Placebo effect : the "Kissel definition" 
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 Placebo effect : the "Kissel definition"

I've been told about a definition of the placebo effet I've had never heard
about before. It was presented to me as the "Kissel definition".

-> The difference between the observed effet and the pharmacodynamical

At first, it seems to be the definition we all are used to (at least in the  
skeptic camp, I think). But the main point is that "observed" is a so vague
term that it can include what is rather called "artefacts", "bias" and the
like, IMHO.

ie : if the observer is a lousy one, if his judgment is clouded by his
expectancies, (no double-blind study, obviously then), then let's
imagine he does some a posteriori biased analysis : in the end, he finds
that for example the effect of the intercessory prayer is non null
(I choosed the example in which my difficulty to admit the word "placebo"
to describe what happened is the biggest : in the experiments about the
effect of intercessory prayers, the subject isn't even aware someone's
praying for him, he isn't even aware to be part of an experiment !).
-> The "observed effect" is non null. The pharmacodynamical effect is
null. -> The effect of the intercessory prayer is a placebo effect (!).

I've always been used to distinguish between the placebo effect and
the expectancy effect. In particular, it meant that the double-blind
study had the aim to suppress the expectancy effect, while the
comparison between a placebo and the tested product had the aim
to judge the placebo effect.

With this so vague definition of the word "placebo", it seems to mean
just about everything one wants. In particular, since this placebo
effect is dependant of the observer, it means it should be reported
in the scientific papers with the name of the observer : it isn't
anymore "the study of the effect of Xxx" but "the study of the effect
of Xxx by Dr. Yyy".

I hope my English wasn't too lousy to make this post impossible
to read. I know this looks like nitpicking, but I have been severely
criticized for making the difference between the placebo effect and
the expectancy effect on soc.culture.french...

What is your opinion, then ? Is the criticism I received justified ?

Emmanuel Marin

Wed, 14 May 1997 08:01:59 GMT
 [ 1 post ] 

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