Rector’s Blog

Placebo Effect

I was chatting recently with one of my cousins–a physician–about the effect of placebo pills.  It is well known that they have great healing properties.  But he told me two things I didn’t know:

First, they work amazingly well even when people know they are taking a placebo!  This article goes into great detail on that phenomenon.

The second made me laugh out loud.  He said that in some double-blind drug tests, all the participants were warned about possible negative side-effects of the drug, and encouraged to report when they became too uncomfortable for them to bear.

Here’s what happened.  Subjects taking placebos bailed out of the studies because of unbearable side-effects at a higher rate than those taking the actual drug being tested!  And the side effects were real!

Dangerous things, those placebos!

Are we interesting creatures, or what?!


What would the media do without this word?  It is the staple of click-bait.

Here’s what it means.

flaunt /flônt,flänt/


verb: flaunt; 3rd person present: flaunts; past tense: flaunted; past participle: flaunted; gerund or present participle: flaunting

display (something) ostentatiously, especially in order to provoke envy or admiration or to show defiance.

No synonym works quite as well. 

Show off” sounds silly.  “Display ostentatiously” is embarrassing,  an offense to good taste.  Try this:  “Forty-nine-year-old model ostentatiously displays her beach body!”  You won’t see that headline.  But we are good with “flaunt.”

How did that happen?  What does it say about us that we can be drawn to one of the most unattractive vices?  But drawn we are.

Our new masters know us better than we know ourselves. They know things we don’t want to admit. They know what works and would not keep doing it if it didn’t pay. 

Every time we “click” we are sending them a message: “This is what I want more of.”