Placebo Must Go

October 12, 2022 Placebo No Comments

As quickly as possible and as far as it goes, with due respect to the human condition. Eventually, no humane future – in healthcare and society in general – can be based on placebo.

This abstract text is not about any specific placebo. You will find examples in other blog-essays.

See Empathy vs. Placebo. In this text, with ‘placebo’ is meant deception ― one way or another.

About ‘as quickly as possible,’ see: To Placebo or Not to Placebo.

Placebo must go ― from universities.

Worldwide, much is taught in faculties of medicine and psychology that, in due time, will show itself to be placebogenic. This is the natural result of scientific progress ― perfectly OK. However, much is also taught that even now can be unearthed as placebogenic with relatively little effort, or for which the science is already amply available.

Shouldn’t universities be truth-oriented? This acknowledged, of course, the gift of doubt is an instrument for better science. Fundamental doubt is needed – without exaggeration – to find out the really unexpected, possibly engendering some Kuhnian revolution. Still, the momentum should be toward truth, which is incompatible with promoting placebo-as-a-lie.

Some researchers want to awaken all caregivers about the placebogenic nature of (some or many of) their instruments, then ask them not to enlighten their clients/patients about the same. In my view, this is impossible. Soon enough, people find out and lose confidence in related science altogether. Moreover, placebo has several side-effects that cannot be taken for granted.

One more reason: Intolerance to placebo will incentivize finding out what underlies it – from the psychological and bodily viewpoint – and how this can eventually be brought into the open. The power of expectation/hope/belief will teach us much about the human being that is also applicable in other domains.

Placebo must go ― from the broad culture.

Western Enlightenment can be seen as a nice gift from the West to the whole world.

However, if the West meanwhile lacks self-critique concerning its own placebogenic ways in healthcare, this amounts to arrogantly imposing one placebo over another under the guise of Enlightened Science. This doesn’t go unnoticed by people in other cultures ― just as their placebo is quickly unmasked by us (Westerners). Given the symbolic nature of placebogenic ways and the high status frequently involved, this may appear unimportant while being existentially crucial.

People die and kill for symbols, you know, arguably more than anything else. History has shown this many times.


We are witnessing a transition from a relatively short period of utmost Western dominance to lesser certainties, to say the least.

This way, other cultures don’t necessarily accept whatever we impose on them. Naturally, they want the good things, such as much of the resulting technology. That doesn’t mean they want to swap placebos just like that ― and rightly so. In my view, the Arrogance of the West substantially hinders worldwide progress toward the promising future that we – and our children – all deserve.


This (new term) is the expectation that, in any circumstance, something conceptual must happen for any positive result to be possible. For instance, a pill must be taken, or a conceptually based therapy must be undergone. This is a widely active expectation in the West and, maybe to a lesser degree, anywhere else.

Meta-placebo is always accompanied by the adverse meta-nocebo: the expectation that no positive result can be achieved without any conceptual happening. This is the expectation that nothing is to be gained by the view toward profoundly inside oneself. In other words, non-conscious mental processing is pushed out of the picture, with dire consequences. This hinders people’s openness to, for instance, AURELIS.

Any placebogenic occurrence carries the meta-placebo ― therefore, also the meta-nocebo. On top of this, unfortunately, whatever direction we take regarding placebo, A.I. will empower it manifold.

Placebo must go.

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