5.5 Trying out the placebo effect

> It's really hard to judge whether the effects were the result of the ..herb.., or whether I just thought these effects were occurring because I was seeking for them to happen (constantly checking myself to see if I notice any change - a bit like the placebo effect I guess).

It's nice to see someone wondering whether they were subject to the placebo effect! Too many people seem to be a bit too convinced by their own personal experiences.

If you are concerned about a placebo effect you might want to try your own little experiment. Get some large empty gelatin capsules from a health food store. Put sugar in half of them and your ginkgo capsule (which should be small enough to fit) in the other (with sugar to fill up the rest of the space. Have a friend label some bottles with numbers (the more bottles your use, the more likely it will be that you aren't just guessing right). The numbers will correspond with whether the bottle contains the sugar or the ginkgo but only your friend will know which is which. Then have your friend put the capsules in the bottles. Complete one bottle and then go on to the next. Don't look at the capsules as you take them and be aware of any subtle ways that you might be discerning the difference (e.g. weight, aftertaste etc.) You might want to use a rating scale of your alertness. Be aware that if you choose the ginkgo, it might simply be a coincidence, so make sure that the difference in ratings is big.

MORAVCSIK.clipr.colorado.edu (Julia Moravcsik)