Tag Archives: placebo effect

The Law of Attraction – Debunked (The Secret – Refuted)

1. Pseudoscience:

So the first thing to be said, in my opinion, is that the Law of Attraction, and, to be blunt, New Age Thought altogether, is entirely predicated on dispensing meaningless drivel masqueraded as profound truth and wisdom… it is, to paraphrase Michael Shermer, the combination of scientific sounding words with New Age words to create the illusion that they’re somehow related…

For example, the term ‘Law of Attraction’ deliberately implies that it is a scientific law, just like the ‘Law of Conservation of Energy’ etc., and yet, science regards the Law of Attraction as pure nonsense and pseudoscience, and puts it in the same bin as creationism, homeopathy, climate change denial and tin foil hats!

2. Argument from Ignorance:

Anyhow, with that said, the first question to be asked is if the first premise is true – is everything really comprised of energy vibrating at different frequencies? Is the Law of Vibration true? Well, while it is true that everything so far appears to be an expression of matter and energy, and while matter and energy are indeed different states of the same thing (energy)… the only way someone can say that everything “vibrates” is by defining ‘vibration’ to be “energy in motion” – which only serves to confuse people.

What’s more is that if the proponents of this argument go a step further and assert that we know for sure that everything is vibrating energy, they’re actually committing an Argument from Ignorance, because absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

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Homeopathy Explained – Gentle Healing or Reckless Fraud?

What are the principles behind Homeopathy and does it work?

Superstition

Your days are numbered

Gordon Bonnetby Gordon Bonnet via Skeptophilia

Most people have heard of the placebo effect.  The name comes from the Latin word meaning “I will please,” and refers to the phenomenon that people who are given an ineffective medication after being told that it will ameliorate their symptoms often find that the symptoms do, indeed, abate.  The mechanism is still not well elucidated — it has been suggested that some of the effect might be caused by the brain producing “endogenous opioids” when a placebo is administered, causing decreased sensations of pain, feelings of well-being, and sounder sleep.  But the fact is, we still don’t fully understand it.

Less well-known, but equally well-documented, is the nocebo effect.  “Nocebo” means “I will harm” in Latin, and it is more or less the placebo effect turned on its head.  If a person is told that something will cause pain, or bring him/her to harm, it sometimes does — even if there’s no rational reason why it would.  Individuals who believe in voodoo curses, for example, sometimes show actual medically detectable symptoms, even though such curses are merely empty superstition.  Nevertheless, if you believe in them, you might feel their effects.

[image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]

[image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]


Naturally, this further bolsters the superstition itself, which ramps up the anxiety and fear, which makes the nocebo more likely to happen the next time, and so round and round it goes.  And this seems to be what is happening right now in Uganda — a bizarre phenomenon called “numbers disease.”

In “numbers disease,” an affected individual suddenly notices a raised pattern on his/her skin that looks like a number.  The number that appears, it is said, represents the number of days the person has left.  Once the number shows up, the individual begins to sicken, and when the allotted time is up, the person dies.

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