Flattmann Law April 2019

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conflicts. He even flew 12 missions in a B-17 bomber over Europe in the 8th Air Force until a Georgia Tech graduate was promoted to operations officer and put the kibosh on his service. Burdell wed the fictional Agnes Scott student Ramona Cartwright in 1958, served on the board of directors for Mad magazine, and was nearly voted the 2001 Time Person of the Year before the magazine removed him from consideration. Barack Obama even did his part to further the myth. While giving a speech at the school in 2015, he began “Now, I understand George P. Burdell was supposed to introduce me today — but nobody could find him!” The only thing more impressive than Mr. Burdell’s abundant achievements is his fans’ dedication to keeping him alive. You may think your buddies’ inside jokes are long-running — this one practically willed a human into existence.

Somehow, despite the fact that Mr. Burdell never once attended a day of class, he managed to secure his B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1930. Soon after, he continued on to his master’s degree. At some point, George P. Burdell morphed from an elaborate practical joke into a bona fide legend with countless copycat pranks to his name. One of the most famous came early on, when a truckload of furniture arrived “collect on delivery” to a Georgia Tech fraternity, addressed to one George P. Burdell. Apparently, a freshman had felt snubbed by the frat and decided to get even. Burdell was continually enrolled in the school by loyal fans for decades. In 1969, Georgia Tech computerized the registration process, but intrepid hackers found a way to enroll him in every single class offered at the school that quarter. The man was unstoppable. Members of the armed forces carried on the Burdell hoax, and Private Burdell began to appear all over the world in dozens of

or during football games. Even in his ripe old age, he still has time to be the production assistant on “South Park” and read thousands upon thousands of magazines during his spare moments. Wherever he is, we can only wish him well and hope that all the would-be pranksters out there take a note fromWilliam Edgar Smith’s playbook this April Fools’ Day. After all, if you’re truly dedicated to your craft, what’s 70-plus years?

Today, people always seem to be on the lookout for Burdell, paging him at the airport

HOW THE PLACEBO EFFECT WORKS

to emulate. You might start treatment with the real medication and eventually transition to the look-alike.

The placebo effect works. Study after study has confirmed it. The question is how. Numerous studies have shown placebos are most effective for aches and pains, as well as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and depression. The placebo effect even works if you’re aware you’re taking a placebo. With that in mind, a person can’t just start taking placebos (or sugar pills) and expect a placebo effect. There is a strong psychological component. This may mean seeing a doctor or participating in a drug study to get the ball rolling.

Then, you must expect it to work. There must be an indication that the placebo is “real.”This might be a doctor telling you it’s real and effective, or it might be previous experience taking a certain medication. In your mind, if the real drug worked, so will the look-alike. Lastly, you need to believe that when you take the placebo pill, it will do what you think it’s supposed to do. Belief is a powerful tool, and when you believe it’s going to help, the placebo will be most effective. In pain studies, for example, some people experienced the same reduction in pain as they would have experienced had they taken typical, over-the-counter pain medication. Keep in mind, however, that the placebo effect affects each person differently.

There are three challenges a person needs to overcome for a placebo to be most effective: conditioning, expectation, and belief.

First, you need to be conditioned to accept the placebo as the real deal. For example, the placebo has to look like the medication it is meant

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