SKEPTIC: Sore back, eh? That’s a bummer. Hope it’s not serious.
BELIEVER: I feel better. Seems to have worked. So, what do you think of acupuncture? Ever tried it?
SKEPTIC: I thought about it, but recent data have shown that it really doesn’t do anything beyond the placebo effect.
BELIEVER: Data, schmata, I feel better.
SKEPTIC: I’m sure you do.
BELIEVER: So, how can you say it doesn’t do anything? And what’s the placebo effect?
SKEPTIC: The placebo effect is the psychological boost you get from the treatment, that isn’t really caused by the treatment itself.
BELIEVER: So, you’re saying it’s all in my head?
SKEPTIC: No, not exactly, I’m saying that it works, but it works no better than a sham treatment.
BELIEVER: What’s a sham treatment?
SKEPTIC: A control, a fake treatment.
BELIEVER: So, it’s psychosomatic. I’m faking it.
SKEPTIC: No, everybody, everybody who believes, benefits from the placebo effect.
BELIEVER: My acupuncturist said that it’s been around for ten thousand years.
SKEPTIC: That doesn’t make it valid. I just want evidence that it works.
BELIEVER: I told you, it works for me.
SKEPTIC: I guess it won’t help to tell you that, for some reason, sham acupuncture, actually seems to work better than the treatment.
BELIEVER: So, you’re saying I’m full of it, my acupuncturist is a liar, and ten thousand years of wisdom is baloney, and the fake treatment works better than the real thing. That’ll make you popular.
SKEPTIC: (sigh) It gets lonely in an evidence-based universe.