May 13th Show : Blog Of The Nation In our first hour, military culture changes, and why the oil leak isn't so bad. In our second hour, the placebo effect, and Karzai comes to Washington.
NPR logo May 13th Show

May 13th Show

In some drug trials, placebos (or sugar pills) work better than the real thing. In our second hour, guests talk about the placebo effect, and why some doctors are wondering whether they should prescribe placebos as real treatment. iStockphoto.com hide caption

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In some drug trials, placebos (or sugar pills) work better than the real thing. In our second hour, guests talk about the placebo effect, and why some doctors are wondering whether they should prescribe placebos as real treatment.

iStockphoto.com

Changes in Military Culture
As military operations continue in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. military has implemented a number of changes that affect the operation and the culture of the military. Last month, the Navy announced it will integrate women into submarine duty by 2012. The news comes on the heels of a smoking ban on subs, also announced last month, that's set to take effect by the end of the year. Meanwhile, modern weapons are changing the culture of the Air Force. Instead of flying F-16s in war zones, more pilots are assigned to "drone jock" duty — flying unmanned aircraft and drones in war zones, from a desert location in Nevada. Guest host Jennifer Ludden looks at some of the recent changes in the military and what that means for its culture.

Why The Oil Leak Isn't So Bad
Hundreds and thousands of gallons of crude oil continue to leak every day into the Gulf of Mexico. Businesses, politicians and environmentalists fear the worst, and are fighting to prevent an environmental catastrophe. But, former Washington Post reporter Ken Ringle points out in a commentary for the Nieman Watchdog that very little has hit shore, and much of the oil could evaporate while sea water breaks up even more of the spill. The leak is a calamity, he agrees, but may prove to be far less of a disaster than expected. Ringle explains why he believes the BP oil spill isn't the apocalypse.

Can Placebos Cure?
Placebos, or sugar pills, are one of the building blocks of good science, and for decades they've played a major role in medical experiments and drug trials. And in some cases—for instance, pain, nausea, depression and Parkinson's disease—placebos work as well as or even better than the real thing. Guests talk about the placebo effect, why it's changing over time, and whether the power of placebo can be harnessed and turned into real treatment.

Karzai Comes To Washington
After several months of strained relations with the Obama Administration, Afghan President Hamid Karzai received the red carpet treatment in Washington this week. While Karzai and administration officials have put their sometimes harsh public exchanges behind them, tensions remain over widespread corruption in the Afghan government, Karzai's efforts to reconcile with Afghani militants, and persistent civilian casualties in the continuing war in Afghanistan. NPR's Jackie Northam explains what's ahead for U.S.-Afghan relations, and looks ahead at the pending U.S. military offensive in Kandahar.