I've been saying all along that we humans are way better at predicting the future than we give ourselves credit for. Nevermind the significant lack of sincere scientific proof, I am certain that we are all pre-programmed with the weakest of future predicting abilities. And just in the nick of time Wired comes along and presents me with a fascinating article on the placebo effect's effect on Big Pharma. It turns out that sugar pills are being shown to outperform real drugs in more and more trials, leading to the strengthening of the long-considered-fringe-science placebo effect's case as a legit psychological mechanism. And what better way to prove a fringe theory than with another fringe theory, huh?!
What's really happening when a fake pill actually relieves someone's pain, you ask? According to Wired's Steve Silberman, "one way that the placebo aids in recovery is by hacking the mind's ability to predict the future." There ya have it folks. Not only can we predict the future, but our ability to do so can be HACKED! "We are constantly parsing the reactions of those around us - such as the tone a doctor uses to deliver a diagnosis - to generate more-accurate estimations of our fate," continues Silberman. This is great stuff. We're not talking about knowing that a lamp is about to fall, or that it will start hailing later this afternoon, we're talking about carnal human instincts and our pervasive will to survive. In a way, this is our subconscious providing an additional layer over our perception, making us feel good if it thinks we should or making us feel terrible when it deems it necessary. And the way that our subconscious makes this decision is by calculating how the future will affect our body. I suppose if you want to get technical, its more like extrapolation than prediction. If it looks freezing outside, your mind will prepare your body to feel cold when you get there, even if it's not cold at all. Imagine the possibilities! If designers or marketers could get a hang of this, they could make their potential customers think, well, anything they want them to think! Terrifying or really really cool...? I'll leave that up to you to decide.