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The Sugar Pill


Many alternative medicines have attained their reputations because, even though there’s no evidence they work, people still feel better. By now, most of the know the placebo effect is hard at work. We might even give a skeptical eye to those who are a bit open to suggestion, whether it’s experiencing placebo effects or being easily hypnotized.

But what is the placebo effect, and what’s going on when we experience it? This week we talk with Erik Vance, author of the new book “Suggestible You: The curious science of your brain’s ability to deceive, transform and heal,” about how a little openness to suggestion might not be such a bad thing. We’ll also speak with genetic epidemiologist Kathryn Hall, who studies the genetic differences that might help make some people more likely to experience the placebo effect than others, and what that means for drug trials and the clinic.

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