RE: Supplement Information

Crosby_M (
Thu, 10 Apr 1997 11:54:19 -0400

Lee described an experiment with insomnia and melatonin:
<The result was that I found my insomnia did in fact go away, but
under both the drug and the placebo, so it was probably just due to
the ritual of taking something and going to bed at a regular time
nightly, not due to anything the drug did. Of course, a larger study
over a longer period of time might well show some real effect, but I
was at least satisfied that I wouldn't benefit much from continuous
outlay of money on melatonin.>

Of course, and the brain also produces its own melatonin, which
complicates the results...

You might do the same experiment with headaches and aspirin and get
the same inconclusive results. For example, I don't have headaches
every day, nor do I have trouble sleeping every day; and, I can put up
with a headache and it will probably be gone in the morning, but that
doesn't mean the aspirin wouldn't help with a headache at the right
time. Nor would I necessarily use the aspirin every day. (And in the
case of aspirin, it reputedly also has long-term affects on the
'health of the heart', further complicating the analysis.)

Your assumption that "it was probably just due to the ritual" is just
as biased and simplistic (simplistic because it tries to fit a
non-linear, multi-variate situation to a linear, single-variable
equation) as the pill-popper's assumption that it is the pill that is
doing all the work.

I asked
> How do you measure a 'rapture effect' without doing something
> impractical like measuring the level of endorphins in the brain?

Lee answered:
<Simple: ask. Give a dozen people a euphoric, and another dozen a
vitamin or something, then have them all answer multiple-choice
questions about how they feel. If the answers to some question
correlate strongly enough with those who took the real drug, you've
shown a measured effect (certainly not a conclusive one, but at least
better than nothing).>

I said 'rapture effect' in quotes precisely because I don't have good
descriptions for many of these mental states, even though I have spent
many hours trying to describe them for my own edification. A selection
of multiple-choice descriptions is too simplistic - there are times
when I could have answered "all of the above" to any list you might
provide even though some of the selections might seem contradictory.

When dealing with human health, moods and cognitive capacities, we are
dealing with a VERY complex system that does not submit to simple
mechanical measurements.

Mark Crosby