Placebos work, so how do we ethically use them?

The head of Harvard's placebo program is trying to figure out a good answer that question.

Notable Replies

  1. Or maybe you've only been provided with fake studies to make you THINK placebos are working.

  2. So how do we ethically use them?

    It won't be an issue. It's going to work out better than you ever imagined. I've seen what's coming, and everything is beautiful. Wait til you see what's next.

  3. There are people who pay good money for homeopathic remedies, so I'm of the opinion that placebos are already being used.

    Also, when I feel a cold coming on, I take one of those fizzy vitamin "makes-your-cold-shorter" remedies. It makes me feel better, even while I'm convinced it's the placebo effect. It's one of the flavors of my childhood, probably, chewable vitamin C. This must be the "theater" mentioned in the article.

    If Big Pharma finds out how to make a lot of money from placebos, they would be everywhere. Whether that would be ethical is an open question.

  4. miasm says:

    "Take this. It is a placebo. Placebos work even if you know they are a placebo."

  5. Hans says:

    Placebos are used every time you take a real medication, paradoxically. A researcher might try to discover the effect of the drug alone, discounting any benefit which is due to the placebo effect. However since both work to treat the patient, they are both of use to the clinician.

    If we ignore ethics, it seems then that clinicians should constantly talk up the value of any treatment plan. They should do their best to both treat, and convince the patient that the treatment is going to be effective. That way the clinician gets the most out of the placebo effect and the treatment.

    The real challenge comes from the ethics. How do you have informed consent, if your doctor is constantly talking up the treatment picked out.

Continue the discussion

11 more replies