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Placebo Effect is a San Francisco based company that allows anyone to subscribe to prescriptions that are authored by a variety of experts.

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Every once in a while I come across a company that I’m torn on–I can’t decide whether it’s brilliant or absolutely stupid. This is one of those times. We all know that the “placebo effect” has been scientifically verified time after time, but have we really put it to work for us yet? Placebo Effect is a San Francisco, CA based startup that is trying to do just that. They allow anyone to subscribe “to prescriptions that are authored by experts ranging from New York Times best selling authors to a 3x national champion wrestler.” How can a prescription be authored? We’ll get to that.

Is It the Placebo Effect?

The placebos can be authored because they’re not phony pills. They’re “1 to 3 minute insightful expert-created videos that help you achieve your goal.” It’s a good idea, but does it work? Placebo Effect has teamed up with researchers from UCSD and found that people on their happiness prescription feel on average 40% happier and people on their weight loss prescription lose an average of 11.7 pounds (you can see the current prescription options here). Those are serious results–though I’m not sure you can attribute them to the “placebo effect” when real experts are giving real advice in the videos. Either way it’s an interesting intervention tactic. If you think it’s brilliant, check out Placebo Effect’s Jobs page. They only have Marketing internships available right now, but they say there’s the opportunity for the positions to become full-time.

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