Gregory M. Lamb in the Christian Science Monitor:
Most people think of placebos as harmless “sugar pills” given in clinic trials to some participants so that medical researchers can gauge the effects of the real drug on others. But in some trials, the “placebo effect” proves to be as strong as that of the drug. Consistently 30 percent or more of the subjects given placebos will show some improvement by taking the dummy pills.
So over the decades a small band of researchers has taken a hard look at those pills. Are they really effective? Should they play a role in medical therapy?