[Ads-l] Linguistic problem in the medical field (;'-))

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed May 9 10:30:54 EDT 2018

Hmmm.  I always took it as the medication (whether actual medicine or sugar pill), not the doctor, promising the patient “I will please”.


> On May 9, 2018, at 12:10 AM, Mark Mandel <Mark.A.Mandel at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> I disagree with the end of Kelley's quoted comment. If you're looking for
> what "placebo" means, you can take the Latin literally: "I [the doctor]
> will please [the patient]". Though chosen to indicate ineffectuality, the
> word simply means that the doctor is giving the patient what the latter
> wants, and who knows, it might work.
> Mark Mandel
> On Tue, May 8, 2018 at 10:32 PM, imwitty <imwitty at gmail.com> wrote:
>> ...
>> But even before the conference date had been set, something was bothering
>> some prospective attendees, an annoyance that had gnawed at a few of them
>> for years. It was the word *placebo* itself. And though it seems like a
>> small issue – a word choice, a semantic nuisance – it struck scholars like
>> clinical psychologist John Kelley of Harvard that the name was having an
>> outsize effect on doctors’ ability to harness the power of placebos for
>> good.
>> For starters, the name defies logic.
>> *“‘The placebo effect’ in and of itself is an oxymoron,” Kelley says. “The
>> placebo effect is the effect of something that has no effect. That can’t be
>> true.”*
>> L.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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