Tag Archives: experiments

Treat children’s cough with placebo

The Incidental Economist reports a study from JAMA Pediatrics in which 120 small kids with “nonspecific acute cough” were randomized between 1) treatment with agave nectar, 2) placebo and 3) no treament. Parents, who were blind to the difference between agave nectar and placebo, answered surveys about the severity of the children’s cough before and after treatment. On almost all measured outcomes, the researchers found improvements for both the treatment and placebo groups compared to the no treament group, but no difference between them. The powerful tool of the placebo effect should be kept in mind by parents.

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Do thought experiments in ethics have external validity?

A runaway train car is on its way to kill five people on the tracks. You have the power to direct it to a sidetrack on which there is only one person. Do you do it?

A well known thought experiments in ethics. However, will people’s judgments when thinking about such cases transfer to the real world? A group of researchers constructed virtual realities to improve the realisticness of the scenarios. Their finding: People acted in a more utilitarian way (sacrifice the one to save the five) in the virtual reality than in the text case. The virtual reality scenarios were deemed to be more emotionally arousing as measured by skin conductance.

H/t: Gary King

(Note: Very small sample size – 38.)