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In his book, 59 seconds–Change your Life in less than a minute, Richard Wiseman writes of his research on giving college students free alcoholic beverages in exchange for their taking simple tests along the way to measure their drunkenness. As they drank more and more the students walked a straight line less and less, got worse and worse at remembering a string of random numbers, and couldn’t catch a dropped ruler.

This sounds like a duh(?) until you learn that half the students wore red stickers and the other half wore blue stickers. Psychology experiment subjects divided by two = something’s up. The red stickers were served alcoholic beverages, the blue stickers were served drinks that looked and tasted like alcoholic beverages but had no alcohol in them. The blue stickers did just as poorly on the tests as the red stickers. The blue stickers had been duped by the placebo effect, and received a questionable bonus of getting drunk without suffering a hangover.

This experiment reminds me of Dr. Bruce Lipton’s book, The Biology of Belief. Lipton, a creative thinker if ever there was one, taught cell biology to med students at the University of Wisconsin. He was appalled that spontaneous healings were discounted as the placebo effect. He asked the obvious question: If the placebo effect is so dang effective, why aren’t we teaching it as a procedure instead of as an anomaly?

Lipton cites research done at the Baylor School of Medicine that’s even more impressive than studying sober students who think they’re drunk. This research, conducted by Dr. Bruce Moseley, divided patients for knee surgery into three groups. Moseley shaved the cartilage of the knee for the first group. For the second group he flushed out the knee joint to remove material thought to be causing inflammation. The third group didn’t have surgery at all. They were sedated, received the three standard knee-surgery incisions, and then Dr. Moseley pretended to do the operation, complete with sound effects. Whether the subjects experienced surgery or non-surgery, they all improved equally well.

This is undoubtedly the first time that ailing knees were healed by a doctor playing doctor, and the first time that college students were able to get drunk by spending no money at all. More significantly, all of the subjects had a bona fide reality shift created for them by the researchers.

Can we be far away from recognizing that all of us are creating a bona fide real reality for ourselves, all of the time?