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Placebo-without-deception is deceptive

Paul Ingraham ARCHIVEDMicroblog posts are archived and rarely updated. In contrast, most long-form articles on are updated regularly over the years (see updates page).

This article about placebo is about how placebo allegedly works even when people know that it’s a placebo — placebo without deception. This is based on a well-known 2010 study of placebo for irritable bowel syndrome. The article is about that researcher’s plans to study open-label placebos for cancer next. And that’s really all the article has to offer: it’s basically a press release for the research sequel to the original placebo-hyping blockbuster. There is no new research, yet. It was just an advertisement for the idea.

I don’t like the idea.

Ironically, Kaptchuk’s 2010 evidence of placebo without deception was itself deceptive (or at least disingenuous), because patients were still given a clear reason to have faith in what they were given. In this way, the 2010 study was well-crafted to produce a placebo effect, just by raising expectations with a different kind of deception. And Kaptchuk will do the same with the next study, with completely predictable results. And it will be a big deal, mark my words … because cancer. And because everyone loves the “power” of placebo!

I explain the problem with the 2010 study in more detail in my placebo article.

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