Friday, April 10, 2009

Written by a bin-man!

Tucked under an article I was reading was the following advertisement.

Quite the absurd boast, 'discovered by a mom' - isn't it? The only thing it impresses upon me is that this 'trick' is just a scam to part fools with their money by selling them nonsense.

This advertisement bothered me as much as it did because it reminded me a nonsense product I encountered in the States called 'Airborne'. Some acquaintance of mine was complaining about getting a cold, and announced her intention to buy this medicine that would cure her malady. It wasn't hard to be sceptical about this product, as it hadn't made its way to Irish shores, and I'm sure a cure to the common cold would have no trouble finding a market / Nobel prize recognition.

Proudly printed on the front of the box, before you've had a chance to read the nonsensically vague jargon about 'wellness' and whatnot on the back, is the following:

I won't detail how the FDA laid the smack down on the specific claims that the Airborne people were making (but if you're interested, click here), instead I'll just whinge about the pervasive anti-science sentiment that is so popular these days.

I can understand the appeal of the underdog prevailing, the lay-person happening across something incredible and winning all kinds of fame and admiration beyond which they ever imagined. Unremarkable credentials are the basis of many compelling film protagonists and (seemingly) the driving force behind those tawdry reality TV shows, but do we really want to take medical advice from these hacks?

So do me a favour, those of you with the mental flexibility I so obviously lack, and explain to me why so many people are more content following the rituals of ancient Chinese people than consulting with a doctor? Who in their right mind would pay good money for pills with no active ingredients that were devised back when we believed that the key to health was keeping your blood, phlegm, yellow and black bile ratios in check? Why would you give anybody hard-earned legal tender for therapeutic touch (which involves no touching) when a physiotherapist can deliver actual results?

Should I just chalk it up to the anti-corporatism that is de-rigeur in cool social circles, or take it as a lack of faith in the regulatory bodies who are in place to keep these evil pill-pushers in line?

By my recent admission, I don't exactly have a clean record on grey-area medicinal practices, but I'm happy to sidestep my own inquisition with a shrug and a "my family made me go". Why aren't the adults who should be in the know focusing their health efforts on the proven stuff?

1 comment:

Jason said...

I think it comes down to an intuitive distrust of anything man made and and overriding belief in the power of the "natural". People tend to equate current ailments with a divergence from what is natural and good, and they see ancient medicines as tapping into this natural, timeless, holistic state of health. The subversive anti-corporatism "in cool social circles" is pretty spot on: The pharmaceutical and medical industry are run by greedy, power-hungry corporatists, feeding off massive profits by maintaining the status quo and treating ailments they have no desire to see cured. And all that shit. Few people are immune to momentarily buying into the quackery at some time in their lives.
Oh yeah, there's a book which you may be familiar with called Snake Oil (an "uncomplimentary view of complementary medicine"), written by John Diamond, who was dying of cancer as he wrote it (it was published posthumously). Charlatans were throwing themselves at him, offering homoeopathic and alternative cures. Most people, in desperation, would have turned to them (and died anyway). Diamond kept his dignity and refused.