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Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,

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Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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Editorial
: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials, patients who were administered sugar pills on a daily basis reported equally significant improvements in mood as did those patients who were administered FDA-approved antidepressants. Most insurance policies offer policy members only limited coverage for prescriptions of antidepressants, and consequently most such drugs carry an almost prohibitive out-of-pocket cost to consumers. Therefore, medical practitioners (and the media) have a duty to make these clinical findings known to the public, so that those patients who would benefit from such drugs may begin to administer equally effective (and eminently affordable) treatment to themselves, straight out of the kitchen cabinet.

Which of the following, if true, is most damaging to the editorialist’s argument?

A. Each of the clinical trials was conducted over a relatively short period of time, and antidepressants often incite an initial spike in mood which is followed by a return to the original melancholy.

B. The clinical trials based their assessment of mood improvements solely on self-reported data; no objective physiological indicators were measured.

C. The improvements in mood were primarily attributable to the participants’ ongoing belief throughout the trials that they were taking prescription antidepressants.

D. Due to necessary discounting of some participants’ data, the total number of subjects in the sugar pill groups was far greater than the total number of subjects in the FDA-approved antidepressant groups.

E. Most people would be skeptical that taking a substance as common as sugar would bring about a noticeable increase in their mood.

OE to follow

Originally posted by avohden on 01 Nov 2013, 13:23.
Last edited by avohden on 07 Nov 2013, 20:14, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Nov 2013, 16:44
9
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avohden wrote:
Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials, patients who were administered sugar pills on a daily basis reported equally significant improvements in mood as did those patients who were administered FDA-approved antidepressants. Most insurance policies offer policy members only limited coverage for prescriptions of antidepressants, and consequently most such drugs carry an almost prohibitive out-of-pocket cost to consumers. Therefore, medical practitioners (and the media) have a duty to make these clinical findings known to the public, so that those patients who would benefit from such drugs may begin to administer equally effective (and eminently affordable) treatment to themselves, straight out of the kitchen cabinet.

Which of the following, if true, is most damaging to the editorialist’s argument?

A. Each of the clinical trials was conducted over a relatively short period of time, and antidepressants often incite an initial spike in mood which is followed by a return to the original melancholy.

B. The clinical trials based their assessment of mood improvements solely on self-reported data; no objective physiological indicators were measured.

C. The improvements in mood were primarily attributable to the participants’ ongoing belief throughout the trials that they were taking prescription antidepressants.

D. Due to necessary discounting of some participants’ data, the total number of subjects in the sugar pill groups was far greater than the total number of subjects in the FDA-approved antidepressant groups.

E. Most people would be skeptical that taking a substance as common as sugar would bring about a noticeable increase in their mood.

Dear avohden,
I'm happy to help. :-) This is a classic question on the placebo effect. If you understand that idea from, say, a Statistics class, then that makes this question easy.

Here's the basic idea. Any time someone with some illness gets a pill from a doctor, the patient's faith in the doctor is part of what has the effect. Even if the pill has no medical value, a placebo, the fact that a doctor convincingly gave the patient and patient believed the doctor is enough for the patient's body to general healing effect. This has been measured in countless experiments, and it is called the placebo effect --- the healing the results simply from belief in the efficacy of the pill, apart from any medical value of the pill. In medical trials, in order for any new medicine to prove itself effective, it must outperform the placebo effect.

A placebo is any pill with no medical value --- sugar pills are common placebos.

Of course, what is curative is not what's in the placebo --- sugar --- but rather the faith that the patients had that they were receiving something effective. That, in a nutshell, is the fallacy of the argument, and (C) addresses this.

It's true that you don't really have to have outside knowledge to answer GMAT CR questions, but it's also true that if you know about some common real world procedures, that can help a lot. The placebo effect and the nature of medical trials is a good thing to know a bit about. Others include:
The Law of Supply & Demand:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/gmat-supply-and-demand/
Labor & Wages:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/gmat-labor-and-wages/
Inflation, unemployment, and interest rates:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/inflation- ... -the-gmat/
The Legal System:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/beyond-any ... -the-gmat/
Statistical significance:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/statistica ... -the-gmat/
Profits & Non-profits:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/profit-and ... -the-gmat/

I hope all this helps.
Mike :-)
_________________

Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

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Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Nov 2013, 20:49
mikemcgarry wrote:
avohden wrote:
Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials, patients who were administered sugar pills on a daily basis reported equally significant improvements in mood as did those patients who were administered FDA-approved antidepressants. Most insurance policies offer policy members only limited coverage for prescriptions of antidepressants, and consequently most such drugs carry an almost prohibitive out-of-pocket cost to consumers. Therefore, medical practitioners (and the media) have a duty to make these clinical findings known to the public, so that those patients who would benefit from such drugs may begin to administer equally effective (and eminently affordable) treatment to themselves, straight out of the kitchen cabinet.

Which of the following, if true, is most damaging to the editorialist’s argument?

A. Each of the clinical trials was conducted over a relatively short period of time, and antidepressants often incite an initial spike in mood which is followed by a return to the original melancholy.

B. The clinical trials based their assessment of mood improvements solely on self-reported data; no objective physiological indicators were measured.

C. The improvements in mood were primarily attributable to the participants’ ongoing belief throughout the trials that they were taking prescription antidepressants.

D. Due to necessary discounting of some participants’ data, the total number of subjects in the sugar pill groups was far greater than the total number of subjects in the FDA-approved antidepressant groups.

E. Most people would be skeptical that taking a substance as common as sugar would bring about a noticeable increase in their mood.

Dear avohden,
I'm happy to help. :-) This is a classic question on the placebo effect. If you understand that idea from, say, a Statistics class, then that makes this question easy.

Here's the basic idea. Any time someone with some illness gets a pill from a doctor, the patient's faith in the doctor is part of what has the effect. Even if the pill has no medical value, a placebo, the fact that a doctor convincingly gave the patient and patient believed the doctor is enough for the patient's body to general healing effect. This has been measured in countless experiments, and it is called the placebo effect --- the healing the results simply from belief in the efficacy of the pill, apart from any medical value of the pill. In medical trials, in order for any new medicine to prove itself effective, it must outperform the placebo effect.

A placebo is any pill with no medical value --- sugar pills are common placebos.

Of course, what is curative is not what's in the placebo --- sugar --- but rather the faith that the patients had that they were receiving something effective. That, in a nutshell, is the fallacy of the argument, and (C) addresses this.

It's true that you don't really have to have outside knowledge to answer GMAT CR questions, but it's also true that if you know about some common real world procedures, that can help a lot. The placebo effect and the nature of medical trials is a good thing to know a bit about. Others include:
The Law of Supply & Demand:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/gmat-supply-and-demand/
Labor & Wages:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/gmat-labor-and-wages/
Inflation, unemployment, and interest rates:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/inflation- ... -the-gmat/
The Legal System:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/beyond-any ... -the-gmat/
Statistical significance:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/statistica ... -the-gmat/
Profits & Non-profits:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/profit-and ... -the-gmat/

I hope all this helps.
Mike :-)


Hi Mike,

I could eliminate A D and E but got stuck between B and C. I am not quite sure how we can chose C over B. Because B states that the results were self-recorded instead of some experts recording their findings. So basically it was the patients themselves who were recording how they were feeling. Well ofcourse this will not be accurate and hence damages the argument.

I crossed out C because that the improvement was happening because the patients thought they were taking ADD meds. But now that they know they were taking sugar pills wouldn't that make the patients believe that sugar pills are equally effective and make them chose sugar pills over the ADD expensive meds. I mean the public who reads the findings and sees that sugar pills are equally beneficial to ADD meds.

Can you please advise where my reasoning is flawed and how is C a better choice than B.

Thanks
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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Nov 2013, 18:09
4
2
akashb106 wrote:
Hi Mike,

I could eliminate A D and E but got stuck between B and C. I am not quite sure how we can chose C over B. Because B states that the results were self-recorded instead of some experts recording their findings. So basically it was the patients themselves who were recording how they were feeling. Well of course this will not be accurate and hence damages the argument.

I crossed out C because that the improvement was happening because the patients thought they were taking ADD meds. But now that they know they were taking sugar pills wouldn't that make the patients believe that sugar pills are equally effective and make them chose sugar pills over the ADD expensive meds. I mean the public who reads the findings and sees that sugar pills are equally beneficial to ADD meds.

Can you please advise where my reasoning is flawed and how is C a better choice than B.
Thanks

Dear akashb106
First of all, be very careful with precise phrasing. (B) doesn't say the results were "self-recorded" but rather "self-reported". That's a HUGE difference. If the data were "self-recorded", that would meet each participant were writing down all the data him or herself, and of course, many people would flake and forget to write stuff down, and the resultant collection of data would be entirely useless from a scientific point of view. That's not what (B) is saying.
Mood is "self-reported" in the sense that the only way a researcher has of determining a subject's mood is by asking them, verbally, "how do you feel?" or "what mood do you have?", and getting verbal information in response. In some cases, self-reported information is not particularly reliable, especially if the subject has some motivation to lie or stretch the truth --- consider asking the questions "are you honest?", "have you ever broken the law?", "do most people like you?", "have you ever hurt someone on purpose?". With questions such as that, people may consciously lie, or they may just have an unrealistic picture of themselves, and thus the self-reported response might not be reliable. For example, if I ran a research project, and asked 200 people in a city "have you ever committed a felony?", and they all said "no", it would be a pathetically gullible conclusion for me to say --- well, none of them were lawbreakers! In such a research project, the problem of "self-reported" data is huge.
By contrast, in this case, people take a pill for a few weeks, and then we ask them, "do you still feel depressed?" or "has the pill you were taking helped your depression?" Yes, maybe one person would lie, but there would not be any systematic reason to expect most of the people to lie in the same direction. Because there's no reason to expect that (a) people will not have a consistent motivation to misrepresent the truth, and (b) people will clearly know whether their own depression got better or not, then there's no reason to conclude that "self-reported" data would pose a liability in any way. Furthermore, with something such as depression, it's unclear what measure you would use instead of self-report. It's not as if there's a particular brain scan they can do to prove someone is depressed. There's really nothing that can be objectively measured and analyzed. The only way anyone finds out that a person is depressed is by talking to him. This is fundamentally why (B) is wrong.

Understanding why (C) is correct depends on understanding the details of the placebo effect. It might be worthwhile to find a psychology textbook and read a detailed description of this phenomenon. Sugar pills are standard placebos --- they are perfectly safe, and they have absolutely no medicinal value. They don't cure anything. Nobody thinks that sugar pills really are effective in treating anything --- that's precisely the flaw of the argument, and it would be completely ridiculous if an educated person seriously took this position. The placebo effect is all about the ability of the body to generate healing effects purely based on belief and trust in a medical figure, apart from any medicinal value of anything you ingest. In this experiment, the folks in the "control group" received sugar pills, placebos, but the doctor giving it to them didn't say, "this is a sugar pill" --- rather, the doctor said, "This pill will help your depression", and the subject, hearing that assurance from a medical profession, experienced healing effects in her body purely because of the trust she felt in the doctor. The belief, the trust, caused the improvement, and the content of the pills, sugar, was 100% irrelevant. This is the placebo effect. This is a standard effect, widespread in medical testing, and very well documented. Again, this is a difficult idea to grasp from a brief explanation: you may well have to read articles about the placebo effect before you fully understand it.
As you may imagine, the placebo effect poses great challenges to medical research --- if some people get better when you give them almost anything, how can you tell that a medicine actually works? In practice, we can conclude that a medicine works only if it significantly outperforms the placebo effect ---- say, 40% of folks who get the placebo get better, and 90% of folks who get the medicine get better --- that would be a medicine that is accepted as valid because it significantly outperformed the placebo effect. Accommodating this issue involves a experimental design called "double-blind" experiments. You can find all of this explained in detail in a good psychology text or a good statistics book.

Theoretically, you don't need know outside knowledge to answer GMAT CR, but you need to know the basics of how the world works. It is conceivable that, like this problem, a problem on the real GMAT could spell everything out but, in a way, expect you to have familiarity with the basics of the placebo effect. Arguably, it has implication for how advertising works, and in that sense, it may be highly relevant to what you need to know for your career some day. I would argue: it something every educated person should understand.

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
_________________

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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 18 Nov 2013, 09:35
Official Explanation

Answer C -
If, indeed, it were true that "the improvements in mood were primarily attributable to" the patients' continued belief that they were taking antidepressants, it would follow that disabusing patients of this misconception would also strip them of the corresponding placebo effect benefits.

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Originally posted by avohden on 05 Nov 2013, 20:29.
Last edited by avohden on 18 Nov 2013, 09:35, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Nov 2013, 11:21
This question seems to rely too much on the fact that people know about medical trials :evil: :cry:
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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Nov 2013, 11:41
2
2
romancer wrote:
This question seems to rely too much on the fact that people know about medical trials :evil: :cry:

Dear romancer,
I would say that this issue, medical trials & the placebo effect, is right on the boundary between general knowledge and specialized knowledge. The GMAT doesn't demand specialized knowledge of specific issues treated in Verbal questions, but it does expect test-takers to know the general knowledge that anyone who reads the news regularly would know. Are medical trials & the placebo effect too specialized? Hmmm. This is a topic that's in the new a lot, and many intelligent folks have come across these ideas.

What's particular tricky about the placebo effect --- the GMAT will explicitly tell you the facts you need ----- here, the fact that people derived a benefit from sugar pills ---- but the test-taker will be left to sort out all the implications of this difficult idea, and having a bit of a background with the placebo effect can help you a great deal.

Here's a series of articles I have written about real-world basics that everyone should know and that could really provide valuable background in interpreting a GMAT verbal question:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/gmat-supply-and-demand/
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/gmat-labor-and-wages/
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/inflation- ... -the-gmat/
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/beyond-any ... -the-gmat/
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/statistica ... -the-gmat/
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/profit-and ... -the-gmat/
In a month or so, another article in this series about the placebo effect will be published.

I hope this helps.
Mike :-)
_________________

Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

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Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Nov 2013, 11:50
mikemcgarry wrote:
romancer wrote:
This question seems to rely too much on the fact that people know about medical trials :evil: :cry:

Dear romancer,
I would say that this issue, medical trials & the placebo effect, is right on the boundary between general knowledge and specialized knowledge. The GMAT doesn't demand specialized knowledge of specific issues treated in Verbal questions, but it does expect test-takers to know the general knowledge that anyone who reads the news regularly would know. Are medical trials & the placebo effect too specialized? Hmmm. This is a topic that's in the new a lot, and many intelligent folks have come across these ideas.

What's particular tricky about the placebo effect --- the GMAT will explicitly tell you the facts you need ----- here, the fact that people derived a benefit from sugar pills ---- but the test-taker will be left to sort out all the implications of this difficult idea, and having a bit of a background with the placebo effect can help you a great deal.

Here's a series of articles I have written about real-world basics that everyone should know and that could really provide valuable background in interpreting a GMAT verbal question:
/links removed/
In a month or so, another article in this series about the placebo effect will be published.

I hope this helps.
Mike :-)



Yes no doubt, GK always helps. Just mumbling out loud my grievances... thanks for the links though! Btw, out of curiosity, are on the GMAT team that designs questions? :-D
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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Nov 2013, 11:56
romancer wrote:
Yes no doubt, GK always helps. Just mumbling out loud my grievances... thanks for the links though! Btw, out of curiosity, are on the GMAT team that designs questions? :-D

Dear romancer,
Your last question was a little hard to understand because it lacked a subject. Did you mean to ask: am I on the GMAT team that designs questions?
Most certainly not. I work for a private company, Magoosh. I have spent a great deal of time studying the questions that the GMAT writes, and attempting to create questions of my own that model the kinds of things that the GMAT asks. So, yes, I have written hundreds of GMAT-like questions, many of which (I would like to think) would be worthy of the GMAT's standards, but I have never worked for GMAC and, to the best of my knowledge, nothing of my own creation has ever been incorporated onto the GMAT.
Mike :-)
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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Nov 2013, 12:00
mikemcgarry wrote:
romancer wrote:
Yes no doubt, GK always helps. Just mumbling out loud my grievances... thanks for the links though! Btw, out of curiosity, are on the GMAT team that designs questions? :-D

Dear romancer,
Your last question was a little hard to understand because it lacked a subject. Did you mean to ask: am I on the GMAT team that designs questions?
Most certainly not. I work for a private company, Magoosh. I have spent a great deal of time studying the questions that the GMAT writes, and attempting to create questions of my own that model the kinds of things that the GMAT asks. So, yes, I have written hundreds of GMAT-like questions, many of which (I would like to think) would be worthy of the GMAT's standards, but I have never worked for GMAC and, to the best of my knowledge, nothing of my own creation has ever been incorporated onto the GMAT.
Mike :-)



Sorry about that! I was typing too fast and skipped the word 'you'.

Respect by the way :-D Really appreciate the time you take to help out people! Will definitely try to do the same (provided I get around 700 at least on my exam on 17th of November)...Looking to do a dual degree in BU!
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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Nov 2013, 02:34
mikemcgarry wrote:
akashb106 wrote:
Hi Mike,

I could eliminate A D and E but got stuck between B and C. I am not quite sure how we can chose C over B. Because B states that the results were self-recorded instead of some experts recording their findings. So basically it was the patients themselves who were recording how they were feeling. Well of course this will not be accurate and hence damages the argument.

I crossed out C because that the improvement was happening because the patients thought they were taking ADD meds. But now that they know they were taking sugar pills wouldn't that make the patients believe that sugar pills are equally effective and make them chose sugar pills over the ADD expensive meds. I mean the public who reads the findings and sees that sugar pills are equally beneficial to ADD meds.

Can you please advise where my reasoning is flawed and how is C a better choice than B.
Thanks

Dear akashb106
First of all, be very careful with precise phrasing. (B) doesn't say the results were "self-recorded" but rather "self-reported". That's a HUGE difference. If the data were "self-recorded", that would meet each participant were writing down all the data him or herself, and of course, many people would flake and forget to write stuff down, and the resultant collection of data would be entirely useless from a scientific point of view. That's not what (B) is saying.
Mood is "self-reported" in the sense that the only way a researcher has of determining a subject's mood is by asking them, verbally, "how do you feel?" or "what mood do you have?", and getting verbal information in response. In some cases, self-reported information is not particularly reliable, especially if the subject has some motivation to lie or stretch the truth --- consider asking the questions "are you honest?", "have you ever broken the law?", "do most people like you?", "have you ever hurt someone on purpose?". With questions such as that, people may consciously lie, or they may just have an unrealistic picture of themselves, and thus the self-reported response might not be reliable. For example, if I ran a research project, and asked 200 people in a city "have you ever committed a felony?", and they all said "no", it would be a pathetically gullible conclusion for me to say --- well, none of them were lawbreakers! In such a research project, the problem of "self-reported" data is huge.
By contrast, in this case, people take a pill for a few weeks, and then we ask them, "do you still feel depressed?" or "has the pill you were taking helped your depression?" Yes, maybe one person would lie, but there would not be any systematic reason to expect most of the people to lie in the same direction. Because there's no reason to expect that (a) people will not have a consistent motivation to misrepresent the truth, and (b) people will clearly know whether their own depression got better or not, then there's no reason to conclude that "self-reported" data would pose a liability in any way. Furthermore, with something such as depression, it's unclear what measure you would use instead of self-report. It's not as if there's a particular brain scan they can do to prove someone is depressed. There's really nothing that can be objectively measured and analyzed. The only way anyone finds out that a person is depressed is by talking to him. This is fundamentally why (B) is wrong.

Understanding why (C) is correct depends on understanding the details of the placebo effect. It might be worthwhile to find a psychology textbook and read a detailed description of this phenomenon. Sugar pills are standard placebos --- they are perfectly safe, and they have absolutely no medicinal value. They don't cure anything. Nobody thinks that sugar pills really are effective in treating anything --- that's precisely the flaw of the argument, and it would be completely ridiculous if an educated person seriously took this position. The placebo effect is all about the ability of the body to generate healing effects purely based on belief and trust in a medical figure, apart from any medicinal value of anything you ingest. In this experiment, the folks in the "control group" received sugar pills, placebos, but the doctor giving it to them didn't say, "this is a sugar pill" --- rather, the doctor said, "This pill will help your depression", and the subject, hearing that assurance from a medical profession, experienced healing effects in her body purely because of the trust she felt in the doctor. The belief, the trust, caused the improvement, and the content of the pills, sugar, was 100% irrelevant. This is the placebo effect. This is a standard effect, widespread in medical testing, and very well documented. Again, this is a difficult idea to grasp from a brief explanation: you may well have to read articles about the placebo effect before you fully understand it.
As you may imagine, the placebo effect poses great challenges to medical research --- if some people get better when you give them almost anything, how can you tell that a medicine actually works? In practice, we can conclude that a medicine works only if it significantly outperforms the placebo effect ---- say, 40% of folks who get the placebo get better, and 90% of folks who get the medicine get better --- that would be a medicine that is accepted as valid because it significantly outperformed the placebo effect. Accommodating this issue involves a experimental design called "double-blind" experiments. You can find all of this explained in detail in a good psychology text or a good statistics book.

Theoretically, you don't need know outside knowledge to answer GMAT CR, but you need to know the basics of how the world works. It is conceivable that, like this problem, a problem on the real GMAT could spell everything out but, in a way, expect you to have familiarity with the basics of the placebo effect. Arguably, it has implication for how advertising works, and in that sense, it may be highly relevant to what you need to know for your career some day. I would argue: it something every educated person should understand.

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)


Hi Mike.

I know about the placebo effect, and when I read this again and again I get confused.
The text states that an equal number of people who took the real FDA approved drugs and of those who took sugar pills
got better.
This finding should be published, to say that the FDA approved drugs do not actually work (as per the placebo test)...
And thus, people should not pay more for them....
I got a little mixed up.
I would appreciate if you could straighten it out for me.
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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Nov 2013, 11:39
1
ronr34 wrote:
Hi Mike.

I know about the placebo effect, and when I read this again and again I get confused.
The text states that an equal number of people who took the real FDA approved drugs and of those who took sugar pills
got better.
This finding should be published, to say that the FDA approved drugs do not actually work (as per the placebo test)...
And thus, people should not pay more for them....
I got a little mixed up.
I would appreciate if you could straighten it out for me.

Dear Ronr34,
I'm happy to help. :-)

Here's the prompt again.
Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials, patients who were administered sugar pills on a daily basis reported equally significant improvements in mood as did those patients who were administered FDA-approved antidepressants. Most insurance policies offer policy members only limited coverage for prescriptions of antidepressants, and consequently most such drugs carry an almost prohibitive out-of-pocket cost to consumers. Therefore, medical practitioners (and the media) have a duty to make these clinical findings known to the public, so that those patients who would benefit from such drugs may begin to administer equally effective (and eminently affordable) treatment to themselves, straight out of the kitchen cabinet.

First of all, here's what I'll say. In all GMAT CR arguments, and most especially arguments in which we are finding a weakness or a flaw, think of the voice of the narrator of the argument as a "character" created by the question writer. In this particular question, I am sure that the person who really wrote this question understands the placebo effect very well, but in writing the question that author has created a voice, a character, the person making the argument, and this character doesn't understand the placebo effect at all. Do not assume that the voice in a GMAT CR arguments speaks with truth, insight, and the authority of the GMAT itself. The voice in the argument is often some fictional character with an incorrect understanding, and finding the flaw means finding the flaw in this character's poor thinking.

The first sentence of the argument says that the FDA-approved medicine worked just as well as the placebos. You and I and the author of this question all understand perfectly well: this means the FDA-approved medicine is worthless --- it can't even outperform the placebo effect. That's the intelligent and well-informed conclusion. We understand this, but the "narrator" of the question does not understand that.

As we come to understand as we read the argument, the narrator is laboring under the misapprehension that if sugar pills work as well as the FDA-approved antidepressants, then this means that sugar pills must be effective in fighting depression. In other words, because they narrator doesn't understand the placebo effect at all, he assumes that the results from the sugar pills constitutes solid evidence that sugar pills are an effective treatment for depression. The narrator is drawing the conclusion that someone would draw if they had absolutely no idea that there existed something called the "placebo effect." Right there, that's the core flaw in the narrator's thinking.

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Nov 2013, 23:54
mikemcgarry wrote:
ronr34 wrote:
Hi Mike.

I know about the placebo effect, and when I read this again and again I get confused.
The text states that an equal number of people who took the real FDA approved drugs and of those who took sugar pills
got better.
This finding should be published, to say that the FDA approved drugs do not actually work (as per the placebo test)...
And thus, people should not pay more for them....
I got a little mixed up.
I would appreciate if you could straighten it out for me.

Dear Ronr34,
I'm happy to help. :-)

Here's the prompt again.
Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials, patients who were administered sugar pills on a daily basis reported equally significant improvements in mood as did those patients who were administered FDA-approved antidepressants. Most insurance policies offer policy members only limited coverage for prescriptions of antidepressants, and consequently most such drugs carry an almost prohibitive out-of-pocket cost to consumers. Therefore, medical practitioners (and the media) have a duty to make these clinical findings known to the public, so that those patients who would benefit from such drugs may begin to administer equally effective (and eminently affordable) treatment to themselves, straight out of the kitchen cabinet.

First of all, here's what I'll say. In all GMAT CR arguments, and most especially arguments in which we are finding a weakness or a flaw, think of the voice of the narrator of the argument as a "character" created by the question writer. In this particular question, I am sure that the person who really wrote this question understands the placebo effect very well, but in writing the question that author has created a voice, a character, the person making the argument, and this character doesn't understand the placebo effect at all. Do not assume that the voice in a GMAT CR arguments speaks with truth, insight, and the authority of the GMAT itself. The voice in the argument is often some fictional character with an incorrect understanding, and finding the flaw means finding the flaw in this character's poor thinking.

The first sentence of the argument says that the FDA-approved medicine worked just as well as the placebos. You and I and the author of this question all understand perfectly well: this means the FDA-approved medicine is worthless --- it can't even outperform the placebo effect. That's the intelligent and well-informed conclusion. We understand this, but the "narrator" of the question does not understand that.

As we come to understand as we read the argument, the narrator is laboring under the misapprehension that if sugar pills work as well as the FDA-approved antidepressants, then this means that sugar pills must be effective in fighting depression. In other words, because they narrator doesn't understand the placebo effect at all, he assumes that the results from the sugar pills constitutes solid evidence that sugar pills are an effective treatment for depression. The narrator is drawing the conclusion that someone would draw if they had absolutely no idea that there existed something called the "placebo effect." Right there, that's the core flaw in the narrator's thinking.

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)

Yes.
Thanks a lot.
Very well explained...
Soon we will see if it really got through :)
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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Mar 2014, 07:31
I have not read the entire thread. However, since I got this question wrong, my doubt is as follows.

How we arrive whether option (C) is talking about Sugar pills and not about the FDA antidepressants.

Because in my opinion options (C). not undermines rather supports the fact that sugar pills are more effective than FDA antidepressants since in the case of antidepressants patients are having placebo effect and they are not having improvements in mood.

On the other hand the fact has already been stated that sugar pills are as effective as FDA anitDep.

Please suggest

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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Mar 2014, 07:47
Hi TGC.,

So the passage says

Studies show sugar pills and FDA approved anti depressants produce equally siginificant improvements in mood.
FDA approved anti depressants highly expensive.
Conclusion :Medical practitioners should tell public that sugar pills and FDA approved anti depressants produce same effect.

Option C: (This could have been worded in a better and clearer way - but logic says that this option talks about the improvements caused by the sugar pills) Improvements were because of the placebo effect of the sugar pill. We can assume that the FDA approved anti depressants have actual medical value and are not placebos. For these reasons, C is the right answer.
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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Mar 2014, 07:58
Got C!
It is the only option which is going against the editorialist's recommendation/conclusion that sugar pills are equally effective as antidepressants by saying that when patients were taking sugar pills,they believed they were having antidepressant prescription drugs.
Option A cites another problem with antidepressants.
Option B,I think is close.But the bias is not limited to sugar pills or antidepressant.It is designed in the whole experiment so it'd affect both types of trials equally.
Option D doesn't affect the argument.
Option E also is irrelevant to the conclusion of the argument.The argument concludes that information about alternative medication should be released to the public.Whether people will be sceptical of the results does not affect the conclusion.

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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Mar 2014, 09:11
MacFauz wrote:
Hi TGC.,

So the passage says

Studies show sugar pills and FDA approved anti depressants produce equally siginificant improvements in mood.
FDA approved anti depressants highly expensive.
Conclusion :Medical practitioners should tell public that sugar pills and FDA approved anti depressants produce same effect.

Option C: (This could have been worded in a better and clearer way - but logic says that this option talks about the improvements caused by the sugar pills) Improvements were because of the placebo effect of the sugar pill. We can assume that the FDA approved anti depressants have actual medical value and are not placebos. For these reasons, C is the right answer.


Appreciate your response. However, I am not sure well enough if (C) targets sugar pills and not the FDA's.

C. The improvements in mood were primarily attributable to the participants’ ongoing belief throughout the trials that they were taking prescription antidepressants.

In fact, if you see the stimulus you will come to know the phrase 'prescription antidepressants' is used for FDA's rather than for sugar pills.

'only limited coverage for prescriptions of antidepressant' This phrase talked about FDA's
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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Mar 2014, 09:30
1
The passage & option C mean to say that the sugar pills were given as placebos in the guise that they were the FDA approved anti depressants... I do agree that the passage could have been clearer since it seems to require outside knowledge of the placebo effect...
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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Mar 2014, 10:10
TGC wrote:
Appreciate your response. However, I am not sure well enough if (C) targets sugar pills and not the FDA's.

C. The improvements in mood were primarily attributable to the participants’ ongoing belief throughout the trials that they were taking prescription antidepressants.

In fact, if you see the stimulus you will come to know the phrase 'prescription antidepressants' is used for FDA's rather than for sugar pills.

'only limited coverage for prescriptions of antidepressant' This phrase talked about FDA's

Dear TGC,
I think the logic of this question would make more sense to you if you understood the placebo effect in general. This is something that shows up frequently enough in medical tests that are discussed in the news that the GMAT could expect you to have some familiarity with it. Here's a blog that provides some background:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/medical-tr ... reasoning/
I hope this helps.
Mike :-)
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Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials,  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Apr 2014, 13:28
I picked C event though I did not finish reading the rest of the choices. Spend too much time reading (understanding) the passage :(
Re: Editorial: In a compelling preponderance of clinical trials, &nbs [#permalink] 15 Apr 2014, 13:28

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