Tuesday, October 23, 2007

a bone thrown from the void

There's an interesting article in Slate today about the placebo effect. Apparently some studies done recently, or rather an analysis of studies done recently and perhaps not so recently, suggests that the placebo effect may be much less effective than most people think. It would be neat to see what would happen to some of the thinking surrounding illness if it was proved that believing you're being treated is not at all useful to your health.

Also on the topic of health, there's been an interesting discussion over at Echidne of the Snakes regarding the demonization of obesity as a health problem that can be blamed on the victim with some degree of social acceptability. Demonizing the ill as a method of causing ourselves to feel secure in our safety from illness is something that I've been thinking about; I've ordered that book by Susan Sontag from the library, even, in spite of my hideous experience with Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others in that writing class a year ago.

I just described both of these articles as interesting, so I will call this one something else. Frightening, perhaps. Horrifying, or heart-breaking, or something else equally melodramatic. It reminds me of that clip of a Republican debate where Ron Paul is arguing with one of the crazy fundies, Brownback or Tancredo or whoever, and the guy says that we must continue as we have been going on in the War on Terror for the sake of our soldiers' honor. I wish someone would explain to the politicians that if a soldier's honor requires not doing A (say, torturing helpless prisoners) AND also doing B (say, keeping your oath to obey the orders of the officers above you), requiring a person to choose between doing A or not doing B is not in any way imaginable a good way to uphold that person's honor.

I found this video of a song by Sigur Ros quite by accident. It is the most joyful thing I've seen all day. There's something in it... a sense of being yourself in the world, connected to the air around you and the dirt under your feet. I would like to live like this.

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