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Yes, the placebo effect is real, and it may be getting stronger

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At Mind Matters: The fact that you may start to get better if you believe you are receiving treatment is one of the best-attested facts in medicine.

 A drug licensed for use must demonstrate greater effectiveness than a placebo (a capsule of sugar or an inert substance, perhaps) in clinical trials. That standard does not mean, as is sometimes supposed, “greater effectiveness than nothing.”

Many conditions for which we seek treatment respond—at least for a time—to the simple belief that we are receiving treatment. The placebo effect, as that fact is called, is one of the best-attested effects in medicine.

But the fact that the mind acts on the body troubles materialists. Such facts, they say, require revision. Good luck with that.

The placebo effect may even be getting stronger, at least in the United States. Greenberg tells us, “A 2015 study published in the journal Pain analyzed 84 clinical trials of pain medication conducted between 1990 and 2013 and found that in some cases the efficacy of placebo had grown sharply, narrowing the gap with the drugs’ effect from 27 percent on average to just 9 percent.” One explanation offered is that more direct marketing to American patients heightens their expectations of the medication and/or the medical rituals by which it is administered. That would spike the placebo effect. More.

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See also: A short argument against the materialist account of the mind (Jay Richards)

Reconciling mind with materialism twenty-five years on Jerry Fodor posits that the reason “we’re all materialists” is the alternatives seem even worse


The brain is not a “meat computer” (Michael Egnor)


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