Tag Archives: Fun

Let’s Talk About Sex

Are aphrodisiacs placebos? What would happen if you spent a whole day eating them?

Read about Insider writer Sara Hendricks’s experiment with binge-eating foods claimed to have aphrodisiac properties, leading up to (spoiler alert) her conclusion that “at the end of the day, whether or not an aphrodisiac food works might simply depend on how much faith you have in the placebo effect. Aphrodisiacs, as it turns out, may very well be in the eye of the beholder.”

Do Worms Experience A Placebo Effect?

No, seriously, do they?

“Is the placebo effect biologically real? We’re not sure. But, if it is, then it is safe to say that it evolved over time, that it confers some survival advantage, and most importantly, it should also be able to be seen in other organisms. It has been reported in rats on occasion. But, what if we could study the placebo effect in lower organisms like fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) or worms (Caenorhabditis elegans)?

In the study of aging, these tiny, but powerful animals who age quickly, make it easier to do many experiments in a shorter period of time. Worms, in particular, are a fantastic model for the field of dietary restriction (DR), a programmed method of reducing calorie intake and the most scientifically sound method of extending lifespan. But in worms, the extended lifespan offered through DR is disrupted by the smell of food which tricks their bodies out of DR mode and stops the extension of life.”

Check out  Simon C. Harvey, Chris J. Beedie, “Studying placebo effects in model organisms will help us understand them in humans” Biology Letters. 29 November 2017 or read the ACSH article here.

Want to think outside of the box? Try sniffing a placebo

We usually think of placebos as tools for therapy, or perhaps as marketing strategies, but here’s an idea about the placebo effect and creative thinking.

“The placebo effect is best known in medicine for making people feel better when they are given sham treatments. Now there is growing interest in using placebos to boost athletic and cognitive abilities.

Previous studies have found that people lift more weight and cycle harder when they take medicines with no active ingredients that are falsely labelled as performance-enhancing substances. Placebo pills have also been shown to improve scores in memory tests.

These findings prompted Lior Noy and Liron Rozenkrantz at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel to test whether the placebo effect can stimulate creativity too.

They asked 90 university students to sniff a substance that smelled of cinnamon. Half the students were informed that the substance had been designed to enhance creativity.

The participants then completed a series of tasks designed to test their creativity. One involved rearranging squares on a computer screen into different shapes. Another required them to think up new uses for everyday items like shoes, pins and buttons.

Those who were told the smelly substance increased creativity scored higher on measures of originality. For example, they came up with more unusual shape configurations and novel applications for the everyday items. “The improvements weren’t enough to turn you into the next Picasso, but they were significant,” says Noy.”

Read the full article here.

Oh no, you’re not going after oysters!!

Capture

I’m afraid, so, folks. It seems the valiant, fleshy oyster’s reputation as an aphrodisiac may be be down to … you guessed it … the placebo effect.

My co-worker Zara literally told me every time she has an oyster, she feels a tingling sensation in her nipples. My mind was blown. What in the world?! Am I asexual? Why doesn’t that happen to me??!

I decide to consult with Dr. Nicole Prause, principal investigator at the Sexual Psychophysiology and Affective Neuroscience Lab at the University of California, to find out what’s actually going on in our brains every time we eat oysters.

Read more in Oysters Only Make You Horny If You Believe They Will, According To An Expert

Nature RX: Nature as Placebo

Set in the world of a spoofed prescription drug commercial, Nature Rx offers a hearty dose of laughs and the outdoors – two timeless prescriptions for whatever ails you. Side effects may include confidence, authenticity, remembering you have a body, and being in a good mood for no apparent reason.

More from Seth Godin on placebos and marketing

placebo_punk

We’ve published his work here before, but it’s time for some more truisms on the placebo effect from marketing guru Seth Godin, one of the godfathers of ‘viral marketing’ (in Crucial Elements for the placebo effect). Seth’s really into placebos!

….

Placebos, used ethically, are powerful tools. They can cure diseases, make food taste better and dramatically increase the perceived quality of art. They can improve the way teachers teach, students learn and we judge our own safety.

….

They do best when they improve something that is difficult to measure objectively.

….
Argue all you want about whether or not you want to be buying or selling placebos, but it’s quite likely that the right placebo with the right story can dramatically increase certain outcomes.

If you want to improve performance, the right placebo is often the safest and cheapest way to do so. The opportunity is to find one that’s likely to work, and to market it in a way that’s ethical and effective.

….

If you like Seth’s style, he has another blog post on the placebo effect in marketing here (Marketing of the placebo: Everyone gets their own belief) and a whole downloadable essay/course here (Placebos) which contains some keen – and entertaining! – thinking on the placebo effect as it relates to marketing (which to Godin, is critical to more in our lives than we imagine!)

….

Facing a long plane trip with a nasty cold, I headed over to the health food store.

“Excuse me, do you have any placebos? I have a really horrible cold… I’ll take the strongest one you’ve got.”

She looked at me with pity. “A placebo?”

“Yes, please.”

“Do you know which company makes that? I don’t think we have any placebos?”

I waited for a second, thinking hard about what was happening.

“Hey Sylvia,” she yelled, “there’s a guy out here who wants some placebo, but he doesn’t know who makes it. Do we carry that?”

Sylvia didn’t know.