 pseudoscience, power of 8–17 PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) 188 public health policies 40–1 purging 39 racism 6, 43, 217 randomised control trials (RCTs) 143 raw foodists 6 real food 81–2 religion, food and 6–8, 83–4 REM (rapid eye movement) 209, 211 respiratory problems 236, 237 rest, importance of 273 restrained eaters 59, 101 ‘revenge body’ 110 running, and depression 187–8 SAM (sympathetic-adrenal medullary) system 55–6, 213, 215 saturated fat 143, 144, 145–6, 147 scientific journals 27 scientific literature 29, 53 self-acceptance 117, 117–18 self-care 48, 119, 275 self-compassion 117, 275–8 self-esteem and exercise 189–90 increased 45 low 104, 109–10, 278 and social media 156–60, 162 self-kindness 276 serotonin (hormone) 69, 71 set point 30 shakes, meal-replacement 3–4 shame 38, 43, 250 slavery 15 sleep 209–13 and alcohol 211 apnoea 28 deprivation 47, 211, 212 and food 210–11 non-REM sleep 209, 212 quiz 213 REM 209, 211 smoking 33, 216 social comparison 156–60 social/cultural pressure 11–12, 16 social factors, stress and 222–6 social media 151–62 bloggers 80, 92, 112, 112–13, 156 ‘cleanse’ 116 detox from 264–7 fearmongering on 148 misinformation in 14 positives 160–2 wellness and 7–8, 10, 11 social pressure 38, 108–9, 109–10 social relationships 222–4 socio-economic factors 40, 228, 231–9 sociocultural theory 192 sport 190, 191 statistics, diet failure 26–7 stigma, weight 37–40, 42–3, 60, 217 stress 53–61, 213–22 acute 56 and alcohol 216 chronic 36, 56, 60, 61, 213–14 distraction from 219 and exercise 190 hormones 36, 54, 214–15, 217, 225 money and 237–9 positive 218–19 quiz 221 work-related 215–16 strokes 215–16 sugar and fearmongering 147–8, 262 and slavery 15 and toxicity 136, 138, 148 superfoods 83, 128, 134–5 supplements 128, 188 surroundings, health and 236–7 sweet foods 58 sympathetic-adrenal medullary (SAM) system 55–6, 213, 215 teenagers, and media advertising 165–6 television commercials 18, 19, 91 watching 18, 163, 166–7, 169 tinned foods 124 toxicity 136–8 sugar and 136, 138, 148 Transport for London 237 triglycerides 29, 184 tryptophan (amino acid) 69–70 Tumblr 161 Twitter 152, 153, 162 type 2 diabetes exercise and 184 and fearmongering 262 metabolic syndrome and 38 obesity and 24, 28 reversing 143 unemployment 234–5 unsaturated fats 146 vaccination 133 veganism 10, 102, 127 vegetables, and fruit 33 vitamin D 187–8 water 125 weight bias 37–8, 42 quiz 50 weight-focused approach 36 weight-inclusive programme 45 weight-lifting 192, 195, 199, 272 weight-loss programmes claims by 34–5 in schools 27–8 vs weight-inclusive programme 45 workplace 28 weight-loss studies 27 weight-normative approach 21–2, 35, 44–8 weight, social-economic factors and 240–1 wellness brands 92, 126 as a ‘cult’ 7, 12, 128 fearmongering and 123 and leaders 9, 10 ‘Only eat foods you can pronounce’ 131–2, 134, 147 price tags 78–9, 102 and social media 7–8, 10, 11 What the Health (documentary) 172, 174 Women’s Health Initiative (US) 26 World Health Organization (WHO) 1, 2, 208 yo-yo dieting 36–7 yoga 190, 195, 272 ‘You are what you eat’ 14–15, 16, 81–2, 94 YouTube 158 About Anima Anima is an illustrated non-fiction lifestyle imprint from Head of Zeus.


pages: 467 words: 116,094

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, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, Firefox, Flynn Effect, jimmy wales, John Snow's cholera map, Loebner Prize, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral panic, placebo effect, publication bias, selection bias, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), 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.

: http://www.badscience.net/2004/01/more-than-water/ ‘Nanniebots’ to Catch Paedophiles ‘Nanniebots’: http://www.badscience.net/2004/03/nanniebots-to-catch-paedophiles/ New Scientist’s chat with Nanniebot: http://www.tinyurl.com/2y55h talk to it online: http://www.tinyurl.com/2osgo Nanniebots and Neverland Nanniebots and Neverland: http://www.badscience.net/2004/04/nanniebots-and-neverland/ making false claims: tinyurl.com/3gfxv modified the device to stream shows: tinyurl.com/38wmx posting did state: tinyurl.com/2jg3p chatnannies.com: http://chatnannies.com/ Artificial Intelligence Artificial Intelligence: http://www.badscience.net/2004/06/artificial-intransigence/ BOOKENDS Be Very Afraid: The Bad Science Manifesto Be Very Afraid: http://www.badscience.net/2003/04/be-very-afraid-the-bad-science-manifesto/ What Eight Years of Writing the Bad Science Column Has Taught Me finish a book: http://www.badscience.net/books/the-drug-pushers/ what I’ve learned: http://www.badscience.net/2010/12/the-year-in-nonsense-2/and http://www.badscience.net/2009/12/the-year-in-nonsense/ in eight years: http://www.badscience.net/2008/12/the-year-in-bad-science-2/ writing this column: http://www.badscience.net/2007/12/the-year-in-bad-science-2007/and http://www.badscience.net/2006/12/the-year-in-bad-science/ Alternative therapists: http://www.badscience.net/category/complementary-medicine/ great teaching tool: http://www.badscience.net/2007/11/a-kind-of-magic/ medicines regulators: http://www.badscience.net/2011/02/pretending-that-evidence-is-difficult-and-complicated/ universities: http://www.badscience.net/2010/02/how-do-you-regulate-wu/ science and evidence in culture: http://www.badscience.net/2008/09/the-medicalisation-of-everyday-life/ their libel cases: http://www.badscience.net/category/libel/ comedy factory: http://www.badscience.net/2008/08/bill-nelson-wins-the-internet/and http://www.badscience.net/2007/05/the-amazing-qlink-science-pedant/ how the world works: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/08/bad-science-effective-things-silly-places the placebo effect: http://www.badscience.net/category/placebo/ misled by heuristics: http://www.badscience.net/category/irrationality-research/ thrills, and power: http://www.badscience.net/2011/03/why-cigarette-packs-matter/ Pharmaceutical companies: http://www.badscience.net/category/big-pharma/ still won’t publish all: http://www.badscience.net/category/publication-bias/ we tolerate it: http://www.badscience.net/2011/03/when-regulation-is-opaque-trust-is-all-you-have/ Journalists: http://www.badscience.net/category/media/ can mislead the public: http://www.badscience.net/2010/10/the-caveat-in-paragraph-number-19/ the methods and techniques: http://www.badscience.net/2011/10/new-edition-of-testing-treatments-best-lay-text-on-evidence-based-medicine/ Politicians misuse evidence: http://www.badscience.net/category/politics/ and distort it: http://www.badscience.net/2011/04/id-expect-this-from-ukip-or-the-daily-mail-not-from-a-government-leaflet/ to shameful degrees: http://www.badscience.net/2011/02/andrew-lansley-and-his-imaginary-evidence/and http://www.badscience.net/2011/02/why-is-evidence-so-hard-for-politicians/ trials of policies: http://www.badscience.net/2011/05/we-should-so-blatantly-do-more-randomised-trials-on-policy/ if they achieve: http://www.badscience.net/2010/05/politicians-can-divine-which-policy-works-best-by-using-their-special-magic-politician-beam/ no honourable excuse: http://www.badscience.net/2009/09/blueprint-fail/ the fairest tests: http://www.badscience.net/category/evidence-based-policy/ Real scientists: http://www.badscience.net/2011/11/why-wont-professor-greenfield-publish-this-theory-in-a-scientific-journal/ clear line between the results: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/jul/29/duchennes-muscular-dystrophy-surrogate-outcomes nerds are more powerful: http://www.badscience.net/2011/06/kids-who-spot-bullshit-and-the-adults-who-get-upset-about-it/ best teaching gimmick: http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_goldacre_battling_bad_science.html for explaining: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/28/bad-science-diy-data-analysis?


pages: 588 words: 131,025

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, commoditize, computer vision, conceptual framework, connected car, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data acquisition, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, don't be evil, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Firefox, global village, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, information asymmetry, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, job automation, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, license plate recognition, lifelogging, 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, uber lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, 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.)


pages: 300 words: 65,976

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

Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Gary Taubes, haute cuisine, income inequality, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Urbanism, placebo effect, profit motive, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Saturday Night Live, stem cell, twin studies, 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

Alvin Roth, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Jean Tirole, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, longitudinal study, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, means of production, Menlo Park, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, new economy, New Urbanism, peer-to-peer, pension reform, Peter Singer: altruism, pets.com, 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, ultimatum game, unpaid internship, urban planning, Veblen good, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, Yom Kippur War, young professional, zero-sum game

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.


Statistics in a Nutshell by Sarah Boslaugh

Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Bayesian statistics, business climate, computer age, correlation coefficient, experimental subject, Florence Nightingale: pie chart, income per capita, iterative process, job satisfaction, labor-force participation, linear programming, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, p-value, pattern recognition, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, publication bias, purchasing power parity, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, six sigma, statistical model, The Design of Experiments, the scientific method, Thomas Bayes, Vilfredo Pareto

It’s not unreasonable to assume that there will have been a learning effect from the first time that participants undertook the test to the second time, given that the questions were exactly the same (or even if they were of the same general form). Third, there is no way the researchers can be sure that some other confounding variable was not responsible for the result because there was no experimental control in the overall process; for example, there could be some physiological response to drinking water at noon (in this paradigm) that increases intelligence levels in the afternoon. Finally, participants could be experiencing the placebo effect by which they expect that having taken the drug, their performance will improve. This is a well-known phenomenon in psychology and requires the creation of an additional control group to be tested under similar circumstances but with an inert rather than active substance being administered. There are numerous such objections that could be made to the design as it stands, but fortunately, there are well-defined ways in which the design can be strengthened by using experimental controls.

When multiple tests are performed, the experiment-wise Type I error rate is almost certainly higher than the p-value for a single experiment. (The exception is if all the tests are completely independent.) Several statistical procedures have been established to adjust p-values for multiple testing, including the Greenhouse-Geisser correction and the Bonferroni correction. Blinding You might have heard of the so-called placebo effect, in which participants in an experiment who have been allocated to a control group appear to exhibit some of the effects of the treatment. This effect arises from many sources, including an expectancy effect (because in drug trials, for example, the experimental substance and its known effects and risks would be disclosed to participants) as well as bias introduced by the behavior of the treatment allocators or response gatherers in an experiment.

Blinding Was the study single-, double-, or triple-blinded? For example, could the participants or investigators have introduced some bias by having knowledge of the treatment or control conditions in an experiment? Controls If the effect of a treatment is demonstrated in a pre-treatment or post-treatment model, are matched controls receiving a placebo within the same experimental paradigm to control for the placebo effect? A designed experiment is the best (some would say the only) way to draw causal inferences reliably from data. Quick Checklist Investigations supported by statistics follow a surprisingly standard life cycle. If you are reviewing a piece of work, try to determine what the sequence of events was during the investigation. Did the investigators start with one hypothesis and change their minds after the results were in?


The Last Best Cure: My Quest to Awaken the Healing Parts of My Brain and Get Back My Body, My Joy, a Nd My Life by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

back-to-the-land, epigenetics, index card, longitudinal study, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, place-making, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, stem cell

During treatment, the acupuncturist also interacts with the patient in a physically attenuated way— holding the patient’s hand gently as he or she studies the patient’s pulse for a full minute or two, carefully placing each needle (or even sham needle), taking the pulse again after the needles come out and seeing what’s changed. These interpersonal interactions with a healing practitioner may in and of themselves be enough to stimulate or enhance the placebo effect to the extent that pain, anxiety, and other symptoms are, at least temporarily, blunted. I think of something I recently read—almost humorous—that simply running your fingers over money relieves chronic pain. Having a practitioner place so much emotional and physical attention on you, your story, and well-being may be a bit like smoothing your hand over a million-dollar bill. Indeed, MRIs of patients’ brains show that real acupuncture does something quite extraordinary to the placebo effect itself: placement of needles in key meridians directly stimulates the area in our brain that governs our placebo response, or the expectation of a good, pain-free outcome.

We will focus on the basic approaches of meditation, yoga, and acupuncture, for three reasons. First, these modalities are available to most people no matter where they live. Second, meditation and yoga have been shown to be beneficial in terms of lowering inflammatory markers linked to virtually every disease from depression to back pain to cancer. The research on acupuncture is still emerging, with some scientists arguing that its benefits may be due in part to the placebo effect—and yet, real or placebo, people heal. Rowland-Seymour sees acupuncture transform her patients’ lives. And finally, meditation and yoga can be learned without great expense through affordable community classes and supplemented with Internet downloads or DVDs. Acupuncture is usually covered by insurance. 3. I will spend a year working with experts who have trained in one of the above modalities and used them for healing in their own lives. 4.


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: 522 words: 162,310

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt Andersen

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, animal electricity, anti-communist, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Bernie Sanders, British Empire, Burning Man, California gold rush, Celebration, Florida, centre right, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, David Brooks, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, failed state, Ferguson, Missouri, God and Mammon, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, high net worth, illegal immigration, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, large denomination, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, McMansion, Mikhail Gorbachev, Minecraft, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norman Mailer, placebo effect, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart meter, Snapchat, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, trade route, transcontinental railway, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Y2K, young professional

Weil’s center and Duke University’s have formed a confederation of woo-friendly divisions of other big-league medical centers, including those at Stanford, half the Ivy League, and dozens more. Most alternative treatments and cures have failed to be scientifically confirmed. When they sometimes work to relieve pain or anxiety, the science-based people deride it as a mere placebo effect, a secular faith healing. So the believers who want a scientific imprimatur have changed tack and embraced a new, significant rebranding: Okay, fine, it’s a placebo effect—and now placebo medicine and placebo studies are a discipline. They have the imprimatur of Harvard, which started a Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter. (When I first heard about it, I actually thought someone was kidding me.) Its founder and director has a B.A. in East Asian studies and some kind of sketchy Chinese degree in traditional medicine; he had earned his living as an acupuncturist before Harvard made him a professor of medicine.

They’re like the arguments of Donald Trump’s defenders who say it doesn’t matter if he lies as long as what he says feels true. It’s what the author of The Secret explained about her fundamental “law of attraction”—the life-changing fantasy that definitely isn’t a fantasy, but if it is, so what: “The placebo effect is an example of the law of attraction in action. When a patient truly believes the tablet is a cure, he receives what he believes and is cured.” Maybe most of the millions of Americans who spend billions of dollars a year on homeopathic remedies for their asthma, depression, migraines, allergies, arthritis, or hypertension—six of the ten illnesses most commonly treated—do experience placebo effects and feel better. But some of them are failing to get diagnoses and take medicines that would actually treat their illnesses. Maybe prompt surgical treatment of Steve Jobs’s relatively curable form of pancreatic cancer would have made him live longer, maybe not.


pages: 206 words: 69,645

Confessions of a GP by Benjamin Daniels

call centre, placebo effect

What a relief it was when my next young male patient with a cough and sore throat genuinely just had man flu. Alternative medicine I view alternative medicine a bit like I view prayer. I believe that both only work if you really have faith in them. They are also similar in the fact that neither can be explained by evidence or science, yet live on after thousands of years. My own personal belief is that both prayer and most alternative medicine practices only work via the placebo effect. However, as a doctor it is important that I put aside my personal reservations and accept that many of my patients believe in non-conventional forms of medicine. Trying to inflict my own scientific beliefs onto my patients just makes them feel defensive and alienated by modern medicine. I want my patients to feel that regardless of our differing views, they can always come and see me to discuss their health.

Apparently, an experiment took place where several actors watched a Reiki master perform and then they imitated his healing technique. When the actors impersonated the healer using realistic but completely made up mystical chants and movements, the patients were just as aware of the radiance and heat passing through their bodies and were unable to tell the difference between the work of the Reiki master and the actors. Now I would be wrong to criticise a profession for healing via the placebo effect as I use placebos all the time for my patients. The important thing to remember is that placebos do work. As I said, I am fairly sure that anti-inflammatory gel is of no more benefit for chronic back pain than rubbing on a placebo gel. This would suggest that it is the process of rubbing the gel on and thinking that it is reducing the pain rather than any pharmacological properties of the gel itself that are working.


pages: 578 words: 131,346

Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman

Airbnb, Anton Chekhov, basic income, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Broken windows theory, call centre, David Graeber, Donald Trump, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Hans Rosling, invention of writing, invisible hand, knowledge economy, late fees, Mahatma Gandhi, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, placebo effect, sharing economy, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Stanford prison experiment, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transatlantic slave trade, tulip mania, universal basic income, World Values Survey

Some things are true whether you believe in them or not. Water boils at 100°C. Smoking kills. President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on 22 November 1963. Other things have the potential to be true, if we believe in them. Our belief becomes what sociologists dub a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you predict a bank will go bust and that convinces lots of people to close their accounts, then, sure enough, the bank will go bust. Or take the placebo effect. If your doctor gives you a fake pill and says it will cure what ails you, chances are you will feel better. The more dramatic the placebo, the bigger that chance. Injection, on the whole, is more effective than pills, and in the old days even bloodletting could do the trick – not because medieval medicine was so advanced, but because people felt a procedure that drastic was bound to have an impact.

The largest gains were among boys who looked Latino, a group typically subject to the lowest expectations in California.3 Rosenthal dubbed his discovery the Pygmalion Effect, after the mythological sculptor who fell so hard for one of his own creations that the gods decided to bring his statue to life. Beliefs we’re devoted to – whether they’re true or imagined – can likewise come to life, effecting very real change in the world. The Pygmalion Effect resembles the placebo effect (which I discussed in Chapter 1), except, instead of benefiting oneself, these are expectations that benefit others. At first I thought a study this old would surely have been debunked by now, like all those other mediagenic experiments from the 1960s. Not at all. Fifty years on, the Pygmalion Effect remains an important finding in psychological research. It’s been tested by hundreds of studies in the army, at universities, in courtrooms, in families, in nursing homes and within organisations.4 True, the effect isn’t always as strong as Rosenthal initially thought, especially when it comes to how children perform on IQ tests.

Kung people, here, here, here, here labour, forced, here language, here Latané, Bibb, here, here Le Bon, Gustave, here, here, here Le Texier, Thibault, here, here Lee, Richard, here legal institutions, origins of, here Lenin, here, here, here, here Lidegaard, Bo, here Lindegaard, Marie, here Lindemann, Frederick, here, here, here, here Lipo, Carl, here Lissauer, Ernst, here Lord of the Flies, The, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here Louis XIV, King, here Love Actually, here, here Luther, Martin, here Luyendijk, Joris, here MacCurdy, John, here Machiavelli, Niccolò, here, here, here, here, here, here Madison, James, here Makin, Battle of, here Malaysia Airlines Flight here, here management science, here Mandela, Nelson, here, here, here, here Mao, here, here Markus, John, here Marshall, Colonel Samuel, here, here, here, here Martinson, Robert, here Maya civilisation, here #MeToo movement, here mean world syndrome, here meditation, here Meenan, Danny, here methamphetamine, here Milgram, Stanley, here, here, here, here, here, here, here Miller, Richard, here mirroring, here mismatches, here Mixon, Don, here, here Mol, Wietse, here, here Montgomery, General Bernard, here moralisation gap, here Moren, Albert, here Morocco, Sultan of, here motivation, see incentives and motivation Mulloy, William, here, here Mulrooney, Mara, here Mussolini, Benito, here, here, here Mycenaean civilisation, here ‘myth of pure evil’, here myths, here Napoleon Bonaparte, here, here Napoleonic wars, here Nature, here, here Naturuk, here Nazis, here, here, here, here, here deportation of Danish Jews, here neo-Nazis, here soldiers’ psychology, here, here Neanderthals, here, here, here, here, here, here, here negativity bias, here, here news, here, here, here fake news and propaganda, here Nias island, here Nietzsche, Friedrich, here nocebos, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here nomads, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here non-complementary behaviour, here nonviolent resistance, here Northcliffe, Lord, here Nunamit people, here object choice tests, here octopuses, here orangutans, here, here, here Oropeza, Javier, here orphans, Romanian, here Orwell, George, here, here Ostrom, Elinor, here, here, here oxytocin, here, here, here Panse, Friedrich, here Paris, fall of, here participatory budgeting, here, here Pelham-Burn, Lieutenant Arthur, here People’s Parliament, The, here Perry, Gina, here, here, here, here Pettigrew, Thomas, here, here Pinker, Steven, here, here, here, here placebo effect, here, here plague, here, here, here, here, here Plato, here, here play, here, here pluralistic ignorance, here Pol Pot, here, here Polynesian rat (Rattus exulans), here, here Polynesians, here, here, here Ponting, Clive, here Porto Allegre, here, here, here Postmes, Tom, here post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), here, here power, psychology of, here prisons, here, here, here, here, here, here, here private property, here, here, here, here, here, here, here Propria Cures, here Protestantism, here Prozi, Fred, here Psychological Warfare Division, here, here Pygmalion Effect, here racism, here, here, here, here, here, here rats, here ravens, here reality TV shows, here Reformation, here Reicher, Stephen, here, here relationships, extended, here, here religion, origins of, here, here reproductive rights, restriction of, here Ricard, Matthieu, here Robbers Cave Experiment, here, here, here Rodeo cowboys, here Rodriguez, Carlos, here Roggeveen, Arent, here Roggeveen, Jacob, here, here, here, here, here, here, here Roman legions, here Roosevelt, Franklin D., here, here Roosevelt, Theodore, here Rosenthal, Abe, here, here, here Rosenthal, Bob, here, here Ross, Karl, here Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here Routledge, Katherine, here, here Rowling, J.


How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett

airport security, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Drosophila, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, framing effect, Google Glasses, Isaac Newton, longitudinal study, luminiferous ether, meta analysis, meta-analysis, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, Shai Danziger, Skype, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

The pain you experience as coming from the shot is really in your brain.17 My prediction-based explanation of pain is backed up by a couple of observations. When you are expecting pain, like the moment just before an injection, your brain regions that process nociception change their activity. That is, you simulate pain and therefore feel it. This phenomenon is called the nocebo effect. You’re probably more familiar with its counterpart, the placebo effect, which relieves pain using a medically ineffective treatment like a sugar pill. If you believe you’ll feel less pain, your beliefs influence your predictions and tune down your nociceptive input so you do feel less pain. Both placebos and nocebos involve chemical changes in the brain regions that process nociception. These chemicals include opioids that relieve pain and work similarly to morphine, codeine, heroin, and other opiate drugs.

Salter, Maria Fitzgerald, and Suellen M. Walker. 2012. “Priming of Adult Pain Responses by Neonatal Pain Experience: Maintenance by Central Neuroimmune Activity.” Brain 135 (2): 404–417. Bekoff, Marc, and Jane Goodall. 2008. The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy—and Why They Matter. Novato, CA: New World Library. Benedetti, Fabrizio. 2014. “Placebo Effects: From the Neurobiological Paradigm to Translational Implications.” Neuron 84 (3): 623–637. Benedetti, Fabrizio, Martina Amanzio, Sergio Vighetti, and Giovanni Asteggiano. 2006. “The Biochemical and Neuroendocrine Bases of the Hyperalgesic Nocebo Effect.” Journal of Neuroscience 26 (46): 12014–12022. Berent, Iris. 2013. “The Phonological Mind.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 17 (7): 319–327.

Vouloumanos, Athena, and Sandra R. Waxman. 2014. “Listen Up! Speech Is for Thinking During Infancy.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 18 (12): 642–646. Wager, T. D., J. Kang, T. D. Johnson, T. E. Nichols, A. B. Satpute, and L. F. Barrett. 2015. “A Bayesian Model of Category-Specific Emotional Brain Responses.” PLOS Computational Biology 11 (4): e1004066. Wager, Tor D., and Lauren Y. Atlas. 2015. “The Neuroscience of Placebo Effects: Connecting Context, Learning and Health.” Nature Reviews Neuroscience 16 (7): 403–418. Wager, Tor D., Lauren Y. Atlas, Martin A. Lindquist, Mathieu Roy, Choong-Wan Woo, and Ethan Kross. 2013. “An fMRI-Based Neurologic Signature of Physical Pain.” New England Journal of Medicine 368 (15): 1388–1397. Walker, A. K., A. Kavelaars, C. J. Heijnen, and R. Dantzer. 2014. “Neuroinflammation and Comorbidity of Pain and Depression.”


pages: 220 words: 73,451

Democratizing innovation by Eric von Hippel

additive manufacturing, correlation coefficient, Debian, disruptive innovation, hacker house, informal economy, information asymmetry, inventory management, iterative process, James Watt: steam engine, knowledge economy, longitudinal study, 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

addicted to oil, 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, Kickstarter, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, mental accounting, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, offshore financial centre, P = NP, Peter Thiel, place-making, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, Steven Levy, the payments system, transaction costs, WikiLeaks

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) Mint.com 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.


pages: 272 words: 78,876

Heart: A History by Sandeep Jauhar

blue-collar work, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, Honoré de Balzac, John Snow's cholera map, mass immigration, medical residency, placebo effect, publish or perish, Rubik’s Cube, selection bias, stem cell, the scientific method

Could it just be random, I asked, this association between magnets and health? Knowing that Jack was well versed in philosophy, I brought up Karl Popper’s theory of science and the requirement of falsifiability. Suggest an ailment we can test, I said excitedly. We could conduct a small trial, on and off magnet therapy. He shrugged, unfazed. “I try to keep myself from analyzing it too much or talking myself out of the placebo effect,” he said. When he got up to leave, he handed me a tiny magnet as a gift. “Keep it away from your wallet,” he advised. “It’ll erase your MetroCard.” • It was on Wednesdays that Jack would come to see me at the Bellevue cardiology clinic. Like many of my patients, he was a clinic veteran who had been through several cycles of fellows. “I know I’m getting older when the doctors are getting younger,” he quipped.

., 121 Nobel Prize, 76, 205; in Physiology and Medicine, 109–10, 134 Normandy, landing of Allied troops in, 114 North Dakota, 69, 88, 97, 221 Northwestern University Medical School, 62 Null, Gary, 147, 149, 165 nutraceuticals, 148, 163, 181 Nyström, Gunnar, 90 NYU Medical Center (New York City), 207 obesity, 237, 238 O’Connor, Flannery, 69 “On Dynamic Equilibrium in the Heart” (Mines), 158 “On the Nature of Turbulence” (Ruelle and Takens), 160n open-heart surgery, 34, 61, 65, 76, 85, 136, 187; alternatives to, 142, 242; with cross-circulation, 80, 168; with heart-lung machines, 94–96 Oregon, University of, 138 organ harvesting, 187–88 organ rejection, 186, 188 Ornish, Dean, 231–32, 235–38 “Oroya fever,” 105 Oscar Mayer Company, 121 oscilloscopes, 17, 19, 139 Osler, William, 70, 84, 98, 131, 133; Harveian Oration of, 46 oxygenation, 73–74, 86, 91, 93–94 pacemakers, 34, 53, 130, 167–71, 173, 176, 230; external, 167, 190; natural, 151–52, 152 Padua, University of, 42, 43 Pagenstecher, Sanitatsrath, 67–68 pain, 9, 22, 113, 139, 141, 147, 196–97, 227; absence of response to, 188; chest, 24–25, 54, 114, 131–33, 164, 204, 224; of implanted defibrillator shocks, 208, 210, 212, 214 Pakistan, 28 palpitations, 210; see also arrhythmias; ventricular fibrillation parasympathetic nervous system, 30–31, 59, 106 Parkinson’s disease, 221–23 Pavlovian response, 209 Pearl Harbor, Japanese bombing of, 114 Pearson, Karl, 23 Pennsylvania, 94; University of, 124 pericarditis, 132–33 pericardium, 56, 60, 62–65, 72, 242 Persia, 41 Peru, 105 Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (Boston), 90n “phantom shock,” 208 Philadelphia, 73, 86, 163 physical activity, see exercise placebo effect, 148 Plainview Hospital (Plainview, New York), 224 plaque, 110, 133, 177, 231–33, 236, 242; atherosclerotic, 37, 42, 118, 129, 134, 221; visualization of, 4–5, 113, 121, 137, 142 platelets, 37 Plato, 38 pneumonia, 77, 84, 193 Poland, 173–74 Popper, Karl, 148 post-traumatic stress disorder, 207, 210, 213 potassium, 72–73, 97 Prague, 138 precordial thumps, 138 premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), 206, 233, 241 pressure-volume loops, 129 Prévost, Jean Louis, 171 Princeton University, 89 “Probing the Right Ventricle of the Heart” (Forssmann), 107 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 160 processed foods, 123 Provident Hospital (Chicago), 61–62 Prussian State Library, 41 psychosocial risk factors, 24, 119–20, 123–25, 129, 231, 236, 240 Public Broadcasting System (PBS), 10 Public Health Service, U.S., 115, 117, 118 pulmonary embolectomy, 89–90 pulmonary function tests, 3 pulse deficit, 55 “pump head,” 96 Punjab (India), 9, 28, 34, 129 quality-of-life issues, 125, 237 radio-frequency ablative procedure, 52, 211, 217 Radio Shack, 147 rapamycin, 144 rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, 221 Reconstruction, 62 “reentry,” 154, 154–59, 161 reflex arc, 53 refractory period, 151–55, 159 Rehn, Ludwig, 65–68, 77 REM sleep, see rapid eye movement (REM) sleep Renaissance, 20, 41 respiratory failure, 193 restitution, 160 resuscitation, see cardiopulmonary resuscitation Richards, Dickinson, 99, 109 Richter, Curt, 30–31, 59, 214 Richter scale, 25 risk factors, 4, 54, 132, 232, 233, 240; epidemiology of, see Framingham study; ethnic differences in, 122–24, 233–234; psychosocial, 24, 119, 123, 124, 127–30, 206; of heart attack survivors, 176, 211–12, 237, 239 Roberts, John Bingham, 63 Rohman, Michael, 97 Roman Catholic Church, 22 Roman Empire, 40 romantic love, heart as locus of, 21 Rome, 42 Romeis, Peter, 105, 107 Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 114–15, 117, 120 Rosenman, Ray, 126–27 Ross, Donald, 85 Royal Infirmary (Edinburgh), 137 Ruelle, David, 160n Russia, 118 Sacred Heart of Jesus, 22 St.


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, publication bias, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), 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, Bayesian statistics, 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, en.wikipedia.org, 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, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, more computing power than Apollo, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, phenotype, placebo effect, pre–internet, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Rubik’s Cube, shared worldview, Skype, Snapchat, social intelligence, statistical model, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Turing test, ultimatum game, zero-sum 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: 257 words: 84,498

Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh

cognitive dissonance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, endowment effect, fear of failure, Google Earth, invisible hand, placebo effect, profit motive, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)

The victim’s neck is supposed to be cracked like a whip – something that has never in fact been demonstrated and is probably fallacious. I used to see many of these patients every year in my outpatient clinic and it was clear to me that most of them were not consciously malingering – instead they were the willing, perhaps hapless, victims of a ‘nocebo’ effect, the opposite of the placebo effect. With the placebo effect, which is well understood, people will feel better, or suffer less pain, simply as a result of suggestion and expectation. With ‘whiplash injury’, the possibility of financial compensation for the victims, combined with the powerful suggestion that they have suffered a significant injury, can result in real and severe disability, even though it is, in a sense, purely imaginary. They are more the victims of the medico-legal industry and of the dualism that sees mind and brain as separate entities than of any physical injury outside the brain.


pages: 385 words: 117,391

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

active measures, follow your passion, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, place-making, placebo effect, 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).


The Matter of the Heart: A History of the Heart in Eleven Operations by Thomas Morris

3D printing, Albert Einstein, Charles Lindbergh, experimental subject, Kickstarter, lateral thinking, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Journalism, placebo effect, popular electronics, randomized controlled trial, stem cell

His brother John started his career as William’s assistant in his school of anatomy in Soho, and probably became interested in the possibilities of surgical aneurysm repair as a result.13 William was a figure of great eminence, respected as a teacher and as the leading obstetrician of his generation, but his reputation would soon be eclipsed by that of his younger brother. John Hunter was not only a talented clinician but also an important experimental scientist who performed pioneering research into transplantation and the placebo effect. His deep interest in the structures of the body and their functions led him to study how anatomy differed between humans and other animals, and over many years he amassed a huge collection of more than 15,000 specimens drawn from several hundred animal and plant species. After his death it was purchased by the British government, and although a large number of items were destroyed in an air raid in 1941 it still forms the core of the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons in London, one of the world’s greatest anatomical collections.

The researchers were stunned to discover that there was no difference between the two groups. Of the nine patients who underwent the sham operation, five noted significant improvement, and two who had been severely disabled before their ‘surgery’ were once again able to engage in strenuous exercise.51 The artery-tying operation was obviously worthless. Rarely has there been a more striking demonstration of the placebo effect, whereby the mere expectation of recovery improves a patient’s condition. As the heart surgeon Donald Effler put it, ‘The patient with coronary artery disease gets initial relief of angina from almost anything: this includes walking into the reception room of the surgeon’s office.’52 It was a dramatic indication that clinicians needed to find physical proof of improvement rather than rely on the patient’s impressions.

.: An Inquiry into the Symptoms and Causes of … Angina Pectoris 188 Parsonnet, Victor 174–5, 176 patent ductus arteriosus 43–9, 52, 86 pathogens 122 Paul of Aegina 8–9 percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) 304 percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) 296–9, 300–1, 302, 303, 304 perfusion 92; coronary 261–7 perfusion pumps 252–4 pericardium, 15, 17, 57 Perlman, Itzhak 54 PERVs see porcine endogenous retroviruses Petit de la Villéon, Dr 23 Pevsner, Nikolaus: The Buildings of England 313 Pfizer (company) 141 Philadelphia: Academy of Surgery 44; cat population 97; Episcopal Hospital 130; Hahneman University Hospital 106, 129 pigs’ hearts and valves 144–5, 146, 335–8, 343, 344 Pink Floyd: Atom Heart Mother 176 Pitcairn, David 122 Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University 344; University of 338 placebo effect 61, 198–9 plaques 187, 190, 303 platelets 64 Plavsona, Marie 20 Playboy magazine 277 Pliny the Elder: Natural History 8 pneuma 59 pneumonia 110, 126, 234, 275–6 polymers 79, 134, 257, 296—7, 334, 340, 344; ‘scaffolds’ 145, 340–41, 342, 344; stent 304; suture material 203 popliteal aneurysms 61–2 porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) 337 Portner, Peer 278 ‘post-perfusion syndrome’ 116 potassium citrate 115 Pottenger, Eugene 206 Potts, Willis 54 Poynton, Frederick 38 Prendergast, Bernard 314–15 Prévost, Jean-Louis 91, 159, 160 primates 225, 335, 336, 338, 339; see chimpanzees; baboons; gorillas; monkeys PTCA see angioplasty Puel, Jacques 301n pulmonary arteries 30, 31, 32, 40, 42, 48, 221, 222; embolism 89 pulmonary circulation 30 pulmonary stenosis 40, 41, 107, 289, 306–7 pulmonary valve 120, 121, 124; replacement 317 pulmonary veins 43, 120, 221, 222, 232 pulse, the 278–9 ‘pump, the’ 113–14 pumps 254–5; balloon 262–3; perfusion 252–4; roller 99 radiofrequency ablation 308, 310–11 radiography 22–3 radiotherapy 223 Randomized Evaluation of Mechanical Assistance for the Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure (REMATCH) trial 280 Rashkind, William 304–6 Reemtsma, Keith 224–5, 334 regurgitation see mitral regurgitation Rehn, Ludwig 18–19, 121, 123–4, 345 Reiner, Jonathan 183 rejection, post-transplant 144, 145, 216, 219, 220, 222, 223, 227, 234, 237, 245–6, 247–8, 265; hyperacute 335, 336, 337–8 REMATCH see Randomized Evaluation … restenosis 301, 302, 303 rheumatic fever/heart disease 121–3, 125, 126, 127, 132, 134, 208, 253, 263 rheumatism 122 Richards, Dickinson 288, 290 Richmond, Calvin 111 Ricketts, Benjamin Merrill 37; The Surgery of the Heart and Lungs 6 right ventricular hypertrophy 40, 41 Roberts, John 14–15 Roberts, Julia 162n Robinovitch, Louise 159–60 robotics/robots, surgical 324–5, 326–8 Rohrbach, Leroy 2–3, 4–5, 24 Röntgen, Wilhelm 22 Rose, Eric 244–5 Ross, Donald 142, 143, 145–6, 238–9, 242 Ross, John 290–91 Ross, Ronald 251; ‘The Vivisector Vivisected’ 251–2 Ross Procedure 143 Rostropovich, Mstislav 54 Royal College of Surgeons, London: Hunterian Museum 61 Royal Society 91; Philosophical Transactions 39 Rubio-Alvarez, Victor 306n Rush, Boyd 224, 225—6 Russell, John Richard 223 Rutherford, Barry 302 Ryan, Patrick 239 SA node see sinoatrial node Sabiston, David 204 sacciform aneurysms 72 St Laurent, Robert 278 St Louis: Children’s Hospital 45; Washington University 44, 124 St Thomas’ solution 116 St Vitus’s Dance 122 Salisbury, Peter 256 Samways, Daniel 123 Sanders, Samuel 54 Sandoz (company) 247 saphenous vein grafts 204, 205, 209, 210 Saucier, Dave 279 Sauerbruch, Ferdinand 287 Saxon, Eileen 27–8, 29–33 scar tissue 193, 266, 303, 341, 342n Scarfe, Gerald 239 Scheinman, Melvin 309, 310n Schlumpf, Maria 297 Schlumpf, Walter 297 Schmidt, A. 92 Schneider, Richard 285, 286, 287 Schrire, Velva 230 Schröder, Waldemar von 92 Schroeder, Bill 276–7 Schuster, Edgar 252–3 Scott, Donald 238 Seattle: University of Washington 198 Sellers, Peter 149–50, 249 Senning, Åke 145, 169, 170, 201, 215, 296, 297, 304 Sewell, William 255 Shaw, George Bernard 94 Shaw, Laura 293–4 Sherman, Harry 345–6 Shiley, Donald see Björk–Shiley valve shock, circulatory 26 Shumacker, Harris 69, 73 Shumway, Norman 220–21, 223, 226, 235, 245, 246, 248, 255; collaboration with Lower 221—2, 227, 228, 230, 234, 241, 242; on DeVries’s artificial heart 276, 277; interest in hypothermia 114, 221; on xenografting 339 ‘shunts’ 31, 82, 87, 196, 211 Siddons, Harold 171 Sigwart, Ulrich 300–3 Simon, André 333 Sinha, Sanjay 342 sinoatrial node 154, 155, 174 sirolimus 303 skin, artificial 340 skin cells: conversion to stem cells 341 skin grafts 215–16, 219 Smithy, Horace 128–9 Søndergaard, Lars 319 Sones, Mason 199–200, 202, 206, 291 Souttar, Henry 126–8, 130, 131, 132 stab wounds, early xi, 11, 15–19 Starling’s law 259, 271 Starr, Albert 118, 119, 136–40, 293 Starr–Edwards Valve 140, 144 Starzl, Thomas 248 stem cell technology 341–2 Steno, Bishop Nicolas 39–40 stenosis 121; see aortic stenosis; mitral stenosis Stent, Charles 300 stents/stenting 212, 300, 301, 302–3, 316–17; bioabsorbable 304; drug-eluting 303–4 stereoscopic radiography 23 sterilisation 7; see antisepsis/asepsis sternotomy 325–6 steroids 220, 241 stethoscope 44, 48, 100, 121, 128, 139, 285 stitches/stitching see sutures Stockholm: Karolinska Hospital 169; Sabbatsberg Hospital 51 Stokes–Adams attacks 165, 170 Stowell Park, Gloucestershire 1–2 Streptococcus pyogenes 122 stress 154n strychnine 15 suramin 94 Sushruta 186, 215 Sutherland, Kiefer 162n sutures/suturing: blood vessels 75, 76–7, 202, 207, 209, 215, 216; in the heart 13, 14–15, 17; polymer 203 SVT see tachycardia, supraventricular Swan, Henry 75, 106–7, 114 Sweeney (Nicoli), Lorraine 46–9, 54 Sydenham’s chorea 122 Sydney: Crown Street Women’s Hospital 155, 156; St Vincent’s Hospital 332 sympathectomy 190, 191 syphilis 57–8, 59, 67, 190 systole (phase of cardiac cycle) 120, 121 tachycardia 152, 178, 182, 308–9, 310; supraventricular (SVT) 308; ventricular 179 Tagliacozzi, Gaspare 215–16 Taussig, Helen 28–9, 31, 33, 34, 36, 37, 41, 42, 110, 180, 305; see also ‘Blalock–Taussig shunt’ TAVI see transcatheter aortic valve implantation Taylor, Doris 343 Ted E.


pages: 302 words: 92,546

Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health by H. Gilbert Welch, Lisa M. Schwartz, Steven Woloshin

23andMe, double helix, Google Earth, invisible hand, life extension, longitudinal study, mandelbrot fractal, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

[back] Like most general rules, there are exceptions. Symptom improvement is not a foolproof test of benefit for two reasons. First, some people feel better just because they do something. That is the placebo effect: people sometimes experience a benefit even when they take an inert sugar pill or when they receive a faked surgery. Second, some symptoms, by their very nature, wax and wane spontaneously. People with back pain know this quite well; on some days, their backs feel great, on other days, they feel awful. These two factors can lead people to judge an intervention as beneficial when in fact what is really happening is either a placebo effect or a spontaneous improvement. Consequently, the most trustworthy test of an intervention for current symptoms is still a randomized trial—a true experiment in which people are randomly given the drug or a placebo and then undergo a standardized symptom assessment.


pages: 302 words: 87,776

Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter by Dr. Dan Ariely, Jeff Kreisler

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, bitcoin, Burning Man, collateralized debt obligation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, endowment effect, experimental economics, hedonic treadmill, IKEA effect, invisible hand, loss aversion, mental accounting, mobile money, placebo effect, price anchoring, Richard Thaler, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, the payments system, Uber for X, ultimatum game, Walter Mischel, winner-take-all economy

Read Montague (Princeton), “Neural Correlates of Behavioral Preference for Culturally Familiar Drinks,” Neuron 44 (2004): 379–387. 9. Moti Amar (Onno College), Ziv Carmon (INSEAD), and Dan Ariely (Duke), “See Better If Your Sunglasses Are Labeled Ray-Ban: Branding Can Influence Objective Performance” (working paper). 10. Belsky and Gilovich, Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes, 137. 11. Baba Shiv (Stanford), Ziv Carmon (INSEAD), and Dan Ariely (MIT), “Placebo Effects of Marketing Actions: Consumers May Get What They Pay For,” Journal of Marketing Research 42, no. 4 (2005): 383–393. 12. Marco Bertini (London Business School), Elie Ofek (Harvard Business School), and Dan Ariely (Duke), “The Impact of Add-On Features on Consumer Product Evaluations,” Journal of Consumer Research 36 (2009): 17–28. 13. Jordi Quoidbach (Harvard) and Elizabeth W. Dunn (University of British Columbia), “Give It Up: A Strategy for Combating Hedonic Adaptation,” Social Psychological and Personality Science 4, no. 5 (2013): 563–568. 14.

Ilana Polyak, “Sudden Wealth Can Leave You Broke,” CNBC, http://www.cnbc.com/2014/10/01/sudden-wealth-can-leave-you-broke.html. CHAPTER 13: WE OVEREMPHASIZE MONEY 1. Rebecca Waber (MIT), Baba Shiv (Stanford), Ziv Carmon (INSEAD), and Dan Ariely (MIT), “Commercial Features of Placebo and Therapeutic Efficacy,” JAMA 299, no. 9 (2008): 1016–1017. 2. Baba Shiv (Stanford), Carmon Ziv (INSEAD), and Dan Ariely (MIT), “Placebo Effects of Marketing Actions: Consumers May Get What They Pay For,” Journal of Marketing Research 42, no. 4 (2005): 383–393. 3. Felix Salmon, “How Money Can Buy Happiness, Wine Edition,” Reuters, October 27, 2013, http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2013/10/27/how-money-can-buy-happiness-wine-edition/. 4. Christopher K. Hsee (University of Chicago), George F. Loewenstein (Carnegie Mellon), Sally Blount (University of Chicago), and Max H.


pages: 442 words: 94,734

The Art of Statistics: Learning From Data by David Spiegelhalter

Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Bayesian statistics, Carmen Reinhart, complexity theory, computer vision, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science, Hans Rosling, Kenneth Rogoff, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nate Silver, Netflix Prize, p-value, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, publication bias, randomized controlled trial, recommendation engine, replication crisis, self-driving car, speech recognition, statistical model, The Design of Experiments, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus

The correlation was −0.60, and some theory shows that if the rankings were complete chance and all that was operating were regression-to-the-mean, the correlation would be expected to be −0.71, not very different from what was observed.4 This suggests the differences between countries were far less than claimed, and that changes in league position had little to do with changes in teaching philosophy. Regression-to-the-mean also operates in clinical trials. In the last chapter we saw that randomized trials were needed to evaluate new pharmaceuticals properly, since even people in the control arm showed benefit – the so-called placebo effect. This is often interpreted to mean that just taking a sugar pill (preferably a red one) actually has a beneficial effect on people’s health. But much of the improvement seen in people who do not receive any active treatment may be regression-to-the-mean, since patients are enrolled in trials when they are showing symptoms, and many of these would have resolved anyway. So if we want to know the genuine effect of installing speed cameras in accident black spots, then we should follow the approach used for evaluating pharmaceuticals and take the bold step of randomly allocating speed cameras.

Locators in italics refer to figures and tables A A/B tests 107 absolute risk 31–2, 36–7, 383 adjustment 110, 133, 135, 383 adjuvant therapy 181–5, 183–4 agricultural experiments 105–6 AI (artificial intelligence) 144–5, 185–6, 383 alcohol consumption 112–13, 299–300 aleatory uncertainty 240, 306, 383 algorithms – accuracy 163–7 – biases 179 – for classification 143–4, 148 – complex 174–7 – contests 148, 156, 175, 277–8 see also Titanic challenge – meaning of 383 – parameters 171 – performance assessment 156–63, 176, 177 – for prediction 144, 148 – robustness 178 – sensitivity 157 – specificity 157 – and statistical variability 178–9 – transparency 179–81 allocation bias 85 analysis 6–12, 15 apophenia 97, 257 Arbuthnot, John 253–5 Archbishop of Canterbury 322–3 arm-crossing behaviour 259–62, 260, 263, 268–70, 269 artificial intelligence (AI) 144–5, 185–6, 383 ascertainment bias 96, 383 assessment of statistical claims 368–71 associations 109–14, 138 autism 113 averages 46–8, 383 B bacon sandwiches 31–4 bar charts 28, 30 Bayes, Thomas 305 Bayes factors 331–2, 333, 384 Bayes’ Theorem 307, 313, 315–16, 384 Bayesian hypothesis testing 219, 305–38 Bayesian learning 331 Bayesian smoothing 330 Bayesian statistical inference 323–34, 325, 384 beauty 179 bell-shaped curves 85–91, 87 Bem, Daryl 341, 358–9 Bernoulli distribution 237, 384 best-fit lines 125, 393 biases 85, 179 bias/variance trade-off 169–70, 384 big data 145–6, 384 binary data 22, 385 binary variables 27 binomial distribution 230–6, 232, 235, 385 birth weight 85–91 blinding 101, 385 BMI (body mass index) 28 body mass index (BMI) 28 Bonferroni correction 280, 290–1, 385 boosting 172 bootstrapping 195–203, 196, 198, 200, 202, 208, 229–30, 386 bowel cancer 233–6, 235 Box, George 139 box-and-whisker plots 42, 43, 44, 45 Bradford-Hill, Austin 114 Bradford-Hill criteria 114–17 brain tumours 95–6, 135, 301–3 breast cancer screening 214–16, 215 breast cancer surgery 181–5, 183–4 Brier score 164–7, 386 Bristol Royal Infirmary 19–21, 56–8 C Cairo, Alberto 25, 65 calibration 161–3, 162, 386 Cambridge University 110, 111 cancer – breast 181–5, 183–4, 214–16, 215 – lung 98, 114, 266 – ovarian 361 – risk of 31–6 carbonated soft drinks 113 Cardiac Surgical Registry (CSR) 20–1 case-control studies 109, 386 categorical variables 27–8, 386 causation 96–9, 114–17, 128 reverse causation 112–15, 404 Central Limit Theorem 199, 238–9, 386–7 chance 218, 226 child heart surgery see heart surgery chi-squared goodness-of-fittest 271, 272, 387 chi-squared test of association 268–70, 387 chocolate 348 classical probability 217 classification 143–4, 148–54 classification trees 154–6, 155, 168, 174, 387 cleromancy 81 clinical trials 82–3, 99–107, 131, 280, 347 clustering 147 cohort studies 109, 387 coins 308, 309 communication 66–9, 353, 354, 364–5 complex algorithms 138–9 complexity parameters 171 computer simulation 205–7, 208 conclusions 15, 22, 347 conditional probability 214–16 confidence intervals 241–4, 243, 248–51, 250, 271–3, 335–6, 387–8 confirmatory studies 350–1, 388 confounders 110, 135, 388 confusion matrixes 157 continuous variables 46, 388 control groups 100, 389 control limits 234, 389 correlation 96–7, 113 count variables 44–6, 389 counterfactuals 97–8, 389 crime 83–5, 321–2 see also homicides Crime Survey for England and Wales 83–5 cross-sectional studies 108–9 cross-validation 170–1, 389 CSR(Cardiac Surgical Registry) 20–1 D Data 7–12, 15, 22 data collection 345 data distribution see sample distribution data ethics 371 data literacy 12, 389 data science 11, 145–6, 389 data summaries 40 data visualization 22, 25, 65–6, 69 data-dredging 12 death 9 see also mortality; murder; survival rates deduction 76 deep learning 147, 389 dependent events 214, 389 dependent variables 60, 125–6, 389 deterministic models 128–9, 138 dice 205–7, 206, 213 differences between groups of numbers 51–6 distribution 43 DNA evidence 216 dogs 179 Doll, Richard 114 doping 310–13, 311–12, 314, 315–16 dot-diagrams 42, 43, 44, 45 dynamic graphics 71 E Ears 108–9 education 95–6, 106–7, 131, 135, 178–9 election result predictions 372–6, 375 see also opinion polls empirical distribution 197, 404 enumerative probability 217–18 epidemiology 95, 117, 389 epistemic uncertainty 240, 306, 308, 309, 390 error matrixes 157, 158, 390 errors in coding 345–6 ESP (extra-sensory perception) 341, 358–9 ethics 371 eugenics 39 expectation 231, 390 expected frequencies 32, 209–13, 211, 214–16, 215, 390 explanatory variables 126, 132–5 exploratory studies 350, 390 exposures 114, 390 external validity 82–3, 390 extra-sensory perception (ESP) 341, 358–9 F False discovery rate 280, 390 false-positives 278–80, 390 feature engineering 147, 390 Fermat, Pierre de 207 final odds 316 financial crisis of 2007–2008 139–40 financial models 139–40 Fisher, Ronald 258, 265–6, 336, 345 five-sigma results 281–2 forensic epidemiology 117, 391 forensic statistics 6 framing 391 – of numbers 24–5 – of questions 79–80 fraud 347–50 funnel plots 234, 391 G Gallup, George 81 Galton, Francis 39–40, 58, 121–2, 238–9 gambler’s fallacy 237 gambling 205–7, 206, 213 garden of forking paths 350 Gaussian distribution see normal distribution GDP (Gross Domestic Product) 8–9 gender discrimination 110, 111 Gini index 49 Gombaud, Antoine 205–7 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) 8–9 Groucho principle 358 H Happiness 9 HARKing 351–2 hazard ratios 357, 391 health 169–70 heart attacks 99–104 Heart Protection Study (HPS) 100–2, 103, 273–5, 274, 282–7 heart surgery 19–21, 22–4, 23, 56–8, 57, 93, 136–8, 137 heights 122–5, 123, 124, 127, 134, 201, 202, 243, 275–8, 276 hernia surgery 106 HES (Hospital Episode Statistics) 20–1 hierarchical modelling 328, 391 Higgs bosons 281–2 histograms 42, 43, 44, 45 homicides 1–6, 222–6, 225, 248, 270–1, 272, 287–94 Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) 20–1 hospitals 19–21, 25–7, 26, 56–61, 138 house prices 48, 112–14 HPS (Heart Protection Study) 100–2, 103, 273–5, 274, 282–7 hypergeometric distribution 264, 391 hypotheses 256–7 hypothesis testing 253–303, 336, 392 see also Neyman-Pearson Theory; null hypothesis significance testing; P-values I IARC (International Agency for Research in Cancer) 31 icon arrays 32–4, 33, 392 income 47–8 independent events 214, 392 independent variables 60, 126, 392 induction 76–7, 392 inductive behaviour 283 inductive inference 76–83, 78, 239, 392 infographics 69, 70 insurance 180 ‘intention to treat’ principle 100–1, 392 interactions 172, 392 internal validity 80–1, 392 International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC) 31 inter-quartile range (IQR) 51, 89, 392 IQ 349 IQR (inter-quartile range) 49, 51, 89, 392 J Jelly beans in a jar 40–6, 48, 49, 50 K Kaggle contests 148, 156, 175, 277–8 see also Titanic challenge k-nearest neighbors algorithm 175 L LASSO 172–4 Law of Large Numbers 237, 393 law of the transposed conditional 216, 313 league tables 25, 130–1 see also tables least-squares regression lines 124, 125, 393 left-handedness 113–14, 229–33, 232 legal cases 313, 321, 331–2 likelihood 327, 336, 394 likelihood ratios 314–23, 319–20, 332, 394 line graphs 4, 5 linear models 132, 138 literal populations 91–2 logarithmic scale 44, 45, 394 logistic regression 136, 172, 173, 394 London Underground 24 loneliness 80 long-run frequency probability 218 look elsewhere effect 282 lung cancer 98, 114, 266 lurking factors 113, 135, 394–5 M Machine learning 139, 144–5, 395 mammography 214–16, 215 margins of error 189, 199, 200, 244–8, 395 mean average 46–8 mean squared error (MSE) 163–4, 165, 395 measurement 77–9 meat 31–4 media 356–8 median average 46, 47–8, 51, 89, 395 Méré, Chevalier de 205–7, 213 meta-analysis 102, 104, 395 metaphorical populations 92–3 mode 46, 48, 395 mortality 47, 113–14 MRP (multilevel regression and post-stratification) 329, 396 MSE (mean squared error) 163–4, 165, 395 mu 190 multilevel regression and post-stratification (MRP) 329, 396 multiple linear regression 132–3, 134 multiple regression 135, 136, 396 multiple testing 278–80, 290, 396 murders 1–6, 222–6, 225, 248, 270–1, 287–94 N Names, popularity of 66, 67 National Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyle Survey (Natsal) 52, 69, 70, 73–5 natural variability 226 neural networks 174 Neyman, Jerzy 242, 283, 335–6 Neyman-Pearson Theory 282–7, 336–7 NHST (null hypothesis significance testing) 266–71, 294–7, 296 non-significant results 299, 346–7, 370 normal distribution 85–91, 87, 226, 237–9, 396–7 null hypotheses 257–65, 336, 397 null hypothesis significance testing (NHST) 266–71, 294–7, 296 O Objective priors 327 observational data 108, 114–17, 128 odds 34, 314, 316 odds ratios 34–6 one-sided tests 264, 397–8 one-tailed P-values 264, 398 opinion polls 82, 245–7, 246, 328–9 see also election result predictions ovarian cancer 361 over-fitting 167–71, 168 P P-hacking 351 P-values 264–5, 283, 285, 294–303, 336, 401 parameters 88, 240, 398 Pascal, Blaise 207 patterns 146–7 Pearson, Egon 242, 283, 336 Pearson, Karl 58 Pearson correlation coefficient 58, 59, 96–7, 126, 398 percentiles 48, 89, 398–9 performance assessment of algorithms 156–67, 176, 177 permutation tests 261–4, 263, 399 personal probability 218–19 pie charts 28, 29 placebo effect 131 placebos 100, 101, 399 planning 13–15, 344–5 Poisson distribution 223–4, 225, 270–1, 399 poker 322–3 policing 107 popes 114 population distribution 86–91, 195, 399 population growth 61–6, 62–4 population mean 190–1, 395 see also expectation populations 74–5, 80–93, 399 posterior distributions 327, 400 power of a test 285–6, 400 PPDAC (Problem, Plan, Data, Analysis, Conclusion) problem-solving cycle 13–15, 14, 108–9, 148–54, 344–8, 372–6, 400 practical significance 302, 400 prayer 107 precognition 341, 358–9 Predict 2.1 182 prediction 144, 148–54 predictive analytics 144, 400 predictor variables 392 pre-election polls see opinion polls presentation 22–7 press offices 355–6 priming 80 prior distributions 327, 400 prior odds 316 probabilistic forecasts 161, 400 probabilities, accuracy 163–7 probability 10 meaning of 216–22, 400–1 rules of 210–13 and uncertainty 306–7 probability distribution 90, 401 probability theory 205–27, 268–71 probability trees 210–13, 212 probation decisions 180 Problem, Plan, Data, Analysis, Conclusion (PPDAC) problem-solving cycle 13–15, 14, 108–9, 148–54, 344–8, 372–6, 400 problems 13 processed meat 31–4 propensity 218 proportions, comparisons 28–37, 33, 35 prosecutor’s fallacy 216, 313 prospective cohort studies 109, 401 pseudo-random-number generators 219 publication bias 367–8 publication of findings 355 Q QRPs (questionable research practices) 350–3 quartiles 89, 402 questionable research practices (QRPs) 350–3 Quetelet, Adolphe 226 R Race 179 random forests 174 random match probability 321, 402 random observations 219 random sampling 81–2, 208, 220–2 random variables 221, 229, 402 randomization 108, 266 randomization tests 261–4, 263, 399 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) 100–2, 105–7, 114, 135, 402 randomizing devices 219, 220–1 range 49, 402 rate ratios 357, 402 Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves 157–60, 160, 402 recidivism algorithms 179–80 regression 121–40 regression analysis 125–8, 127 regression coefficients 126, 133, 403 regression modelling strategies 138–40 regression models 171–4 regression to the mean 125, 129–32, 403 regularization 170 relative risk 31, 403 reliability of data 77–9 replication crisis in science 11–12 representative sampling 82 reproducibility crisis 11–12, 297, 342–7, 403 researcher degrees of freedom 350–1 residual errors 129, 403 residuals 122–5, 403 response variables 126, 135–8 retrospective cohort studies 109, 403 reverse causation 112–15, 404 Richard III 316–21 risk, expression of 34 robust measures 51 ROC (Receiver Operating Characteristic) curves 157–60, 160, 402 Rosling, Hans 71 Royal Statistical Society 68, 79 rules for effective statistical practice 379–80 Ryanair 79 S Salmon 279 sample distribution 43 sample mean 190–1, 395 sample size 191, 192–5, 193–4, 283–7 sampling 81–2, 93 sampling distributions 197, 404 scatter-plots 2–4, 3 scientific research 11–12 selective reporting 12, 347 sensitivity 157–60, 404 sentencing 180 Sequential Probability Ratio Test (SPRT) 292, 293 sequential testing 291–2, 404 sex ratio 253–5, 254, 261, 265 sexual partners 47, 51–6, 53, 55, 73–5, 191–201, 193–4, 196, 198, 200 Shipman, Harold 1–6, 287–94, 289, 293 shoe sizes 49 shrinkage 327, 404 sigma 190, 281–2 signal and the noise 129, 404 significance testing see null hypothesis significance testing Silver, Nate 27 Simonsohn, Uri 349–52, 366 Simpson’s Paradox 111, 112, 405 size of a test 285–6, 405 skewed distribution 43, 405 smoking 98, 114, 266 social acceptability bias 74 social physics 226 Somerton, Francis see Titanic challenge sortilege 81 sortition 81 Spearman’s rank correlation 58–60, 405 specificity 157–9, 405 speed cameras 130, 131–2 speed of light 247 sports doping 310–13, 311–12, 314, 315–16 sports teams 130–1 spread 49–51 SPRT (Sequential Probability Ratio Test) 292, 293 standard deviation 49, 88, 126, 405 standard error 231, 405–6 statins 36–7, 99–104, 273–5, 274, 282–7 statistical analysis 6–12, 15 statistical inference 208, 219, 229–51, 305–38, 323–8, 335, 404 statistical methods 12, 346–7, 379 statistical models 121, 128–9, 404 statistical practice 365–7 statistical science 2, 7, 404 statistical significance 255, 265–8, 270–82, 404 Statistical Society 68 statistics – assessment of claims 368–71 – as a discipline 10–11 – ideology 334–8 – improvements 362–4 – meaning of 404 – publications 16 – rules for effective practice 379–80 – teaching of 13–15 STEP (Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer) 107 storytelling 69–71 stratification 110, 383 Streptomycin clinical trial 105, 114 strip-charts 42, 43, 44, 45 strokes 99–104 Student’s t-statistic 275–7 Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) 107 subjective probability 218–19 summaries 40, 49, 50, 51 supermarkets 112–14 supervised learning 143–4, 404 support-vector machines 174 surgery – breast cancer surgery 181–5, 183–4 – heart surgery 19–21, 22–4, 23, 56–8, 57, 93, 136–8, 137 – hernia surgery 106 survival rates 25–7, 26, 56–61, 57, 60–1 systematic reviews 102–4 T T-statistic 275–7, 404 tables 22–7, 23 tail-area 231 tea tasting 266 teachers 178–9 teaching of statistics 13–15 technology 1 telephone polls 82 Titanic challenge 148–56, 150, 152–3, 155, 162, 166–7, 172, 173, 175, 176, 177, 277 transposed conditionals, law of 216, 313 trees 7–8 trends 61–6, 62–4, 67 two-sided tests 265, 397–8 two-tailed P-values 265, 398 Type I errors 283–5, 404 Type II errors 283–5, 407 U Uncertainty 208, 240, 306–7, 383, 390 uncertainty intervals 199, 200, 241, 335 unemployment 8–9, 189–91, 271–3 university education 95–6, 135, 301–3 see also Cambridge University unsupervised learning 147, 407 US Presidents 167–9 V Vaccination 113 validity of data 79–83 variability 10, 49–51, 178–9, 407 variables 27, 56–61 variance 49, 407 Vietnam War draft lottery 81–2 violence 113 virtual populations 92 volunteer bias 85 voting age 79–80 W Waitrose 112–14 weather forecasts 161, 164, 165 weight loss 348 ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ 351–2 wisdom of crowds 39–40, 48, 51, 407 Z Z-scores 89, 407 PELICAN BOOKS Economics: The User’s Guide Ha-Joon Chang Human Evolution Robin Dunbar Revolutionary Russia: 1891–1991 Orlando Figes The Domesticated Brain Bruce Hood Greek and Roman Political Ideas Melissa Lane Classical Literature Richard Jenkyns Who Governs Britain?


pages: 346 words: 92,984

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

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, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Kickstarter, longitudinal study, 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: 420 words: 98,309

Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris, Elliot Aronson

Ayatollah Khomeini, cognitive dissonance, cuban missile crisis, desegregation, Donald Trump, false memory syndrome, fear of failure, Lao Tzu, longitudinal study, medical malpractice, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, moral panic, Nelson Mandela, placebo effect, psychological pricing, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, social intelligence, telemarketer, the scientific method, trade route, transcontinental railway, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

To guard against the bias of our own direct observations, scientists invented the control group: the group that isn't getting the new therapeutic method, the people who aren't getting the new drug. Most people understand the importance of control groups in the study of a new drug's effectiveness, because without a control group, you can't say if people's positive response is due to the drug or to a placebo effect, the general expectation that the drug will help them. For instance, one study of women who had complained of sexual problems found that 41 percent said that their libido returned when they took Viagra. So, however, did 43 percent of the control group who took a sugar pill.18 (This study showed conclusively that the organ most involved in sexual excitement is the brain.) Obviously, if you are a psychotherapist, you can't randomly put some of your clients on a waiting list and give others your serious attention; the former will find another therapist pronto.

presidential debate with Kennedy, [>] Watergate scandal, [>]–[>], [>]–[>], [>]–[>], [>] (n.2) Nobel Peace Prize, [>], [>] nonverbal signals, confessions and, [>]–[>], [>]–[>] Nostradamus, [>] Nuer (Sudan), tooth extraction by, [>]–[>], [>]–[>] obedience to authority, [>]–[>], [>], [>] (n.27)—[>] O'Brien, Larry, [>] Offer, Daniel, [>] Ofshe, Richard, [>] O'Malley, Jack, [>] Orizio, Riccardo, [>] Oz, Amos, [>] Page, Bradley, [>], [>] Painted Bird, The (Kosinski), [>]–[>] Palestinians, conflict with Israel, [>]–[>], [>], [>]–[>] panic attacks, [>]–[>], [>]–[>], [>], [>]–[>] pardons, wrongful, [>] parents blaming, [>]–[>], [>]–[>] childhood sexual abuse and, [>], [>]–[>], [>]–[>], [>]–[>], [>]–[>], [>]–[>] false memories concerning, [>]–[>] recovered-memory therapy and, [>]–[>] patents, [>]–[>] patriarchy, [>]–[>] penis envy, [>] Peres, Shimon, [>]–[>], [>] perpetrator narrative, [>]–[>] escalation of brutality, [>]–[>] gulf between victim and, [>]–[>] obedience experiments of Milgram and, [>]–[>], [>], [>] (n.27)—[>] perpetrators of evil, [>]–[>] reconciliation and, [>]–[>] strategies and, [>]–[>] Petersen, Betsy, [>] Pfingst, Paul, [>] Pfizer, Inc., [>] pharmaceuticals industry clinical trials, [>]–[>] conflicts of interest, [>]–[>] funding bias and, [>]–[>] gifts and, [>]–[>], [>] physicians. See also mental-health practitioners conflicts of interest, [>]–[>] health-care system problems and, [>]–[>] psychiatrists, [>]–[>] sterilization practices, [>], [>] Pines, Ayala, [>]–[>] placebo effect, [>] Pogo, [>] police corruption, [>]–[>], [>], [>] polio vaccine, [>] Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The (Spencer), [>] polygraph tests, catharsis and, [>]–[>] power, without accountability, [>] Pratkanis, Anthony, [>]–[>] prejudice blacks and, [>]–[>], [>]–[>], [>]–[>], [>]–[>] Chinese immigrants and, [>] gay people and, [>] in-groups and, [>]–[>] Jews and, [>]–[>], [>] in justifying ill treatment, [>]–[>] in sports, [>]–[>], [>]–[>] ubiquity of, [>], [>] privilege, as blind spot, [>]–[>], [>] (n.6) Procter & Gamble, [>] professional informers, [>]–[>], [>] profiling, [>] prosecutor bias, [>]–[>], [>]–[>], [>]–[>], [>], [>] (n.8) pseudoscience, [>], [>] (n.7) psychiatrists, [>]–[>], [>], [>], [>] psychoanalysis, [>]–[>] psychotherapists training of, [>]–[>] confirmation bias in, [>]–[>] psychotherapy, [>]–[>], [>]–[>] dangers of closed loop in, [>] pyramid of choice, [>]–[>], [>]–[>].


pages: 100 words: 28,911

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

Danny Hillis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, lifelogging, 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: 338 words: 100,477

Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds by Kevin Dutton

availability heuristic, Bernie Madoff, call centre, Cass Sunstein, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, credit crunch, different worldview, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, equity premium, fundamental attribution error, haute couture, job satisfaction, loss aversion, Milgram experiment, placebo effect, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile

Snyder and Cantor handed participants a description of a person called Jane, which depicted her as being both introverted and extraverted in equal measure. A couple of days later, they got one half to assess her for an extraverted job (estate agent), and the other half to assess her for an introverted job (librarian). What happened? You got it. Each group were better at remembering the attributes best suited to the job they were assessing. Exactly the same principle lies behind the placebo effect. 12In an amusing, ingenious (though sadly, unpublished) study which supposedly looked at the influence of subliminal messages on social interaction, a bunch of students had the word SEX daubed on their faces in sunscreen before going out and catching some rays. They were out just long enough for the effect of the sunscreen to become noticeable (to the researcher, that is, not the participants: volunteers were completely unaware of the content of the message) – in other words, for the word SEX to become very lightly emblazoned upon their skin.

For more on the Wason selection task and hypothesis testing in general, see Garnham, Alan and Oakhill, Jane, Thinking and reasoning, Ch. 8 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994). 11 Back in 1979, psychologists … Snyder, Mark and Cantor, Nancy, ‘Testing Hypotheses About Other People: The Use of Historical Knowledge.’ Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 15 (1979) 330–342. 12 In an amusing, ingenious … Henderson, Charles E., ‘Placebo Effects Prove the Value of Suggestion.’ http://www.biocentrix.com/hypnosis/placebo.htm (accessed May 28th, 2009). 13 In fact a recent study … Wiltermuth, Scott S. and Heath, Chip, ‘Synchrony and Cooperation.’ Psychological Science, 20 (2009): 1–5. 14 Social psychologist Miles Hewstone … Islam, Mir R. and Hewstone, Miles, ‘Intergroup Attributions and Affective Consequences in Majority and Minority Groups.’


Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander

Alistair Cooke, commoditize, conceptual framework, dematerialisation, full employment, invention of agriculture, Menlo Park, music of the spheres, placebo effect, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, sexual politics, 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: 139 words: 33,246

Money Moments: Simple Steps to Financial Well-Being by Jason Butler

Albert Einstein, asset allocation, buy and hold, Cass Sunstein, diversified portfolio, estate planning, financial independence, fixed income, happiness index / gross national happiness, index fund, intangible asset, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, mortgage debt, passive income, placebo effect, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Steve Jobs, time value of money, traffic fines, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Vanguard fund, Yogi Berra

American Association of Wine Economists, Working paper No. 16, April 2008 https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/aawe_wp16.pdf (accessed 27.10.17) 34Plassmann, H, J. O’Doherty, B. Shiv, A. Rangel, “Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18195362 (accessed 29.10.17) 35Plassmann, Hilke & Bernd Weber, “Individual Differences in Marketing Placebo Effects: Evidence from Brain Imaging and Behavioral Experiments”, Journal of Marketing Research, 2015 https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/plassman_jmr_13_0613.pdf (accessed 29.10.17) 36Whillans, Ashley V., Elizabeth W. Dunn, Paul Smeets, Rene Bekkers, and Michael I. Norton. “Buying Time Promotes Happiness”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114, no. 32 (August 8, 2017).


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, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, 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.


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, zero-sum game

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: 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, coherent worldview, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, endowment effect, epigenetics, hindsight bias, lake wobegon effect, lateral thinking, libertarian paternalism, Milgram experiment, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, post-work, 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: 424 words: 114,905

Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again by Eric Topol

23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, bioinformatics, blockchain, cloud computing, cognitive bias, Colonization of Mars, computer age, computer vision, conceptual framework, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, David Brooks, digital twin, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, fault tolerance, George Santayana, Google Glasses, ImageNet competition, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, Joi Ito, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, natural language processing, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nudge unit, pattern recognition, performance metric, personalized medicine, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, recommendation engine, Rubik’s Cube, Sam Altman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, text mining, the scientific method, Tim Cook: Apple, War on Poverty, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, working-age population

See patent foramen ovale Phillips, Russell, 29 physical exams heart disease and, 299–302 neurology and, 300–301 observation and, 298–299 stethoscopes in, 301–302 telemedicine and, 308 time for, 299–300 physical therapy, 2–4, 182 Pickering, George, 241 picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), 113 pigeons used in radiology, 125 Pitts, Walter, 71–72 placebo effect, prescription drugs and, 36 Pomara, Nunzio, 172 post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), biomarkers for, 174–175 potassium levels, 60–61, 62 (fig.), 63–65, 184 Prakash, Simon, 59–62, 65–66 predicting disease C. diff and, 195 DNNs and, 190, 191 (table) EHRs used for, 190 prescription drugs, 182 clinical responsiveness to, 35–36, 37 (fig.) placebo effect and, 36 presence, 294 narrative medicine and, 295–296 observation and, 297–298 privacy, 19, 273 (fig.), 309 China and, 205–206 DeepMind and, 101–103 differential, 104 Facebook and, 103, 179–180 facial recognition and, 101 genomic data and, 101 global AI healthcare initiatives and, 207 mental health and, 173–174, 179–180 virtual assistants and, 260–261 virtual medical coaches and, 272, 274–276 Woebot and, 179–180 private-public partnerships, drug discovery and, 220 Project Survival, 220 Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) paper, 235, 236 (fig.), 237 prostate-specific antigen screenings (PSA screenings), 31–32 PSA screening.


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, David Strachan, discovery of penicillin, Drosophila, Fall of the Berlin Wall, friendly fire, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, hygiene hypothesis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, John Snow's cholera map, Kickstarter, 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: 171 words: 42,590

Menopause Mondays: The Girlfriend's Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause by Ellen Dolgen, Jack Dolgen

glass ceiling, placebo effect, pre–internet, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), women in the workforce

Free testosterone, measures your levels of bioavailable testosterone that is not bound by the blood proteins. It is the active portion. Ranges vary between post-menopausal and premenopausal women, with a gradual decline as we age, says Dr. Krychman. However, he adds, “I advise treating symptoms, not lab values. A comprehensive assessment with a good differential is the rule. Testosterone supplementation is not the panacea. It is important to remember that this there is also approximately 40% placebo effect.” Discuss the various treatment options with your menopause specialist. If your testosterone levels are below norm and you have the symptoms, your health care professional may suggest an “off-label use” of testosterone, with or without estrogen. Why “off-label? Because the FDA has yet to approve any testosterone drug for women. According to WebMD, when you take it orally (by mouth), it gets processed by the liver—which can result in a change of cholesterol levels.


pages: 442 words: 127,300

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker

A. Roger Ekirch, active measures, clockwatching, Dmitri Mendeleev, Donald Trump, Exxon Valdez, impulse control, lifelogging, longitudinal study, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, mouse model, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, placebo effect, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, the scientific method

Melatonin simply provides the official instruction to commence the event of sleep, but does not participate in the sleep race itself. For these reasons, melatonin is not a powerful sleeping aid in and of itself, at least not for healthy, non-jet-lagged individuals (we’ll explore jet lag—and how melatonin can be helpful—in a moment). There may be little, if any, quality melatonin in the pill. That said, there is a significant sleep placebo effect of melatonin, which should not be underestimated: the placebo effect is, after all, the most reliable effect in all of pharmacology. Equally important to realize is the fact that over-the-counter melatonin is not commonly regulated by governing bodies around the world, such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Scientific evaluations of over-the-counter brands have found melatonin concentrations that range from 83 percent less than that claimed on the label, to 478 percent more than that stated.VI Once sleep is under way, melatonin slowly decreases in concentration across the night and into the morning hours.


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, Norman Mailer, 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: 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, commoditize, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, 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, Johannes Kepler, John Harrison: Longitude, knowledge economy, lateral thinking, lone genius, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Philip Mirowski, placebo effect, QWERTY keyboard, Republic of Letters, social intelligence, 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: 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, George Santayana, haute couture, Honoré de Balzac, Joan Didion, 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.


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, beat the dealer, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bretton Woods, BRICs, Brownian motion, business process, buy and hold, buy low sell high, call centre, capital asset pricing model, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, complexity theory, computerized trading, corporate governance, corporate raider, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cuban missile crisis, currency peg, disintermediation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Thorp, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Everything should be made as simple as possible, 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, John Meriwether, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, Marshall McLuhan, mass affluent, mega-rich, merger arbitrage, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, 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, Right to Buy, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Satyajit Das, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, technology bubble, the medium is the message, the new new thing, 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.


pages: 566 words: 153,259

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

Albert Einstein, British Empire, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, en.wikipedia.org, illegal immigration, index card, Isaac Newton, loss aversion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, neurotypical, pattern recognition, placebo effect, Richard Thaler, Saturday Night Live, selection bias, 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: 515 words: 143,055

The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu

1960s counterculture, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, anti-communist, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Bob Geldof, borderless world, Brownian motion, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, colonial rule, East Village, future of journalism, George Gilder, Golden Gate Park, Googley, Gordon Gekko, housing crisis, informal economy, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Live Aid, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, Nate Silver, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, placebo effect, post scarcity, race to the bottom, road to serfdom, Saturday Night Live, science of happiness, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Tim Cook: Apple, Torches of Freedom, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, white flight, zero-sum game

In another stroke of genius, Hopkins pioneered the idea of a free sample. “Do as millions have done—stop doubting—give Liquozone a test.”13 The average consumer who did so would go on to spend 91 cents on the medicine before realizing its uselessness.14 By the early 1900s, Hopkins could also sense the beginnings of a mounting reaction and hostility toward patent medicines, which, after all, typically didn’t do what they claimed, apart from some narcotic or placebo effects. Business continued booming but skepticism was rising among the suckers. Such was Hopkins’s genius, however, that his work now began riding the growing backlash like a riptide: his product would be advertised as the anti–snake oil. Liquozone was the real thing. In the words of his direct mail literature: We wish to state at the start that we are not patent medicine men, and their methods will not be employed by us….Liquozone is too important a product for quackery.15 By 1904, Hopkins and Smith saw revenues of $100 million (in current dollars), having sent out five million free samples.

After peaking in 1907, this once mighty American industry began a death spiral, finally to become a fringe business by the 1930s. We can also see patent medicine as a victim of its own success. In some version, folk medicines had been around for centuries, and when their claims were more modest, and their advertising less importunate, they may have delivered some of what they promised at least by virtue of the placebo effect, which, as scientists have shown, can be quite significant. But the industry had caught the spirit of late nineteenth-century capitalism, and for patent medicine, this translated into too great a fraud, too much profit, too much damage to public health. And so the industry collapsed of its own weight. But the means that it had invented for converting attention into cash would live on in other forms, finding new uses in the hands of both government and other commercial ventures.


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: 173 words: 54,215

How to Weep in Public: Feeble Offerings From One Depressive to Another by Jacqueline Novak

placebo effect, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Skype

Telling people you’re too depressed to go just leads to them evangelizing the mood-lifting effects of a five-hour van trip to Six Flags. Not to mention, if you ever bring up in public the fact that you are on meds, you run the risk of having to listen to some asshole who doesn’t believe in them, who thinks they dull the personality or are a refusal to truly deal with your problems. Or some BS like that. I fully believe in meds myself (it helps boost the placebo effect), despite their unreliability and unknown long-term effects. My view is this: when it comes down to it, your entire physical being is no more than a stew of chemicals and hormones anyway, so why not tinker with the ingredients? I’ve always thought of my body as a lab experiment, and it’s worked well for me. Zoloft wasn’t my favorite, but when I went home that summer after freshman year, my old psychiatrist started me on Wellbutrin, which was great.


pages: 504 words: 147,660

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

addicted to oil, Albert Einstein, Anton Chekhov, corporate governance, epigenetics, ghettoisation, impulse control, longitudinal study, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, phenotype, placebo effect, Rat Park, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), source of truth, twin studies, 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: 623 words: 448,848

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

active measures, Albert Einstein, bioinformatics, epigenetics, hygiene hypothesis, impulse control, life extension, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, pattern recognition, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, statistical model, stem cell, twin studies

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: 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: 204 words: 63,571

You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations by Michael Ian Black

Albert Einstein, fear of failure, life extension, placebo effect, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), upwardly mobile

There are a host of other documented side effects including impotence, increased levels of aggression, nausea, urinary retention, weight loss/gain, renal impairment, tinnitus, photosensitivity, and something called “genital anesthesia.” (Another way to get genital anesthesia is to rub cocaine all over your dick. Or so I’ve heard.) Anyway, doctors know SSRIs do all of those things, but they have no idea if they actually treat some of the problems for which they are prescribed. But they work great for me. Question: how do I know it is actually the drug working and not simply the placebo effect? Answer: I don’t. Nor do I care. Whether the drug actually does something or my brain is just gullible does not matter to me at all. Interestingly, another study just came out in the journal PLoS ONE (bad name for a medical journal) showing that placebos are still effective even when the patient knows he is taking a placebo. In other words, if a doctor gives you a sugar pill and tells you it’s a sugar pill, it can still be an effective treatment.


pages: 256 words: 60,620

Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition by Michael J. Mauboussin

affirmative action, asset allocation, Atul Gawande, availability heuristic, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, butter production in bangladesh, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, Clayton Christensen, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, disruptive innovation, Edward Thorp, experimental economics, financial innovation, framing effect, fundamental attribution error, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Akerlof, hindsight bias, hiring and firing, information asymmetry, libertarian paternalism, Long Term Capital Management, loose coupling, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, Murray Gell-Mann, Netflix Prize, pattern recognition, Philip Mirowski, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, presumed consent, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, statistical model, Steven Pinker, The Wisdom of Crowds, ultimatum game

Despite the substantial cost and taxing travel, he wanted to pursue this long-shot alternative. When he asked me what I thought, I told him, “I try to think like a scientist. And based on everything I can see, this won’t work.” Hanging up the phone, I felt torn. I wanted to believe the story and go with the inside view. I wanted my father to be well again. But the scientist in me admonished me to stick with the outside view. Even considering the power of the placebo effect, hope is not a strategy. My father died shortly after that episode, but the experience compelled me to think about how we decide about our medical treatments. For a long time, the paternalistic model reigned in relationships between physicians and patients. Physicians would diagnose a condition and select the treatment that seemed best for the patient. Patients nowadays are more informed and generally want to take part in making decisions.


pages: 600 words: 174,620

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, different worldview, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, false memory syndrome, feminist movement, impulse control, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Nelson Mandela, phenotype, placebo effect, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), social intelligence, 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: 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, selection bias, 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.


pages: 728 words: 182,850

Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter

3D printing, A Pattern Language, carbon footprint, centre right, Community Supported Agriculture, Computer Numeric Control, crowdsourcing, Donald Knuth, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, fear of failure, food miles, functional fixedness, hacker house, haute cuisine, helicopter parent, Internet Archive, iterative process, Kickstarter, Parkinson's law, placebo effect, random walk, Rubik’s Cube, 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: 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, John Markoff, 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.


Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Advanced Guide to Building Muscle, Staying Lean, and Getting Strong by Michael Matthews

agricultural Revolution, fear of failure, G4S, Gary Taubes, meta analysis, meta-analysis, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial

As you probably know, most supplement companies produce cheap, junk products and try to dazzle you with ridiculous marketing claims, high-profile (and very expensive) endorsements, pseudo-scientific babble, fancy-sounding proprietary blends, and flashy packaging. They do it all because they don’t want you to realize a simple truth of this industry: supplements don’t build great physiques. Dedication to proper training and nutrition does. You see, the supplement companies are cashing in BIG on a little trick that your mind can play on you known as the placebo effect. This is the scientifically proven fact that your simple belief in the effectiveness of a medicine or supplement can make it work. People have overcome every form of illness you can imagine, mental and physical, by taking substances they believed to have therapeutic value but didn’t. I’m talking about things like treating cancer and diabetes, eliminating depression and anxiety, and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels by taking medically worthless substances that people believed were treatments for their problems.


A Natural History of Beer by Rob DeSalle

agricultural Revolution, British Empire, double helix, Drosophila, Louis Pasteur, microbiome, NP-complete, phenotype, placebo effect, wikimedia commons

Another allegedly hangover-free beer can be obtained on draft at the De Prael brewery in Amsterdam. This brew includes several ingredients (including salt) that are not commonly used by brewers: ginger, vitamin B12, and willow bark. Each of these ingredients has a theoretical function in preventing the symptoms of a hangover, but their efficacy still needs to be tested scientifically to rule out a placebo effect. This research is on our agenda. The Er Boquerón hangover-free beer contains about 5 percent alcohol, or about four teaspoons of pure alcohol per bottle. That is quite normal as beer goes. Once a beer has been swallowed, the digestive system breaks most of it down into particles that the body can use. During its passage, the alcohol in the beer will pass through several different organ systems; but some of it will nevertheless make it through untouched and find its way into the bloodstream.


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, liberal capitalism, 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: 256 words: 83,469

Surprisingly Down to Earth, and Very Funny: My Autobiography by Limmy

impulse control, pirate software, placebo effect

I told her that they took about a month or so to work, and I might get worse before I get better. I took one of the pills that day, then went to bed that night. I woke up the very next morning a changed man. I am not exaggerating. I’d been waking up every morning with this big deflated sigh, this feeling of doom. But that morning I woke up feeling fit as a fiddle. I thought that it had to be my imagination, it had to be the placebo effect, because it said they took weeks to kick in. But I felt better than I’d felt for fucking ages. As the weeks went on, I felt the pills take more of an effect. I didn’t feel down. I didn’t feel pessimistic. I felt happy. And I didn’t feel unnaturally happy. I didn’t feel like I’d be smiling and laughing at a funeral or anything. I just felt happy to be here. Happy to be alive. It was the happiest I had ever been in my life.


pages: 294 words: 87,986

4th Rock From the Sun: The Story of Mars by Nicky Jenner

3D printing, Alfred Russel Wallace, Astronomia nova, cuban missile crisis, Elon Musk, game design, hive mind, invention of the telescope, Johannes Kepler, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, placebo effect, Pluto: dwarf planet, retrograde motion, selection bias, silicon-based life, Skype, Stephen Hawking, technoutopianism

Any plants or foods that are red, spicy, stimulating or related to blood are thus given to Mars – chilli peppers, raspberries, radishes, cranberries, garlic (which ‘removes toxins and cleanses your blood’ – pure pseudoscience, so please don’t rely on this as diet advice), root ginger, bitter coffee, black pepper, paprika, any kind of curry spice, whisky, so-called aphrodisiac foods (again, not diet advice – ‘aphrodisiac foods’ largely rely on the placebo effect) and so on. To connect to your ‘Mars energy’, a magick practitioner should integrate the colour red into their clothing and surroundings, perform Mars-specific rituals on a Tuesday (Mars day!) and light candles to bring fire into the room. If you fancy summoning Mars energy into your life, try wrapping yourself in red when you have a free Tuesday evening and enjoy a feast composed of spicy or red foods (bonus marks for both).


pages: 294 words: 87,429

In Pursuit of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer's by Joseph Jebelli

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Berlin Wall, double helix, epigenetics, global pandemic, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, lateral thinking, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, mouse model, phenotype, placebo effect, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Skype, stem cell, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

Another story featured an anonymous Belgian patient whose physician agreed. Sixty-eight years old, the man reportedly took the drug every day for twenty-three months and was monitored by a team at the Université catholique de Louvain, in Brussels, Belgium.7 Tantalisingly, his memory somewhat improved and he scored higher in several tests of cognition. The problem, as one would expect, is that there was no way to rule out a placebo effect. And so this anecdotal case fossilised as just that: anecdotal, informal, unreliable. ‘You’ve just got to take it for what it’s worth,’ Landreth made clear to me. ‘It supports the idea, but you certainly wouldn’t base any subsequent action on a case report.’ But where were the human trials? I wondered. I learned that four other groups, inspired by Cramer’s discovery, had already set about replicating her data.


pages: 266 words: 78,986

Quarantine by Greg Egan

cosmic microwave background, dark matter, fudge factor, intermodal, pattern recognition, placebo effect, Schrödinger's Cat

My room itself is small enough to make me feel slightly less profligate, and the view consists of nothing but a portion of the Axon building—the facade of which is tastefully adorned with the names of all their best-selling neural mods, spelt out in a dozen languages and repeated in all directions, like some abstract geometric tiling pattern. Letters cut into imitation black marble don’t exactly catch the eye, but perhaps that’s intentional; after all, Axon grew out of a company which peddled ‘subliminal learning tools’—audio and video tapes bearing inaudible or invisible messages, supposedly perceived ‘directly’ by the subconscious. Like all the other self-improvement snake oil of the time, this did more than provide placebo effects for the gullible and megabucks for the rip-off merchants; it also helped create the market for a technology that did work, once such a thing was actually invented. I unpack, shower, belatedly put all the clocks in my head forward one-and-a-half hours, then sit on the bed and try to decide exactly how I’m going to find Laura in a city of twelve million people. The funeral notices say that Han Hsiu-lien was cremated on December 24th, and no doubt the body that went into the furnace looked just like her—although presumably the real Han Hsiu-lien never left Perth.


pages: 254 words: 81,009

Busy by Tony Crabbe

airport security, British Empire, business process, cognitive dissonance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, fear of failure, Frederick Winslow Taylor, haute cuisine, informal economy, inventory management, Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, knowledge worker, Lao Tzu, loss aversion, low cost airline, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, placebo effect, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, science of happiness, Shai Danziger, Thorstein Veblen, Tim Cook: Apple

: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time (San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2007). 7. Brian Wansink, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think (New York: Bantam, 2006). 8. Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work (Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press, 2011). 9. Alia J. Crum and Ellen J. Langer, “Mind-set Matters: Exercise and the Placebo Effect,” Association for Psychological Science 18, no. 2 (2007): 165–71. 10. Example given in Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (New York: Broadway Books, 2010). 11. Amy Arnsten cited in David Rock, Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long (New York: HarperBusiness, 2009). 12. Edward Tory Higgins, “Beyond Pleasure and Pain,” American Psychologist 52, no. 12 (December 1997): 1280–1300. 13.


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, off grid, 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, zero-sum game

A copy of the study summary can be found at: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/rampmeterstudy/pdf/execsummary/executivesummary.pdf. 45 The website of Transportation Alternatives can be found at: www.transalt.org. 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: www.nnyn.org/kheelplan. 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 predictablyirrational.com/pdfs/Placebo1.pdf. 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: http://cities.media.mit.edu/projects/citycar.html, and additional information about the project can be found on other MIT websites. 4.


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, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), 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, basic income, 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, mass immigration, means of production, mini-job, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, nudge unit, old age dependency ratio, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, 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: 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, lateral thinking, 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: 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, Edward Thorp, 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, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, land value tax, Landlord’s Game, lone genius, mass immigration, megacity, Minecraft, moral panic, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres, Necker cube, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, pets.com, 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, white picket fence, 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.


pages: 347 words: 86,274

The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion by Virginia Postrel

Charles Lindbergh, cloud computing, factory automation, Frank Gehry, indoor plumbing, job automation, mass immigration, Nelson Mandela, New Urbanism, placebo effect, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Thomas L Friedman, urban planning, urban renewal, washing machines reduced drudgery, young professional

Scott, Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Feminism and Fashion (New York: Palgrave, 2002) pp. 275–76. 10. J. P. Mayer, British Cinemas and Their Audiences: Sociological Studies (London: Dennis Dobson Ltd., 1948) p. 85. The desire to travel comes up repeatedly in these responses. 11. The market for patent medicines, formerly the mainstay of American magazine advertising, collapsed around this time. Competition from aspirin, which offered more than a placebo effect, combined with federal regulation to wipe out much of the industry. Charles Goodrum and Helen Dalrymple, Advertising in America: The First 200 Years (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1990) p. 35. 12. The thirties gave birth to such magazines as Life (1936), Mademoiselle (1935), and Glamour (1939) in the United States; Woman’s Own (1932), Woman (1937), and Picture Post (1938) in the United Kingdom, and Marie Claire (1937) in France.


pages: 324 words: 93,175

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

Alvin Roth, assortative mating, Burning Man, business process, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, end world poverty, endowment effect, Exxon Valdez, first-price auction, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, happiness index / gross national happiness, hedonic treadmill, IKEA effect, 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: 277 words: 88,539

Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue by Danielle Ofri

index card, medical residency, placebo effect, union organizing

Herlan looked at me beseechingly. His words were coming in fits and starts. “Please Doc. I get anxiety attacks. Ask John, he knows . . . especially when I’m in hospitals. I get so scared.” His hair was plastered to his forehead with sweat and his pupils were as wide as cat’s eyes. But how could I leave him in this state? The poor guy was terrified. I asked the nurse for a tiny dose of a sedative, hoping for a placebo effect. Before I injected it, I sent off an arterial blood gas to check his oxygen status. “At nine P.M. the patient was being readied to go to radiology, but his blood pressure was still low and he was complaining of increased anxiety. A blood gas was sent and 0.5 mg of IV midazolam was administered.” Predictably, the sedative did nothing. Placebos rarely work when you really need them. Mr. Herlan became more and more agitated.


pages: 778 words: 227,196

The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes

Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, animal electricity, 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, 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: 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, longitudinal study, 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: 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, Kickstarter, 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. http://quest.mda.org/news/dmd-drisapersen-outperforms-placebo-walking-test 22. http://www.fiercebiotech.com/story/glaxosmithklines-duchenne-md-drug-mirrors-placebo-effect-phiii/2013-10-07 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: 367 words: 102,188

Sleepyhead: Narcolepsy, Neuroscience and the Search for a Good Night by Henry Nicholls

A. Roger Ekirch, Donald Trump, double helix, Drosophila, global pandemic, Kickstarter, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, placebo effect, Saturday Night Live, stem cell, web application, Yom Kippur War

With the evidence that light and melatonin have a key role in keeping the circadian rhythm to time, so an industry has emerged marketing light boxes and melatonin tablets, suggesting that even those without sleep disorders stand to benefit from more light and supplementary melatonin. If there is no underlying circadian disorder, however, such interventions are unlikely to improve sleep, says Zeitzer. At best these measures will be costly but largely ineffective, bringing about negligible improvements to sleep that could easily be attributed to the placebo effect. At worst, artificial light and melatonin tablets, if delivered in the wrong dose or at the wrong time of day, could actually upset the SCN’s careful orchestration of the body and, hence, sleep. That said, there’s considerable promise in going beyond the basic light box to get much, much smarter about the way we interact with light. * * * Zeitzer’s sleep lab looks a little like a Tracy Emin installation: the unmade bed with rumpled sheets in the middle of the windowless room; a side table littered with DVDs; a rack of miscellaneous electrical equipment and wires; an ophthalmologist’s chart; a trolley strewn with balls of tissue, a pair of used latex gloves and a huge lamp directed at the empty bed.


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: 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, buy and hold, cloud computing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, desegregation, drone strike, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, forward guidance, Freestyle chess, fundamental attribution error, germ theory of disease, hindsight bias, index fund, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Kenneth Arrow, Laplace demon, longitudinal study, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohammed Bouazizi, Nash equilibrium, Nate Silver, Nelson Mandela, obamacare, pattern recognition, performance metric, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, placebo effect, prediction markets, quantitative easing, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, scientific worldview, 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, Thomas Bayes, 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: 365 words: 96,573

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor

Albert Einstein, epigenetics, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, Khan Academy, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Mason jar, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, stem cell

They won 13 gold medals, 14 silver, and 7 bronze, and they set world records in 11 events. It was the greatest performance by a U.S. Olympic swim team in history. Hypoventilation training fell back into obscurity after several studies in the 1980s and 1990s argued that it had little to no impact on performance and endurance. Whatever these athletes were gaining, the researchers reported, must have been based on a strong placebo effect. In the early 2000s, Dr. Xavier Woorons, a French physiologist at Paris 13 University, found a flaw in these studies. The scientists critical of the technique had measured it all wrong. They’d been looking at athletes holding their breath with full lungs, and all that extra air in the lungs made it difficult for the athletes to enter into a deep state of hypoventilation. Woorons repeated the tests, but this time subjects practiced the half-full technique, which is how Buteyko trained his patients, and likely how Counsilman trained his swimmers.


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, en.wikipedia.org, Gary Taubes, Haber-Bosch Process, longitudinal study, 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: 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, Kickstarter, Kuiper Belt, lateral thinking, 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, Norman Mailer, old-boy network, placebo effect, RAND corporation, Richard Thaler, systematic trading, the new new thing, 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: 411 words: 108,119

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

"Robert Solow", Andrei Shleifer, availability heuristic, bank run, Black Swan, business cycle, 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, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Kenneth Arrow, Loma Prieta earthquake, London Interbank Offered Rate, market bubble, market clearing, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, placebo effect, price discrimination, price stability, RAND corporation, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, source of truth, statistical model, stochastic process, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, transaction costs, ultimatum game, University of East Anglia, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto

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: 398 words: 105,032

Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve And/or Ruin Everything by Kelly Weinersmith, Zach Weinersmith

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, Alvin Roth, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, connected car, double helix, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Google Glasses, hydraulic fracturing, industrial robot, information asymmetry, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, market design, megastructure, microbiome, moral hazard, multiplanetary species, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, personalized medicine, placebo effect, Project Plowshare, QR code, Schrödinger's Cat, self-driving car, Skype, stem cell, Tunguska event

Although unlikely, it’s conceivable that this subpopulation of people who react poorly to the vaccine share a set of characteristics that create the negative side effect. If we could screen out these people, the vast majority of consumers could have access to this important vaccine. In reality, it’d probably be a bit more complex. That subpopulation may simply have been all the people who are prone to the placebo effect. But given the number of drugs that have failed to get to market over safety concerns, results like this may happen. And with better biostatistical analysis, current drugs could find new uses for difficult diseases. This may seem a little dorky, but it could be enormous. Currently, it costs over $2.5 billion to bring a new drug to market, and most drugs never make it to that point. One of the books we read on this topic began by discussing “alternative medicine” healing practices.


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, butter production in bangladesh, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, commoditize, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data is the new oil, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Everything should be made as simple as possible, experimental subject, Google Glasses, happiness index / gross national happiness, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, lifelogging, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, mass immigration, 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, Shai Danziger, 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, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Davenport, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

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?


he Wisdom of Menopause (Revised Edition) by Northrup, Christiane

epigenetics, financial independence, Kickstarter, life extension, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), stem cell, women in the workforce

All these factors can influence how well your secondary hormone production sites are able to keep up with your body’s new needs. For some women, just learning that the symptoms of perimenopause are temporary is enough reassurance; they become willing to experience those symptoms without masking them with medicine. And once we relax and allow our fears and resistance to fade, the symptoms themselves may lessen. This is the “placebo effect” in action, and it is a significant factor in menopausal treatments as well. Knowing that we can ask for and receive help creates its own healing energy. Taking Stock Before Making the Decision Before deciding on hormone therapy, it is important to take an honest look at yourself and at your medical history—including that of your family members—so you can draw an accurate picture of your own goals and needs.

And depression is not a natural human condition. Studies have shown that depression is virtually nonexistent among many indigenous peoples. Depression is a consequence of how we live our lives. To get over it, we must be willing to make some changes that will support healthy brain biochemistry. Otherwise, depression is likely to recur. Antidepressant medication and getting help are associated with a very significant placebo effect. When you feel you are getting help, your body naturally gets better. I have never prescribed antidepressants of any kind unless my patient was also willing to enter some kind of therapeutic relationship with a counselor to help her sort out the aspects of her life that needed improvement. In other words, we, as a society and as individuals, need to understand that getting on the right medication does not guarantee a cure for depression.


pages: 350 words: 112,234

Korea by Simon Winchester

Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, life extension, Nelson Mandela, 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: 396 words: 112,832

Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi

Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Food sovereignty, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Louis Pasteur, microbiome, phenotype, placebo effect, Skype, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, women in the workforce

Freeman, 2002). 68.George Vierra, “Physiology of Odor and Flavor Perception,” Napa Valley College, December 2013, 1, http://www.napavalley.edu/people/gvierra/Documents/Sensory_Evaluation_of_Wine/Smelling%20and%20Tasting%20-%20Physiology.pdf. 69.“How Does Our Sense of Taste Work?” 70.Linda Bartoshuk, “Separate Worlds of Taste,” Psychology Today 14 (1980): 48–49, 51, 54–56, 63. 71.“Can Cheap Wine Taste Great? Brain Imaging and Marketing Placebo Effects,” Journal of Marketing Research (press release), April 29, 2015, https://www.ama.org/publications/JournalOfMarketingResearch/Documents/pr-jmr.13.0613-brain-imaging-wine-placebo.pdf. 72.“Can Cheap Wine Taste Great?” 73.Rey Gastón Loor et al., “Genetic Diversity and Possible Origin of the Nacional Cacao Type from Ecuador” (paper presented at the International Cocoa Research Conference, San José, Costa Rica, October 9–14, 2006). 74.Cristian J.


pages: 457 words: 112,439

Zero History by William Gibson

augmented reality, business intelligence, dark matter, edge city, hive mind, invisible hand, new economy, pattern recognition, Pepto Bismol, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, RFID, too big to fail

But probably a cold, plus the very considerable stress inherent in working in the studio with Inchmale. She’d gotten him to swallow five capsules of Cold-FX, taking three herself as a prophylactic measure. It usually didn’t seem to do anything, once symptoms were advanced, but the promise of it had gotten him around the corner and into the Starbucks on Golden Square, and she hoped he was prone to the placebo effect. She was herself, according to Inchmale, who was an adamant and outspoken Cold-FX denier. “You have to keep taking them,” she said to Clammy, placing the white plastic bottle beside his steaming paper cup of chamomile. “Ignore the instructions. Take three, three times a day.” He shrugged. “Where’d you say you got the Hounds?” “It belongs to someone I know.” “Where’d they get it, then?” “I don’t know.


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: 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

Bayesian statistics, 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, Johannes Kepler, John Markoff, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, linear programming, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nate Silver, p-value, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, prediction markets, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, speech recognition, statistical model, stochastic process, Thomas Bayes, 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: 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, publication bias, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), 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: 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

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: 405 words: 130,840

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

coherent worldview, crack epidemic, delayed gratification, feminist movement, hedonic treadmill, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, invisible hand, job satisfaction, Lao Tzu, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Peter Singer: altruism, PIHKAL and TIHKAL, placebo effect, prisoner's dilemma, Ralph Waldo Emerson, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), social intelligence, stem cell, telemarketer, the scientific method, twin studies, ultimatum game, Walter Mischel, zero-sum game

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: 1,261 words: 294,715

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky

autonomous vehicles, Bernie Madoff, biofilm, blood diamonds, British Empire, Broken windows theory, Brownian motion, car-free, clean water, cognitive dissonance, corporate personhood, corporate social responsibility, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, desegregation, different worldview, double helix, Drosophila, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Flynn Effect, framing effect, fudge factor, George Santayana, global pandemic, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, John von Neumann, Loma Prieta earthquake, long peace, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mohammed Bouazizi, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, mouse model, mutually assured destruction, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, out of africa, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, placebo effect, publication bias, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, Rosa Parks, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Stanford prison experiment, stem cell, Steven Pinker, strikebreaker, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, twin studies, ultimatum game, Walter Mischel, wikimedia commons, zero-sum game

Thus the ACC’s perception of pain can be manipulated. Poke your finger with a pin and the ACC activates, along with those brain regions telling you which finger and what parameters of pain. Make someone believe that the inert cream you just smeared on his finger is a powerful painkiller, and when you poke his finger, the “it’s my finger, not my toe” circuitry still activates. But the ACC falls for the placebo effect and stays silent. Obviously the ACC receives inputs from interoceptive and exteroceptive outposts. Equally logically, it sends lots of projections into the sensorimotor cortex, making you very aware of and focused on the body part that hurts. But the sophistication of the ACC, the reason it sits up there in the frontal cortex, is apparent when considering another type of pain. Back to chapter 6 and the Cyberball game where subjects in brain scanners play catch with a virtual ball on a computer screen, tossing it back and forth, and the other two players stop throwing the ball to you.

Gross, “Antecedent- and Response-Focused Emotion Regulation: Divergent Consequences for Experience, Expression, and Physiology,” JPSP 74 (1998): 224; J. Gross, “Emotion Regulation: Affective, Cognitive, and Social Consequences,” Psychophysiology 39 (2002): 281; K. Ochsner and J. Gross, “The Cognitive Control of Emotion,” TICS 9 (2005): 242. 69. M. Lieberman et al., “The Neural Correlates of Placebo Effects: A Disruption Account,” NeuroImage 22 (2004): 447; P. Petrovic et al., “Placebo and Opioid Analgesia: Imaging a Shared Neuronal Network,” Sci 295 (2002): 1737. 70. J. Beck, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 2nd edition (New York: Guilford Press, 2011); P. Goldin et al., “Cognitive Reappraisal Self-Efficacy Mediates the Effects of Individual Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder,” J Consulting Clin Psych 80 (2012): 1034. 71.


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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), lateral thinking, mandatory minimum, medical residency, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, social intelligence, 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: 422 words: 131,666

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

addicted to oil, affirmative action, Amazon Mechanical Turk, anti-globalists, banks create money, big-box store, Bretton Woods, car-free, Charles Lindbergh, 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, Kickstarter, laissez-faire capitalism, loss aversion, market bubble, market design, Marshall McLuhan, Milgram experiment, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, negative equity, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, peak oil, peer-to-peer, 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, zero-sum game

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: 607 words: 133,452

Against Intellectual Monopoly by Michele Boldrin, David K. Levine

"Robert Solow", accounting loophole / creative accounting, agricultural Revolution, barriers to entry, business cycle, cognitive bias, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Dean Kamen, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, endogenous growth, 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, Kenneth Arrow, linear programming, market bubble, market design, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, new economy, open economy, peer-to-peer, 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: 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, global pandemic, illegal immigration, mass incarceration, McJob, moral panic, Naomi Klein, placebo effect, profit motive, RAND corporation, Rat Park, 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: 427 words: 30,920

The Autoimmune Connection by Rita Baron-Faust, Jill Buyon

Columbine, mouse model, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), 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: 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, en.wikipedia.org, 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, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific worldview, 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: 420 words: 130,714

Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist by Richard Dawkins

agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Boris Johnson, David Attenborough, Donald Trump, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, Google Earth, John Harrison: Longitude, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mahatma Gandhi, mental accounting, Necker cube, nuclear winter, out of africa, p-value, phenotype, place-making, placebo effect, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, twin studies

There is a little evidence that religious belief protects people from stress-related diseases. The evidence is not good, but it would not be surprising. A non-negligible part of what a doctor can provide for a patient is consolation and reassurance. My doctor doesn’t literally practise the laying on of hands. But many’s the time I have been instantly cured of some minor ailment by a reassuringly calm voice from an intelligent face surmounting a stethoscope. The placebo effect is well documented. Dummy pills, with no pharmacological activity at all, demonstrably improve health. That is why drug trials have to use placebos as controls. It’s why homoeopathic remedies appear to work, even though they’re so dilute that they have the same amount of the active ingredients as the placebo control – zero molecules. Is religion a medical placebo, which prolongs life by reducing stress?


pages: 436 words: 131,430

House of God by Samuel Shem

affirmative action, index card, lateral thinking, medical residency, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Norman Mailer, placebo effect

I just want to be rich before Socialized Medicine kills me off. It's like what Isaac Singer said." "Singer the writer?" "No, Singer the sewing machine. He said, 'I don't give a damn for the invention, it's the dimes I'm after.' But listen, Basch, that laetrile idea the other night was dynamite. There's money there." "Laetrile? It's a hoax. Worthless. A placebo." "So what's wrong with placebos? Don't you know about the placebo effect?" "Of course I do." "Well, there you are. Placebos can relieve the pain of angina. If you're cooling from cancer, placebos are hot stuff. Like dyspareunia." "How?" I asked, my mind spinning around the simile. "You know what they say: It's better to have dyspareuned than never to have pareuned at all." "You're crazy." "Imagine: we get the laetrile from apricot pits from Mexico, by bartering the Anal Mirrors for apricots."


Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth by Stuart Ritchie

Albert Einstein, anesthesia awareness, Bayesian statistics, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, citation needed, Climatic Research Unit, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, coronavirus, correlation does not imply causation, COVID-19, Covid-19, crowdsourcing, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science, Growth in a Time of Debt, Kenneth Rogoff, l'esprit de l'escalier, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Milgram experiment, mouse model, New Journalism, p-value, phenotype, placebo effect, profit motive, publication bias, publish or perish, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, replication crisis, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, selection bias, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Stanford prison experiment, statistical model, stem cell, Steven Pinker, Thomas Bayes, twin studies, University of East Anglia

In her book Lost in Math, the physicist Sabine Hossenfelder argues that physicists have gotten high on their own supply, focusing on the elegance and beauty of models such as string theory at the expense of being able to test, in practice, whether they’re actually true.77 Although the lofty, mathematical work of these string theorists feels like it could hardly be further from the (almost literally) kitchen-sink science of Brian Wansink, both kinds of research can become saturated with the same kinds of all-too-human biases. Nor are fields where lives are at stake safe from such biases. Generations of medical students have been taught, quite rightly, that the double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial is the gold standard of evidence for new treatments. If done properly, such a trial rules out placebo effects, biases on the part of the doctors administering the intervention, spurious results due to factors other than the treatment (so-called ‘confounding’), and many other problems that bedevil clinical research. But even the most tightly controlled clinical trial can’t rule out bias that occurs after the results are in: bias when the data from the trial are being analysed. Texas sharpshooter-style behaviour in medical trials is often called ‘outcome-switching’ (another name for what amounts to p-hacking).


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, information asymmetry, Iridium satellite, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Marshall McLuhan, 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, Robert Bork, 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, zero-sum game, 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: 660 words: 141,595

Data Science for Business: What You Need to Know About Data Mining and Data-Analytic Thinking by Foster Provost, Tom Fawcett

Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bioinformatics, business process, call centre, chief data officer, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer vision, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, David Brooks, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Gini coefficient, information retrieval, intangible asset, iterative process, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Louis Pasteur, Menlo Park, Nate Silver, Netflix Prize, new economy, p-value, pattern recognition, placebo effect, price discrimination, recommendation engine, Ronald Coase, selection bias, Silicon Valley, Skype, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, text mining, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Thomas Bayes, transaction costs, WikiLeaks

In all cases, a careful data scientist should always include with a causal conclusion the exact assumptions that must be made in order for the causal conclusion to hold (there always are such assumptions—always ask). When undertaking causal modeling, a business needs to weigh the trade-off of increasing investment to reduce the assumptions made, versus deciding that the conclusions are good enough given the assumptions. Even in the most careful randomized, controlled experimentation, assumptions are made that could render the causal conclusions invalid. The discovery of the “placebo effect” in medicine illustrates a notorious situation where an assumption was overlooked in carefully designed randomized experimentation. Discussing all of these tasks in detail would fill multiple books. In this book, we present a collection of the most fundamental data science principles—principles that together underlie all of these types of tasks. We will illustrate the principles mainly using classification, regression, similarity matching, and clustering, and will discuss others when they provide important illustrations of the fundamental principles (toward the end of the book).


pages: 498 words: 153,927

The River at the Centre of the World by Simon Winchester

British Empire, Deng Xiaoping, Khartoum Gordon, Nelson Mandela, 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: 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, drone strike, European colonialism, experimental subject, falling living standards, Flash crash, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, glass ceiling, global village, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Minecraft, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, 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, The Future of Employment, too big to fail, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, ultimatum game, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero-sum game

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: 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, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, disintermediation, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, 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, lifelogging, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, moral panic, Narrative Science, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Carr, packet switching, PageRank, Parag Khanna, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, pets.com, 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: 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, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Pepto Bismol, placebo effect, Potemkin village, publish or perish, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, space pen, Stephen Hawking, urban sprawl, Winter of Discontent, your tax dollars at work

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.


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, God and Mammon, ice-free Arctic, imperial preference, income inequality, intermodal, James Hargreaves, John Harrison: Longitude, Khyber Pass, low skilled workers, non-tariff barriers, Paul Samuelson, 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, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile, working poor, zero-sum game

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: 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, business cycle, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, commoditize, creative destruction, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, discrete time, double entry bookkeeping, Emanuel Derman, epigenetics, financial independence, Flash crash, Gary Taubes, George Santayana, Gini coefficient, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, hygiene hypothesis, 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, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Marc Andreessen, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, money market fund, moral hazard, mouse model, Myron Scholes, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, 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, selection bias, Silicon Valley, six sigma, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, stochastic volatility, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, The Great Moderation, the new new thing, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, 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.”


Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society by Nicholas A. Christakis

agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, assortative mating, Cass Sunstein, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, different worldview, disruptive innovation, double helix, epigenetics, experimental economics, experimental subject, invention of agriculture, invention of gunpowder, invention of writing, iterative process, job satisfaction, Joi Ito, joint-stock company, land tenure, Laplace demon, longitudinal study, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, means of production, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, out of africa, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, replication crisis, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, social web, stem cell, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, twin studies, ultimatum game, zero-sum game

., “Mortality in Sickle Cell Disease—Life Expectancy and Risk Factors for Early Death,” New England Journal of Medicine 330 (1994): 1639–1644. 79. Plus, for female patients with sickle-cell disease, pregnancy used to be so dangerous to the mother and fetus that doctors would recommend birth control if patients made it to sexual maturity, hence obviating reproduction. 80. D. G. Finniss, T. J. Kaptchuk, F. Miller, and F. Benedetti, “Biological, Clinical, and Ethical Advances of Placebo Effects,” Lancet 375 (2010): 686–695. 81. There is some evidence that, in a modern British population, intelligence and educational achievement are being selected against (i.e., such populations have lower fecundity). J. S. Sanjak, J. Sidorenko, M. R. Robinson, K. R. Thornton, and P. M. Visscher, “Evidence of Directional and Stabilizing Selection in Contemporary Humans,” PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115 (2017): 151–156. 82.


Money and Government: The Past and Future of Economics by Robert Skidelsky

anti-globalists, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, Basel III, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, constrained optimization, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, incomplete markets, inflation targeting, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, law of one price, liberal capitalism, light touch regulation, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, market clearing, market friction, Martin Wolf, means of production, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, mobile money, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Nick Leeson, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, paradox of thrift, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, placebo effect, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, random walk, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, secular stagnation, shareholder value, short selling, Simon Kuznets, structural adjustment programs, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade liberalization, value at risk, Washington Consensus, yield curve, zero-sum game

When it discovered that the surprise soon wore off, it started to emphasize signalling and ‘forwardguidance’. When the Bank acts, its actions give clues to what it will do in the future, and these clues are signals; ‘forward-guidance’ is an explicit commitment to act in a certain way under specified conditions. In its most explicit form, the forward-guidance channel works through policymakers making long-term commitments to keep interest rates exceptionally low. The policy boasts a placebo effect – self-fulfilling prophecies producing a recovery without undertaking the significant risks of expanding the central bank’s balance sheet. Hence, the commitment to continue the low bank rate and asset purchases for a definite length of time was considered crucial to achieving the hoped-for effect of the policy, i.e. raising the inflation rate. Like similar pronouncements from the Treasury concerning time-limited deficit-reduction targets, signalling and forwardguidance were attempts to boost the credibility of the policy.


pages: 694 words: 197,804

The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis by Julie Holland

Berlin Wall, Burning Man, longitudinal study, Mahatma Gandhi, mandatory minimum, Maui Hawaii, meta analysis, meta-analysis, pattern recognition, phenotype, placebo effect, profit motive, publication bias, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Stephen Hawking, University of East Anglia, zero-sum game

The patients undergoing the studies were selected on the basis of their unresponsiveness to conventional treatments for their pain or spasticity. These were “worst-case scenarios.” As a result, benefits were predictably likely to be lower than one would expect to see in patients who were less severely disabled. Also, the inclusion of such patients in clinical trials like these generated great expectations in what the new drug might do. These expectations could cause an exaggerated response (the so-called placebo effect). The classical style of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial is notoriously difficult to undertake in patients with chronic pain, unlike with other diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure, and there are many fewer studies. Results are now emerging from a number of studies demonstrating the effectiveness of Sativex in neuropathic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer-related pain (Rog et al. 2005; Blake et al. 2006).


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, Everything should be made as simple as possible, experimental subject, Gary Taubes, invention of agriculture, John Snow's cholera map, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, phenotype, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Robert Gordon, selection bias, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, twin studies, 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.


How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS by David France

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Donald Trump, East Village, estate planning, facts on the ground, global pandemic, Live Aid, medical residency, placebo effect, Ronald Reagan, sensible shoes, trickle-down economics

Suramin, a fifty-year-old Swedish drug for treating parasitic infections that was believed to have immune-boosting properties, was inexplicably fatal in some PWAs. Even dextran sulfate, the drug Staley had advocated during his Crossfire appearance on CNN, was a bust. After the massive FDA demonstration, chastised researchers finally took that drug into the lab only to discover that it made a hasty trip through the urinary tract without ever being properly absorbed. It was the placebo effect that made Staley feel better on dextran sulfate. Through all of this, Kramer had stayed out of the limelight. He was at work on another play, an autobiographical prequel to The Normal Heart. News of its focus on Kramer family foibles irked his brother and sister-in-law, and presaged a sharp estrangement. For many months the Kramer brothers didn’t speak; for many more, they only yelled. After the eventual rapprochement, things were not the same, and Kramer chose to turn more of his attention to AIDS.


pages: 1,737 words: 491,616

Rationality: From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, anti-pattern, anti-work, Arthur Eddington, artificial general intelligence, availability heuristic, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, Build a better mousetrap, Cass Sunstein, cellular automata, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological constant, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, different worldview, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, effective altruism, experimental subject, Extropian, friendly AI, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, index card, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, Nash equilibrium, Necker cube, NP-complete, P = NP, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, planetary scale, prediction markets, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, scientific worldview, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Solar eclipse in 1919, speech recognition, statistical model, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the map is not the territory, the scientific method, Turing complete, Turing machine, ultimatum game, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

On the other hand, I think she really does believe she has deceived herself. So although she does not receive any benefit of believing in God—because she doesn’t—she honestly believes she has deceived herself into believing in God, and so she honestly expects to receive the benefits that she associates with deceiving oneself into believing in God; and that, I suppose, ought to produce much the same placebo effect as actually believing in God. And this may explain why she was motivated to earnestly defend the statement that she believed in God from my skeptical questioning, while never saying “Oh, and by the way, God actually does exist” or even seeming the slightest bit interested in the proposition. * 84 Belief in Self-Deception I spoke of my conversation with a nominally Orthodox Jewish woman who vigorously defended the assertion that she believed in God, while seeming not to actually believe in God at all.