Wired Magazine has an article this month about the placebo response. It has become harder and harder for drug companies to prove their drugs are better than placebos. Drug trials that fail that test are said to have crossed the "futility boundary". Which is such a great phrase that it could be a post all by itself.
Anyway, the placebo response is real, and research indicates that even inert drugs can act as a "catalyst for ... the body's 'endogenous health care system.'" if the patient believes they will help. Drug company's advertising has been so effective that just taking a pill, any pill, can trigger the release of endorphins and dopamine, making the patient feel better. Or, meet the Republican health care plan. Along with squinting for vision care and a piece of string and a door knob for do it yourself dentistry.
In other news, the Onion is reporting on the Postal Service's offer to buy out its employees.