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<div style="float:right">{{Special:ContributionScores/10/7/nosort,notools}}<div style="font-size:0.85em; width:25em; font-style:italic">Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account [[Special:UserLogin/signup|here]].</div></div>
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<div style="float:right; margin: 0 0 1em 1em">{{Special:ContributionScores/10/7/nosort,notools}}<div style="font-size:0.85em; width:25em; font-style:italic">[[Special:ContributionScores|Lots of people]] contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account [[Special:UserLogin/signup|here]].</div></div>
  
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*[[List of all comics]] contains a table of most recent xkcd comics and links to the rest, and the corresponding explanations. There are incomplete explanations listed [[:Category:Incomplete explanations|here]]. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
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== Rules ==
 
== Rules ==
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If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.
 
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Please only submit material directly related to —and helping everyone better understand— xkcd... and of course ''only'' submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited.)  Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.
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[[Category:Root category]]
 
[[Category:Root category]]

Revision as of 17:59, 4 March 2014

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 1461 xkcd comics, and only 13 (1%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Blind Trials
Plus, you have to control for the fact that some people are into being blindfolded.
Title text: Plus, you have to control for the fact that some people are into being blindfolded.

Explanation

In research, a blind trial is an experiment where certain information about the test is concealed from the subjects and/or the testers, in order to reduce sources of bias in the results. A double-blind trial is one where neither the subject nor the testers know who has or has not received treatment (or for multiple treatments, which treatment).

A scientific approach also requires the use of control groups to determine the significance of observations in (clinical) trials. The members of the control group receive either no treatment or the "standard" treatment. However, to ensure "blindness" in the study, even if a control group is to recieve no treatment, they must be given a placebo: an ineffective treatment given to ensure the doctors and/or patients are unaware whether they are being given the treatment.

For example, in clinical drug trials, when a treatment being tested is administered in the form of a pill, a visually-identical inert pill is given to the control group so no one will know if a subject has been given the treatement or a placebo. In pop culture, placebos in pill-form are often made of sugar, which has negligable medical effects.

Controls and blinding are crucial to distinguish the actual effects of the treatment from the placebo effect: The psychologically-induced effects of a subject's belief that a treatment will or will not help them. It is vital that there are no clues available to distinguish between the different groups. Even subtle cues from the body language of the testers are sufficient to trigger placebo effect, making double-blind trials necessary.

Challenges exist in designing placebo alternatives to certain physical treatments that might be being tested, such as acupuncture; in this case the best quality trials have typically used either special 'joke' retractable needles that only give the illusion of proper penetration or the practitioner/researcher deliberately and safely avoids the traditional meridians on the body for the treatment concerned so that the patient remains 'blind' to their role in the trial (the practitioner must otherwise be consistent in treatment between groups and not be involved in the medical assessment phase for properly double-blinded conditions), where the most reliable results still seem to only show a significant placebo effect at work.

There are, however, certain cases where it is almost impossible to make the experience of the control group identical to that of the test group. While making a real and fake pill appear the same is a relatively trivial task, and though depending upon the ignorance of participants to the details of a given established practice or procedure can allow for a certain level of reliability in results, it would be challenging (to say the least) to make the control group in the described experiment think that they are having lots of sex, when in fact they are just taking a sugar pill.

Scientific research involving humans is extremely challenging to conduct because of the difficulty in finding appropriate control groups. This is one of the reasons animal experiments (for instance involving inbred strains of mice) are so common.

The title text adds another twist by taking “blind” literally, and noting that for some people, being blindfolded increases their enjoyment of sexual activity.

Transcript

[Megan is pointing at charts hanging on the wall.]
Megan: We've designed a double-blind trial to test the effect of sexual activity on cardiovascular health.
Both groups will think they're having lots of sex, but one group will actually be getting sugar pills.
[Caption reads]
The limitations of blind trials



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Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • Discussion about various parts of the wiki is going on at the Community portal. Share your 2¢!
  • List of all comics contains a table of most recent xkcd comics and links to the rest, and the corresponding explanations. There are incomplete explanations listed here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
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