Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Newsweek on the placebo effect

Here's another mainstream media take on placebos. Sharon Begley acknowledges from the outset how resistant both doctors and patients can be about the very concept of the placebo effect. Then she writes:

"But the fact remains that placebos are at least somewhat effective and sometimes very effective for some patients. Rather than railing against that finding or pretending it doesn't exist, what we should be doing is learning how brain activity that corresponds to the expectation of cure translates into clinical improvement."

I remain rather flabbergasted that so many people would rather ignore evidence that placebos often work than figure out what exactly is going on. How odd that the doctors who require clinical evidence before drawing conclusions on treatment will nevertheless overlook or disavow knowledge of clinical evidence that has proven, over and over, that placebos can and do work under many circumstances. So it's not clinical proof they really want; what they really want, like so many of us, is to have their own preconceived ideas to be continually affirmed.

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