Catherine Omosigho

Book: Bad Science

Exhibit: Digital artwork

Featured Work

Written Work

Catherine Omosigho

Hi, my name is Catherine, and I am a first-year analytical chemistry student in TU Dublin. My exhibition this year is a digital artwork inspired by the chapter ‘The Placebo Effect’ from the book ‘Bad Science’ by Ben Goldacre.

It is in digital form as digital artwork is one of my better forms of art. I am interested in art as well as science, so for this exhibition, I decided to combine the two subjects into one artwork. The chapter ‘The Placebo Effect’ in ‘Bad Science’ describes how the placebo effect works in drug trials.

My drawing is based on the placebo effect of an experiment that took place in 1972 run by Blackwell. Students were given one of the two sugar pills, which were either pink and blue, and were told they were either a stimulant or a sedative – but not which was which. In the end results, the students who took the pink pill were shown to have maintained concentration better than those who took the blue pill. As there was no chemical differences in the pills as they both contained the same substance – sugar – the result is due to the psychological beliefs associated with the different colours; pink is a brighter colour, hence it grabbing attention more while blue is associated with being cool and relaxing.


When reading the book, the chapter “The Placebo Effect” was the part that interested me a lot so I decided to draw my exhibit based on it. I decided to look up different forms of sugar. For chemists, sugars are a class of compound and there are lots of compounds that we call sugars. Since the pills had sugar in them, I decided to use the D-sucrose structure in the drawing as the most well known form of sugar. Sucrose, which has the molecular formula C12H22O11, is known in our daily lives as common table sugar.

Then I had drawn out milk like cartons based on the pills and then drew the pills in the carton as a way to show that the pill was being given out and being digested. The “zzzz” next to the pill and the brain is showing that students who took the blue pill failed to maintain concentration as well as those who got the pink pill who maintained concentration better, which is shown by the pink exclamation marks.

digital artwork

Catherine Omosigho Poster