17/04/27

Sugar pills, injections of nothing — studies show that, more often than you’d expect, placebos really work. At TEDMED, magician Eric Mead does a trick to prove that, even when you know something’s not real, you can still react as powerfully as if it is. (Warning: This talk is not suitable for viewers who are disturbed by needles or blood.)

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Intro

  • Do you know any magic tricks?
  • Do you remember any magic trick which made a huge impression on you?

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Watch

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Glossary

  • rudimentary – involving or limited to basic principles
  • examine – inspect (someone or something) thoroughly in order to determine their nature or condition
  • blows someone’s mind – impress or otherwise affect someone very strongly
  • queasy – nauseous; feeling sick

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Think about it

Answer the questions below. For answers pause at times indicated in brackets.

  • What is the placebo effect? (1:00)
  • Explain how the trick presented to the audience is done. (3:33)
  • What was Eric astonished by when he read the placebo effect study? (5:26)
  • What do you think of the trick

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Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

For some time I ________ been interested in the placebo effect, ________ might seem like an odd thing for a magician to be interested ________, unless you think ________ it in the terms that I do, which is, “Something fake is believed ________ enough by somebody that it becomes something real.” In ________ words, sugar pills have a measurable effect ________ certain kinds of studies, the placebo effect, just because the person thinks that what’s happening to them is a pharmaceutical or some sort of a — for pain management, for example, ________ they believe it enough there is a measurable effect in the body called the placebo effect. Something fake becomes something real because ________ someone’s perception ________ it.

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So, here’s what happens. The knife, ________ you can examine; my hand, which you could examine. I’m just going to hold the knife ________ my fist like this. I’ll get my sleeve back. And to ________ sure nothing goes up or down my sleeve I’m just ________ to squeeze my wrist right here. That way you can see that at ________ time can anything travel, as ________ as I’m squeezing there nothing can go up or down my sleeve. And the object ________ this is quite simple. I’m going to open my hand, and hopefully, if ________ is well, my pure animal magnetism ________ hold the knife. In fact it’s held ________ tightly in place that I can shake it, and the knife does not come ________. Nothing goes up or down my sleeve, no trickery. And you can examine everything. Ta-da!

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