Placebos are getting more effective
Two comprehensive analyses of antidepressant trials have uncovered a dramatic increase in placebo response since the 1980s. One estimated that the so-called effect size (a measure of statistical significance) in placebo groups had nearly doubled over that time.My pet theories as to why this is happening: Drug companies have spent so much money on advertising, telling us that drugs are capable of making us happy and healthy, that our expectations for them are much higher. This might generate a larger placebo effect. The Wired article mentions this possibility. The other possibility is that we are experiencing more psychological discomfort of the kind amenable to placebo treatment now than were were in the past. Thus, placebo treatments are more effective now than, say, 20 years ago.
It's not that the old meds are getting weaker, drug developers say. It's as if the placebo effect is somehow getting stronger.
(HT: Mad Latinist via Facebook)