It’s now spring and for some reason my immune system finally decides to shit itself and tell viruses to invade my body and give me a cold. Lame.
I was coming home from a friend’s place the other day when I decided to drop into the pharmacy to get some cold and flu tablets to ease my symptoms. I generally frown upon these sort of tablets because they don’t really do anything to actually get rid of the cold, but today I thought I would give it a try so that I wasn’t sick for a whole month, like last time.
So I entered the pharmacy and headed for the front desk where I asked the sales assistant if she could help me with some cold tablets. She handed me a pack of tablets and I promptly told her I wanted to have a read of the packet before I purchased it. With cold and flu medicine I worry that the ingredients might be homeopathic. Some tablets are herbal but I am afraid that some companies tend to blur the lines between herbal and homeopathic. I’m not great with chemical names so I gave up pretty quickly and took the medicine to the counter.
“Erm, I was just wondering… Are these tablets homeopathic?”
The woman looked at me and said,
“No, do you want those? We have them and I can get them for you.”
I explained to the woman that I was just checking if the tablets were homeopathic because I wanted actual REAL medicine and that I could “get water out of the tap” if I wanted to. She smiled and laughed (being the charismatic devil that I am) and declared that she agreed with me. I found this interesting because she was so quick to offer homeopathic woo woo in place of real science-based medicine even though she completely disagreed with it. Seems like the customer is always right. This made me wonder how many people actually use homeopathic and other
alternative medicine(credited: Jovial and Jocular) quackery when they get colds. This was in no way a scientific study, but from this I could see how likely it is that a substantial amount of people must request homeopathic remedies during the winter season.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. The assistant explained to me that the homeopathic remedies are kept in a completely different section to the real medicine, so at least they aren’t mixing it in and misleading their customers completely. I was tempted to ask her more questions about the homeopathic and alternative medicine products they sold but I didn’t want to harass her. However, I did leave the shop feeling a whole lot better knowing I had put my brain to use before buying medicine!
Ah skepticism, will you ever do me wrong?
Every now and then you come across something that is so warped and confusing that your brain explodes, cucumbers eject from every orifice and you find yourself standing in a pile of your own filth naked, with only an umbrella and a long stick of taffy! You then have to rebuild your consciousness from the ground up which takes all day and leaves you with a sense of self loathing that is hard to shake. Today was one of those days when I found this:-
Welcome to brainfuckery. In the words of George Hrab’s Prof. Damian Handzy,
That’s totally fucked up
Just writing to say sorry for not writing lately. I have been working on The Young Australian Skeptics quite a bit and have had a few other engagements. As a result my allocated blog time has diminished. Fear not, I shall be back soon with some awesome article that will make you question your existance and maybe even lead you to believe you are riding on top of a giant space panda rocketing through the universe!
edit: Stephanie is awesome
Recently I was discussing medical issues with a friend of mine and she mentioned that she was going to an Iridologist. I had never heard of this before and I asked what it was. She went on to explain that it is the practice of finding colours and patterns in the eye which are used to determine information about the patients health. My skeptical alarm sounded almost immediately as I noticed a similarity between this description and reflexology (the practice of massaging, squeezing, or pushing on parts of the feet to improve general health). My friend explained she had a lack of faith in Doctors and said that iridology works.
Generally when a practise is refered to as “Natural Medicine” or “Alternate Medicine” there seems to come with it a mechanism that cannot be explained scientifically, and in turn invokes magic. In regards to iridology all you need to think about is one thing, how does a pattern on the eye indicate a problem in another part of the body? Well sometimes a discolouration does indicate a certain disease or health issue. Take Jaundice (a yellow discolouration of the skin and whites of the eyes) for example, this can indicate a patient has Hepatitis A. This is observed science and well documented. But why would a pattern in the eye indicate a disease. Well it wouldn’t. Our brain notices patterns all the time, if you looked hard enough into someone’s iris maybe you could see a pattern that looked like your dead great grandmother! Does this mean that that person is possessed by your grandma? No.
After hoping on Google and doing a quick search I found a few sites that quickly debunked iridology and put my mind to rest on the matter. This article written by Dr Richard Gordon of the Australian Skeptics gave a great overview of the practise of iridology.
The reason I am writing this article is that this occurrence in conversation reinforced my trust in the ability to trust, to a certain extent, the skeptical radar and the bologna detection kit. The next time you are discussing something of this nature take the time to look into the subject and evaluate professional opinions on the matter. Face value is usually wrong and a little bit of critical analysis can help you immediately sort through a topic and determine if it is possibly bunk or not. Oh and if an Alternative Medicine worked wouldn’t it just be called Medicine?