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Minna Pöntinen 00E / 25.8.2001
Sweat of an Octopus aka. "Nyahaa, stupid people lose their money"
There are a few types of frauds that interfere with peoples’ everyday lives. The worst of these are horoscopes, all kinds of health/body/whatever-biodynamic medicines and the products the TV shop offers. People lose huge amounts of money because of the simple fact that they don’t think and criticize the effects of “the ancient Chinese Xyzzyyenomruoyllaekatew-medicine for Becoming Popular, Handsome, Healthy, Intelligent and Rich”
First, the horoscopes. When I ask people, why do they believe in horoscopes. The usual answer is that somewhen a description in their horoscope has been correct. “Well, that’s nothing”, I try to tell them, “the horoscopic descriptions have been fixed so that they fit 95% of people.” This often results in a moment of silence, but most of them still try to keep up their belief: “Yeah, but these horoscopes have been invented thousands of years ago in X (X equals any country that the ladies’ magazines have stamped as “mystical”.)
Then, the biodynamic medicines - the main reason why I joined the Finnish Sceptics’ Association three years ago. I guess these medicines annoy me more than anything else, and for years now I’ve wanted to inform the people who claim that the new medicine (made out of something like camel’s placenta, lily-of-the-valley extract and sweat of an octopus) really works, about realities. I’m not attacking against the placebo medicines used by doctors, because they actually help people to save their precious money, but if someone actually invests huge amounts of money on biodynamic medicines, I feel like telling them a thing or two. Sadly, this biodynamic-boom is getting worse all the time. New alternative medicine stores are appearing everywhere and even the magazines I thought to be rather rational now publish huge commercials of new special medicines. These medicines aren’t only a good way of losing all your money, but sadly they are often also straightforwardly poisonous. (Noticed the lily-of-the-valley-part in my example? Well, these flowers have loads of strophantidine-beta-l-rhamnoside - a poison that bears likeness to digitalis - in them, so using them as a medicine isn’t very wise.) Approximately a year ago I read an article of some biodynamic medicine that caused liver failure and was the cause of a few deaths in Finland, too.
People tend to believe everything that is said to have a positive effect on their lives. The stories that the Feng Shui books tell about peoples’ lives getting better are usually very one-sidedly told. Once I read a story of a woman who had been a single for something like 5 years. Then she met a Feng Shui expert, who told her that she needed some “water elemental” to the eastern side of her house. The woman followed the expert’s advice and behold: a week later a handsome man appeared to his front porch. Well, what about it? Was it a plumber, or the TV licence checker? Maybe it really was a handsome man, but I guess he just wanted to ask “Why have you kept an empty bowl of water on your windowsill for a week? You freak!”