I have always been intrigued by the Placebo effect. Especially the fact that drama and style are part of how it works. For example a red pill or a bigger pill will often have a bigger effect. We know that the effect is real and that people experience real relief from symptoms, and often improved health generally. This raises some interesting questions. 
  • If a doctor (say, on a desert island) had no real medicine left, just some sugar pills, wouldn’t it logically  be ethical for him to hide this fact from his patients and even do his best to play up the theatrical side to deliver the strongest “dosage” possible? 
  • Doesn’t it mean that tribal style shamanic healers were actually doing what they could for their patients? And at least to a degree succeeding? 
  • When drug trials get to the human testing level, do the experimenters take the effect into account? When judging results do they allow a sort of fudge factor both for the control group and the test group? Because they would both be affected. How do they “zero out” the effect?
  • How to understand the impact of things like size and shape and color (and communicated expectations) on the prescriptions we use daily? 
  • Would it ever be medically unethical to tell someone experiencing a benefit that it was only a placebo?
  •  If we know it helps the effect for the pill to have some “show biz” should real prescription pills be designed also to impress? Are they already? 
Interesting also that there is a Nocebo Effect evidenced in people with very negative expectations and fears. They can experience apparent psychogenic discomforts from sugar pills or real medicine. It’s believed that this can also be a factor in patients who experience more side effects.