Friday, October 21, 2011

Placebo placebo placebo

I went to a quite spectacular music festival a couple of years ago, called splore. It's only on every two years so I didn't go last year. Which is sad. And entirely beside the point. In the little market place there were a few people selling "Power Balance" bracelets. Which are essentially a con. I thought it was quite interesting at the time, given that they were getting people to test them by pushing and pulling them off balance, putting the bracelet on them, pushing and pulling again with miraculous results. They were doing it to to many people for people to be plants. Interesting up to a point. A little bit of digging and the explanations are clear. Forces applied in similar places but in different directions before and after. The longer explanation. The blinded experiment (get the salesman to do the normal routine, don't tell whether the person is actually using the bracelet or not) video showing it's a crock. And then there was the actual admission by the company that there is no evidence that it works (on the wiki page).

Well, he said, it's not the same people, but it's a good rick, why let it go to waste. For a while now, you've been able to get a necklace with gold nanoparticles that will improve your everything by realigning the energy flow of the body. Somewhat implausible if you ask me. This is not to say that there isn't some sort of psychological placebo effect at work. Placebo effects are powerful at altering our perception of things. I'm willing to go so far as to admit that anyone who's taken in by one of these things could perceive that their own performance is better than it was (confirmation bias anyone?). I've not seen anything to say that the placebo effect actually changes an individuals physical performance. And I'm pretty damn sure that these nano particles are not realigning the bodies energy flow to increase performance - in short, I think it's a crock. If you want to convince yourself that you are faster wand stronger with better balance and health, find yourself a lucky piece of sting - it's cheaper.

For now, I'm going to ignore silly stuff like this in favour of sitting in the spring sun contemplating another splore. trust me, it's a much better way to spend a morning.

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