Category: WTF

Expensive placebos work better than cheap placebos — Gotcha!

For the most part, there is no difference — chemical or otherwise — between generic drugs and their more expensive, brand-name counterparts. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have varying effects, especially if their users are under the assumption that expensive drugs are more effective.

In a recent study, researchers found a patient’s perception or expectations of a drug (based on how much it costs) significantly affected the drug’s efficacy.

“Patients’ expectations play an important role in the effectiveness of their treatments, and the placebo effect has been well documented, especially in people with Parkinson’s disease,” explained lead study author Alberto J. Espay, a researcher at the University of Cincinnati who is currently serving as a fellow with the American Academy of Neurology.

“We wanted to see if the people’s perceptions of the cost of the drug they received would affect the placebo response,” Espay added.

To find out, Espay and his colleagues gave a group of study volunteers two shots of a placebo drug for Parkinson’s disease. Of course, the participants weren’t told it was a simple saline solution. Doctors told them that they were receiving two drugs, one shot and then the second after the first “wore off.”

Prior to the shots, doctors told the participants each drug had proven equally effective, but that one was significantly more expensive than the other — one costing $100 per dose and the other costing $1,500 per dose.

Despite being the exact same saline solution, the “expensive” placebo minimized hand shaking and improved motor skills among the Parkinson’s disease patients more effectively than did the “cheap” placebo.

After eventually revealing the ruse, researchers found the difference in efficacy was most pronounced among patients who admitted to expecting an improved result from the expensive version of the drug.

The brain is powerful drug — one that researchers hope to use to improve treatments.

If you casually note the number of miraculous cures popular through history – you shouldn’t be surprised at any of this. Both the placebo effect and the belief in “getting what you pay for” are demonstrably strong. Combined in a society rife with ignorance, the sophistry is destined to have some effect.

Dumb crooks of the day!

Unexploded military ordnance detonated Saturday afternoon near Chaparral, NM, critically injuring two El Paso, TX, women who were looking for scrap metal…Apparently this was something they tossed into their pickup truck.

The Otero County Sheriff’s Office said the ordnance went off near Landing Stripin Road just west of U.S. Highway 54 about 1 p.m.

The kind of ordnance that exploded was not identified.

The two El Paso women were airlifted to University Medical Center and are in critical condition, hospital officials said.

Fort Bliss and Department of Defense officials detonated the remaining unexploded ordnance in an area off of the highway around 6:30 p.m. after removing it from a vehicle…

Jethro Armijo, a University Medical Center spokesman, said two women arrived at the hospital at about 2 p.m. Saturday…Armijo did not provide any specifics about the injuries. He said one of the women being treated at the hospital is 50 years old. The age of the other woman is not known, Armijo said…

Officials reopened the highway sometime between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

“We did close the highway for the general safety of the public because we did have the unexploded ordnance,” Undersheriff Daron Syling said. “For anybody driving past that area we had to respect that blast radius of the potential danger of it. We had to shut it down.”

Officials did not say what kind of ordnance was detonated.

Fort Bliss has had Tank and Artillery battalions stationed there over the years. They could have anything up to and including 155mm howitzer rounds laying around unexploded from training exercises.

You’d think even the dumbest of crooks might recognize something that looks like a helluva big bullet to be dangerous, eh?

What class of Arrogant describes Mommy?

proper invoice

A five-year-old was billed for failing to attend a friend’s birthday party – resulting in threats of legal action.

Alex Nash, from Cornwall, was invited to the party just before Christmas.

An invoice for £15.95 was sent by his schoolfriend’s mother Julie Lawrence, who said Alex’s non-attendance left her out of pocket and his parents had her details to tell her he was not going.

Alex’s father Derek said he had been told he would be taken to the small claims court for refusing to pay.

Alex’s parents, from Torpoint, had accepted an invitation to the party at a dry ski slope in Plymouth, Devon, just before Christmas.

However, they realised their son was double-booked and due to spend time with his grandparents, which he did…

His parents said they had no contact information for Ms Lawrence at that time.

They found the invoice in a brown envelope in his schoolbag last week.

Mr Nash said: “It was a proper invoice with full official details and even her bank details on it.

“I can understand that she’s upset about losing money. The money isn’t the issue, it’s the way she went about trying to get the money from me…

In a short statement, Ms Lawrence said: “All details were on the party invite. They had every detail needed to contact me.”

Mr Nash said he had been told he was being taken to the small claims court because he was refusing to pay.

RTFA if you think you’ll find the discussion of relevant law interesting. Suffice it to say the invoice ain’t being paid.

I would be hard-pressed to stick to Mr. Nash’s level of politeness.

Pic of the Day

Kaleb Whitby, crash survivor
Click to enlargeCourtesy Sergi Karplyuk — [I used iPhoto to brighten the image]

In freezing fog on an Oregon Interstate, Kaleb whitby slid his pickup truck into the butt end of a jackknifed, crashed semi. And then he saw another tractor-trailer sliding straight at him.

He gripped the steering wheel as tight as he could – and the second semi smashed through his pickup, crushing it.

The crash left only two things sort of intact: The twisted cab surrounding Whitby’s, and Whitby, pinned between the two trucks.

26 vehicles piled up in that crash.

One of the truck drivers asked Whitby if he could take this photo as they were figuring out how to get him free. Whitby said it was OK. No one would have believed this if it was described to them, no doubt.

They pulled his feet loose – and he slid out what used to be the driver’s side window.

He ended up with a couple of band-aids on small cuts and an icepack for a lump on his head. Oh, yeah, and then he got busy helping other folks from their cars before he let anyone drive him home.

UK Prime Minister says Fox News expert is an idiot

before and after
Twitter depiction of Fox News lies

Steven Emerson, who claims to be a terrorism expert, told Fox News Birmingham was a ‘totally Muslim city’ and London patrolled by violent religious police

The Fox News commentator who said the British city of Birmingham was a no-go zone for non-Muslims is a “complete idiot”, the prime minister, David Cameron, has said.

“When I heard this, frankly, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fools’ day,” Cameron said. “This guy’s clearly a complete idiot.”

Terrorism expert Steven Emerson claimed on US news channel Fox News that non-Muslims do not go to Birmingham, which he said had become a “totally Muslim” city. Emerson added:

In Britain, it’s not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.

And, parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to religious Muslim attire.

Emerson later apologised “for having made this comment about the beautiful city of Birmingham”.

Cameron said: “He’s started with an apology. That’s not a bad start. But what he should actually do is actually look at Birmingham and see what a fantastic example it is of bringing people together of different faiths, different backgrounds and actually building a world-class, brilliant city with a great and strong economy.”

Emerson’s website describes him as “one of the leading authorities” on Islamic extremist networks, and states: Emerson and his staff frequently provide briefings to US government and law enforcement agencies, members of Congress and congressional committees.

Well, the Republican portion of Congress.

RTFA and chuckle over some of the more colorful descriptions of Fox News.

There are times when I almost feel sorry for the idjits who think they encounter real, verifiable facts on Fox News. Almost. Too many of today’s conservatives consciously decide to ignore reality.

Who’s missing in this picture?

#ParisStrong
Click to enlarge

Yup. Wall Street runs our government and the alphabet soup of obedience and fear – NSA, CIA, FBI – stage manage our imperial foreign policy.

That means if Homeland Insecurity deems it possible for some nutball terrorist to knock off our “fearless” leader – he stays home and watches the NFL on the telly instead of marching side-by-side with the leaders of our allies.

2-year-old kills his mom at a Walmart — with her own gun

A 2-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his mother after he reached into her purse at a northern Idaho Walmart and her concealed gun fired…

Veronica Rutledge, 29, was shopping with her son and three other children, Kootenai County sheriff’s spokesman Stu Miller said. Rutledge was from Blackfoot in southeastern Idaho, and her family had come to the area to visit relatives.

She had a concealed weapons permit. Miller said the young boy was left in a shopping cart, reached into his mother’s purse and grabbed a small-caliber handgun, which discharged one time…

There do not appear to be reliable national statistics about the number of accidental fatalities involving children handling guns.

If there were, the NRA would start a national campaign to outlaw publication of those statistics.

Idaho lawmakers passed legislation earlier this year allowing concealed weapons on the state’s public college and university campuses.

Being able to kill someone is much more important than being able to learn. Unless there is a special season on college campuses that handgun hunters like me don’t know about.

Junkie visits junkie in hospital. Result = fire in the ICU

A Florida man was arrested for smoking crack cocaine with his hospitalized friend, causing a small fire in an intensive care unit where the patient was located…

Lee Vern Cook, 54, was arrested Christmas Eve on multiple charges, including arson, five counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Cook is accused of visiting a bed-ridden friend in the North Okaloosa Medical Center Intensive Care Unit, bringing with him crack cocaine, a pipe from which to smoke the drug and a firearm. The two smoked the cocaine together from a homemade device, police say, but the patient wore an oxygen mask and the flame from lighting the pipe mixed with the gas to rapidly cause a fire.

Burn damage was limited to bed linens, the patient’s gown and the oxygen mask itself. The patient suffered injuries and was transferred to a burn unit, but the hospital was not evacuated. Cook suffered burns to his hands and was evaluated before being taken to jail.

According to police, Cook admitted to bringing the drugs as well as the loaded firearm into the hospital. He showed authorities where he had hidden the gun in a bathroom before being taken to Okaloosa County Jail.

I’ll say it one more time. Junkies and crooks aren’t famous for decision-making.