Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The "Placebo" Diet?

I found this nifty article on Discovery News and it made me stop and read it a few times. Ben Radford (noted skeptic among other things) wrote up this piece in response to an ABC news article and I thought I would share it because I just think it is that weird.

The jist of the ABC article is that "Fake surgery" works for weight loss. These women go into a hypnotherapist to get the "surgery" and viola, the weight falls away. The article itself does a decent job of having a real professional look at the results and give an opinion.

My opninion is that real surgery is not optimal and "fake" surgery is a joke. This woman is feeding off the desperation of people (as does 90% of the diet industry). If real people can't maintain the weight loss after a real surgery than the fake is going to be less effective.

Ben does a great job of analyzing the article and the placebo effect the hypnotists are relying on,
The hypnotists seem to be relying on the well-known placebo effect, in which a fake treatment can (temporarily and under limited circumstances) have a real effect on health. But the placebo effect only works if the patient believes it is effective.

Neither the placebo effect nor hypnosis can “convince the body” that it had undergone gastric banding surgery, chemotherapy, or anything else. The stomach does not have a mind of its own and can’t be convinced, bribed, or fooled into doing anything. Lindley knew full well that she had not in fact had the fake surgery; she requested and paid for the procedure. Trying to fool a stomach into eating less makes no more sense than trying to fool nearsighted eyes into thinking they don’t need corrective lenses.

Needless to say, I think his article is well worth the look as well as reading the ABC story.

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