Learning something new every day…

Fascinating article by Kieth Kloor at Slate magazine concerning the so-called “Wind Turbine Syndrome”, and whether it is real or not:


What is most fascinating to me is the concept of a “nocebo” effect.  Just about everyone should be at the very least familiar with the term “placebo effect”.  If you aren’t, check out this link.  If you’re too lazy to click the link, a placebo effect occurs when a doctor and/or researcher gives a person with a certain problem/affliction a completely ineffective treatment yet this treatment seems to have some effect on the affliction.

If you are testing a new cold formula you have developed, you may have a group of subjects with colds come to your office.  You would split this group into threes:  One would receive your new cold formula, another would receive no treatment at all, and the third would receive the ineffective placebo “medicine” (this can take the form of sugar pills or flavored water).  The point of doing such an experimentation is to see if your new medicine works better than those either receiving no treatment or an ineffective treatment.

Why test ineffective treatments?  Because the human mind may at times perceive the act of taking a medicine, even one that has no effectiveness, as “helping” their situation.

In the case of the nocebo effect, we have people who claim physical maladies when confronted with negative information about certain situations.  In the more specific case of the article above, it appears as more information about “wind turbine syndromes” appears, the more people claim to be suffering from said maladies.

As I said before, a fascinating article and an intriguing read, for those interested.