Posted Aug 19, 2012 22:56 UTC (Sun) by giraffedata
In reply to: Diluted sugar
Parent article: Garzik: An Andre To Remember
No, that's not the placebo effect. The fact that things get better in time without treatment is a big reason that the control group reports improvement, but it isn't what people refer to as the placebo effect.
The placebo effect is where a person's subjective evaluation of his health improves when he thinks he is being treated. The placebo doesn't cause his rhinovirus count to go down, but it makes him feel better. When you consider that the real reason most people go to the doctor is to feel better, not to effect a particular biological change in the body, you have to say a placebo is effective in that case. In fact, you could argue it's unethical to withhold a placebo.
The placebo effect is very real. I have a friend who is extremely susceptible to it, not just in medicines, but in everything else. If he installed a new wireless access point, especially if it were expensive, he would report faster web browsing even if the actual speed was unaffected. (He's not the type to measure it, of course).
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