Placebo tape

The idea that some stupid tape all over your body is actually going to make an athlete peform better?  Please!  That said, if you believe it will make you perform better, it probably will.  Slate:

If  you’ve been watching the Olympics, you’ve surely noticed all the strips of colored tape plastered to athletes’ bodies. The media sure has: In the past two weeks, ReuterstheAtlanticABC News, and Fox (among others) have all reported on the colored tape, which is sold by a company called Kinesio. According to the product’s website, the tape is designed to “facilitate the body’s natural healing processwhile allowing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion.”

The press has questioned this claim, and rightly so. Studies of the tape’s efficacy suggest thatthere’s no proof that this particular tape is any better than any other kind of tape. But this doesn’t mean athletes shouldn’t use it, especially if they believe that it works—and many, judging by the number wearing it at the Olympics, do. The placebo effect—the idea that medically inert substances that people believe to have a beneficial effect can, in fact, have a beneficial effect—is a well-documented phenomenon. And in sports, studies suggest that placebo effects improve performance.

Well, there you go.  There certainly could be worse things for athletes to rely on into fooling themselves into better performance.  Still annoys me.  I hate mass delusion.

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No brain tumors for me (knock on wood)

So, this is just bizarre.  If you suffer from allergies, you are significantly less likely to have a brain tumor.  Good news for pretty much all the Greene family.  Via the Atlantic:

RESULTS: People who tested positive for allergy-related antibodies had an almost 50 percent lower risk of developing a glioma 20 years later. For women, testing positive for the IgE associated with specific allergens that are common in Norway, such as dust, pollen, mold and pets, was also associated with a 50 percent lower risk of glioblastoma. In men, no such association was found, but those who tested positive both for these specific antibodies and for other, unknown antibodies did have a 20 percent lower risk of developing this same type of tumor. The earlier IgE was present in patients’ blood samples, the greater the reduced risk of glioma.

CONCLUSION: The link between allergies and reduced risk of glioma is measurable and possibly causal, especially for women, and can be observed at least 20 years before diagnosis.

Nice to know there’s some benefit to all that sneezing and eye itching.

Ezra (and me) on Ryan

I don’t disagree with a thing Ezra writes about Paul Ryan, but I’m glad I wrote my post first so that I could actually be sure that my ideas where actually my own instead of Ezra’s :-).  Of course, he’s got more and better ones.  Read the whole post, but here are those I find most noteworthy:

2. This is an admission of fear from the Romney campaign. You don’t make a risky pick like Paul Ryan if you think the fundamentals favor your candidate. You make a risky pick like Paul Ryan if you think the fundamentals don’t favor your candidate…

4. Romney’s original intention was to make the 2012 election a referendum on President Obama’s management of the economy. Ryan makes it a choice between two competing plans for deficit reduction. This election increasingly resembles the Obama campaign’s strategy rather than the Romney campaign’s strategy.

I’m not entirely sure of the #4, because things may still not necessarily develop that way, but it is too Obama’s advantage if it does, and this does make that direction more likely.

7. Ryan upends Romney’s whole strategy. Until now, Romney’s play has been very simple:Don’t get specific. In picking Ryan, he has yoked himself to each and every one of Ryan’s specifics…

8. It’s not just that Romney now has to defend Ryan’s budget. To some degree, that was always going to be true. What he will now have to defend is everything else Ryan has proposed. Ryan was, for instance, the key House backer of Social Security privatization. His bill, The Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005, was so aggressive that it was rejected by the Bush administration. Now it’s Romney’s bill to defend. In Florida.

There’s real costs and real benefits to Ryan.  Now, Romney is not stupid at all and he surely thinks Ryan’s benefits will outweigh the costs.  That judgment should mean something.  Truth is, though, there is a lot of uncertainty as to whether that will be the case.  In that sense, this is definitely an uncharacteristic gamble from Romney.  My guess– Ryan finally gets yoked to his actual extremism and becomes a net drag.  He’s just got so many damn specifics– and specifics of the time Americans actually hate.  That said, certainly possible he ends up a net positive.  Just don’t expect any Political Science analyses next year arguing that Ryan ended up winning the race for Romney.

It’s Ryan

I’m going to try something a little different this time.   Instead of reading everybody else’s take on Ryan and deciding what I like best, I’m just going to start with my own based on what I’ve already read.  A few things…

1) Wow– Romney really feels he’s got to do what the conservative base wants.  The fact that he still does not feel he’s got the base wrapped up (well, this should do it) does not speak particularly well of the state of his campaign.  Not a confident pick.  Also, a House member to be Vice President?  At least give me Governor of Alaska.

2) Do not underestimate Ryan’s skills as a politician.  He’s a very skilled politician.  He’s totally pulled the wool over the eyes of most political journalists who think he’s this smart, reasonable, wonky-numbers guy.  In reality, he’s about as conservative as they get (hello– he claims Ayn Rand as his primary political influence) but manages to pass it off as moderate and reasonable behind the facility with numbers, Midwestern demeanor, and dreamy blue eyes.  Will be interesting to see how successfully Democrats are able to push back against/change the fairly ingrained positive opinion Ryan has among the journalist/pundit class.

A portrait photograph of Paul Ryan.

3) Honestly, though, the man is untested on this kind of stage.  Will be genuinely interesting to see how it goes.  I do think he’s up to the task and will do a solid job.  He strikes me as a skilled and smart politician.  That said, don’t be surprised if he has more than his share of gaffes.

4) If you haven’t read Ryan Lizz’a profile, what are you waiting for?  Or at least catch his excellent Fresh Air interview about Ryan.

5) Yeah, this is always exciting stuff.  But I think the odds that this selection changes the results of the presidential election is exceedingly rare (among other things, I doubt that he actually makes much difference in Wisconsin, being only a House member).

6) More later.  After I’ve read all the smarter people’s takes.

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