I don't come on here too often, to be honest, but something has really been getting at me lately. "How did the universe become?" I can't necessarily consider myself an atheist, and if I did it would be a "soft" atheist, but overall, I'm more of an agnostic. Basically, do any of you have any theories or have heard of any theories or ideas concerning the topic of our origins? Did the universe just pop up out of nowhere? Is there a higher power? 

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Unseen- I did mean what you said in your second paragraph. But even still, as an objective truth, sugar pills do jack shit to actually help medical issues. Though you are right, i am messing with the meaning of belief. It is just that we don't have an adequate word for beliefs that are only true because you believe in them.

I do have another example for you though. Looking at just how much  scientific understanding has changed in the last 2000 years, i can't help but be certain that most of things i believe about  how the universe works  is wrong. I know that with another 2000 years of scientific advancement, my current beliefs will be as antiquated and wrong as those people 2000 years ago who believed the gods caused thunder. And yet, in my day to day life, i still believe them.

Placebos without Deception: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Irrita...



Placebo treatment can significantly influence subjective symptoms. However, it is widely believed that response to placebo requires concealment or deception. We tested whether open-label placebo (non-deceptive and non-concealed administration) is superior to a no-treatment control with matched patient-provider interactions in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


Two-group, randomized, controlled three week trial (August 2009-April 2010) conducted at a single academic center, involving 80 primarily female (70%) patients, mean age 47±18 with IBS diagnosed by Rome III criteria and with a score ≥150 on the IBS Symptom Severity Scale (IBS-SSS). Patients were randomized to either open-label placebo pills presented as “placebo pills made of an inert substance, like sugar pills, that have been shown in clinical studies to produce significant improvement in IBS symptoms through mind-body self-healing processes” or no-treatment controls with the same quality of interaction with providers. The primary outcome was IBS Global Improvement Scale (IBS-GIS). Secondary measures were IBS Symptom Severity Scale (IBS-SSS), IBS Adequate Relief (IBS-AR) and IBS Quality of Life (IBS-QoL).


Open-label placebo produced significantly higher mean (±SD) global improvement scores (IBS-GIS) at both 11-day midpoint (5.2±1.0 vs. 4.0±1.1, p<.001) and at 21-day endpoint (5.0±1.5 vs. 3.9±1.3, p = .002). Significant results were also observed at both time points for reduced symptom severity (IBS-SSS, p = .008 and p = .03) and adequate relief (IBS-AR, p = .02 and p= .03); and a trend favoring open-label placebo was observed for quality of life (IBS-QoL) at the 21-day endpoint (p = .08).


Placebos administered without deception may be an effective treatment for IBS. Further research is warranted in IBS, and perhaps other conditions, to elucidate whether physicians can benefit patients using placebos consistent with informed consent.

@Pope Beanie

A bottle of pills labeled as placebos and given to someone who knows what they really are, starts to fall outside the definition of a "placebo." At that point it's simply a sugar pill (or whatever the placebo is made of). 

The whole point of a placebo is for the subject to believe they are serious medications. If you take away the ruse, they are no longer being used as placebos no matter if they are in a bottle labeled "Placebo Pills."

A placebo, to actually BE a placebo, must not be known to the subject.

That would be true in a blind, scientific study, but this is the first definition of placebo I found:

A dummy medicine containing no active ingredients.

Anyway, I don't think the issue was about the definition of placebo, but how someone can believe that something will help them, even if they know there's no science behind it.

And that is all I'm going to say about THAT!

You can believe something that is false by simply not questioning your beliefs.  You may not realize, 100%, that it is objectively false, but you may have developed many suspicions and stifled them, and encountered plenty of evidence, but ignored it.

I wasn't aware that Feynman had problems with the big bang or evolution of cows.

You can't really believe something AND know it's absolutely and certainly false.

I don't know what Feynman believed about The Big Bang and I seriously doubt he had problems with evolution. I was only saying that simply because there are problems with The Big Bang theory, that is no reason to reject it unless one has a theory with fewer problems and much more evidence and explanatory value going for it.

Ah - well I don't need an alternate theory to reject a faulty one.  But that's just me.

@Heather Oh, cool! I can't wait. Did I prompt you to write that blog, by any chance? I don't think you could write that blog without including yours truly.

You con't have a headset laying around somewhere?

I too like Feynman's reasoning.

Stuart Firestein makes it explicit in his book Ignorance: How It Drives Science.

At Columbia University he designed a course he titled Ignorance. He asked students to think about whether they wanted A grades or F grades.

Ha! no kidding, willful ignorance would get you the F. As a motivating tool it would get you the A.

I'd like to read Firesteins book. Thanks for the name. 

I was watching the 49'th Nobel conference, entitled "the universe at its limits" , where they had a number of well known scientist talking about their work. The last speaker, a mathematician called  S. James Gates Jr., was talking about hes work in turning complex supersymmetrical mathematical equations into images through computers. And how this could lead to a large shift in the ways of being able to do mathematics. (video is Here)

He calls these graphical representation of supersymmetric algebras adinkras. Now the strange thing is that when he uses these adinkras to model fundamental laws of physics, he finds within the equations binary codes. And not just random binary codes, but ones that belong to a class of computer codes called Doubly-even self-dual linear binary error-correcting block code. Which are extra ones and zero's that are added to computer code to allow accurate transmission. This allows the receiving computer to figure out and correct any mistakes in the message due to its transmission. It is something our computers use all the time when sending  and receiving information through the net. ( Here is the Link to the Issac Asimov memorial debate where he discusses it. Here is an edited video which includes the  Q and A  questions asked him at the discussion . Or you can see the full debate here. Which is on the existence of nothing)

If this is true then we might actually be living in the matrix. Though the other place where these sort of codes occur naturally is in DNA. And for the  same basic  reasons, ie to accurately reproduce digital code.

If you are interested in theoretical science, then the Nobel conference talks are really fascinating and you can see them Here.


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