When researchers write, for example, that 20% of the placebo group recovered in a trial and 60% of the active treatment group did, they are not saying that placebos "have the same effect" in a third as many of the patients. They mean that (for the patients with this condition) 20% will recover in the natural course of events, but with the added treatment 60% will recover. It is this added 40% that matters. The placebo has had no effect on recovery.This lead me to a good article he wrote in response to Richard Bentall's tedious criticisms of psychiatry:
Richard Bentall is right: psychological and social psychiatry research has been a Cinderella to biological and genetic explanations...He is also spot on about the exaggeration and hype of many of their "breakthroughs".
However, much of his article is so one-sided that those messages risk being lost.
* The seminal Cochrane review on this topic by Hróbjartsson & Gøtzsche found:
We found an effect on pain...nausea...asthma...and phobia...
There was no statistically significant effect of placebo interventions in the seven other clinical conditions investigated in three trials or more: smoking, dementia, depression, obesity, hypertension, insomnia and anxiety, but confidence intervals were wide.