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[partner event] Ask a Scientist: Placebo and the Illusory Nature of Perception

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Ask a Scientist + Wonderfest: TOPIC: Placebo and the Illusory Nature of Perception

Hi everyone, Fascinating topic coming up on June 2nd. Get yourselves in the mood by listening to this 2009 episode of Radiolab (, particularly this story ( about one of the first medical hypnotists. Brains! They are SO INTERESTING!!

TOPIC: Placebo and the Illusory Nature of Perception

The word placebo, from Latin "I shall please," was defined in Quincy’s Lexicon-Medicum (1811) as "[any medicine] adapted more to please than to benefit the patient". But as you probably know, pharmacologically inert "sugar pills" can do much more than just please — they can bring about very real physical benefits for patients suffering from a range of painful and debilitating conditions ( This extraordinary phenomenon is both tangibly promising, in terms of disease management, and intellectually tantalizing. You gotta wonder: Are people really being cured? Do placebos work on children? How about people with cognitive impairments? Are hypnosis (, acupuncture, and prayer related to the placebo effect? Are there certain conditions that are completely impervious to placebos? UCSF's Dr. Howard Fields ( will answer our questions and share his expertise on the tremendously fascinating placebo (and nocebo) effect. This event is presented in partnership with Wonderfest (, the Bay Area Beacon of Science.

Speaker: Dr. Howard Fields (, Professor of Neurology, UCSF
When: Monday, June 2, at 7:00 pm

Where: SoMa StrEat Food Park (,[masked]th Street, San Francisco. (This awesome venue has a humongous indoor seating area.)

Eats: Come early and bring your appetites! SoMa StrEat Food Park is San Francisco’s first permanent food truck pod. They host up to ten gourmet food trucks ( at a time, along with the city’s only beer and wine truck.
Registration: Not required, but registration ( will help us tally a headcount.

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