Placebo buttons

Powerful thing, the placebo effect; it doesn’t just work (with increasing efficacy) with sugar pills for all your ills, but with the “close door” buttons in elevators, the “I want to cross the road” buttons at pedestrian crossings, the thermostats of office climate control systems

… makes you wonder what else we’re being placebo’d with, doesn’t it? The anarchist in me can’t resist pulling out the first comment from the SlashDot thread where I found the above links:

I keep voting and nothing new happens.


4 thoughts on “Placebo buttons”

  1. I never expect elections to change things; I mostly vote to keep things from getting worse if at all possible.

    And I’ve completely given up on the “I want to cross the road” buttons.

    But if someone could convince my body that a placebo would cure the common cold I’ve got right now, I’d be eternally grateful.

  2. Here in Portland, we do have “real” pedestrian buttons. If you don’t press them, the “DONT WALK” sign stays lit. So, if you do cross, you are technically jaywalking. Guess how many pedestrian pay attention.

  3. In Portland (and elsewhere on the West Coast), cars actually stop for pedestrians, even if the pedestrians are jaywalking. In Austin, your best bet is to look both ways and figure out which set of cars has the red light, because no one’s going to stop for you even if you’re in the crosswalk and have the walk light. (Except me. I stop for pedestrians, I yield to bicycles, I even stop for red lights if I can do it without getting rear-ended.) Different places, different rules …

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