I have noticed that in discussing the effects of certain treatments, it is often said something along these lines: "the treatment had an effect for 55% of the participants, although the placebo had an effect for 40% of the participants." They may then continue with pointing out that the treatment may be less effective than it seems, since the results are relatively close to the placebo. That the placebo had an obvious effect, and the implications of this, is often ignored. To me, that seems to be the most interesting point of those studies.
If the mind can have a significant effect for a significant number of people, that is indeed worth exploring. It means that a cheap or free treatment, with few or no side effects, is available with a little exploration and training.
I just listened to a story about intelligence on BBC. Some researchers have found that people in wealthier countries are significantly more intelligent than those in poorer countries.
Neither the researchers, BBC, nor anyone they interviewed, pointed to what seems to be the most obvious explanations: Intelligence test measure certain skills that are highly culturally dependent and trainable. In societies with a western style education system, people will naturally score higher on intelligence test created within a western culture and mindset. Of course, these countries also happen to be wealther, in the western definition of the term (narrowly focusing on money).
As a case in point, I have dramatically improved my score on "intelligence" test which supposedly measure some "inherent" ability - through plain old practice (for instance, 40 point improvement on IQ tests). Mostly, it is a matter of figuring out what they are looking for - as is the case with just about any test on any subject (tests are generally to a minimal degree about any inherent ability, or a wider understanding of a particular topic).
Paying for Health
Apparently, in China, you paid your doctor only when you were well. If you got sick, the doctor would not receive any money until you were well again. This is in stark contrast to how it works in the west (and most other places) today. You pay for a service that may or may not have any effect, and if it does have an effect - may or may not be the desired one.
Health must be one of the few areas where there is no money-back gurarantee. You pay, wheter you receive the service you are seeking or not.
Of course, in the long run it is possible to pinpoint approaches that work for oneself, and stick with those (for me, Five Elements acupuncture, and NAET for allergies).