0971: "Alternative Literature"

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DavidRoss
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby DavidRoss » Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:07 am UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:
BrianB wrote:And so now.... People who don't bother to read and identify what they are taking off the shelf and purchasing == evil corporation?

Do you really think "Boiron Oscillococcinum for Flu-Like Symptoms, Active Ingredient
Anas barbariae hepatis et cordis extractum 200CK HPUS"...Yes, I'd say that this situation does add up to "evil corporation."


Oscillococcinum is prepared to a 200CK dilution. The 200 means you dilute, shake and repeat 200 times. The C means that at each repetition, you remove 1% of the liquid, throw out the other 99%, then add 99 parts pure water and shake. The "K" refers to the Korsakovian method and - I kid you not - instead of measuring out 1 liter out of 100 liters (or whatever size container you are using), you just pour out whatever you have in the container and assume that about 1% stays behind, then fill it to where it was before. So, in simpler terms, start with a fermented duck liver and a fermented duck heart (you CAN read Latin, right? If not, just put "Anas Barbariae Hepatis et Cordis Extractum" into Babelfish) and rinse and empty the container and repeat 199 more times. Whatever is left, you sell that.

[If you invite a homeopath to dinner, do not, I tell you, do not let him help washing the dishes afterwards. Drying and putting away, OK.]

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby DavidRoss » Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:10 am UTC

whateveries wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:
whateveries wrote:*edit* also I forgot to mention, the obvious reason why the placebo effect is so effective and awesome is the accidental homepathic dosage they get with the glass of water...

Pssh, the water doesn't remember the medicine unless it was shaken ritualistically first. Everyone knows that.


a cure for parkinsons then?


Funny. Although, if we *could* get water to remember what passed it by, homeopathic computing would put quantum computing to shame and replace my data center with a drop of water.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby phlip » Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:30 am UTC

DavidRoss wrote:Funny. Although, if we *could* get water to remember what passed it by, homeopathic computing would put quantum computing to shame and replace my data center with a drop of water.

Funny you should speak of homeopathic computing... it turns out that water memory is already perfect for storage and transmission... digging up a post I made a while back in F/R/T:
phlip wrote:My favourite homeopathy nonsense is the winner of the Ig Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1998, who found that if you take a homeopathic solution, and a clean water sample, and put them next to a telephone, then the water sample is just as effective as medicine as the homeopathic solution. The obvious conclusion being that the water memory is transferable by phone line. With potential for future attempts to record the telephone call, and make the tapes available to doctors and pharmacies, so they can make their own homeopathic medicines cheaply by playing tapes at water samples. The Internet was taking off at the time (mid-to-late '90s) so a follow-up paper gave a similar treatment to email attachments (imagine - downloadable medicines, available to anyone with a water source and a computer with speakers).

I'm pretty sure this was by the same guy who coined the "water memory" idea in the first place... before, homeopathy was claimed to work by a mysterious unknown mechanism.

I'd give a link, but the Annals of Improbable Research don't seem to be available online... my friend had a copy of their "Best Of" book, which is where I heard about all this. But search the tubes for "Transatlantic transfer of digitized antigen signal by telephone link" (Jacques Benveniste, 1997) and you can get glimpses.

[edit] Doing said searching, I came up with this, which seems to be a pretty reasonable summary of the whole homeopathy thing.


Also, no homeopathy discussion is complete without a link to Homeopathy with Dr. Werner. It's the law or something.

Code: Select all

enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
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Dorp
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Dorp » Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:57 am UTC

whateveries wrote:
SirMustapha wrote:...and every instance of "you dumb, I smart" comic we see.


This 'You dumb, I smart' thing, it's, it's kinda like, pretty much, every post you do. you ever notice that?. No? maybe a bit of deconstructionist analysis of your own posts mixed in with some soul searching and therapy might give yourself an 'in' to your fairly obvious self hate (we all see it, being played out week after week, we cry for you, we really do) . It's not Randall you hate, it's not the repetive jokes, it's the reflection in the xkcd mirror that you hate. SirMustupha, you don't need to hate yourself, sure, you are a wierd pink rabit thing, but surgery can fix that. surgery and a fake tan. or, even, even a new jpg.


Damn, you hit the nail on the head. I'm a serial lurker who posts only very, very rarely and reads the daily comic thread about once a month or so, and even I feel a deep and profound sadness for whatever awful life circumstances gave rise to SirMustapha's strange one man crusade against a comic he nonetheless continues to read regularly. I figure there's a healthy dose of masochism in there too, since he chooses to vent his displeasure in the one place where he is basically guaranteed an audience of people who don't agree with him.

Of course then again I'd be lying if I didn't admit to occasionally having no other motive for reading the comic thread than "I wonder what SirMustapha will hate about this one?" Sometimes he's really creative with his outrage, and above all articulate, which along with the Backyardigans avatar lends his posts a sort of unique irony which I confess can be quite intoxicating. Sure, he (or she) is a paragon of impotent, pointless negativity with a gift for spinning any sentiment expressed by Randall into a shining example of the depravity of the man's soul, but s/he also watches Backyardigans. And likes the purple one. Coupled with the constant message of "Randall thinks he's so smart but he's really not, because I am much smarter" it makes for a really rather adorable mental image.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby SirMustapha » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:34 am UTC

"Self-hate" is by far the stupidest argument ever used against me in the whole time I've been in these forums. And this isn't the first time I've heard it.

Dorp wrote:I'm a serial lurker who posts only very, very rarely and reads the daily comic thread about once a month or so, and even I feel a deep and profound sadness for whatever awful life circumstances gave rise to SirMustapha's strange one man crusade against a comic he nonetheless continues to read regularly.


You do, don't you? Of course you do. Well, I do have to tell you something very mind-blowing and unbelievable: there are a few things you don't understand. You don't, for example, understand that a person can make pretty inflamed criticism against a webcomic without getting at all emotionally involved with it, and that a person can also look at lame snarking such as that and not get worked up about it, and that a person may want to take a casual dip into awfulness a few times a week as a counterpoint to the good things he enjoys, and he may not understand that there are many, many people who do it a lot more than me (look at Godawful Fanfiction for one) and they aren't necessarily ill because of that. But of course, you wouldn't mind insulting a whole crowd of people you don't even know, why would you?

Dorp wrote:I figure there's a healthy dose of masochism in there too, since he chooses to vent his displeasure in the one place where he is basically guaranteed an audience of people who don't agree with him.


Why? Disagreement equals suffering now? Why am I not surprised?

Well, it surely would be a great disappointment if I said that, on occasion, I met intelligent people here who manage to disagree with me and make counterarguments in a way that's extremely compelling and interesting, and I'm always pleased with that. It certainly compensates for the "hurr hurr hurr I make fun of you and now you're sad, the Internet is srs bsnss" posts I also hear here, as amazing as it may seem.

Oh, and I also post in anti-xkcd places too, which can be fan but not always. Agreement becomes boring over time.

Dorp wrote:Of course then again I'd be lying if I didn't admit to occasionally having no other motive for reading the comic thread than "I wonder what SirMustapha will hate about this one?" Sometimes he's really creative with his outrage, and above all articulate, which along with the Backyardigans avatar lends his posts a sort of unique irony which I confess can be quite intoxicating.


I don't understand how the Backyardigans adds to the irony. I'm a huge fan of the show, especially the music -- and especially now that My Little Pony has become such a huge Internet phenomenon, I would expect people wouldn't find anything wrong in adults enjoying cartoons like that. I did it before it was cool.

Dorp wrote:Sure, he (or she) is a paragon of impotent, pointless negativity with a gift for spinning any sentiment expressed by Randall into a shining example of the depravity of the man's soul, but s/he also watches Backyardigans. And likes the purple one.


He's Austin.

Dorp wrote:Coupled with the constant message of "Randall thinks he's so smart but he's really not, because I am much smarter" it makes for a really rather adorable mental image.


I never really said I'm smarter than Randall -- certainly not smarter, as I have to work a lot harder to make less money than he makes. I do say that he's a bad artist, though. Would I be a good webcomic artist? I don't think so, and that's why I don't do it. A good artist knows his limits and works to push them further, and Randall does neither.

EDIT: Funny that someone should make fun of my avatar. I've seen at least two My Little Pony avatars in here, and thankfully I haven't seen any assholes making fun of that.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby George2 » Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:19 am UTC

KShrike wrote:Occupy Wall Street?

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyup, that's probably what it is. Unless someone else has a different guess on their minds, this what I believe Randall is making fun of.
The empty books are metaphorical for majors that can't earn a living.
The "Greedy publishers and rich authors" (oxymoron that last one) is obviously the supposedly greedy bank corporations and rich supposed 1%.

.... nah, I read too much into this comic with the lens of my... disappointment with the children at Occupy Wall Street. (Edit: now I'm being snide about the study of literature and intellectual property in general. See what I did there?)

edit: inb4 I get called a troll...

That's exactly what I thought. Glad to see I'm not the only one.

I don't know what Randall had in mind, maybe not specifically OWS, but they fit perfectly.
What's funny about this comic is that Randall took their "something for nothing" philosophy and turned it around so they get empty books for their money.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby VectorZero » Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:54 am UTC

hwillis19 wrote:
VectorZero wrote:I'll see you with Tim Minchin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhGuXCuDb1U

You, sir/madam, have just 1-UP'd my day...

My to do list:
Shower
Homework
Introduce someone to Tim Minchin
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:56 am UTC

George2 wrote:
KShrike wrote:Occupy Wall Street?

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyup, that's probably what it is. Unless someone else has a different guess on their minds, this what I believe Randall is making fun of.
The empty books are metaphorical for majors that can't earn a living.
The "Greedy publishers and rich authors" (oxymoron that last one) is obviously the supposedly greedy bank corporations and rich supposed 1%.

.... nah, I read too much into this comic with the lens of my... disappointment with the children at Occupy Wall Street. (Edit: now I'm being snide about the study of literature and intellectual property in general. See what I did there?)

edit: inb4 I get called a troll...

That's exactly what I thought. Glad to see I'm not the only one.

I don't know what Randall had in mind, maybe not specifically OWS, but they fit perfectly.
What's funny about this comic is that Randall took their "something for nothing" philosophy and turned it around so they get empty books for their money.
You guys do know there's a title text that's explicitly about homeopathy, right?
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby TheCycoONE » Tue Nov 01, 2011 12:57 pm UTC

CarlTheFirst wrote:
TheCycoONE wrote:It's not like placebos don't work; they're remarkably effective against a number of ailments particularly as an anti-depressant and anesthetic.


Actually, it IS like placebos don't work. They aren't "remarkably effective ... especially as an anti-depressant and anesthetic." Placebos are BARELY effective, and that weak effect being limited to things like mild depression and minor subjective pain.

I didn't think this premise would be controversial, otherwise I would have backed it up:
Some products that have been on the market for decades, like Prozac, are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. In many cases, these are the compounds that, in the late '90s, made Big Pharma more profitable than Big Oil. But if these same drugs were vetted now, the FDA might not approve some of them. Two comprehensive analyses of antidepressant trials have uncovered a dramatic increase in placebo response since the 1980s. One estimated that the so-called effect size (a measure of statistical significance) in placebo groups had nearly doubled over that time. - http://www.wired.com/medtech/drugs/magazine/17-09/ff_placebo_effect?currentPage=all



CarlTheFirst wrote:
They also only work if you think they will work so putting them on the shelf with other medications gives them the credence they need.


Amazingly, you are also wrong about that. Placebo effects exist even when patients are told that they are receiving a placebo. That works because most placebos effects come from the ritual/experience of taking a pill and the interaction with "someone who cares", not because there is a strong mind-over-matter driven be specific belief.

I see there is some evidence to support your claim, but you would have to find me a source that shows it is as effective as when they don't know.

<snip>

CarlTheFirst wrote:Your drug phobia is not supported by evidence. Most drugs, especially OTC, have few or no side effects for most people when taken at recommended doses.


I don't have a drug phobia, nor do I hesitate to take medication when I want it (when I have a headache, a stuffed up nose, a bacteria infection etc.) I just think that the placebo effect is undervalued in North America. In Germany it's common practice for doctors to subscribe placebos (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/mar/06/half-german-doctors-prescribe-placebos) and I think we stand to learn from that rather than mock it.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby George2 » Tue Nov 01, 2011 12:59 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:You guys do know there's a title text that's explicitly about homeopathy, right?

Yes.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 01, 2011 1:21 pm UTC

TheCycoONE wrote:
CarlTheFirst wrote:
They also only work if you think they will work so putting them on the shelf with other medications gives them the credence they need.
Amazingly, you are also wrong about that. Placebo effects exist even when patients are told that they are receiving a placebo. That works because most placebos effects come from the ritual/experience of taking a pill and the interaction with "someone who cares", not because there is a strong mind-over-matter driven be specific belief.
I see there is some evidence to support your claim, but you would have to find me a source that shows it is as effective as when they don't know.
Except, no one said they were equally effective.

However, what you may lose in potential nonspecific "effectiveness", you gain in not lying outright to the people who put their trust in you to give them real medicine when you're charging them for real medicine.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby TheCycoONE » Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:44 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:However, what you may lose in potential nonspecific "effectiveness", you gain in not lying outright to the people who put their trust in you to give them real medicine when you're charging them for real medicine.


Ah, there lies the heart of the matter. Are we buying the medicine or the cure? If we are buying the medicine and they give us sugar pills they've defrauded us. If we are buying the cure and the sugar pills work then we've gotten what we paid for, just not in the expected manner.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby dmm » Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:53 pm UTC

I didn't get it that the entire comic was about homeopathy.
FIRST
I thought it was a dig at people who refuse to acknowledge IP, of any kind, for any reason. So this guy refuses on principle to own any literature that ever had IP protection. Absurdio reductum.
THEN
I thought it might be a dig at post-modernists, who refuse to acknowledge an author's intent and claim the right to interpret a work any way they like. So I thought the blank book owner was the ultimate post-modernist: he doesn't even need any printed words to derive meaning from the book.
FINALLY
The alt text still didn't make me think the entire thing was about homeopathy. I thought it was just a real-world example of somebody lying/deceiving at another person's expense.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Karilyn » Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:25 pm UTC

Funny thing is I've actually bought blank books before, other than journals and notebooks.

Well, soft of... See, they make decorative hardcover books with plastic inside instead of paper. I bought some once to put on a decorative shelf. My actual books tend to be ugly and worn paperbacks. Much more nice looking this way.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby webgrunt » Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:37 pm UTC

sgbraunstein wrote:As far as books, Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

As far as medicine...well, doesn't that only count if homeopathic medicine doesn't work? I don't know if any of you have tried going to a Chinese doctor. But I lived in Taiwan for a year, and went to several Eastern (read: Homeopathic) doctors, and that stuff DEFINITELY WORKS.


I'm not sure what you mean by a homeopathic doctor. I know of no such thing.

Homeopathic medicine is not the same as Asian traditional medicine. I suspect you might be confusing homeopathic medicine with traditional medicine, folk medicine, alternative medicine, etc. Though homeopathic may fall under the "alternative" category, it is a very specific thing and unlike any other kind of medicine including other alternative medicines.

In homeopathy, you take a tiny bit of a substance that causes the problem the victim is suffering from and give it to them. For example, if someone has a headache, you take something that causes headaches and give them a very tiny bit of it to cure their headache.

How tiny? Well, supposedly, the more you dilute it, the stronger the effect is supposed to be. The effect is supposed to be the strongest then the medicine is so dilute that it's extremely unlikely for it to contain even one single molecule of the active ingredient.

That's homeopathic medicine in a nutshell. How do you feel about it now?

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby rcox1 » Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:51 pm UTC

What I see in the comic is that even intelligent allegedly educated people fall fallacy of false dilemma. That is, many people are happy to see the world as a series of binary choices, and further see people in terms of which choice they make. So we have blank books versus written books, pharmacy medecine versus homeopathy. One has a choice of one or the other, and if one choses wrong then you can't be part of my club. Of course this is ludicrous.

There are always more than two choices, at the least there is usually the choice to reject both choices, and that is really is interesting about the comic.

In terms of medicine, the dilemma is created by positioning medicine as a science, and positioning drugs as things to be scientifically proven as providing a net benefit. Not just a benefit, but an overwhelming benefit with minimum risk so that it would be silly to ever feel pain or suffering of any kind, to be in any way outside a strict definition of normal, when drugs can make you happy and fit in and easy to deal with. So why would you ever use those other drugs that are not based on science?

Of course some so-called science based drugs provide no real benefit but real risk. There is a great push to administer increasing amounts and types of psychotropic drugs to children but we now see that the so-called science may have been tainted by researchers who were paid by the pharmcos to write the papers. The risk of long term heart damage from Psuedophedrine is much more harmful than initially revealed by the medical researchers. Yet in spite of all this, we are told to take drugs because feeling is not neccesary.

Which really has little to do with the comic, except that all drugs lie to some extent, and the lie of the homeopathic drug is simply different from the lie of the conventional drug. Which is to say nothing of supplements.

What annoys me more is that processed food stuff, is sold next to real food. For instance processed cheese next to cheese, or chips next to dried fruit and nuts. Really if we are to enforce a binary choice between real and fake, food it the place to start. It would be wonderful to take a kid into a store and not have to deal with candy, or fruit leather, or fake juices, or any of that.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby TwoShort » Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:32 pm UTC

yorik wrote:I don't mind a dig at homeopathy as long as everybody understands that there's huge difference between homeopathy and naturopathy, or, as another poster put it, phyto. Many herbal remedies really do work (and many don't). For that matter, everything you eat has some effect on the body. Drug companies only sell what they can patent, and they can't patent a plant chemical.


That's ridiculous. The vast majority of the over-the-counter drugs at CVS (the real ones) are not patented (note the cheaper store brand right next to it). And for that matter, you can certainly patent the use of a "plant chemical" to treat a particular illness, presuming you are the one to discover it is effective.

There's a huge difference between medical providers who care if there is solid scientific evidence that their treatments work, and those that don't. If a naturopath (or anyone) is pushing a remedy that doesn't work in a double blind study, they are selling snake oil. If they only push remedies that have solid evidence behind them, they ought to go to medical school and stop associating themselves with snake-oil salesman.

At my last doctors appointment, I was advised that my handful of minor ailments might be improved if I consumed, or increased my consumption of, about a half dozen things. Un-patented vegetable matter, every one. "Alternative medicine" that works is just medicine, there is no reason to call it "alternative".

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:41 pm UTC

yorik wrote:they can't patent a plant chemical.
Tell that to Bayer. I think they'd be surprised to hear that none of their trademarks for Aspirin ever actually existed.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby TwoShort » Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:52 pm UTC

rcox1 wrote:In terms of medicine, the dilemma is created by positioning medicine as a science, and positioning drugs as things to be scientifically proven as providing a net benefit.


Since medicine is a science, and establishing scientifically that drugs provide a net benefit is the requirement for claiming they are effective, I'm not sure what the "dilemma" or "positioning" is.

Your rant against psychoactive drugs sounds like someone who hasn't needed them, but you're welcome to your opinion. Would you care to make a similar case against the problematic "positioning" of antibiotics?

I'm a bit more concerned with positioning water as an effective treatment for real maladies that it definitively does not treat. Lying to sick people such that they buy your product instead of seeking real treatment strikes me as a real problem. Prescribing drugs to depressed teenagers that will likely make them happier and more able to function in the world doesn't strike me as the same sort of problem, even if you think it would be more "real" for them to stay miserable and fail out of school.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:01 pm UTC

And sure, pharma companies have twisted or withheld research for financial reasons. No one is saying they're all saints. The argument is rather that the methods of scientific medicine are the only ones we can trust for eventually discovering what treatments work. And these are methods that alt-med apologists rarely even attempt to follow.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Angua » Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:12 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
yorik wrote:they can't patent a plant chemical.
Tell that to Bayer. I think they'd be surprised to hear that none of their trademarks for Aspirin ever actually existed.

Aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid, whereas the natural one is just plain old salicylic acid (which causes more stomach upset and I think is harder to absorb). Of course, I would imagine that if there is a specific distillation process needed, the pharmaceutical companies could patent that?

Back to whether or not 'Western' medicine counts as scientific, I would argue that it does. A lot of it (especially a lot of the new stuff) is extremely routed in science (eg, figure out how something works, develop drug to target it - look at a lot of the targeted cancer medications and those for autoimmune disease), though the problem is when dealing with a biological system, there are a lot of factors that you have to take into account - similar receptors that the drug could act on, how the drug is disposed of by the body, how the drug could interact with other substances, etc. Animal models do help with this, but sometimes it is hard to see the full sideeffects of a drug until it has been widely used for a while. I think we are getting better at learning what factors to look for (and how to avoid potential disasters, eg after thalidomide it became necessary to test drugs on two unrelated animals before going on to humans) , but until we have an extremely detailed view of how the human body works, we have a long way to go before we can account for everything before a drug goes on the market. The fact that drugs get pulled off after problems are reported with them (eg Vioxx) shows that the system is working - there are prospective studies that identify risks and take action as soon as possible.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:15 pm UTC

Huh, I didn't realize that.

How about something simpler, like sugar. Does anyone make money from sugar? I suspect they do.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Angua » Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:23 pm UTC

Well, the invention of the process for getting sugar from the sugarbeet in Europe was on of the factors contributing to the death of sugar plantations (and slavery, hurray!) in the Caribbean. So, yes? It's probably more about who can extract things more cheaply than actually patenting the chemical though.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:27 pm UTC

Well yes, fine, maybe the actual plant chemical can't technically be patented. But the underlying point is that no company is going to skip botanical research entirely because they can't make money from it. Either they'll make money from a cheaper extraction method, or from a way to synthesize an effectively identical chemical artificially.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Angua » Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:41 pm UTC

Yes - botanical research is important because finding the active ingredients in folk medicines, or poisonous plants, can be extremely important in making better drugs. Not to mention, having only that chemical helps us be 100% sure of what concentration we are using (which can be a problem with herbal teas, or people who know that their local witch-doctor used x plant to cure their stomach ache, but don't know if it was hte leaves or the bark, if the mixture was boiled or not, and what the concentration was, if they used anything else that was an active ingredient in the process, etc, which is why you should be careful of making your own natural remedies yourself unless you know exactly what you're doing, and got the information from someone else). Certain plants are being used to help make specific chemotherapies, as they have neurotoxic, or renal-toxic properties, and so would hopefully only target that tissue (and the cancerous tissue more than the normal one).
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby drakvl » Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:18 pm UTC

I've been wondering about medicine myself. I've come to the conclusion it's a strange blend of science, engineering, and public policy.

Now: SirMustapha. I was exercising self-control, telling myself, "Don't feed the troll" (and before you deny it -- "Oh, and I also post in anti-xkcd places too, which can be fan but not always. Agreement becomes boring over time." Really?) when you had to go and say something regarding one of my geek buttons: animation.

"I don't understand how the Backyardigans adds to the irony. I'm a huge fan of the show, especially the music -- and especially now that My Little Pony has become such a huge Internet phenomenon, I would expect people wouldn't find anything wrong in adults enjoying cartoons like that."

And for your next trick, will you go on to claim that Avatar and Spongebob Squarepants are pretty much the same? You're among nerds -- most of us are adults who enjoy cartoons. (Gargoyles, 90s superhero-based series, esp. Batman: TAS, anime). I'm not saying that The Backyardigans is to animation what Superman 64 was to videogames (haven't experienced either, really), but something tells me the writers don't do things like make Bowie references, or even references to previous episodes. A large part of it is the difference Asimov described between science fiction and literary fiction: world-building.

*looks at post* So at this point, I guess I can't hide my "brony" status any longer? Drat! And double-drat!

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby AncientMariner » Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:19 pm UTC

I just noticed CVS has started stocking homeopathic pills on the same shelves with--and labeled similarly to--their actual medicine. Telling someone who trusts you that you're giving them medicine, when you know you’re not, because you want their money, isn’t just lying--it’s like an example you’d make up if you had to illustrate for a child why lying is wrong." alt="I just noticed CVS has started stocking homeopathic pills on the same shelves with--and labeled similarly to--their actual medicine. Telling someone who trusts you that you're giving them medicine, when you know you’re not, because you want their money, isn’t just lying--it’s like an example you’d make up if you had to illustrate for a child why lying is wrong.


Yeah, I think those guys at the Davis CVS are shills too.

AND they're self-service checkout is always crashing!!

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby solsang » Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:38 pm UTC

A danish documentary just showed how placebo anti-depressants have a *higher* effect than the real medicine!!
These antidepressant pills are widely used here, even in the primary school, with various sideeffects causing more problems:(

Thus avoiding the sideeffects and using placebo would actually be preferred; if someone gets some money, then it still makes people having a better life:)

Any mental effect of belief in placebo pills with other names might be taken into account, as well as the possibility of homeopathic medicine actually working, eg due to the crystalline structure of water having some physical effect in the body (see emotos water experiments)- it would be scientifically wrong to count out anything that hasnt been seriously double blindtested!

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Pipcard » Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:11 pm UTC

So-Called Alternative Medicine (SCAM)

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Eebster the Great » Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:34 pm UTC

TheCycoONE wrote:Ah, there lies the heart of the matter. Are we buying the medicine or the cure? If we are buying the medicine and they give us sugar pills they've defrauded us. If we are buying the cure and the sugar pills work then we've gotten what we paid for, just not in the expected manner.

In the U.S., and I suspect in all countries, it is illegal to give a placebo when the prescription or label says otherwise. However, it is legal to sell "homeopathic remedies" which do not contain their active ingredient. In my mind this is beyond absurd.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Magnes » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:05 pm UTC

dmm wrote:I didn't get it that the entire comic was about homeopathy.


To me, the whole comic and its alt-text seem to be saying:
The power to understand the universe and the power to heal yourself are within you.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby KrytenKoro » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:06 pm UTC

whateveries wrote:
This 'You dumb, I smart' thing, it's, it's kinda like, pretty much, every post you do. you ever notice that?. No? maybe a bit of deconstructionist analysis of your own posts mixed in with some soul searching and therapy might give yourself an 'in' to your fairly obvious self hate (we all see it, being played out week after week, we cry for you, we really do) . It's not Randall you hate, it's not the repetive jokes, it's the reflection in the xkcd mirror that you hate. SirMustupha, you don't need to hate yourself, sure, you are a wierd pink rabit thing, but surgery can fix that. surgery and a fake tan. or, even, even a new jpg.

Dorp wrote:Damn, you hit the nail on the head. I'm a serial lurker who posts only very, very rarely and reads the daily comic thread about once a month or so, and even I feel a deep and profound sadness for whatever awful life circumstances gave rise to SirMustapha's strange one man crusade against a comic he nonetheless continues to read regularly. I figure there's a healthy dose of masochism in there too, since he chooses to vent his displeasure in the one place where he is basically guaranteed an audience of people who don't agree with him.

Of course then again I'd be lying if I didn't admit to occasionally having no other motive for reading the comic thread than "I wonder what SirMustapha will hate about this one?" Sometimes he's really creative with his outrage, and above all articulate, which along with the Backyardigans avatar lends his posts a sort of unique irony which I confess can be quite intoxicating. Sure, he (or she) is a paragon of impotent, pointless negativity with a gift for spinning any sentiment expressed by Randall into a shining example of the depravity of the man's soul, but s/he also watches Backyardigans. And likes the purple one. Coupled with the constant message of "Randall thinks he's so smart but he's really not, because I am much smarter" it makes for a really rather adorable mental image.

Seriously? Instead of disagreeing with any of SirMustapha's claims, instead of ridiculing those, you jump straight to the most infantile and self-humiliating ad hominems? I thought these forums claimed more dignity than that.

A) Sir Mustapha's complaints are silly in this one, I think. The fact that so many people got all the way to the alt-text before realizing it was a satire, not an xkcd-standard "no boundaries" strip, seems to me to be a bit of self-parody on Randall's part. I hardly see how it's evidence of low self-esteem that he thought of a quirky way to express his beliefs and posted it.
B) As long as we're talking about feeling sorry for each other, I "really feel sorry" for dorp and whateveries for apparently believing that "voicing dissaproval = self-deprecating obsession and terrible home life", because it implies this circular cycle of "pot calling the kettle black" on their own part.
c) Actually, I don't really feel sorry for them. I think it's hilarious how hypocritical they're making themselves look. This whole thing, it's like some kind of Escher painting of amusingly pathetic hypocrisy on everyone's part.
D) HEY LOOK I DID IT TOO.
From the elegant yelling of this compelling dispute comes the ghastly suspicion my opposition's a fruit.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby belongalyd » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:12 pm UTC

TheCycoONE wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:However, what you may lose in potential nonspecific "effectiveness", you gain in not lying outright to the people who put their trust in you to give them real medicine when you're charging them for real medicine.


Ah, there lies the heart of the matter. Are we buying the medicine or the cure? If we are buying the medicine and they give us sugar pills they've defrauded us. If we are buying the cure and the sugar pills work then we've gotten what we paid for, just not in the expected manner.



Is this like abstract art? I see a pair of knickers on yonder washing line. Is it a real Tracy Emin? Or is it a fake?

The reason the trials are double blind is because placebos do work. Mind water can be dangerous. People have died from an overdose. Maybe there should be a warning on Evian bottles.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby whateveries » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:32 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:"Self-hate" is by far the stupidest argument ever used against me in the whole time I've been in these forums....


it is not an argument, it is an observation.

KrytenKoro wrote:
Seriously? Instead of disagreeing with any of SirMustapha's claims, instead of ridiculing those, you jump straight to the most infantile and self-humiliating ad hominems?


What? in all of the one thousand plus posts that SirMustapha has ever made, has there ever been one iota of contrition? (ok, maybe contrition at a dilution of 200C) was ther ever one moment when he did consider the argument against him valid? No? (To be fair, I have not searched through all of his posts, so I might be wrong, but somehow, somehow I doubt it.) So the point or arguing with him is null, however making fun of him, that is very valid.

Really by now, surely SirMustapha deserves to have his own section in the forum, where we can discuss how much of a tool he his without pulling the topic (in this case 0971: Alternative Literature) out of kilter. Personally I would read that part of the forum more than this part of the forum. dorp was right, SirMustapha is as much of a drawcard to these forums as the comic is, he knows it, he plays up to it, and perhaps secretly, he hates himself for it.

and KrytenKoro 'self-humiliating ad hominems? ' really? what? 'self-humiliating ad hominems' makes me think under that rubber mask a pink rabbit might hide.
it's fine.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby faunablues » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:29 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
yorik wrote:they can't patent a plant chemical.
Tell that to Bayer. I think they'd be surprised to hear that none of their trademarks for Aspirin ever actually existed.


Aspirin is not straight willow bark. They acetylated an active ingredient, making it possible to patent (I believe). (But the purpose of doing so wasn't for legal reasons, but to make it gentler on the stomach)

I'm surprised that, in four pages, it seems there has only been one or two people who brought up the counter: not all "real" medicine works or is without significant risk. I'm far from one who distrusts the "medical establishment," but the involvement of pharm companies with research & and the decision whether to publish that research really complicates matters. They can have 20 studies, only one of which showed their drug did any good, and choose to only submit that one to a journal. It happens (though it's real frustrating to the people working on the research!). So it's not like all that real medicine on the shelf is necessarily as great as one might think, and you'd have to go off of specific studies (double-blind and whatnot) to really determine that.

And I hate the argument that the onus is on the consumer. Sometimes, sure. But in the case of medicine, it's really really not. Are we really expecting everyone to even be able to read the whole box (and the leaflet inside, so you don't know much about all the effects until after purchase!), understand all the chemical names and terminology, and research whether there is evidence about efficacy, and if those studies are reliable or significantly biased? No, a layperson should be able to trust the labeling on these medicines, and just because it's the way it's always been, expect that medicines are grouped by the drug in them, not fake knock-offs side by side like a generic is paired with the private label (at least those are pretty much the same product). I can try to educate someone about the medicine we're prescribing to their dog all I want, but if the advertisement on the internet/TV for an alternative is misleading, and the crappy non-Rx on the shelf makes misleading claims on its package, that's what gets the consumer's money (and it's a worse situation with veterinary drugs, because there are so few that are available OTC, so there's a motivation to get the easier, cheaper stuff that's on the shelf and also happens to be worthless). Just because many of the readers here are natural skeptics doesn't mean everyone is, and if they are, they're often skeptical of only one thing (just the medical industry, and not anyone who wants to sell cures).

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby fr00t » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:45 am UTC

How many people actually believe in and utilize homeopathy?

It just seems like one of those topics that internet intellectuals rally around, beating some imaginary strawman to death.

But if they are really selling it at CVS next to real medicine... why aren't there laws against such a practice?

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby kokomokola » Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:07 am UTC

This comic reminded me very strongly of the old Pogo comics (by Walt Kelly), anybody else here read those? The humor style is the same. I could totally see this conversation happening between Pogo (the puzzled one) and Owl (Mr. Blank Books). :D

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Shalom » Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:53 am UTC

Scene: An artist hangs pictures on the walls for about five minutes, takes them down and throws them away, and then admits visitors into the bare gallery. The exhibit is titled Homeopathic Art.

If you really want to know what medicines to purchase, ask the pharmacist. Don't go by what some marketing "expert" who knows nothing about what he's selling thinks should be in the planogram. I am a pharmacist, and worked for the Chain of Verylarge Stores for years. We have no control over what Coprorate stocks in the front end of the store. Hell, if it was up to us, they wouldn't sell cigarettes either.

However, any pharmacist worth the license will tell you honestly what's what and what isn't, if you just ask us. If you bring one of those homeopathic "medicines" up to my counter and ask me about it, I'll tell you straight out that it's so much horsefeathers, and direct you to the appropriate product instead. I had someone ask me once, if it's so worthless, why am I selling it? I said, "Do you see me selling it? It's on the shelf, but that doesn't mean I'll ever recommend it."

yes, the misspelling is deliberate. look it up.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Alsadius » Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:25 am UTC

BrianB wrote:
Cranica wrote:Alt text: I just noticed CVS has started stocking homeopathic pills on the same shelves with--and labeled similarly to--their actual medicine. Telling someone who trusts you that you're giving them medicine, when you know you’re not, because you want their money, isn’t just lying--it’s like an example you’d make up if you had to illustrate for a child why lying is wrong.


Alsadius wrote:And yes, alternative medicine ranges from stupid to evil, with that CVS example falling neatly on the "evil" side of the line.


And so now.... People who don't bother to read and identify what they are taking off the shelf and purchasing == evil corporation?

Oh yeah, and I heard that the US government is going to start using stimulus dollars to wipe our ass for us. Because, heaven forbid, the population take any kind of personal responsibility.


Hey, I'm all for personal responsibility, but there's a line between caveat emptor and fraud, and this gets too close to that line for me to be happy with it. Sure, sell the idiots their sugar water, but you have a responsibility to make it clear that this part of the store sells medicine and that part sells candy. People literally die because they take this stuff instead of the medicine that's actually based on science - simple human decency indicates that you ought to at least be clear about what's what.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby scarletmanuka » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:18 am UTC

webgrunt wrote:I'm not sure what you mean by a homeopathic doctor. I know of no such thing.

Well, you take a normal doctor, put him or her in a tank with 7,000 L of water, shake it up....


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