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Child Angels And The Placebo Effect


Child amulets, or, as they are officially referred to, child angels: dolls believed to be infused with the spirits of children, which Thai women carry around, treating them like real people, claiming that somehow their presence improves their lives.

Placebo has always been the number one force in religion (in medicine it trails at a strong 20%) and the child angels are no exception. A weird, if not creepy, placebo effect that affords childless women, or people down on their luck, with something to live for, giving them hope.

It’s hard to judge this phenomenon when in everyday ‘normal’ life, across various cultures, people walk around wearing all kinds of amulets, believing in the divine power of these objects. An idol is an idol is a lifeless idol. The fact that child angels have a face perhaps renders them a tad spookier, especially if they’re seated at the restaurant table across you, but the principle is the same. People walking around placing their faith in inanimate objects, toward which they project their psyches, expecting some kind of supraphysical return, is something people have been doing since forever, and are still doing in the post-postmodern 21st century.

And why not? A person is free to believe whatever he or she wants. Children do it, and they have such an excellent time in their make-believe world. Why not adults? Why not reclaim this wonder for themselves and make their lives magical again?

This raises a bunch of questions, for example, is religious thinking closely related to the naive mentality of children? Or, conversely, is it wise to view the world through the eyes of a child, regain some of that lost innocence in order to make the most of an otherwise dry and mechanized life?

Of course the issue no one’s talking about are the creators of the child angel fad, and all such placebo fads, be they effective or not, who are running to the bank, laughing like adult children with bank accounts, passports, and the ability to do whatever they want without permission from their parents. These are the real magicians, the ones who make the world their personal playground.

If only placebo effects were as innocent as — and limited to — dolls at a restaurant table.

From your annoyingly table-turning Spin Doctor,

Eyes open, mind sharp.