Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Interesting Posts and Articles #363

1) Frum Satire wonders whether inverting your yarmulke can help relieve headaches, as suggested by someone at the Yeshiva World coffee room. I don't find it so implausible, nor would I automatically chalk it up to a simple placebo effect. If you don't shower enough, your hair gets oily. And that oil might soak into the kippah. And reversing it could let the drier side face your hair. Or the kippah might sit heavily on your head, and reversing it causes it to sit differently. It is not impossible. I recall an article in the secular papers a few years back about a doctor treating particularly Jewish ailments, such as (now I am making up examples) rashes from wearing tefillin. Still, I would not label this reversal a 'segulah'.

2) This is not so new, but I see Daat Torah carried it: Placebo works as well as anti-depressants for mild depression.

That does not mean that all mild anti-depressant medication is valueless, and a waste of money. Consider the following points.

(a) It worked as well means that for equal-sized subsets of the overall population, placebos worked as well as the medication. However, that does not mean that the subsets are the same people. Out of 100 people, perhaps only the medications would work for 30% (since it is treating some chemical imbalance the particular medication targets), only the placebo would work for a different 30% (since they don't have that particular chemical imbalance but are susceptible to the effects of placebos), and for an additional 10%, both the placebo or the medication would work (because of the power of the placebo effect, which is equal to changing actual chemical imbalances, or because the placebo effect is what is working in both the official 'placebo' and the medication.

To then not prescribe the medication because it is 'ineffective' would be wrong.

(b) Psychiatrists do not always prescribe the same mild, or even strong, medication. From what I hear, he might try one medication, and if it does not work, prescribe a different one, which works in a different way. Seldom does a psychiatrist know precisely what is wrong internally with the patient. Rather, it is guesswork. And once they arrive at the correct medication, it takes some trial and error to arrive at the correct level of medication. Not too much and not to little. If one considers an entire population, comparing a single placebo against a single mild anti-depressant, without followup and adjusting, it is not surprising that it would only work as well as the placebo.

(c) We cannot just eliminate all the 'real' medications and only give placebos. Because many people are educated and well-informed. And if they knew that all mild anti-depressants were placebos, then there would be not placebo effect.

(d) Similarly, if it is true that most mild anti-depressants work in whole or in part through the placebo effect, then publicizing this does harm to depressed people, who might not benefit from the placebo effect any more.

3) At Matzav, an Op-Ed: We must stop the Meshugaim. Basically, an anti-anti-vaccination piece.
The one idea I have thought of is to proclaim that we will absolutely not do shidduchim with people who do not vaccinate. If the normal people of Klal Yisroel join together and announce that we will not consider a shidduch with the queer people who are against immunizations and think they know better than everyone else, we might be able to stop this very dangerous campaign in its tracks.
Again with the threat of not being able to marry off your kids to influence behavior in the frum community. This one garnered a whole bunch of comments, including by people who are anti-vaccinations.

4) Russian scientists revive a flower from the Ice Age.

5) The latest from Marc Shapiro, at the Seforim blog. It starts with answers to quiz questions, but goes on to discuss kol isha and Artscroll "know[ing] what it is writing is incorrect, but writ[ing] so anyway." For example:
In explaining Tikun Soferim, Artscroll’s note states that this “cannot, Heaven forbid” be taken literally. Yet the editors of Artscroll, who are learned men, know perfectly well that there are traditional sources that state precisely this (See Limits, pp. 98ff). There is no question that the intent of the words “Heaven forbid” is to make the reader think that Artscroll’s perspective is unanimously held.

6) At Daat Torah, Rav Ovadia Yosef & changes to greater stringency in tznius.

7) The most recent Haveil Havolim.

8) Yeranen Yaakov finds geulah meaning in the (generally fake) ubiquitous footage of strange sounds across the globe. Next up, how Bigfoot sightings are meaningful in the greater war of Gog and Magog.

9) At Hirhurim, Mishna Berura vs. Aruch HaShulchan. Aruch HaShulchan, I say.

10) Here on parshablog, you can participate in the Oh Nuts! Purim competition. Also at DovBear, for another chance at entering.


Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

I'm an Aruch HaShulchan guy myself except for his psak on when the 6 hours after meat starts.

> we will not consider a shidduch with the queer people

Hee hee, they don't know what "queer" means to most people nowadays, do they?

yaak said...

I find Geula meaning in pretty much everything. I don't know why you don't.

BTW, the main point of my post was NOT the sounds from YouTube - that was just a minor side-point to the post that you emphasized and knocked down כדרכך בקדש. There is a lot of other Torah in the post which you ignored that took me a lot of effort to research which is the idea of Kolot during Gog Umagog.

Too bad you ignored it. You might have learned something.

Unknown said...

Actually, I believe a study showed that even when people know they're taking a placebo, it has almost the same effect. (I found that incredibly odd, but it's fascinating.)

Unknown said...



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