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From traditional medicine to witchcraft: why medical treatments are not always efficacious

Ensuring that traditional medicines are safe and effective is a major challenge. This study uses mathematical models to show that the treatments that become popular through communities and get passed down through generations are not necessarily the most efficacious. Often, ineffective treatments that are based on superstition can spread because, the authors say, their very ineffectiveness means that patients use the treatment for longer than medicine that actually works.

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