The Placebo Effect

The Placebo Effect

Sunday, March 14, 1999
| John 9:1-41

Call it a placebo if you want, but a mud-and-spit poultice helped a blind man see. What does Jesus have to pack into our eyes to really open them up?

[NOTE: If you do this right, you may get a little dirty! The text begs for some interactive treatment. Prepare a small basin of dirt and water and mix into mud. Place it on the altar or pulpit. Secure a volunteer to assist you early in the sermon. Advise the worshipers that just a small dab of this mud will heal them of what is ailing them. Then move immediately into the following citation.]

"You don't believe that? Pity. If you did, you'd probably feel demonstrably better. You might even be cured" (Richard Morin, "The Healing Power of Sugar Pills," The Washington Post, August 23, 1998, C5).

"It's not magic. It's the placebo effect - the mysterious ability of our bodies to sometimes heal what ails us, if only we believe."

Placebo in Latin means "I shall please." In medical research, it refers to a pharmacologically inactive substance - like a sugar pill - or a phony medical procedure that is administered as a control in testing the effectiveness of a drug or course of action.

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