The Frontal Cortex

The Takeaway

I was on The Takeaway this morning talking about the ineffectiveness of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and the potency of the placebo effect. Even though most studies demonstrate that HGH does little to enhance athletic performance, world class athletes continue to take the banned hormone. Why? Because they’re convinced that HGH is effective. As a result, the drug gives them a mental edge – because athletes expect to perform better, they do perform better. The illusion of an advantage, if it’s sincerely believed, can be a real advantage.

Here’s more on why I’m in favor of taking HGH off the banned substance list. And here’s more on the neuroscience of the placebo effect.


  1. #1 Jimmyjojo
    August 12, 2008

    Because I’m telling everyone: I can not express how much I dislike The Takeaway, especially because I only get the AM variant of our NPR affiliate, and The Takeaway has taken over the only two hours I am able to listen.

    I want news. I want hard news. I don’t want three people amiably chatting about news, trying to present us with NPR’s attempt to inject as much “morning zoo” into their morning programming as they think they can get away with (which isn’t much, but it’s still horrible).

  2. #2 sdg
    August 12, 2008

    Jimmyjojo, I could not agree more. I started listening to NPR about a year ago and I was so thrilled to have found a place where I could actually listen to quality, in-depth news stories without all of the inane chatter. The first time I listened to The Takeaway, I was shocked. It was exactly the same kind of crap from which I was trying to get away. I gave it a couple of more chances in the following weeks to see if it would improve, but it did not. Nowadays I usually listen to NPR via podcasts and I have a choice between AM and FM variants so it’s not very hard for me to find alternatives to The Takeaway, but I wholeheartedly agree that it is lousy.

    Ok Jonah, sorry for continuing this OT ranting. This is actually the first time that I’ve ever heard that HGH has not really been shown to enhance athletic performance. Interesting stuff.

    PS – I have listened to you on the Brian Lehrer show (which is fantastic) a couple of times and found the segments very interesting.

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