With new research demonstrating the startling power of the placebo effect, this hour of Radiolab examines the chemical consequences of belief and imagination. Listen at 9 a.m. or 9 p.m. PT
Could the best medicine be no medicine at all? We take stock of the pharmacy in our brains, consider the symbolic power of the doctor coat, and visit the tent of a self-proclaimed faith healer.
Pinpointing the Placebo Effect
All over the world, people say they are healed by things that turn out to be placebo. So it's easy to think that they must have been faking in the first place if all it took was a little sugar pill to assuage their ailments. But keep your scoffing at ...
The White Coat
Next up: a look at the placebo effect from the doctor's perspective. How the medical context alone can be the key into the brain's healing resources. We'll hear the story of Dr. Albert Mason, who found he had super-powers, used them for good, and then lost them forever. Then, we'll ...
The very first placebo-controlled trial may have been the debunking of the charismatic Anton Mesmer (the enigmatic source responsible for the verb “to mesmerize”), an enlightenment figure with a healing technique that Ben Franklin, for one, thought was basically placebo performance. Historians Ed Cohen ...