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“Treated” chocolate makes you happier

CHOCOLATE has wonderful powers – witness our report last week on the correlation between per-capita chocolate consumption and a nation’s haul of Nobel prizes (3 November). Now Tony Burton points us to the apparently very serious paper “Effects of Intentionally Enhanced Chocolate on Mood”, published in Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing (vol 3, p 485).

The paper describes an experiment in which subjects were given chocolate which had been “treated” with health-giving “intentions” by, we are told, “(1) a pair of experienced meditators, (2) an electronic device imprinted by six experienced meditators, [or] (3) a ritual performed by a Mongolian shaman”. A fourth group was given untreated chocolate. Neither the subjects nor those delivering the chocolate knew which sample was which.

The authors report a statistically significant effect, in which those consuming sort-of-prayed-over chocolate scored more of a mood improvement than those eating plain old plain chocolate. (A declaration of interest here: Explore is published by Elsevier, part of Reed Elsevier, which owns New Scientist.)

So far, so remarkable. Even more so is the paper’s conclusion, in which the authors insist that in “future efforts to replicate this finding… persons holding explicitly negative expectations should not be allowed to participate for the same reason that dirty test tubes are not allowed in biology experiments”. Tony asks whether this may be “the most comprehensive pre-emptive strike ever” against any attempt to replicate the results.

More intriguing still is the statement that “Given theoretical support and experimental evidence for retrocausal effects, replication of intentional phenomena may be inherently limited because once conducted and published, an experiment might be influenced by a potentially infinite number of future intentions.”

If this is true, it may be worth rechecking the published paper, in case Feedback’s having accidentally spattered chocolate on our computer screen has retrocausally altered the findings.

Brian Grout forwards a promotion from Lab Manager magazine which promises to reveal “How a laboratory execution system will increase your lab’s efficiency”

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