Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Placebos: Not Just Pills!

I just came across a fantastic example of a placebo effect, in an unusual context without a sugar pill in sight. According to Rhodri Marsden in the Independent, the Beach Boys were getting sick of Murry Wilson (Brian, Dennis and Carl's dad) interfering with their studio set up, until engineer Chuck Britz created a completely fake mixing desk for him to fiddle with. This kept him happy and quiet, and let them get on with their recordings in peace. What a great idea!

The story  reminded me of my old mate Dave, a notorious beer monster. At one party, the booze was running low when I heard him arrive, already quite pissed from the pub but (of course) bringing no beer of his own. I knew our dwindling supplies were in danger, so I quickly stuck an empty Party Seven  under the tap and filled it with water. Dave was delighted when I presented it to him, and spent the rest of the evening happily sitting on the stairs, jealously guarding his treasure and slowly working his way through the lot.