Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 30th, 2011

Placebo is neutral and inexpensive? Think again!

Placebo are supposed to have neutral effects in double-blind experiments on the effects of medicines, and they are thought to be very inexpensive products.

First, do you know that 80% of published peer-reviewed clinical research failed to describe the contents in ingredients and the components of placebo used in the experiments?  Fact is, placebo are not mere sugar, plain water, saline solutions… They do have ingredients “considered to be safe or neutral” by the researcher.  Remember the case of olive oil used as placebo while cod oil was the medicine of cure?  They both lowered cholesterol level!

Second, placebo are not cheap!  Placebo are usually more expensive than the actual manufactured medicine to test.  The placebo has to exactly resemble the medicine in form, shape, color, consistency, taste, credible in the logo and inscriptions… The pharmaceutical manufacturer has to redesign a new product for small quantities:  Thus, placebo are far more expensive than normally budgeted in the research grant. 

Actually, a new field is emerging for graphic designers called “placebo designers” with objective of finding creative and credible placebo.

Third, autosuggestion that placebo is the proper medicine has demonstrated to be a potent factor in the cure of many patients.  For example, in 17% of the cases when patients were informed to be taking placebo, it had a positive influence.  Fabrizio Benedetti used saline solution on Parkinson patients.  The activities in the corresponding cerebral region diminished significantly:  The trembling ceased.

Do you know that between 2001 and 2006, the number of “faked medicines” on the market that didn’t reach phase 2 in the testing (limited number of patients experimented on) increased 20%?  That marketed faked medicines that didn’t pass phase 3 increased 11%?

Do you know that the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry revealed in April 2011 that 20% of medical practitioners administered placebo on their patients without the knowledge of the patients?  That 35% of the prescribed medicines had low weak doses of potent ingredients?

Using placebo in chronic patients, familiar with the taste and consistency of the real medicine, generate negative counter-reactions in the mind of patients and called “nocebo”:  The chronic patients are no fools and can discriminate a placebo from normal medicines; they are used to taking regularly particular medicines. 

The role of autosuggest is very important in curing patients.  Consequently, unless the clinical experimenter is thoroughly aware of the types of illnesses that can be cured by autosuggest, if he fails to factor-in this variable in controlling the experiment, the results would be confounding:  Further investigations, analysis, or redoing the experiment with a reviewed design would be required.

Note:  Idea extracted from an article in the “Courrier International”

Part 2. Why the “Arabs” in the US are the most educated and the richest?

The latest statistics performed in the US, generated from the latest census, have sent shock waves in the US communities because of widespread discrimination of “Arabs” in the medias.  The statistics demonstrated the following facts, relative to the 5.3 million US citizens of “Arabic” descent:

1. 61% of the US Arabs earned the highest university degrees versus 30% of the average US citizens. The Arab citizens are mainly Lebanese (40%), Syrians (12.3%), Egyptians (12%), Palestinians (6%), Iraqis, North Africans… earned the highest university degrees versus 30% of the average US citizens

2. The average “Arab” in the US earn $54,000 versus $43,000

3. 57% of the “Arabs” in the US own single family homes versus 43% of the average ratio.

4. The Arabs in the US hold the highest posts and the most private businesses than the other US minorities, including European, Japanese, and Chinese.

John Stewart Kenneth said:

“The Arabs are starting to scare us with their intelligence and competitiveness.  Even our thinking are challenged and changed.  Once opportunities for freedom, justice were available to the US Arabs, they advanced in accelerated speed.  The US Arabs came from poor countries and reacted to their former indignities in their original countries by showing us to the second rank in our society.”

Moses Naeem, founder of “Foreign Policies” in the USA wrote an article saying: “Why Arab descendents are more successful than most ordinary US citizens?  Why are they more intelligent and richer? Why in such a hurry?”

Indeed why?

First, we need to differentiate among the Arabic speaking people, if explanations are to get to target.   The “Arabs” mentioned in the statistics are 70% from the Levant or Near East States (Lebanon, Syria, Palestine).  This trend is not restricted to the US: it is predominant  in Europe, Latin America, Australia and in most developed countries where “Arabs” had to immigrate to.

Simply because of the availability in opportunities for “freedom and justice”?  Is it that simple?

It is more complicated than this simplistic concept monopolized by the Western States.

The first immigrants at the turn of the century to the US were Lebanese and Syrians, called “Turks” because they held Ottoman passports at the time.  Immigrants had bought tickets with the intention of specifically “going to America, the USA”.

Most of them were diverted to Africa, Latin America, and to islands by ship captains, for efficient turnover of customers, at every port.  They were fleeing economic hardship, before starting to immigrate for political reasons after WWII.

The most educated and well-to-do among immigrants went to Palestine, and particularly to Egypt at the turn of the century, where they were the vanguard in creating daily presses, translating scientific research and the newer technologies,  and disseminating the notion of freedom of expressions and promoting the values of Western Europe in matters of democracy, republic, equality, constitutional political systems, and justice to all under the law…

In the 20’s and 30’s, Lebanese settled in Palestine:  Business was brisk, schooling was expanding and needing educators, and agricultural lands were relatively inexpensive compared to Lebanon.

People in the Levant and Egypt were, since antiquity, the backbone of civilization for millennium.  They remained the source of civilization and culture during the Islamic hegemony for 9 centuries after 640 AC.

Basically, the Levant was a crossroad to all the immigrants fleeing from the east, due to wars or economical hardships.  In period of coming calamities, the settled immigrants in the Levant would venture further westward, around the Mediterranean Sea basin.

These historical facts may not be relevant to the subject matter, but it is worth mentioning.  The human brain is flexible and adaptive:  Any second generation immigrant, supported by a network of extended family, from any origin he happened to be, is likely to succeed in communities with vast available opportunities in education, work, and sustainable and stable law and order institutions.

Why the Arabs of the Levant in the US are being so successful?

Never under-estimate the delicious varieties of the Lebanese cuisine:  “satisfy the stomach, and abiding by customs and traditions would follow“.  The immigrants constituted tight family communities, and barely diverted from the guidelines of visiting frequently and sharing in the frequent festivities.  The second generation witnessed the hardship and determination of their parents for securing the best education and immersion in the local communities.

The extended family community kept the children close to the nucleus and got all the practical and financial aid they needed to succeed.  Everybody in the extended family shared in the expenses and the success  stories.

Traditionally, what were considered good educational disciplines were engineering, medicine, and law.  Most important of all, babies drank politics from early childhood:  Political discussions were scenes of heated debate and the world was its theater. Thus, you are brought up to know a lot of geography and history.   Learning more than two languages was a must and communication is not a major problem.

The Levant immigrants have high feeling of competition and drive to acceding to higher status compared to the neighbors (whoever is the neighbor):  Humility is not their strongest trait (not many earned Nobel Prizes!)

The Levant immigrants are not famous for creating sustainable institutions, associations or organizations. It is these frequent gathering of the extended family, for one occasion or another and sharing good food, that provide the basis for this large network of “soft power” among acquaintances for referrals and disseminating intelligence pieces of new programs, policies, and regulations that facilitate grabbing opened opportunities to wants and wishes.

Note:  With the influx of immigrants from the Levant countries, Egypt became the main State for writing Arabic books and magazines.

In the 1950’s Lebanon became the printing press for the region. It is thanks to the Iraqi people, the most voracious readers that the cycle of writing and publishing flourished.

It is because the Iraqis were the most learned in the region that Iraq had to be destabilized, invaded and dismantled…

“What did I learn from blogging?” The blurred line between writing and publishing?

I read a post a week ago and it reminded me to rethink why I am at it, after 2,200 articles published.  The post read:

“Today marks one month since I started this blog, so I decided to take a minute and reflect on what I’ve learned in the past month.  I’ve posted every week day since I started, which I find amazing.  Quite a few people read what I write, which I find even more amazing.  And some even share what I write with their friends, which I find amazingly amazing.  Mostly, I’m shocked at how easily I’ve fallen into this process and how much I value it. But I’ll try to narrow it down to three specific observations I’ve made about the past month.

1.  Writing has become an important part of my day

I look forward to the time I set aside to sit and write down my thoughts.  I’ve journaled on and off over the years, but this is different.  Journaling doesn’t really require coherent thoughts.  It’s more like emptying the contents of my brain onto paper.  That’s part of this process, but now I have to make sure it makes sense.  And that’s important (for you and for me.)  It helps me organize the thoughts that swirl around in my head and gives me a feeling of peace when I’m done.  I can say to myself, “Whew, now I get it.”  Or, “Hmmm, I haven’t quite figured this out yet, but that’s ok, because I’ve put my questions into questions.”

2.  I haven’t run out of things to say

For some of you, this is a surprise, because I can be very quiet at times.  For others, it’s no surprise, because you know that when I get started, I have a lot to say.  I’m sure there will be a day when I find myself thinking, “What should I write about today?”  But I’m not there yet.  I find myself looking at the world and my thoughts as opportunities to say something.  This might be a result of turning off my “inner evaluator.”  (Well, it’s not turned off completely, but it’s much quieter than it used to be.)  You know that voice that says,  ”You can’t say that, it might make someone mad.”  Or, “Are you sure you want to say that?  What will people think?”  Or the ever popular, ”You don’t want to say that, people might not like you.”

I love what Jon Acuff has to say about getting past this feeling.  I read it on his blog a couple of months ago and it’s stayed with me ever since.

90% perfect and published always changes more lives than 100% perfect and stuck in your head.

The things you create and actually share will always out perform the things that stay stuck in your head or your desk or your laptop. You might love the ideas you have inside you. You might be blown away by how awesome they are, but if you don’t share them, it doesn’t matter.

A moment of honesty here – there have been occasions in my life where I’ve said to my husband, “Can you believe how smart I am?”  Granted, I’m always brought back down to earth quickly, but the thought crosses my mind.  And I know the world doesn’t usually think I’m awesome, but take my word for it, it feels great to write down an awesome thought and put it out here for people to read.  Even if you don’t think it’s as awesome as I do (which you probably don’t), leaving it stuck in my head is just frustrating.

So, as long as I have thoughts in my head, I’m going to have something to write about.  Because now I know the power of putting them on paper (or a computer screen) and sharing them. Thanks, Jon, for helping me realize this!

3.  I DO care if you read

When I started this blog, I said it was about taking action.  The action being the writing of blog posts.  I said it would be okay if nobody read them because I wanted to concentrate on the action of expressing myself.  Well, I still value the process of expressing myself (see numbers 1 and 2 above) but I also care if you read what I write.  I love the feeling that something I wrote spoke to someone – made them think about something in a new way, helped them know that someone else feels the same way, or made them laugh.  It’s a form of connection.  And I like it.  I especially like it when you let me know what you think.  So leave comments.  Share links.  Tweet links.  Write them in paint across the side of your car.  Writing is solitary.  It’s great when you know someone else is at the other end to receive your words.

So thank you for spending the last month with me.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for sharing with your friends.  Thank you for your comments and feedback.  I’m not sure if this blog has met your expectations.  I’m not sure if it’s met mine.  But that’s another lesson in itself, isn’t it?  Why would this need to meet anyone’s expectations?  It can grow in whatever direction it wants to – just like the trees that are my inspiration.”

This section is for my reply and comments.

Social platforms, particularly specialized in publishing the written texts, offer vast and quick opportunities to publishing for free and freely and thus, encouraging writing.   The new medium have blurred the lines between the need to write and the purpuse of publishing.

Writing is the ultimate form for consolidating personal awareness and conscious individual reflection on life, the universe, and earth survival.  As we go on adentures, the experience of the trip does not gel into consciousness if we fail to note down our diary of the experience and document the adventure.

Publishing what we write carries public responsibilies.  It is important to realize that, once your writing goes into print, your moral liberty is restricted: It entered the domain of others’ moral values and ethics, and you have to take responsibility of what you published.

Thus, there is a difference between writing for your own pleasure and publishing.  Publishing your work carries a public function that you are doomed to shoulder. There is no such thing as publishing for “Art sake” or for style sake: If you have to publish, at least, have a political position that has germinated.   Most of the times, every thought, idea, or action disseminated to the public connote a political undertone. There is always an implicit mission that permeates the published work.

If we have to publish it better be worthier than silence.  The need to commune with the reader presumes a good level of honesty and a will to care. The ultimate mission is to communicate personal struggles; how you overcame shortcomings, the attempts and challenges that obstructed your journey to personal discoveries, and the many ways to succumb to our frailties and limitations: There is an implicit purpose to express and describe the journey, since we don’t need to reach the goal as long as we are on the journey’s track.

The reasons and topics for writing are limitless.  There are subjects that agree with your reflection and need to be disseminated; they need to be read; and the more frequently they are published in different medium the better; thus, it is your duty to re-edit and comment on these articles, translate them to other languages.  If the article does not match your view, after good reflection, it must be commented and replied.

The more you write, the closer you are to taking the decision for serious introspection:  What you believe in, agree with, disagree with, constitute the reality:  Reality is your own model of the world, the universe, society, values, ethics…

Unconsciously, I started publishing early short poems, expressing emotions and feelings.  I upgraded by publishing my diaries, and followed it with as serious attempt of introspection (autobiography) as the best means to put into context my current positions and views. 

As I did my due diligence of expressing frankly and candidly my shortcomings and the context of my life, upbringing and personal experiences, I felt ready to comments, reply, and publish all kinds of articles, giving preference to views out of my comfort zone and “controversial”.  I had this urge to constantly be curious about all topics and get acquainted with various point of views.  I had to keep up my due diligence in upgrading my knowledge and reflecting deeper on the problems and difficulties facing people around the world and within my own community.

It is your right to disseminate your conviction and fight for what is right: Just be aware that you have the responsibility to do your due diligence.  Do not be afraid of exposing your dreams, plans, and programs that you conceived in your sleepless nights:  Get them in writing!

Note: You may refer to




May 2011

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