Powers of Self-suggestion Most systems of medicine are based on theater. With leeches, acupuncture needles, vitamin pills or whatever stage prop is appropriate for the time and culture, the healer artfully evokes the patient's powers of self-suggestion, which are responsible for whatever healing may occur.
Western medicine operates on a different plane. For one thing, it has the most impressive props - expensive medicines, elaborate rituals and mysterious high-tech machines with a white-gowned cast to operate them. For another, it evokes the patient's auto suggestive powers all the more forcefully by pretending to ignore them. This mysterious gift of self-healing is cloaked with an anodyne label, the "placebo effect", and recognized only as a nuisance likely to confound clinical trials. But the placebo (Latin for "I will please") and its shadowy twin the nocebo ("I will harm") are much more than methodological problems: they lie at the heart of every interaction between doctor and patient.
How they work no one knows. But the brain rules the body in many subconscious ways, including its control of the body's major hormones and its subtle influence over the immune system. So it's possible that, in ways yet unknown, expectations about health or disease are sometimes translated into a bodily reaction that fulfills them.
The power of these effects is hard to overstate. A rule of thumb is that 30 percent of patients in the placebo half of a drug trial (i.e. those who unknowingly receive a dummy pill instead of the real thing) will experience an improvement in symptoms. But the proportion may be much higher. Just like real drugs, placebo pills can produce stronger effects in larger doses. Patients will report greater relief when given a larger pill, or two dummy capsules instead of one.
Doctors' expectations also contribute to the awesome power of the placebo effect. In a study of tooth extractions, patients were given either a painkiller or sham drugs. Some dentists were assigned to give either drug, without knowing which, but other dentists knew they would be giving only sham drugs. The patients whose dentists thought they had at least a 50-50 chance of giving a painkiller suffered significantly less pain.
Presumably, doctors transmit their expectations to the patient through subtle cues, often without knowing they are doing so. For this reason, all properly designed drug trials are double blind. But given that both groups can often guess from the side effects, even this precaution may not always crush the generation of expectancies.
1. Which of the following is NOT a feature of Western medicine?
A) It reduces the patients; self-healing powers.
B) It has the full support of high-tech machines.
C) It is very expensive.
D) It has complicated rituals.
2. What dose the term "the placebo effect" mean?
A) It means the mind-troubling effect.
B) It means the psychological effect.
C) It means the harmful effect.
D) It means the theatrical effect.
3. What does "them" (the last word in paragraph 3) refer to?
A) Clinical trials.
B) The body's major hormones.
C) Expectations about health or disease.
D) Many subconscious ways.
4. Why did the patients whose dentists thought they had at least a 50-50 chance of being given a painkiller suffer significantly less pain?
A) Because of doctors' expectations.
B) Because of the placebo effect.
C) Because of the healing power of the medicine taken.
D) Because of the excellent medical skills of the doctors.
5. What does the author mean by saying that for this reason, all properly designed drug trials are double blind (in the last paragraph)?
A) The physician and the patient are both ignorant of the healing power of the medicine.
B) The physician doesn't know whether the given pill is real or fake.
C) The patient doesn't know whether the given pill is real or fake.
D) Neither the physician nor the patient knows whether the given pill is real or fake.
Ford's Assembly Line
When it comes to singling out those who have made a difference in all our lives, you cannot overlook Henry Ford. A historian a century from now might well conclude that it was Ford who most influenced all manufacturing, everywhere, even to this day, by introducing a new way to make cars-one, strange to say, that originated in slaughterhouses.
Back in the early 1900's, slaughterhouses used what could have been called a "disassembly line." Ford reversed this process to see if it would speed up production of a part of an automobile engine called a magneto. Rather than have each worker completely assemble a magneto, one of its elements was placed on a conveyer, and each worker, as it passed, added another component to it, the same one each time. Professor David Hounshell of the University of Delaware, an expert on industrial development, tells what happened:
"The previous day, workers carrying out the entire process had averaged one assembly every 20 minutes. But on that day, on the line, the assembly team averaged one every 13 minutes and 10 seconds per person."
Within a year, the time had been reduced to five minutes. In 1913, Ford went all the way. Hooked together by ropes, partially assembled vehicles were towed past workers who completed them one piece at a time. It wasn't long before Ford was turning out several hundred thousand cars a year, a remarkable achievement then. And so efficient and economical was this new system that he cut the price of his cars in half, to $260, putting them within reach of all those who, up until that time, could not afford them. Soon, auto makers the world over copied him. In fact, he encouraged them to do so by writing a book about all of his innovations, entitled Today and Tomorrow. The Age of the Automobile has arrived. Today, aided by robots and other forms of automation, everything from toasters to perfumes are made on assembly lines.
1. Which of the following statements is NOT true?
A) Henry Ford influenced our lives.
B) Henry Ford influenced all manufacturing.
C) Henry Ford influenced the manufacture of cars.
D) Henry Ford influenced historians.
2. The writer mentioned "slaughterhouses" because these were the places in which
A) Ford's assembly line originated.
B) he made cars.
C) he innovated the assembly line.
D) he innovated the disassembly line.
3. A magneto is a technical term for
A) an automobile.
B) an engine.
C) a part of an automobile engine.
D) an automobile engine.
4. The phrase "turning out " in the last paragraph can best be replaced by
5. It didn't take long for Henry Ford
A) to turn out a few hundred cars a year.
B) to turn out a few thousand cars a year.
C) to reduce the price of his cars to $260.
D) to cut the production of his cars by 50%.
The Gene Industry
Major companies are already in pursuit of commercial applications of the new biology. They dream of placing enzymes in the automobile to monitor exhaust and send data on pollution to a microprocessor that will then adjust the engine. They speak of what the New York Times calls "metal-hungry microbes that might be used to mine valuable trace metal from ocean water". They have already demanded and won the right to patent new lifeforms.
Nervous critics, including many scientists, worry that there is corporate, national, international, and inter-scientific rivalry in the entire biotechnological field. They create images not of oil spills, but of "microbe spills" that could spread disease and destroy entire populations. The creation and accidental release of extremely poisonous microbes, however, is only one cause for alarm. Completely rational and respectable scientists are talking about possibilities that stagger the imagination.
Should we breed people with cow-with stomachs so they can digest grass and hay, thereby relieving the food problem by modifying us to eat lower down on the food chain? Should we biologically alter workers to fit the job requirement, for example, creating pilots with faster reaction times or assembly-line workers designed to do our monotonous work for us? Should we attempt to eliminate "inferior" people and breed a "super-race"? (Hitler tried this, but without the genetic weaponry that may soon issue from our laboratories.) Should we produce soldiers to do our fighting? Should we use genetic forecasting to pre-eliminate "unfit" babies? Should we grow reserve organs for ourselves, each of us having, as it were, a "savings bank" full of spare kidney, livers, or hands?
Wild as these notions may sound, every one has its advocates (and opposers) in the scientific community as well as its striking commercial application. As two critics of genetic engineering, Jeremy Rifkin and Ted Howard, state in their book Who Should Play God? , "Broad scale genetic engineering will probably be introduced to America much the same way as assembly lines automobiles, vaccines, computers and all the other technologies. As each new genetic advance becomes commercially practical, a new consumer need will be exploited and a market for the new technology will be created."
1. According to the passage, the exhaust from a car engine could probably be checked by
A) using metal-hungry microbes.
B) making use of enzymes.
C) adjusting the engine.
D) patenting new life forms.
2. According to the passage, which of the following would worry the critics the most?
A) The unanticipated explosion of population.
B) The creation of biological solar cells.
C) The accidental spill of oil.
D) The unexpected release of destructive microbes.
3. Which of the following notions is NOT mentioned?
A) Developing a "savings bank" of one's organs.
B) Breeding soldiers for a war.
C) Producing people with cow-like stomachs.
D) Using genetic forecasting to cure diseases.
4. According to the passage, Hitler attempted to
A) change the pilots biologically to win the war.
B) develop genetic farming for food supply.
C) kill the people he thought of as inferior.
D) encourage the development of genetic weapons for the war.
5. What does Jeremy Rifkin and Ted Howard's statement imply?
A) the commercial applications of genetic engineering are inevitable.
B) America will depend on other countries for biological progress.
C) Americans are proud of their computers, automobiles and genetic technologies.
D) The potential application of each new genetic advance should be controlled.