Power of expectation fools students

Shannon Freese

In the fictional movie The Punisher Frank Castle dangles a captured man from the ceiling by his ankles. Trying to get information out of the man, Castle uses the torture technique of placebo.
Before blindfolding him, Castle tells his captive he’s going to burn his skin with a near-molten rod. Instead, Castle uses a blowtorch to char a piece of meat while poking the man with a Popsicle. Without harming the man at all, Castle gets the information he needs because the captive thinks he’s being scorched to death.
The placebo effect is not just in movies. On Aug. 29, The Rock did a similar test, minus the blowtorch.
 The Rock filled a two-liter Pepsi bottle with Coke and a two-liter Coke bottle with Pepsi and asked 35 students to taste test the two. The Rock also asked the students to answer two questions. The first was whether or not they could tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke and the second which of the two beverages they preferred. After tasting the soda, The Rock asked the students which of the two sodas was their favorite. Students who said they preferred Pepsi mistakenly selected the Coke. Students who said they preferred Coke picked the cups with the Pepsi.
 The Rock poured the soda in front of them so that the students could see the brand as it was poured. This convinced students they were getting the right soda in the right cup.
These students experienced the placebo effect. Placebo often has effects in fields such as psychology.
“In psychology we see [the placebo effect] in a lot of ways. We expose people to different sights and sounds … we might put subliminals, so it’ll sneak by,” psychology teacher Tim Drennan said. “We check and see if [these] messages are truly influencing [people]. Sometimes people see consciously as they flash by, but some people don’t see those things.”
According to www.webmd.com, the placebo effect works as a headache treatment. Almost 40 percent of patients in a placebo effect study regarding headaches showed significant improvement after receiving a pill when told it was medication to get rid of the headaches.
On Aug. 29 most people in the commons believed they could find the difference between the two sodas, but the majority of the students could not select the soda they said they preferred. Thanks to the placebo effect, students were convinced they were actually drinking the soda they had thought was their favorite.
By Shannon Freese