An experiment at Stanford (1) appears to demonstrate the power of the placebo effect. Most pharmaceutical research clearly points to the effects of believing and as suggested in the study, it has implications for how information is captured and disseminated through tests. Humans are susceptible to suggestion and can completely rewire the infrastructure of their body from their brain. This should have had survival benefits early as the village elder may have segregated people into random groups and reinforced one side positively and the other not. Those who where lucky enough to be in the right group started believing and ultimately succeeded, proving the point.
An over-tested and over-treated contemporary population is not only suffering from ineffective treatment regimens but also the negative effects imparted on their bodies by their brains. As medical schools get more technical in their educational stance, they have to remember that the weakest link in the chain remains to be the patient, who could easily fight technology. In this context, it may be time to redesign education bottoms up with more focus on how patients internalize information. Ultimately, it is the content of revealed information that drives outcomes. As technology advances we are likely to be exposed to more information and the effects of such exposure could completely negate any positive impact of advanced treatments.
For a variety of reasons, humanity is at crossroads. On one hand, we have accelerating technologies that boasts to make everything better and on the other, it conflicts with the psyche of ordinary human beings. With a harsh timing constraint, once an individual is sliding down the slope, it is nearly impossible to reverse the trend.
Everything appears to come back to how society manages and uses information.