20 February, 2009


Interesting article on Comment Central about placebos, both in medicine and in the economy.

I don't think homeopathy works, per se. However, it certainly has an effect when people think it will. Given that many diseases to have a psychological link (look at how quickly many patients recover when told they will be discharged in the next few days) then perhaps it is as well to continue to use homeopathy for 'homely' diseases - ie: fairly regular, uncomfortable but non-life threatening - such as eczema. Just because the science doesn't add up, if the sugar pill has the same affect on the patient as the 'real' pill and sugar is cheaper, give out lots of sugar pills.

The time I think there is a problem is obviously for diseases such as cancer. If people have got used to believing the sugar pill works for their coughs and colds, I can easily see a number of people trying the same for their cancer.

In the economy, I agree with the article's 'unethical' point, but equally, all of the economy is a confidence game (I don't say this is bad) so perhaps there could be a middle line to tred betweenthe outright lie and the modifying of behaviour - perrhaps a 'nudge' is what is needed.

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