noigroup logo

Hot placebos

By Timothy Cocks Science and the world 03 Feb 2017

From The Economist online:

Thermostat controls in hotel rooms are often placebos

PLACEBOS are everywhere. Drugs firms sell red pills because customers are convinced that they are stronger than white ones. Pressing the button at some pedestrian crossings makes no difference to when the green man appears, but makes us feel proactive. And the “doors close” request in a lift serves no purpose other than to soothe the frustration of impatient riders.

Add another placebo to the list: thermostat controls in hotel rooms. An investigation by the Wall Street Journal has confirmed what many of us already knew deep down: “It’s not your imaginations. Hotel thermostats often aren’t under your control.”

In other words, fiddling with the buttons will make no difference to the temperature—although, given how effective placebos are, some people will feel a phantom cooling or warming in the room.

Knew it.

-Tim Cocks


Melbourne, 31 March – 2 April EP + GMI
Adelaide, 26-28 May EP + GMI
Wollongong, 14-16 July EP + GMI
Darwin, 4-6 August EP + GMI
Brisbane, 25-27 August EP + GMI
Newcastle, 8-10 September EP + GMI


  1. Now hang on a second – only yesterday I stood at the traffic lights waiting for the little green man to let me cross. Being to lazy to get off my bike and press the pedestrian button, I waited sadly as the cycle of cars ran through, the traffic lights changed, but my little man never appeared – prompting me eventually to get off my butt off the bike and press the button.

    And I’m sure that when I ask the elevator doors to close quickly by pressing the ‘door close’ button, they comply, even to the dismay of the person running down the hall to make the lift.

    Surely this isn’t just my misperception of time or some trick of placebo … ?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Product was added to cart.