CLOSE

Look Inside the Placebo Effect

Placebos occupy a pretty weird place in the world of medicine. They get results, and yet contain no actual medicine. They can work even when we know we’re getting them, although just how well they work may depend on your DNA.

We tend to assume that the people who get better after using placebos are dupes, and that the effects are strictly psychological. The reality is so much more complicated than that. As Joe Hanson explains in this video from PBS’s “It’s Okay to Be Smart,” placebo treatments can produce actual physiological changes in patients, causing the brain to release chemicals that can decrease pain and even ease some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. 

And not all placebos are created equal—far from it. Everything from a placebo's medium (tablet, pill, or injection) to its coloring and packaging can affect its efficacy. "Clearly," says Hanson, "the critical ingredient in a placebo is expectation."

Check out the video to find out how placebo treatments started, what they’re made of, and why they’ve been giving the pharmaceutical industry so much trouble lately.

Header image via It's Okay to Be Smart, YouTube.

arrow
Afternoon Map
The Richest Person of All Time From Each State


Looking for inspiration in your quest to become a billionaire? This map from cost information website HowMuch.net, spotted by Digg, highlights the richest person in history who hails from each of the 50 states.

More billionaires live in the U.S. than in any other country, but not every state has produced a member of the Three Comma Club (seven states can only lay claim to millionaires). The map spans U.S. history, with numbers adjusted for inflation. One key finding: The group is overwhelmingly male, with only three women represented.

The richest American by far was John D. Rockefeller, repping New York with $257.25 billion to his name. Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Microsoft's Bill Gates clock in at the third and fifth richest, respectively. While today they both make their homes in the exclusive waterfront city of Medina, Washington, this map is all about birthplace. Since Gates, who is worth $90.54 billion, was born in Seattle, he wins top billing in the Evergreen State, while Albuquerque-born Bezos's $116.57 billion fortune puts New Mexico on the map.

The richest woman is South Carolina's Anita Zucker ($3.83 billion), the CEO of InterTech Group, a private, family-owned chemicals manufacturer based in Charleston. Clocking in at number 50 is the late, great socialite Brooke Astor—who, though a legend of the New York City social scene, was a native of New Hampshire—with $150 million.

[h/t Digg]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook
arrow
fun
There’s a Ghost Hiding in This Illustration—Can You Find It?
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook

A hidden image illustration by Gergely Dudás, a.k.a. Dudolf
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook

Gergely Dudás is at it again. The Hungarian illustrator, who is known to his fans as “Dudolf,” has spent the past several years delighting the internet with his hidden image illustrations, going back to the time he hid a single panda bear in a sea of snowmen in 2015. In the years since, he has played optical tricks with a variety of other figures, including sheep and Santa Claus and hearts and snails. For his latest brainteaser, which he posted to both his Facebook page and his blog, Dudolf is asking fans to find a pet ghost named Sheet in a field of white bunny rabbits.

As we’ve learned from his past creations, what makes this hidden image difficult to find is that it looks so similar to the objects surrounding it that our brains just sort of group it in as being “the same.” So you’d better concentrate.

If you’ve scanned the landscape again and again and can’t find Sheet to save your life, go ahead and click here to see where he’s hiding.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios