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First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.
Finally somebody – Trimmer et al. – offers a possible explanation for the most important problem in medicine. The question here is not why a placebo induces the body to launch a full immune response but rather why an impairing infection without the placebo does not. Trimmer’s answer is the costliness of the immune effort, which according to circumstances may be higher than the cost of enduring the infection. The suggestion of external help reduces the apparent cost to the internal immune system and makes using it that much more worthwhile. See also Barrett.
Past experience has taught that there are limits to how much of human effort can be substituted by machines. So far these investigations have concentrated on jobs on the shop floor and found humans to be much more versatile in unforeseen circumstances and so far irreplaceable. According to the results of Caspers et al. the other end of the line is far more promising. It seems that decisions of the most highly paid top managers are the most automatic, schematic, and predictable of all and thus they should be the ones most easily and cheaply replaceable by simple automation. Shop floor engineers have been aware of this fact for a long time but its gratifying finally to see it proved scientifically.
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