There are certain philosophical questions that may never be answered, at least not to the satisfaction of a pragmatic engineer like me. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the sound of one hand clapping? And of course, the ever popular – What is the meaning of life?
Although any one of these could keep a person’s brain tied up in knots for a very long time, I’d like to add one more to the list – Is a placebo still a placebo when you know it’s a placebo and it still works?
When the word placebo enters the conversation, most of us think of a drug trial. Some of the folks in the trial will get the actual drug being tested, and others will receive the placebo – a presumably worthless decoy. If an inactive, nondescript pill can’t outperform a soon-to-be outrageously expensive miracle drug, there’s a problem in Big Pharma Land. continue reading