Kidding Ourselves

For my fourth blogging assignment we were asked to post something for our ideal reader. This helps provide focus for the things we blog. After giving it some thought I decided to post something that has been sitting in my draft folder for a while.

This passage is from a book by Joseph Hallinan entitled Kidding Ourselves published by Random House in 2014. The book is basically a long litany of studies showing that people did just as well with a placebo or a fake treatment as they did with the real drugs or treatments. What made the difference time and again was whether or not the person believed the drug or treatment would work.

Hallinan concludes his book with the following words:

“Finally: Believe.

“It doesn’t really matter what you believe in. It can be a pill or a prophet, a scalpel or a syringe or even a lucky rabbit’s foot. They all work. As Woody Allen once observed, ‘There’s no real difference between a fortune teller or a fortune cookie and any of the organized religions. They’re all equally valid or invalid, really. And equally helpful.'”

To say that its’ all a placebo might be an exaggeration, but not much of one. As we’ve seen time and time again, placebos work…but only if you believe they do. In one study of ultrasound waves used to relieve pain after the extraction of wisdom teeth, patients got equally good pain relief whether the machine was turned on or off – so long as both patient and physician believed that it was turned on. Belief is like that: it has to be turned on.  As we’ve seen in numerous studies, patients who stick to their treatment, even when that treatment is a sham, have better health outcomes than patients who don’t.  That’s because sticking with something helps. It doesn’t matter whether it’s going to church every Sunday or taking your pills every Monday: stick-to-it-ness has benefits. It helps lead to optimism, which leads to perseverance, which leads to success – not always, of course, but often enough.” (p. 208)

I put this in the land of a discussion starter.

On one hand, as a Christian, I cannot agree that all faith is equally valid. Scripture makes it clear that faith in Christ far surpasses any other faith because it gives us eternal salvation and sustains us in all trails. On the other hand the research that the book presents is clear: faith in something, anything, will bring the kind of focus and perseverance needed to succeed.

So my ideal reader would be one who would also enjoy reading and discussing a book like this.

Kidding Ourselves Book Cover

2 thoughts on “Kidding Ourselves

  1. Looks like I’d better follow you. I’m a great believer in the power of the mind to influence how our bodies act, or react. Our thoughts prompt the production of hormones which go on to influence our cells, and it all rolls on from there. Of course, in today’s society, where we put most of our faith in quick fix-its, it can be tough to believe away a physical problem without those other aids. That doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s possible.

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