The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #59418   Message #2668262
Posted By: Amos
30-Jun-09 - 04:08 PM
Thread Name: BS: The Mother of all BS threads
Subject: RE: BS: The Mother of all BS threads
" I've become more and more persuaded that the lessons I was taught in "Econ 101" are insufficient to analyze public policy. Study after study has shown that we are not the hyper-rational calculating machines that economic theory assumes—and that we ignore at our own peril the crucial role of expectations, beliefs, and social norms in influencing behavior.
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This is just as true in medical science and health policy as in other fields. The placebo effect is a compelling example here: Medicine tends to dismiss it as a statistical annoyance rather than examine it in and of itself, even though placebos are often more potent empirically than actual medical intervention. (One of the more fascinating studies I've come across in this vein was done by two Harvard psychologists who studied hotel cleaning staff and the effect of "perceived" exercise. At the outset, they found that most hotel workers didn't believe their work was exercise—two-thirds reported that they didn't exercise regularly, and more than one-third reported not exercising at all. But when the researchers informed a group of these workers that their eight-hour-a-day activity of cleaning rooms counted as "exercise," the effects were similar to an increase in actual exercise. The workers lost weight and lowered their blood pressure, apparently just by thinking that the same activity they were already doing was exercise! That's just one example that shows the power of human psychology.) "

By John Dickerson
Posted Monday, June 29, 2009 in Slate

This raises all kinds of interesting possibilities. For example, maybe they would have gotten the benefits of their exercise without further intervention if their spouses were not telling them they were fat and lazy and were not exercising, just working.

You have to wionder exactly how far in monitoring physical, emotional and mental systems this principle can be extended, and what the various issues would be in administering it as a low-cost path to mental and physical health for millions of people!