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Placebos Are Getting More Effective 349

Wired is reporting that the well-known "placebo effect" seems to be increasing as time goes on. Fewer and fewer medications are actually making it past drug trials since they are unable to show benefits above and beyond a placebo. "It's not only trials of new drugs that are crossing the futility boundary. Some products that have been on the market for decades, like Prozac, are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. In many cases, these are the compounds that, in the late '90s, made Big Pharma more profitable than Big Oil. But if these same drugs were vetted now, the FDA might not approve some of them. Two comprehensive analyses of antidepressant trials have uncovered a dramatic increase in placebo response since the 1980s. One estimated that the so-called effect size (a measure of statistical significance) in placebo groups had nearly doubled over that time."

Need a Favor? Talk To My Right Ear Screenshot-sm 288

Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that scientists have found that if you want to get someone to do something, ask them in their right ear. Known as the 'right ear advantage,' scientists believe it is because information received through the right ear is processed by the left hand side of the brain which is more logical and better at deciphering verbal information than the right side of the brain. 'Talk into the right ear you send your words into a slightly more amenable part of the brain,' say researchers. The team, led by Dr. Luca Tommasi and Daniele Marzoli from the University of Chieti in central Italy, observed the behavior of hundreds of people in three nightclubs across the city where they intentionally addressed 176 people in either their right or their left ear when asking for a cigarette. They obtained significantly more cigarettes when they made their request in a person's right ear compared with their left. 'These results seem to be consistent with the hypothesized specialization of right and left hemispheres,' say researchers. 'We can also see this tendency when people use the phone, most will naturally hold it to their right ear.'"

If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we would all be millionaires. -- Abigail Van Buren