Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Can I play with madness?


I know that there are easy targets. But they are like invasive weeds in your garden, every time you think they've been controlled, they crop up again in unexpected and unpleasant places.

And I try to stay topical. Unfortunately, today's lunchtime talk was about the benefits of complementary therapy. The speaker preferred the word complementary rather than alternative words such as untested, unsafe, ineffective, lunatic, stupid.

It all started fairly innocuous although very obvious - drink lots of water, exercise, eat a balanced diet with less processed food. Everyone knows that anyway. Then the presenter veered off onto her own strange planet of reiki and chakras and reflexology. She even seemed to be taking some of the audience with her.

I'll be kind to the presenter. I'll call it salesmanship. She must have been hawking us unverified codswallop to boost her own bank balance rather than because of mental condition. It's ridiculous as science, but fair enough in marketing.


6 comments:

RNB said...

I'm going to answer one obvious question before it is asked - so why did I go?

The reason is completely relevant to this discussion. It was a nice relaxed half hour away from marketing spreadsheets - which is exactly the benefit of the alternative therapy :)

Faisal said...

Rana, there are many things science has not explained yet. Do not discount the chakras--google Pranic healing. I have experienced its amazing miracles first hand.

And marketing and science go hand in hand. It's just that the science of human behaviour is somewhat complex, so the explanations are often not the straightforward ones we would expect.

Sounds like a fun talk. An interesting social experiment would be to have a drab corporate drone deliver the talk in one hall, and a stunning model type in another, then see how receptive each audience was to the "codswallop". :)

"Self-relaxation" techniques would be disallowed, of course.

RNB said...

I completely agree that marketing and science are completely inter-related. In fact the better the science, both in terms of statistics and psychology, then the better the marketing. It is only lack of science and understanding that results in bad marketing.

As suggested, have googled pranic healing. Sorry, just like the medical community, am still unconvinced there.

And re the experiment - you seemed very "relaxed" in Dorothy's French classes - comprendez ;)

Faisal said...

Oh come on, you know acupuncture works, often where western medicine fails. You know that the body communicates by making electrons hop, and that electric currents cause electromagnetic fields. Is it such a stretch to believe in forms of medicine that manipulate this field while using different terms for it? History is littered with man harnessing things in nature that he did not understand, like seasonal variations, wind and currents, or animal responses to stimuli.

A rabid belief in only western medicine is pretty extreme too, no? If a scientific explanation does not [yet] exist, is it necessarily quackery? I don't think so. If the non-scientific method has a statistically valid efficacy rate, would you still dismiss it as "luck" or quackery?

Faisal said...

Aussi, oui, je comprends bien! :^)

RNB said...

Pardon, mais acupuncture ne marche pas :(

http://www.badscience.net/index.php?s=acupuncture

And if the non-scientific method has a statistically valid efficacy rate, then it becomes the scientific method.