I was at work and had little to do and started reading Wikipedia's entry on the effect of Placebos.
I just thought it would be fun to read about how science views the power of the mind. And what I found was quite disturbing.
There was an entire paragraph in the article describing all the things a placebo can do. A placebo can relax muscles, a placebo can induce intoxication, etc. (It can even increase endurance, speed, and weight-lifting ability, and
the article suggests that perhaps it shouldn't be allowed in sporting
competitions. Absolutely, let's ban the power of thought from sports!) Yet it's stated that a placebo is an inert substance that is designed to convince a person to create the effect themselves. But yet there is a list of what it can do.
Correct me if I'm wrong, Science, but an inert substance can't do anything! So then clearly the paragraph should read: The human mind can relax muscles, the human mind can induce intoxication, etc. With so much staring at and focusing on something that is inert and only a trick to get the real power to act, how can a perspective such as Western Science not be at least a little lost?
There was also a suggestion that some people define the effect "as a physiological effect caused by the placebo", but a quoted pair of authorities pointed out how obviously nonsensical this is, and furthermore, went on to shockingly point out that the placebo itself might be useless and instead we might want to just focus on the patient. Talk to a patient or work on his mental issues instead of feeding him drugs - even fake ones? I'm sure they were laughed at.
I think it seems pretty obvious that if a fake drug pretending to do something does almost as much, if not more, than many actual drugs we proscribe then Science might go far if it spent some more time focusing on the mind behind the works than the outcomes or the physical tricks used to get it work.
Though one thing I also found interesting was that it explained that the placebo effect doesn't work for people with Alzheimer's because they have lost the ability to expect things. So, you can reverse engineer that and say that perhaps its our expectations that cause most of our illnesses and pain. So that if you find why we're expecting those things you could simply reverse that and teach/encourage people to expect the opposite, and you'd have healthy people.
But again, that doesn't make money.