Surgery: the Ultimate Placebo - Ian Harris

Professor Ian Harris takes us on a brilliant journey of scientific discovery, uncovering the true heart of skeptical inquiry via an …


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17 thoughts on “Surgery: the Ultimate Placebo – Ian Harris”
  1. Most doctors are con artists. They would cut you up just to get the cash. When confronted about the failure of surgery to fix a problem they refer you to your consent and that 15% of procedures do not work, you become just a statistic.

  2. 7:55 Angina example
    10:05 Parkinson’s disease example
    13:10 Multiple sclerosis example
    14:52 emphysema example
    18:47 knee pain
    20:40 spine surgery
    21:52 Injection therapy for pain
    24:59 Explain perceived effectiveness
    26:29 correlation vs causation
    29:33 Improvement not due surgery
    30:33 Natural history
    34:01 regression to the mean
    35:43 concomitant treatment
    39:16 perceived improvement: patient vs clinician
    41:50 therapeutic envelope
    42:38 Intervention: the placebo pill
    44:02 Building the ideal placebo
    47:02 “Why do we still operated?”
    52:00 Determining effectiveness
    52:55 Reducing error in estimating the truth
    54:55 Why we need blinded randomized trials
    55:12 Ethics and Placebo
    59:50 One possible solution
    1:00:20 Current status of placebo RCT in orthopedics
    1:00:44 Summary, questions, and comments

  3. While this analysis is from a skeptical view, skepticism should also be used by the individual regarding a serious decision regarding surgery. There are many times when the decision to have surgery IS rational and valid. I have had many orthopedic surgeries that were successful and if I didn't make the decision for surgery the quality of my life would have been adversely affected. In each case, I was patient and did the appropriate physical therapy (I am a physical therapist) without success. In other words, it is important for the individual to take the appropriate steps to maximize the chances that the problem at hand is not self-limiting and, thus, making the choice for surgery wise.

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  5. I think we need surgeries. And we do need to increase the amount of them. The sham operations I mean. Let's replace every doctor with an actor. And every medical treatment with a placebo. Because our body looks like to not give a fuck. Let's give the body what it wants. Bunch of endless superstitious shit. Damn I hate to be alive. I can't explain how much I am filled with disgust and repulsed by our experience.

  6. He raises a vaild point, but it is oversimplified in his talk. I wish he didn't dismiss the importance of ethics. There are instances where placebo might be unethical, especially when someone's life is on the line. I'd like to hear his view on how to set trails up in cases like that. Plus, we shouldn't discount the placebo effect. However, it's ethically complicated as to how to utilize placebo.

  7. My left shoulder is testament to this. I had a massive labrum tear and significant arthritis until a peri-labral cyst formed to the point that it impinged my suprascapular nerve and I could no longer externally rotate my shoulder and my infraspinatus was just gone. At my initial consult the surgeon made like he wanted to do a replacement! At the time I was still able to do handstand pushups and lift whatever I wanted when holding it with two hands. I had the repair and my external rotation returned. Now I can do whatever I want!

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