The Power of Placebos

Let’s talk about placebos – fake medical treatments that are used to analyze the efficacy of real treatments. But the interesting thing about placebos is that even though they aren’t real medical treatments, they can have a real effect on patients who receive them. Sometimes the effect is negative, but often it’s positive. For example, people taking a placebo might experience the side effects that generally come with a particular medication. On the other hand, they might begin to feel ...
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The World Demands Hypocrisy

We are all hypocrites. That should come as no surprise to most of you. We all decry liars even as we all lie. We all demand perfection from others even as we fail to achieve it ourselves. But hypocrisy is inherent in our nature. We are genetically wired for it and we’ll never be able to eliminate it from our society. Why? Because it actually works in most cases to advance our positions, to keep us in power or help ...
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Music and the Brain

I’ve been thinking about music a bit lately, contemplating its effect on the brain, wondering why we often love songs even when we can’t understand the words. What is it about Ode to Joy that makes me happy when I don’t have a clue what the singers are singing? First of all, music changes our brain chemistry, increasing our norepinephrine levels, reducing anxiety, blood pressure and pain. It also improves sleep quality, mood, mental alertness and memory. This assumes that ...
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Shared Sacrifice

We are all capable of great goodness, and yet we are all complicit in the killing of our neighbors. Everything we do, in some way, harms the world and the people around us. We buy soap, which contains chemicals that are harmful to the environment, hurting algae or bacteria, which then hurt other life forms and still other life forms. Up the ladder we go, every action ultimately contributing in some tiny way to the premature death of someone or ...
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