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Posts Tagged ‘steven novella’

Skeptical Battlegrounds, a review

Posted by Skeptigator on December 15, 2008

Steven Novella, of Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe fame, is currently writing a series detailing many of the Skeptical battlegrounds that must be fought now and in the future. The series is hosted at the SkepticBlog, a group blog dedicated to the hosts of a skepticism-themed TV series called the Skeptologists.

Here are the first 3 posts:

I’m looking forward to additional parts to this series, they are concise and well-written. Once it’s completed we may very well have a working plan of action.

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The Placebo Effect

Posted by Skeptigator on September 23, 2008

I’ve just finished listening to Dr. Ben Goldacre’s 2 part series on The Placebo Effect that originally aired on BBC Radio 4. (Part I, Part II) You can subscribe to Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science podcast through iTunes as well.

There are 2 things that I enjoyed about these episodes and it was not that many alternative medicines get their curative effects primarily due to the Placebo Effect. This is a well established fact, with reams of evidence to support (see below for additional citations).

It is that many of our “traditional” medicines (particularly painkillers and anti-depressants) also get a significant boost from the Placebo Effect. In fact, many anti-depressants have nearly the same effect as a placebo for those with mild depression.

The other thing is that it is often the context in which the placebo is given that informs how pronounced it’s effect will be. Simply being administered “sham” acupuncture with no interaction between the acupuncturist and the patient produces a greater response than nothing but performing “sham” acupuncture with an optimal “doctor-patient” interaction has a profound effect on the efficacy of the “sham” acupuncture.

If you’ve got the time (each episode is about 30 minutes long) they are well worth the listen. For further reading I would suggest the following articles:

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