Cognition, Intelligence and Language Ethics Research and Stats

Ep 230: Questionable Research – With A Famous Psychologist Involved

Questionable Research – Exploring Psychological Frontiers

Psychology strives to uncover the human mind’s mysteries, with theories ranging from established to controversial. Exploring Questionable Research sheds light on this spectrum.

The Power of the Mind

One fascinating idea suggests that by “turning back the clock”, we can overcome illness. This method immerses patients in a past time when they weren’t sick. It’s akin to “reframing”, where thinking positively can lead to changes in feelings and behavior. Indeed, the power of the placebo effect, where patients show improvement from a treatment due to belief rather than the treatment itself, is acknowledged worldwide.

Pushing Ethical Boundaries

However, as the field progresses, so does the responsibility to uphold ethics. Ellen Langer’s proposed study with cancer patients raises eyebrows. The research plan’s elaborate nature has led some to question its necessity and potential ethical compromises. James Coyne, for instance, labels it quackery. But is it? Such debates emphasize the need for caution and scrutiny in research.

The Intriguing Nocebo Effect

Speaking of lesser-known effects, ever heard of the nocebo effect? Unlike its positive counterpart, the placebo, nocebo results in negative reactions from harmless substances or even mere suggestions. Interestingly, just knowing potential side effects can cause some people to exhibit those symptoms. While Pavlovian conditioning and reaction to expectations play a role, much about the nocebo effect remains shrouded in mystery.


The world of psychology is vast and intricate. With groundbreaking studies and new insights, the importance of ethical research becomes paramount. Every new discovery, be it as positive as the placebo or as enigmatic as the nocebo, enriches our understanding of the mind. As we navigate these waters, one thing remains clear: The human psyche is a marvel waiting to be fully understood.

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