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The Placebo Effect Not Just On Drugs

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the your-actions-are-futile dept.

Idle 824

dvdme writes "It seems the placebo effect isn't just valid on drugs. It's also a fact on elevators, offices and traffic lights. An article by Greg Ross says: 'In most elevators installed since the early 1990s, the 'close door' button has no effect. Otis Elevator engineers confirmed the fact to the Wall Street Journal in 2003. Similarly, many office thermostats are dummies, designed to give workers the illusion of control. "You just get tired of dealing with them and you screw in a cheap thermostat," said Illinois HVAC specialist Richard Dawson. "Guess what? They quit calling you." In 2004 the New York Times reported that more than 2,500 of the 3,250 "walk" buttons in New York intersections do nothing. "The city deactivated most of the pedestrian buttons long ago with the emergence of computer-controlled traffic signals, even as an unwitting public continued to push on."'"

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This explains the political process (5, Insightful)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163318)

I keep voting and nothing new happens.

Re:This explains the political process (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34163362)

I keep voting and nothing new happens.

Or as I was about to post "just like democracy!"

Re:This explains the political process (5, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163364)

what do you expect to happen? i've lived in the US almost 30 years and everyone wants a government check and free health care but they don't want to pay for it.

after 30 years i like the US, A LOT

Re:This explains the political process (1, Troll)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163704)

I'm wondering where all these people are who you claim want free health care. Judging the current political waters, seems like most people are against it.

Re:This explains the political process (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34163786)

No, they are for it, they just don't want to pay for it so they say no.

Re:This explains the political process (5, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163888)

More specifically, people want free health care but don't want "them" to have it, because "they" are moochers or lazy and are just taking advantage of the system. "If I get free handouts from the government, that's okay because I'm just getting my tax money back. God forbid someone else gets assistance, because that's my money, dammit!"

I know several people who have stated this point of view explicitly. The cognitive dissonance is tear-my-hair-out infuriating.
=Smidge=

Re:This explains the political process (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163890)

If that were only true, you'd find the political landscape much more placid.

It isn't that 'they' don't want to pay for it, but they don't want 'the government' to pay for it. Doesn't much matter if the money comes from taxes or the deficit. They're against it either way.

Re:This explains the political process (5, Insightful)

ChefInnocent (667809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163382)

Oh for a mod point. I've come to look at the election process as voting for Coke or Pepsi when all I want is a glass of water. Transparent and no artificial additives.

Re:This explains the political process (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163420)

Make that Diet Coke, and Coke Zero.

Re:This explains the political process (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163714)

Make that Diet Coke, and Coke Zero.

Those are not transparent and heve more artificial additives.

Re:This explains the political process (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163810)

I read that as instead of a choice of Coke or Pepsi it is a choice of Diet Coke or Coke Zero.

Re:This explains the political process (2, Interesting)

Tuidjy (321055) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163922)

*woosh*

That's the point. The drinks in the original post have some nutrition value. Diet Coke and Coke Zero are made to trick your senses, make you feel better about your choice, and not solve the existing problem. That is, they are an chemical concoction that is designed to deceive your taste buds, is passed as the healthy choice, and actually increases your thirst.

Oh PowersThatBe, I just killed a good joke by over-explaining it ;-)

Re:This explains the political process (1)

miggyb (1537903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163654)

Get informed and vote third party?

Re:This explains the political process (2, Insightful)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163790)

And you still get either Coke or Pepsi...

Re:This explains the political process (3, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163676)

Vote for a glass of water then.

If enough people do that, instead of voting for Coke or Pepsi when they really wanted water, they'd get their glass of water eventually.

Right now seems like >98% vote for Coke/Pepsi.

Re:This explains the political process (3, Funny)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163820)

Oh for a mod point. I've come to look at the election process as voting for Coke or Pepsi when all I want is a glass of water. Transparent and no artificial additives.

Screw that, I want a Dr. Pepper. And go ahead and Bomb Iran while getting it for me.

Re:This explains the political process (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163514)

I didn't think they put close door buttons on there. Never used any of that stuff. Don't you need some kind of control study to know for sure?

Re:This explains the political process (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34163546)

I keep voting and nothing new happens.

Funny coincidence... my father calls the "walk" buttons at traffic lights, "politician buttons". I never understood the answer, and thus the joke, as a child... went something like this:

Dad: "why do you always press the politician button?"
Me: "why do you always call it a politician button?"
Dad: "because it does nothing."

Re:This explains the political process (1)

Itesh (1901146) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163680)

Makes you wish there was a way to restart a non-working process like there is in computers...

i'm sick of this kind of whining (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163708)

the vote in 2000 was so close, that it was well within the margin of the number of people who think helplessly like you and therefore don't vote, when they actually could have made a difference and gave us al gore instead of gw bush... if they actually voted

you tell me with a straight face that al gore would have invaded iraq, or given us an asshole chief justice who was the deciding vote earlier this year that corporations get to spend unimpeded in elections. in other words, yeah, your vote matters less than it should: because assholes who think like you made sure that is the way things are. self-fulfilling prophecy

they don't mess around with a silly vote in other countries. they just treat like a slave straight up. you prefer that? your vote is so precious in this world, and you are so ignorant as to its real value. your vote is cheapened by your ignorance

corporations, evil scehming senator palpatine types, dumb rednecks... all pretty much constants in life in any time period and any society. but people who are ignorant like you about the value of their vote: you are the real enemy, and the real source of the problems in our world. if we are slaves, and not free men, it is because of you, more than anything else

you aren't part of the problem. you ARE the problem. you cheapen our democracy with your self-fulfilling prophecy of the worthlessness of a vote, by not voting. you don't deserve to vote. and with enough assholes like you in society, none of us will have a vote that matters. congratulations, asshole, you made the world in your image

Re:i'm sick of this kind of whining (4, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163948)

With a straight face, yes Al Gore would have gone to war with Iraq in his first term.

The Clinton/Gore administration were hawkish on Iraq from 1993 on. The escalation of bombing radar, C2 and C3 nodes in the Northern and Southern No-fly zones were all Clinton policies. Desert Fox was a Clinton administration operation, and the Democrats were fired up in 1999 to start a war with Serbia and invaded Haiti in 1995.

Al Gore ran in 2000 as being more interventionist abroad than George W. Bush did

http://www.ontheissues.org/al_gore.htm [ontheissues.org]
http://www.ontheissues.org/Celeb/Al_Gore_Foreign_Policy.htm#Internationalism [ontheissues.org]

Following the loss in 2000, Gore went to an oppose Bush policy mode from the spring of 2002 which continues.

Re:This explains the political process (5, Interesting)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163732)

I keep voting and nothing new happens.

You joke, but during the Suharto regime in Indonesia (1967 - 1998) they held elections and a large part of the population thought they lived in a democracy as a result. They had a very large, and politically diverse, number of parties and they allowed them all to have rallies etc.

Come election day, nothing ever changed and the people were more content than they would have been without the illusion of political contention, it was very educational to watch.

Re:This explains the political process (0, Redundant)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163850)

I'd mod you up, but ...

Intentional? (2, Insightful)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163332)

Is it really intentional?

I thought the walk-buttons was just there because no-one bothered to remove them, and later because they shared house with the beeper that helped blind people. So a lot of crossing had walk-buttons simply because they had beepers, even if the walk button wasn't connected.

Re:Intentional? (3, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163358)

Sometimes walk buttons do something. I do know some traffic lights around Austin which will have reds all four ways if the buttons are pressed.

Other lights don't do much, if anything.

Re:Intentional? (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163394)

If no one ever tells the masses that the elevator or crosswalk buttons don't do anything then of course they're going to keep pressing them. They may not help but the person doesn't know that it doesn't make a difference. At least when you hit something with a hammer you know something happened.

Re:Intentional? (3, Interesting)

bonkeydcow (1186443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163766)

Exactly, no placebo affect here, just poor documentation.

Re:Intentional? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163580)

bingo

NYC traffic lights have been computerized for a long time. once in a while i drive to work into manhattan and you can tell this because during rush hour the lights are green most of the way. other times they have a lot of red lights to slow traffic down. i live on the boulevard of death and they have been playing with the light programming for a while

Re:Intentional? (2, Informative)

daid303 (843777) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163666)

What else do you think controls them? Little gnomes?

Computerized traffic lights are almost as old as traffic lights. There has been a phase of electro-mechanical lights, but that did not last long. While I cannot speak for the US, in most European locations you want the pedestrian push buttons to function. If there is no pedestrian then you can skip the pedestrian phase, which saves a lot of time. As pedestrians are slow.

(I work at a traffic light company)

Re:Intentional? (3, Informative)

Albanach (527650) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163798)

If there is no pedestrian then you can skip the pedestrian phase, which saves a lot of time. As pedestrians are slow.

Ah, you see it is different in the United States - there is no pedestrian phase. They just 'allow' pedestrians to cross when traffic is moving in their direction. So, if North South traffic has a green light, North South pedestrians have a green light. Similarly for East West.

The vast majority of traffic lights in the United States don't apparently have a separate period for pedestrians to cross unencumbered by motor vehicles - which outside the big cities are also allowed to turn left of a red light, even when pedestrians have a Walk signal.

Then they wonder why no-one wants to walk anywhere!

Re:Intentional? (1)

Dogers (446369) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163916)

Really??

This explains why this occurs in China, too..

It confused the hell out of me when I was there - it's insanely dangerous!

Re:Intentional? (2)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163832)

But in America, there is usually never a pedestrian phase. The "don't walk" and "walk" lights mean "walk now to get run over by speeding oncoming vehicles" and "walk now to get run over by slower turning vehicles", respectively. So when you pressed the walk button, all it would do is accelerate the normal cycle and let the other cars go. Sometimes people would jump out of their cars and press the pedestrian button so they could go sooner. It's part of the reason why half the population fled the cities in the 50's through 90's, and why the other half ignore the lights altogether.

Re:Intentional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34163846)

You don't need a "pedestrian phase." Pedestrians walk at the same time as traffic moving in their direction.

Re:Intentional? (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163854)

I think the location matters here. I have noticed that if you are downtown, then the buttons do nothing. As you get into less densely populated areas, the liklihood of the button working increases. New York is pretty dense, so many of the buttons do nothing.

Re:Intentional? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163944)

In s me cases, walk buttons extend the parallel green light duration to ensure adequate time for pedestrian crossing. Where I live, hobos jam them so they have more time to collect change at off-ramps.

They also get installed by defaut so that traffic engineers have the option of enabling them if traffic patterns warrant their use.

How is this news? (5, Funny)

Eudial (590661) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163336)

My computer isn't responding when I click an icon. I click again. Nothing. So I click it really hard 30 times in a row. Now the computer decides to respond. Clearly, the computer can read my frustration, and therefore hurries to open the 32 firefox windows I requested.

Placebos & Slashdot (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34163344)

Now you'll tell me that posting on Slashdot has no effect...

comments never appear (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163346)

Is this why my comments rarely appear on forums? Seriously, I leave a comment and many times it never appears, is it simply a placebo, or worse a place to harvest email addresses?

Wow. (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163348)

This just shows how little respect people have for each-other.

Re:Wow. (3, Insightful)

MichaelKristopeit128 (1934222) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163384)

it actually only shows how little pride they have in their work...

Re:Wow. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34163398)

Or how little respect people actually deserve.

Re:Wow. (4, Informative)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163506)

I dunno about NY, but it varies here in Ohio.

1) Some lights change at the same rate, regardless of pressing the button.
2) Lights with chirpers/beepers/buzzers will only make noises if the button is pushed. I think all of these change at the same interval regardless of pressing the button, the button merely tells the light to activate the speaker when it switches.
3) In the suburb where I live, the walk lights won't show unless you hit the button. The timing of the traffic lights doesn't change, you just get a nice walk light. This is rather obnoxious because you get yelled at if you cross when a walk light would have been active if you had hit the button...
4) Some lights won't change unless you hit the button - about the same as described by the poster from Austin.
5) The one light I know for absolute sure doesn't do anything if you hit the button, is near where I work. Hit the button, don't hit the button, do either all day, it doesn't matter, the sign will never switch to "walk"...

It is slashdot too. (3, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163370)

The button that you press after you get, "slowdown cowboy" that asks you to wait 1 minute before posting again, does nothing. No matter how many minutes elapse, that button never gets reactivated. Slashdotters have typically installed greasemonkey, flashblock, adblock, noscript and thousand other add ons, they just blame their javascript interceptor is misbehaving and continue on.

Re:It is slashdot too. (4, Funny)

wisty (1335733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163444)

Or their ADD forbids them from waiting for a whole damn minu

close button in elevators... (5, Informative)

codegen (103601) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163390)

Well yes and no. It is true that most of them have no effect in normal operation, but when the elevator is in service mode (i.e. apartment move mode), then doors stay open until you press the close button.

In my sister's apartment, the close button has a effect. The normal door open time is about 40 seconds, and it will close the instant you press the close button (i.e. after 5 seconds). In the office building that I'm in (mid 60s construction), the close button has no effect unless the elevator is in service mode).

Re:close button in elevators... (1)

Algorithmnast (1105517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163524)

This is hilarious. I've found elevators where the buttons seems to work and the door seems to shut quickly after I press the button. In other elevators, I've concluded that the button was broken - because I'm not cynical enough to expect that the button would be a placebo.

Or, the "don't smash the elevator panel, just press the button" psychology.

purely anecdotal but... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34163602)

the close door buttons DO work in our building (FWIW we have Otis) but there's a trick which I've experimentally confirmed: something has to trip the sensor between the inner & outer doors to make it think someone has gotten on or off. I can consistently (100x out of 100 tries) replicate the following behavior: if elevator stops on floor w/nobody waiting I simply waive my hand in the gap, press the close button & the doors immediately close/elevator continues - press the button w/o something having tripped the sensor & it just sits there till its normal timeout period.

individual results may vary but I've successfully been doing this for 10+ yrs at my current employer...

Re:close button in elevators... (2, Insightful)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163758)

when the elevator is in service mode (i.e. apartment move mode), then doors stay open until you press the close button.

I love it when there is more to the story than a snarky slashdot editor thinks.

Nice post!

Does this surprise anyone? (3, Insightful)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163392)

Why would the effect only be limited to pharmaceuticals?

not placebo (5, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163396)

ok, so I arrive in a town at an intersection with a button.
I am going to press it because how the heck do I know whether its connected or not?

Re:not placebo (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163516)

If you're at a busy intersection pressing the button, you may or may not be wasting your time, but the ones at pedestrian crossings in odd places mid-traffic light tend to do as advertised as evidenced by the annoyance they cause me as a driver when a jogger hits the button and I have to wait 1.5 minutes after the 10 seconds it takes him to cross before I can continue.

Re:not placebo (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163782)

You pushing the button isn't the placebo effect by itself, the fact that it makes you feel better about the situation is. Without the button, people complain about how long they have to wait for 'walk' to light up or for how long it takes the doors on the elevator to close. With the button, people don't. Nothing has changed, the button doesn't do anything except give people the illusion of control.

The summary is the entire article! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34163414)

Seriously! The summary quotes the ENTIRE "article". Come on, Slashdot.

Other non-placebo treatments (4, Interesting)

jomegat (706411) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163416)

I read an article in the Washington Post ~20 years ago about people waiting in lines. A hotel was constantly receiving complaints about the speed of their elevators. They kept tweaking the elevators, but the complaints continued to roll in (despite the quantifiable improvements). Rather than continuing to pursue the problem with technology, they turned to psychology and installed mirrors in the elevator lobby. Seems that if people have something interesting to look at (to them at least), the time passes more quickly and they do not notice that the elevators are slow. After they made this final change, the complaints stopped. I think about this every time I see a mirror in an elevator lobby.

That's just sick (1)

nickybio (1458399) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163438)

If even one of them works, doesn't that mean I have to push them just to be sure?

Re:That's just sick (3, Insightful)

mccalli (323026) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163500)

If even one of them works, doesn't that mean I have to push them just to be sure?

Exactly. If you press a control that doesn't work you lose nothing. If you fail to press a control that does work you lose functionality. Whilst I agree with the effect they're suggesting, presenting it using examples of deliberately wiring-in dummies is ridiculous. If they then go back and ask people if they believed the button in question actually worked, well then there's the begins of the data we actually need for this.

Cheers,
Ian

Ah yes, I see this all the time at work... (1)

krovisser (1056294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163468)

An IT variant: "You were the last one to touch my computer, so it must be your fault".

Have you ever (1)

arcsimm (1084173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163474)

Have you ever pressed a "Close Doors" button before? It's pretty obvious that they don't actually do anything. I'd just figured they only worked when the fire service key was used.

Elevator without buttons (2, Interesting)

MartijnL (785261) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163494)

I was recently in an office building where the elevators had no buttons at all. In front of the elevator was a keypad where you typed which floor you needed to go to, the system assigned you an elevator and you could only get on and be delivered to your earlier chosen floor.

Re:Elevator without buttons (1)

zero0ne (1309517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163776)

Sounds like they migrated the Elevators to a cloud based system.

No need to ever deal with the bare metal elevator anymore!

Re:Elevator without buttons (1)

Kalidor (94097) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163828)

I remember them starting this years ago in Japan. I seen to recall a article on it where they went in and crunched the numbers, finding that with a system like this elevator users saved an average of 35 seconds per trip in a typical 30 story building.

Re:Elevator without buttons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34163830)

The building in New York that houses, among other businesses, Fox News, has this feature. Not surprised, really. One part convenience, one part paranoia.

Not sure "placebo effect" is accurate (5, Insightful)

gosand (234100) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163502)

"Placebo effect" implies a perceived improvement. I think it's obvious by the number of times people push elevator close door or street "walk" buttons, or fiddle with office thermostats, there is no perceived improvement.

Re:Not sure "placebo effect" is accurate (1)

Trent Hawkins (1093109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163794)

yeah, I'd like to see a followup to the article where "Guess what? They quit calling you." is followed with "Guess what? You're fired!".

Not sure author understands meaning of "placebo" (4, Insightful)

ugen (93902) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163504)

"Placebo" refers to situation where a patient does not know that the medication is inactive.

I am not sure about everyone, but I happen to know that most "close" buttons on elevators and most street crossing buttons to activate a pedestrian traffic lights do not work (the former by design, they are there for fire control mode, the latter mainly because they are broken :) ).
However, I still continue to use them and the reason is very simple:
1. They still work occasionally (as was the case just last week in a hotel elevator, where doors would close immediately by using close button, and stay open for extended periods of time without it, tested many times). It's a "nice surprise" when it works - and nothing is lost when it does not work.

2. They may be required occasionally. I know of a quite a few intersections where pedestrian traffic light won't turn green without the use of a button. It's not worth wasting a few traffic light cycles to find out whether the button is or is not needed. It's easier to just press it - if it works, great, if not - again nothing lost.

So, to conclude, this situation is nothing like placebo.

Well, perhaps except for thermostats, but I haven't worked in the office in years - and when I did, never bothered with these things.

Re:Not sure author understands meaning of "placebo (2, Insightful)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163670)

I agree. This seems more like behaviorism - if I push this button, I may get a reward.

As for the thermostats, they are kidding themselves if they think people actually believe they work. People stop calling because at that point the realize it is pointless to continue complaining, because nothing is going to be done about the situation.

Re:Not sure author understands meaning of "placebo (3, Funny)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163874)

Agreed.

Also - I don't know about you, but when I press a "close doors" or a "use crosswalk" button and press it, and nothing happens, I tend to press it again. If there was a placebo effect in play, why would I bother pressing it again? The placebo effect suggests that I would be happy with the outcome, rather than stabbing relentlessly away at a soulless machine, like a rat trying to get a food pellet, muttering and cursing the infernal, non functional button and the soul sucking society it seems to embody, when all I want to do is get downstairs and across the street to a bar so I can drown my sorrows in a few glasses of gin and try to muster the courage to talk to that girl who is always there even though I know she's probably damaged goods and wouldn't give me the time of day besides...

I'm sorry, what were we talking about again?

Re:Not sure author understands meaning of "placebo (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163908)

If the thermostats are anything like what we have where I work, they are connected, but as far as I can tell they are either incorrectly installed, or misconfigured. I blame contractors who are paid by the job, quickly disappear, and either don't know or don't care about how it's supposed to be done.

Re:Not sure author understands meaning of "placebo (1)

SashaMan (263632) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163910)

Don't agree it's nothing like a placebo. Granted, I need to RTFA, but you could design some interesting experiments that test whether people's PERCEPTION (e.g. it seemed like the elevator door did close faster even though it really didn't) was altered with these non-functional elements. That is like a placebo.

This explains our political system. (0, Redundant)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163530)

Our votes have been unhooked for some years now, yet we keep going to the booths.

Worked on CD-ROMS for me (1)

Combatso (1793216) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163540)

Back in the late 90's I worked for a company doing general IT repairs, upgrades and whatnots.. One of our engineers came in complaining about his 4x CD-ROM being slow, and that since he was an engineer he needs a faster one. One of the guys I worked with took another 4X CD-ROM and carefully put a 3 on it with a sharpie.. So it looked as if to be a "34X" drive.. He installed it, the engineer was happy, and we never heard a word about it.

Re:Worked on CD-ROMS for me (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34163844)

Or he realized you sharpied it and was making fun of him and decided you were tools and never bothered with you again? Instead going around you and reaffirming his 'I am an engineer and better than IT' attitude?

Here is how it would go down if I would have found something like that. Boss wanders in 'here is what our IT department thinks is a "34x" drive'. Boss: "here is a PO go get a faster drive and put it in". 2-3 years later IT is redundant each group has taken on the responsibilities itself. Your looking for a job and the company is spending more per year because you wanted to be funny. Instead of saying 'we do not buy those talk to our head IT guy if you want something better'. If he kept bring it up take it up with his boss.

Close door buttons do work.. (4, Funny)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163542)

They are a good aid in me repeatedly hitting it both before and after someone boards the elevator, and a visual aid to my sighing in exasperation when they make it on the elevator. They convey exactly the message I intended.

bullshit (5, Interesting)

eyenot (102141) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163550)

"most elevators installed since the early 1990's, the close door button has no effect"

and yet i frequently use the close door button to real effect in nearly every elevator i have been in in the last fifteen years including ones installed since 2000.

meanwhile, some news claims aren't factual but people believe they are because they are made by news agencies.

Re:bullshit (2, Insightful)

windcask (1795642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163594)

This comment is just proof how well the placebo effect works.

Re:bullshit (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163598)

and yet i frequently use the close door button to real effect in nearly every elevator i have been in in the last fifteen years including ones installed since 2000.

Unless you try it both with and without, you don’t know for sure it was doing anything. The doors might have been closing anyway.

I’ve been in elevators where I’m pretty sure the close door button actually made them close, but I wouldn’t hazard to say it worked in all of them, despite the fact that I usually push it.

Of course, unless I’m going more than a couple of floors, I’ll take the stairs anyway, and I have the regular old doorknob figured out pretty well I guess.

Re:bullshit (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163876)

Unless the doors respond immediately every time to his pressing the "close" button regardless of the timing of his press.

So.... (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163558)

Maybe they could harness all that useless button pushing to generate electricity?

Re:So.... (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163764)

Even better, advertise them as the more times you push, the faster the signal changes. And to be even cleverer about it, advertise it as it counts the number of people (by counting the number of button presses) and acts intelligently.

Door close buttons (2, Informative)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163564)

Ah, one of the first positive things that I noticed when I moved overseas was that the "door close" buttons on elevators actually worked. You push them, the door closes. It's that sort of literal-mindedness when a culture apes another culture without knowing why it's doing so. The "how" but not the "why". They didn't know that door close buttons were placebos put in place to lie about giving control. Instead, they connected them up to the control circuits, and when you press the button, by God, the elevator doors close. You can even close the doors directly after they open, ignoring the pleas of people running to get in. Heh, that was another education as well, seeing as I had previously thought that holding elevator doors open for random strangers was something that 'everybody did' - turns out, it's just our culture that does it.

Re:Door close buttons (1)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163912)

The article simply confirms what I have suspected for quite some time since moving to the US and I failed to be surprised.

As a result, I can't be bothered to press the "door close" button, despite my wife urging me to press it.

I miss buttons which actually work:

One of the best thing about the "door close" button in countries where they actually work is that many of them can be used to ignore floors which wasn't requested by the passengers of the lift... Especially useful when it is filled to capacity with everyone wanting to go down to the lobby where it would be pointless for the lift to stop on every floor on the way when no additional passengers can get on. Simply hold the door close button and it would continue without stopping until it gets to the requested floor.

Ding Dong effect. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34163586)

Hmmm, placebo effect? How about when she says she likes it, and moans appropriately, but really you're not doing a thing for her?

Not really true (2, Insightful)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163592)

The elevator close button not doing anything is certainly true most places in the U.S. It isn't worth pushing the button. Go somewhere like Hong Kong, though, and when you hit the door close button the doors close right now. If someone is halfway through the door when you hit it, too bad - they get chopped in half. I love it.

Walk buttons are different. I can see not having them hooked up at busy intersections, especially at intersections where there are always (or nearly always) pedestrians waiting to cross. Where I live, the buttons absolutely work - the walk signal doesn't illuminate and the signal timings are different if you don't push the button. It is all about maximizing the flow of vehicular traffic while protecting pedestrians. Interesting that they leave the buttons there even when they don't do anything, but I seriously doubt there are many (if any) places where walk buttons were installed purely for the placebo effect.

Also - you call that an article? Worst. Submission. Ever.
Here is a rule of thumb for article submitters: if you can repeat the entire 'article' in the summary, you chose a bad article. Try at least digging up some of the original sources to link to (like the Wall Street Journal article mentioned).

Walk button doesn't suprise me (3, Informative)

nebular (76369) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163604)

I'm primarily a pedestrian, so I've had time to test out the walk button. Most of the time, the walk button only makes the walk sign change, otherwise it just says at the stop hand icon.

The times it does change things is usually near parks or by little used streets where if it was disconnected you'd be waiting a very long time.

so depressing :-( (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34163662)

> In most elevators installed since the early 1990s, the 'close door' button has no effect.

Do these things surprise *anybody*? I've ridden in many elevators and it was clear after a number of tries that these buttons do nothing. I never knew *why*, but I remember consciously thinking that there was no difference between my pushing and not pushing it, so I stopped trying. Similar for local walk buttons.

It really makes me depressed that so many people are so disconnected from the reality they live in that they are fooled by these things. I think this kind of "mindless" state of being is correlated with making really bad decisions in other ways which make society worse for everyone.

Just like arcade machines (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163696)

How many times have we seen people think they're playing an arcade game when they're just jiggling the controllers pointlessly during the demonstration mode?

Re:Just like arcade machines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34163930)

I'm sooo embarrassed right now...

Definitely works for traffic signals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34163702)

I know a few people who rock their cars back and forth at stoplights in order to "trigger the pressure plates." No matter how many times I try to explain to them the lights are on a timer they remain convinced that they are tricking the system into giving them an advantage.

Posting the entire article as the summary... (1)

drachenfyre (550754) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163720)

What happened on Slashdot? It used to be that you'd actually write a summary with several relevant links to different sources. Then it became just quoting the first paragraph of the article. Now its just posting the entire article? At least I guess we can't claim someone didn't RTFA.

Did you go try it? (1)

Fynnsky (1238708) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163780)

How many of you just headed to the elevator (fiddling with the thermostat on the way) and pressed the close door button, then got off in the lobby and ran outside to press the walk button?

really? just me? /sigh

The inverse is also true... (1)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163796)

People ain't dumb, and they catch on. Which creates pressure in the other direction as well. One the most common barriers to getting people to recycle correctly is the widely held belief -- frequently completely unfounded -- that all the stuff goes to the same dump anyway. Recycling centers are making online videos of the pickup and sorting process to battle back, but it's an uphill struggle -- people assume they're getting lied to.

I created a WOW priest named "Placebo" (5, Funny)

aapold (753705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163812)

After reaching the level cap, I'd join pug groups and in the role of "healer". I had gear with special effects that did nothing and created all manner of macros to create these effects while at the same time emoting that I was healing my target.

After the wipe, when they'd call me on it (I have yet to find an addon that will monkey with other people's trackers) I'd try to explain that I was doing this strictly for research and they were in the placebo group.

Somehow, this did not seem to appease them.

Here in Sweden (3, Informative)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163818)

All these examples seem a bit specific or they assume the people affected are all too dumb to realize someone's trying to fool them...

'In most elevators installed since the early 1990s, the 'close door' button has no effect. Otis Elevator engineers confirmed the fact to the Wall Street Journal in 2003.

Around here most elevators don't even seem to have a "close" button, they do have an "open" button though. And if you press one of the "go to floor #n" buttons the doors tend to close immediately. As an example, in the building I live in the best way to get the doors to close quickly is to pass through the elevator door and make sure you're clear of the "don't squish the humans" sensor and then hit a floor button, door closes immediately and elevator gets going.

Similarly, many office thermostats are dummies, designed to give workers the illusion of control. "You just get tired of dealing with them and you screw in a cheap thermostat," said Illinois HVAC specialist Richard Dawson. "Guess what? They quit calling you."

Duh. Of course people stop calling you, they're sweating their asses off and you show up and say "nothing wrong here" half a dozen times and then you install a thermostat that doesn't work. Most likely they just end up figuring out how to disable the alarm connected to the windows so they can get some relief that way (seriously, I've seen this problem in several workplaces, the building maintenance guys swear up and down that the ventilation system is fine yet one office which isn't even facing the sun most of the day has stuffy air and a constant temperature above 25 C, in the latest case they finally installed a thermostat that did nothing, we just stopped calling them about the issue (the thermostat was clearly not connected to anything)).

In 2004 the New York Times reported that more than 2,500 of the 3,250 "walk" buttons in New York intersections do nothing. "The city deactivated most of the pedestrian buttons long ago with the emergence of computer-controlled traffic signals, even as an unwitting public continued to push on."'"

Here in .se the buttons do work. In fact, if you don't press the button the light never turns green. You still have to wait until the lights for the cars are right though (which kind of sucks, it just switches the light for pedestrians from a default "you're not allowed to cross" to "please wait your turn".

Old news here (1)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163834)

My first tech job was working for a fortune 50 company as a technician for their centralized HVAC and lighting systems. This was in the early 90's and we used primitive controllers with early modems to centrally control everything from headquarters. Local control was never allowed in any facility under any circumstances. Attempts to intervene such as additional heat or cooling sources could readily be picked up on our end.

I remember once catching a loading dock where that had occurred and calling it in. The wall sensor had been broken by local personnel. We sent out a service technician to fix it and talked with local management (which seemed completely surprised that we found out so quickly). We ended up having the now fixed stat busted the following day, only that time people at the local facility were fired. In the event of noisy office workers, many technicians would put in a dummy thermostat for an illusion of control - and it did make a difference.

The benefit of these zealous control systems were huge. Long before being green was in vogue we did these things to save energy. In the time I was with the company they expanded from 600 facilities to 720 and kept their energy bill at 100 million US dollars. That's a 20% expansion of their facilities with a 0% expansion of their energy consumption. It may not be sexy or hip, might even feel totalitarian, but that is the kind of real world change that is needed for a greener future.

Seems to work (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163840)

The close door and open door buttons seem to work as they should in the small office building where I work. However, they probably predate the 1990s and are constantantly breaking down! I have very rarely seen a walk button in NYC. I find it hard to believe there were ever 3,250 of them.

Otis elevators. (4, Interesting)

nblender (741424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163856)

When I was a young-hacker, I worked as a bellman.. It was slack work except when tour busses came in and then it was a scramble to get luggage up to the rooms. It meant multiple trips with a full cart and no passengers... What I couldn't handle was the long rides down to the lobby stopping at 10+ floors to pickup additional passengers... I soon discovered that if I held the 'door close' button while the elevator was descending, it would stop at the floors where people had pushed the 'down' button but the door wouldn't open. The elevator would stop. Hesitate for about 1.5 seconds, and then start moving again. The unfortunate drawback was that outside of the car, the 'down' light would go out and the waiting passengers would have to press it again to call for another elevator. I then learned that I didn't have to hold the door-close button. If I felt the car slow down and managed to press the button before the car came to a full stop, I could trigger the override.

Eventually, I got a copy of a master key (which I still have) that allowed me to just put the elevator in service mode and didn't have to override anything.

Home placebostat (2)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163904)

Years ago my dad replaced the furnace and thermostat in my parents' house. What he didn't tell my mom was the new thermostat was installed in a different location in the house and he left the old one in its original location. Prior to this my mom was constantly pushing the thermostat up and down and making the house too hot or cold for everyone else. She continued this adjustment on the old disconnected thermostat for years after, apparently satisfied, even though it had no effect.

Walk buttons work... (1)

Anomalyx (1731404) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163934)

Where I live, the walk buttons have an effect, but won't alter the flow of traffic. If you don't push the button, the sign will never switch to "walk". However, pushing the button doesn't turn on the "walk" sign any sooner; it just makes sure to turn it on the next time the right light turns green. Only if there are no cars at (or coming up on) the intersection will it actually alter the order of traffic lights to let you walk sooner.
Then of course there are a couple of older intersections that always turn the "walk" light on no matter if someone has pushed the button or not.

And the close button on elevators is for impatient people. Seriously, you can't wait another whole second for the door to close? I've never needed to push a close door button because the doors were perfectly capable of closing on their own. I've only ever used the open button, to hold the elevator for people. If I were to make an elevator, I'd omit the close button entirely. Or put one in and have the elevator spew an insult every time it was pushed. Oooh, even better... shock the button pusher! Too bad I'd probably get sued for that one.

Hawthorne Effect (1)

TXISDude (1171607) | more than 3 years ago | (#34163942)

This is just another example of the "Hawthorne Effect" - a phenomena observed that when workers had working conditions modified, their productivity increased. We have known since the 1930's that people behave differently when they believe they are being observed or that their environment is under their control, or that there is a mechanism to improve thier work environment. And this effect results whether or not these changes are true or effective.
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