Re: Supplement Information

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Thu, 10 Apr 1997 14:10:00 -0700 (PDT)

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

No, that doesn't complicate them at all. It may /affect/ them,
but the results are the results; we're not looking for reasons or

> You might do the same experiment with headaches and aspirin and get
> the same inconclusive results.

I doubt it very seriously. The effects of aspirin are well-tested,
outperform placebos by miles, and are easy to describe. I have done
similar tests, for example, to determine which of the various common
anagesics works best for me, and the results were quite dramatic:
acetominophen had no effect I could measure (on me; I have no reason
to doubt its clinical worth in general), ibuprofen worked, but aspirin
beat 'em both hands down. The hardest part of doing those experiments
was controlling for caffeine :-)

> 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 agree--it was a wild guess. But the experiment was just barely
sufficient to give me some confidence that spending money on the
melatonin wouldn't give any dramatic immediate effects. That's all
I really cared to know, so I didn't investigate further. I leave
it to the manufacturers to do more complete tests.

> 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.

So complexity tells you that you should just give up? Nonsense. I do
not concede for one moment that there exists anything I am not capable
of measuring, testing, and understanding /eventually/. It may be very
difficult; we may not even know how to begin going about it yet. But
anything we experience is measurable, without exception, if we take
sufficient care in the experiment. Even if our experiments are sloppy
and our conclusions vague, we're still better off than someone who
doesn't even try.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>  <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC