Shooting Oneself in the Foot


I gave up debating acupuncturists and other pseudoscientists, because it’s like fighting The Terminator: they keep coming back for more, no matter what you do. Pseudosciences have evolved protective layers of bafflegab that are so complicated it takes hours to resect them, and they throw up more bafflegab as fast as you try.

One of my favorite questions for acupuncturists and purveyors of alternative whatnot was “can I kill someone with this?”  That usually goes far enough outside of their normal line of reasoning that they may accidentally say something truthful tantamount to “it doesn’t work.” After all, if sticking a needle in my butt will make my heart better, what if you stick 4 needles there? If there’s a mechanism that improves something, that is the definition of “interferes with…” – anything that makes my heart work better can also make it work less well. I’ve only ever had one clever response to that line of reasoning, and it was a homeopath who said, “Absolutely! If you stop taking the remedy, you may die.”

A more practical question is “can I get high off this stuff?” If you’re offering me a natural palliative for pain – if sticking 2 needles in my butt will make my aching back go away – where can I stick 2 needles and trip like Trump? If you can kill pain, can’t you cause pleasure? I notice distinct absence of accuViagra: stick a couple needles in your penis and it’ll get hard, or something. If homeopathy worked, I could take some opium, dissolve it in alcohol (that’s called “laudanum” and it does work) and then cut it with water by a factor of 1:10,000,000 and I’d be stoned for years if I didn’t just burst into flames from the overdose, right? (that’s called “watered down laudanum” and it doesn’t work)

My mad photoshop and powerpoint skills

I think it stands to reason: if rubbing someone’s foot (coincidentally, in two spots that tend to get sore) can make their heart work better, and their blood circulate – an assassin’s bullet to the root of the big toe ought to be as lethal as a shot through the hippocampus.

It’s been years since I shot at a public range but I wish I could take a few of these and increase the surrealism level slightly.

 

Comments

  1. cartomancer says

    I’ve often thought that a good approach would be to hire an elderly Chinese man and have him take them on. Preferably someone who can pull off a good “inscrutable oriental sage” stereotype. When you claim to be a practitioner of an ancient Chinese art it somewhat undercuts your credibility to have the embodiment of the mystique you’re trading on pop up to tell you it’s all a load of bollocks.

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    One of my favorite questions for acupuncturists and purveyors of alternative whatnot was “can I kill someone with this?”

    Well, a needle to the heart could do the trick, as would excessive water intake.

    If there’s a mechanism that improves something, that is the definition of “interferes with…” – anything that makes my heart [or, I assume, anything else] work better can also make it work less well.

    I’ve never heard of a vitamin C overdose. I suppose it’s possible…

    Crappy counterarguments to crappy arguments (like for homeopathy, etc) are still crappy.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Rob Grigjanis @ # 3: I’ve never heard of a vitamin C overdose.

    It produces diarrhea, in many cases. [Insert Trump allusion here.]

  4. jrkrideau says

    I don’t have any references handy but acupuncture has done some real damage to various organs. One wonders if the practicioner was using acupuncture needles or shish kabob skewers.

    I am not sure acupuncture has actually killed anyone—except perhaps by infections?

    As Rob Grigjanis @ 3 says a needle to the heart will work but I don’t believe that is standard acupuncture practice.

    A chiropractic neck adjustment has a possibility of paralysis or death.

  5. says

    Rob Grigjanis@#3:
    Crappy counterarguments to crappy arguments (like for homeopathy, etc) are still crappy.

    Of course. The woo usually fails basic epistemological challenge; this is just clowning around. Once you start engaging with the silliness it’s all silly all the way down.

  6. militantagnostic says

    Marcus Ranum

    I could take some opium, dissolve it in alcohol (that’s called “laudanum” and it does work) and then cut it with water by a factor of 1:10,000,000 and I’d be stoned for years if I didn’t just burst into flames from the overdose, right?

    That is now how homeopathy “works”. To cure a symptom you that a minute to nonexistent dose of a substance that causes that symptom. Homeopathic laudanum should have an effect more like an amphetamine.

Leave a Reply