Scientific American FrontiersTV Show

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Science, technology and nature are examined with insight, humor and an eye on the practical, with smartly paced reports on such subjects as the big-bang theory, robots, the relationship between stress and illness, and whether we are alone in the universe (more…)

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Season 13, Episode 7 The Wonder Pill

First Aired: February 18, 2003

This episode explores the medical value of placebos and what host Alan Alda calls the “chemistry between a hopeful patient and a caring doctor.” Alda surveys the placebo effect on patients with Parkinson's disease. And he checks out a test study in which healthy people are given cold viruses and treated with either medication or sugar pills, and another in which a volunteer is given a “sham” acupuncture treatment. “While it may be all in the mind,” Alda concludes, “the placebo effect is real and reasonable.”

Previous Episode

Deep Crisis

Season 13, Episode 6

January 28, 2003

Next Episode

Calls of the Wild

Season 13, Episode 8

April 1, 2003

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