Dummy pills just the trick
The best paper in New Zealand (Waikato Times, May 6 – and it’s got nothing to do with the fact that I work there) reports that depressed patients tricked into thinking they are being treated have undergone healing brain changes.
The discovery is “conclusive proof of the power of the ‘placebo effect’ – the mind-over-body influence of believing that a drug will work.”
Scientists at the University of Texas, San Antonio say patients given a dummy pill experienced brain changes remarkably like those attained by taking Prozac.
World’s biggest ghost hunt
Hertfordshire’s Dr Richard Wiseman involved 250 volunteers and an array of hi-tech equipment in what became the world’s biggest ghost hunt, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
The Evening Post (March 3) says despite a number of creepy tales from volunteers, no definite proof of the supernatural was found during the experiment conducted in Edinburgh early last year. Wiseman said it was truly fascinating but “…none of the stories convinced me ghosts exist … I used to be a magician and I saw how easily people could be tricked.”
The tour guide who worked in the underground vaults of the 18th Century chamber, was in no doubt of the presence of ghosts, the paper said. These included a little boy, a dog and “the spectre of a nasty man who whispers obscenities in people’s ears.
“He has foul, stinky breath and he’s really horrible … The vaults … have been closed for 180 years so I think all that paranormal energy has been bottled up and is only just now being released.”
Maybe the tour guide needs Scooby Doo to deal with the wee doggie.
Measles epidemic hits anti-vaccine town
A measles epidemic involving 700 children that ravaged a small German town is being blamed on two homeopathic doctors who denounced the MMR vaccine, says the Dominion on March 7.
Debate on the merits of the vaccine is reaching fever pitch and 30 children had been admitted to hospital where there were fears there could be deaths.
On one side are “alternative health enthusiasts” who dominate Coburg, an affluent Bavarian town. Two of the town’s seven child health doctors fiercely oppose MMR. And then there are the public health experts, who “accuse a ‘nest’ of militant anti-MMR activists … of putting children’s lives in danger.”
Germany, the paper reports, is becoming famous as a world leader in “exporting measles”, according to leading specialists.
Dr Helmut Weiss, head of the state health office in Colburg, said the stronghold of the epidemic was the Waldorf School.
He’s at it again
And the Evening Post (April 13) informs us that psychic Uri Geller is to look for the site of the battle featured in the movie Braveheart.
The “paranormal expert” has been called in by historian John Walker, to try to pinpoint the exact location of the Battle of Falkirk which was fought between King Edward I of England and William Wallace, in 1298. The location has been lost, and no bodies or artefacts ever found.
Mr Walker stumbled on to Uri Geller while on the internet one evening, and read how he’d helped discover the location of a wrecked submarine. Since, he said, conventional methods to discover the graves of the combatants had failed, “… we need to try the unconventional.”
And Mr Geller said the battle was mysterious. “…the fact that very little was found could mean they have not been looking in the right place for the site.”
As they say, watch this space. And, by the way, William Wallace was not a homespun-wearing, oatmeal-eating fighting man of the glens as depicted in that movie, but grew up in a genteel manor house where he probably had very good table manners. So there.