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“We’re Really Close to Finding a Cure for This”

So I’m watching Celebrity Poker Showdown (or at least it’s on while I’m studying for my finals). Someone gets eliminated and is on the couch talking about the charity he was playing for and he says “the doctors at Stanford are really close to finding a cure for this disease.” My question is – how do they know? What if they are no closer today than they were XX years ago when they started?
I guess the reasoning for making this claim is that someone may be more inclined to give to a cause if they think that their money is going to push it over the top and fund the cure. Why give to a cause that is a long way off when you can give afew bucks and maybe hear someone yell “we’ve found a cure!!”

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