The Un-Placebo Effect

What About Bob?
So get this: I was reading an article yesterday about placebos–sugar pills that are given to people who are then told that those pills are real drugs which will make them feel better. These placebos actually help some people to cure their disease, just because their body believes they should be getting better. That’s old news to most of you, no doubt. Well get this: in the study, the doctors looked at a group of people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Half of the people were given no treatment. The other half were given sugar pills–and they were told they were sugar pills. The doctors explained the placebo effect, and the patients understood they were being given placebos. 35% of the people who had no treatment got feeling better. 59% of the placebo patients improved. So basically, being given a sugar pill, being told it was a sugar pill, knowing it doesn’t treat your symptom–all of that doesn’t matter. The placebo effect still works.

The mind is a really funky thing, and we understand only a fraction of why it does what it does. Sometimes we think we’re really smart, and that we know everything there is to know–or at least everything that’s worth knowing–but when you start to look at how much we DON’T know, you see a very different picture. Just sayin’.

And in other news, I wrote up a nifty little piece on Google Goggles today on my library blog. Click on over and check it out–cool stuff.

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