Monday, June 06, 2005

Embellishment, part 2.

Embellishment is that confusion of ideas that extrapolates an entire sand castle out of a single grain of truth. The illogic goes, “if X is true, then it is true because of P and J; things without any provable causal relationship. Something, however, is going on to reinforce this perception. In homeopathy, that something is water. For those not aware of the pseudoscience of homeopathy, it differs from herbal and folk medicine in that, in its modern practice, the compounds are so diluted as to have no measurable ingredients except water. For a more detailed look into this bemusing subject, try Hellbound Alleee May archive and scroll down to May 12. Even though it is actually and measurably only water, you will find people who swear that they, or a loved one, was actually helped. So what’s going on here? Is it all just the Placebo effect? Perhaps, but perhaps not. There might be a combination of answers.

Many of the reported success stories involve children with asthma-like, or other allergy-like symptoms. Has there ever been a child born that didn’t at least once exaggerate cold symptoms to gain the attention and sympathy of their principal care giver (usually Mom)? Now, imagine an attention-starved child, amping up symptoms for attention. Suddenly, Mom starts visiting every 4 hours, asking how they’re feeling, and giving a dose of medicine. Just like love in a bottle, and now, the need for attention is being filled without the dramatics. The “symptoms” seem to abate.

Another possibility for efficacy lies in the water itself. Many of these homeopathic (alleged) compounds instruct the user to take several drops in a glass of water, or sublingually. Those who put the drops in (more) water, are unconsciously benefiting from increasing their daily water consumption. Additionally, they are taking in water at regular intervals. According to Dr. Weil , “Many people fail to drink enough of it” ( water ). Increasing one’s water intake will increase the efficiency of the kidneys, making them better able to filter impurities from the body. If one has a sensitivity to a common substance, like lactose, or corn, or sulfites, drinking more water will reduce the duration or the intensity of the symptoms. Of course, selling a water cure went out with the 19th century, and even at bottled water rates, there is nothing like the markup obtained by selling homeopathic "cures".


At 11:05 PM, Blogger Rev. Barky said...

I am shocked at how often I see the term "homeopathic" used to sell stuff.
It's crap. With no scientific basis, it is supported soley by those who seek a positve emotional experience to offset the depression of illness. It is well established that having hope and a better mood can help your immune system, but does this have to be predicated on an absurd lie? Yes, but only because it is profitable.

At 4:59 AM, Blogger Skull_Duggery said...

Marketing is everything these days. How about education for a change?
(Personal pet peeve soapbox time)
Maybe if we paid a little more attention to educating folks on the little things in life, like probability, statistics and cause-effect, some of this quackery would subside.
(stepping off soapbox)
Ahh...that feels better.....

At 8:14 AM, Blogger Pixelation said...

There's an analogy here to immigration.

Say an immigrant comes from mediocre conditions in an impoverished country. He comes to a rich country, but is now the bottom rung, so to speak.

He works and works, unwilling or unable to go back to his country in shame, until finally, one day he saves enough money to go visit his friends and family back home.

He returns, but because he doesn't want to seem like he is living in squalor he boasts of how rich he is and how great life is in his new country.

His friends and family, upon hearing this (and other similar stories, because who's going to admit they made a terrible life decision?) decide to immigrate as well.

And the cycle continues...

(I hope that made sense :)

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Skull_Duggery said...

Sorry, Pix, I don't see the connection. Either that makes me obtuse, or perhaps you have been smoking better shit than I.

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Pixelation said...

Ha ha. I get that a lot, I do. I suspect that since I'm so self-sufficient/self-involved, when it comes to explaining myself, I often leave too many people behind.

As for my comment, I was speaking to the fisherman story (Embellishment, part 1), where people exaggerate their accomplishments and it actually causes greater problems to everybody than if they just admitted their life sucked.

Case-in-point: immigration.

Hope that clarifies things better.

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