How many times have you waited impatiently for traffic lights to change so you could cross a busy intersection? Did you push the crosswalk button? You know, the button that's supposed to allow you to cross the street faster? Do you think it helped?

It turns out most crosswalk buttons in this country don't do anything.

The truth is that most stoplights are either on timers, or are computer controlled now, and while at one time the crosswalk buttons did indeed cause the lights to change faster, most of them have been long since disabled.

According to the site You Are Not So Smart, crosswalk buttons remain in place as a placebo: something that does nothing, but tricks your brain into believing anyway. Pushing the crosswalk button makes you feel better, even though it does nothing.

Apparently a lot of 'Close Doors' buttons in elevators are also placebos. In most elevators built since 1990, the Close Doors button does nothing, or is a key activated feature. And yet we still push it.

So now as you go out into public and see buttons all around you will you wonder if they're actually connected to anything? Do they actually work at all?

My faith in humanity has been shaken.

(via io9)