For several decades now, many scientists, including me, have been working hard to reveal the full power and scope of the placebo effect — the amazing ability of a simple sugar pill or other non-pharmaceutical “fake intervention” to improve someone’s quality of life. This research has been crucial to giving scientific credibility to a powerful psychological effect. But the advances of science have also backfired, spawning an alternative industry that preys on the vulnerable. The placebo effect describes how the mere belief and expectation of receiving a drug may produce a benefit, such as a reduction in  pain. Albeit strange at first…

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