@SurvivalGal hey stranger well met!
Peer would suggest I rise to your level 😉
I'm a postdoctoral researcher in plant diversity and evolution, so I know my way around scientific literature. Always nice to have conversations with thoughtful folk!
Yeah, at this stage my skepticism on the insect bite kit is inference (but as I do modeling for my bread and butter, I'm way more comfortable with that than I used to be 😉 ).
Yeah, placebo is a whole can of worms isn't it!?!
I've been doing some casual diving into it, and there is an increasing (but still tentative) literature on it being a nebulous cluster of unrelated and interrelated syndromes. Unfortunately some/many of those actually have no theraputic benefits (ie not even phychosomatic improvement of symptoms), eg. human desire to seek approval or confirm positive effects of treatment, measurement error, poor experimental design. Most damning is that for many experiments where a placebo effect is observed, if the experiment is repeated, especially if the methods are improved, the "placebo" effect tends towards zero. Ie it really represents a nuisance variable that we've slapped with a name when it is positive, and ignore when it is negative/absent. *Not* saying it doesn't exist (tho some are arguing that) but that it is probably waaaay more uncommon and weaker than we typically think.
But love to hear more!
Probably not the forum for this, but hopefully everyone is learning?? 🙂