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The powerful Nocebo effect!

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
    All the time? When someone throws a ball at my face, do I have the ability not to raise my hands? Mostly no.
    No not all the time. But the inability not to raise your hands in that scenario does not mean there's a similar inability to not plunge a dagger in ones heart.

    Again this is an irrelevancy, a red herring, and is going off the subject under discussion.

    No, I'm not. Regardless of metaphysic, my mind has some relation with my brain. There is no pure mental state in living humans.
    If mental states are not identical to brain states, then there are mental states in and of themselves. The fact they are influenced by brain states, or even always follow brain states, doesn't alter that.

    This question?

    "Is the argument that although ones mental state can bring about a disease which ends in ones death, ones mental state in and of itself will not kill you in the absence of any accompanying disease?"

    Since there is no mental state in and of itself, the question is moot. Now, if you want to assume reductionism and ask whether the brain functions that give rise to consciousness could possibly cause me to kill myself in the absence of any brain disease whatsoever, I'd say the answer is yes. For example, I could sacrifice myself for my child. However, we're still not separating disease from genetic predisposition.
    I am not talking about voluntary behaviour! What we're interested in is whether beliefs can either lead to ones death, or prevent ones death. Since being anxious can lead to high blood pressure and therefore can lead to ones death, what is the crucial distinction in the case of beliefs in comparison to whether one is anxious, content etc? Why can the latter have an influence in whether one dies or not, but not the former??

    I'd like JLI's response to this. I'm not interested in your response Paul because I'm not interested in taking this discussion off on a tangent with your red herrings.

    Comment


    • #32
      Originally posted by Interesting Ian View Post
      So if someone reports seeing a pink Unicorn in their back garden, this gives evidence that pink unicorns exist.
      Huh?

      Hardly.

      Very, very, very weak evidence.

      Comment


      • #33
        Originally posted by porker View Post
        Huh?

        Hardly.

        Very, very, very weak evidence.
        Yes, that's exactly his point. But many people will say its not evidence at all.

        Comment


        • #34
          Originally posted by Interesting Ian
          If mental states are not identical to brain states, then there are mental states in and of themselves. The fact they are influenced by brain states, or even always follow brain states, doesn't alter that.
          But those states "in and of themselves" are irrelevant to your question, because you have just agreed that they are influenced by brain states. So:

          "Is the argument that although ones mental state can bring about a disease which ends in ones death, ones mental state in and of itself will not kill you in the absence of any accompanying disease?"

          is moot. The state in and of itself is never the only thing acting on your body.

          I am not talking about voluntary behaviour! What we're interested in is whether beliefs can either lead to ones death, or prevent ones death. Since being anxious can lead to high blood pressure and therefore can lead to ones death, what is the crucial distinction in the case of beliefs in comparison to whether one is anxious, content etc? Why can the latter have an influence in whether one dies or not, but not the former??
          Why are you assuming that sacrificing myself for my child would be voluntary?

          In any event, if you are going to insist that "being anxious" is a "mental state in and of itself" without considering the interaction between that state and the brain, then clearly the mental state has no relation to the blood pressure. But you don't want that, so you're going to say that a mental state can still have an effect on the brain/body, even though it is "in and of itself." But if you're going to insist on that, then you also have to consider how the health of the brain plays into the situation.

          In other words, you appear to want to declare that mental states are not influenced by the brain, yet can have effects on it.

          ~~ Paul

          Comment


          • #35
            Originally posted by Arouet
            Yes, that's exactly his point. But many people will say its not evidence at all.
            Aren't we equivocating on the word evidence here? It would be evidence in a court of law, I presume. But why is it scientific evidence?

            Originally posted by Interesting Ian
            So evidence doesn't mean "proof". Nor is the word evidence something which is only associated with science. And anecdotes are evidence -- and I mean real proper anecdotes, not the way skeptics define "anecdotes". So if someone reports seeing a pink Unicorn in their back garden, this gives evidence that pink unicorns exist.
            Ian admits that he may be using the term in a non-scientific way. Also, what is a "real proper anecdote"?

            I think if a person claims to have seen a unicorn, it might be that unicorns exist. Or it may be that only the concept exists. Or the person may be mad. Is it reasonable, then, to call the claim evidence for unicorns?

            ~~ Paul

            Comment


            • #36
              Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
              But those states "in and of themselves" are irrelevant to your question, because you have just agreed that they are influenced by brain states. So:

              "Is the argument that although ones mental state can bring about a disease which ends in ones death, ones mental state in and of itself will not kill you in the absence of any accompanying disease?"

              is moot. The state in and of itself is never the only thing acting on your body.
              Of course there's all sorts of processes. This takes me back to the point I made earlier that for X to occur, A, B, C, D and E all have to either exist or occur. There's almost never a single cause which brings about an event. So let X be death and lets say E is ones mental state. A to D can be various physical states and events associated with ones body.

              If we are not suffering from any disease (A - D do not stand for any disease) can the presence of E -- our belief we are ill -- actually cause our deaths? Not necessarily directly. E could cause some physical events deleterious to our health which then results in our deaths. Compare feeling anxious, causing high blood pressure, leading to a stroke, causing our deaths.


              In other words, you appear to want to declare that mental states are not influenced by the brain, yet can have effects on it.
              Complete bollox. There's a 2 way interaction as everyone knows (apart from materialists).

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
                Aren't we equivocating on the word evidence here? It would be evidence in a court of law, I presume. But why is it scientific evidence?
                Who mentioned scientific evidence? The discussion is about evidence and seeing a pink Unicorn is evidence that pink unicorns exist. Not scientific evidence of course.



                Ian admits that he may be using the term in a non-scientific way. Also, what is a "real proper anecdote"?

                I think if a person claims to have seen a unicorn, it might be that unicorns exist. Or it may be that only the concept exists. Or the person may be mad. Is it reasonable, then, to call the claim evidence for unicorns?

                ~~ Paul
                Absolutely it is. Skeptics/materialists use the English Language in a peculiar way. Anyone else knows that an eyewitness account of some event is evidence that the event in question occurred.

                Comment


                • #38
                  It's not just skeptics who misuse the word evidence Ian. Why must you always try to generalise and personalise?

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Arouet View Post
                    It's not just skeptics who misuse the word evidence Ian. Why must you always try to generalise and personalise?
                    I'm tempted to say that it's just scientists who misunderstand what evidence means. But over on the jref they are all one united voice in thinking that evidence means scientific evidence, and many of them even think that evidence equates to scientific proof!

                    They can't all be scientists over on the jref!

                    Or perhaps those on the jref who agreed with me felt disinclined to speak out.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Interesting Ian
                      Of course there's all sorts of processes. This takes me back to the point I made earlier that for X to occur, A, B, C, D and E all have to either exist or occur. There's almost never a single cause which brings about an event. So let X be death and lets say E is ones mental state. A to D can be various physical states and events associated with ones body.

                      If we are not suffering from any disease (A - D do not stand for any disease) can the presence of E -- our belief we are ill -- actually cause our deaths? Not necessarily directly. E could cause some physical events deleterious to our health which then results in our deaths. Compare feeling anxious, causing high blood pressure, leading to a stroke, causing our deaths.
                      So you have this chain:

                      A -> B -> C -> D -> E(state) -> P -> Q -> R -> X(death)

                      and we are to assume no disease anywhere, not even ones usually referred to as mental diseases.

                      What are we assuming about P, Q, and R? For example, Q could be erratic driving and R could be an automobile accident, but I presume that's not what you want.

                      If E is immaterial, then it can do anything it wants, I guess. If E is just more brain functions, then I see no reason why it couldn't cause a disease and ultimately death. However, I'm still not sure what "mental state in and of itself" actually is. E is my mental state, but in no sense is it "in and of itself" when it was caused by A--D and is probably also sustained by a bunch of factors we haven't even included in the model.
                      Code:
                      A -> B -> C -> D -> E(state) -> P -> Q -> R -> X(death)
                                           ^     |
                                           |     V
                                           G <-  F
                      Complete bollox. There's a 2 way interaction as everyone knows (apart from materialists).
                      Then you're being cavalier about what exactly a mental state (in and of itself) is.

                      ~~ Paul
                      Last edited by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos; November 17th, 2011, 01:24 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Interesting Ian
                        Who mentioned scientific evidence? The discussion is about evidence and seeing a pink Unicorn is evidence that pink unicorns exist. Not scientific evidence of course.
                        Well then exactly what kind of evidence? Evidence in a court of law? What do you think the typical juror would assume about you if you said you saw a pink unicorn?

                        Absolutely it is. Skeptics/materialists use the English Language in a peculiar way. Anyone else knows that an eyewitness account of some event is evidence that the event in question occurred.
                        When it's a pink unicorn? I don't think so. Instead, it would be taken as evidence that you are stark raving mad.

                        What definition do you think you're using?

                        1 a : an outward sign : INDICATION b : something that furnishes proof : TESTIMONY; specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter


                        ~~ Paul
                        Last edited by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos; November 17th, 2011, 01:25 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
                          Well then exactly what kind of evidence? Evidence in a court of law? What do you think the typical juror would assume about you if you said you saw a pink unicorn?
                          How persuasive we find the evidence of some eyewitness report of an event will depend on our prior beliefs about whether such events actually occur, or can occur. This is why I believe there's too much focus on evidence for various anomalous phenomena. Proponents and skeptics do not share the same views about the inherent likelihood or unlikelihood of the existence of such phenomena. It is this that should be debated, not the evidence itself.

                          So any eyewitness report --even of a pink Unicorn -- is evidence. But how much evidence depends on our background beliefs about what the world can contain, and our philosophical suppositions regarding the nature of reality.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Interesting Ian View Post
                            I'm not sure what the contention is? That ones mental states cannot bring about ones death? What about feeling stressed out and hence experiencing a rise in blood pressure which contributes to ones death? So it's obvious that ones mental states can bring about ones death in some instances.
                            Blood pressure fluctuates all day long. So I don't think that is where you should look for a cause of death in an otherwise healthy person. One thing that comes close to what I believe you are thinking of is sudden death caused by emotional stress (being frightened to death if you like). This typically occurs in people who already have a heart condition (or an abnormal physiological response), where cardiac arrhythmias follows an emotional trauma. Being told you have cancer may very well be such a trauma. But this is not what the nocebo effect is about.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Interesting Ian
                              How persuasive we find the evidence of some eyewitness report of an event will depend on our prior beliefs about whether such events actually occur, or can occur. This is why I believe there's too much focus on evidence for various anomalous phenomena. Proponents and skeptics do not share the same views about the inherent likelihood or unlikelihood of the existence of such phenomena. It is this that should be debated, not the evidence itself.

                              So any eyewitness report --even of a pink Unicorn -- is evidence. But how much evidence depends on our background beliefs about what the world can contain, and our philosophical suppositions regarding the nature of reality.
                              Fair enough. With enough caveats, I'm willing to call your report of a pink unicorn evidence of something. Two of the caveats are:
                              • We are not using the term evidence as in scientific evidence.
                              • In the case of a pink unicorn, your report is stunningly more likely evidence for your insanity than it is evidence that pink unicorns exist.


                              Regarding the debate about worldview versus evidence, I don't think you can separate the two. That is, unless you advocate having a worldview that is not based on evidence.

                              ~~ Paul

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by David Bailey View Post
                                I also noticed that this paper had been challenged by another paper by B. E. Wampold, T. Minami, S. C. Tierney, T. W. Baskin, and K. S. Bhati , and that this had in turn been attacked by the original authors!
                                I believe you are thinking of their previous paper, whic indeed did stir up the pot. This is an update including more trials. AFAIK, no one has challenged the updated review. An again - they don't claim that the placebo effect doesn't exist. Only that it isn't as big an effect as is commonly supposed.

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