0971: "Alternative Literature"

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Cranica
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0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Cranica » Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:51 am UTC

How has no one posted yet? It's almost 2AM :o

Image

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.

I've been trying to convince my parents about homeopathy for years, they refuse to listen :(

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0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Jared the Great » Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:51 am UTC

Image
Alt Text: I just noticed CVS has started stocking Homeopathic pills on the same shelves with--and labelled 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.

To be fair, I've read some books that would work better without anything on the pages.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Plasma Mongoose » Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:53 am UTC

Placebo Publishing Presents...
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Re: 971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Thirsting » Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:57 am UTC

Yet another stab against placebo salesmen.

And now that I think about it, my spouse has books with empty pages... which have been bought with real money.

And sigh. For several minutes there was no topic, then when I manage to make one, there's already three. Ah well, I guess that happens nearly every time to someone. And every time some one complains about it. Every freaking time. Seriously.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby poxic » Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:02 am UTC

Congratulations, Thirsting, on being that someone. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

This comic... it makes me sad, but also happy. It's like a placebo comic: it is what I want it to be.

Or something. It's late and I must sleep. Soonish.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Alsadius » Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:09 am UTC

The comic went up late, as most have been recently.

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

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Raineer » Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:10 am UTC

Very happy to see another shot taken against the alternative medicine industry (and those who will line their shelves with water and sugar pills for profit). This thread is about to get really messy as dozens come in to tell tales of the medicine that didn't work and the magic seen in a $30 sugar pill. Doctors are just trying to rip us all off with this "medicine" junk, etc etc.

I know the XKCD crowd is more educated so it won't be too bad, but this is still the internet. Ahh, to be able to comment early and head off to work :)

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby sjcrowe » Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:11 am UTC

Telling someone you're giving them medicine, when you know you're not, isn't just lying -- it's SCIENCE!

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Turing Machine » Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:38 am UTC

Who on earth trusts CVS?! Is CVS your dad, or your pastor, or something?

I thought it was just a retail store.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby sardia » Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:42 am UTC

Turing Machine wrote:Who on earth trusts CVS?! Is CVS your dad, or your pastor, or something?

I thought it was just a retail store.

When I go to a store to get aspirin, I assume the bottles labeled aspirin are, in fact, aspirin. If they were lying to me, I would have a hard time telling due to placebo effect, or if the headache was just really bad.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby KShrike » Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:44 am UTC

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...
Last edited by KShrike on Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:46 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby irishnut » Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:44 am UTC

Cranica wrote:I've been trying to convince my parents about homeopathy for years, they refuse to listen :(


...did you READ the comic before posting it? I'm not one to get all preachy to someone who chooses to use it, for example my friend who has something for anxiousness which is really just all in her head, it works for her I might as well leave her be.

But facts on the table, this stuff isn't dangerous just because you're not treating what's making you sick, they are dangerous by themselves and can seriously harm you.

http://www.cracked.com/funny-7368-homeopathic-medicine/

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Werewolf » Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:50 am UTC

You managed to get this topic posted at the exact same time as the other one.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby meticulousDrafstman » Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:52 am UTC

Well hey, at least he only paid for physical goods.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby ijuin » Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:18 am UTC

sjcrowe wrote:Telling someone you're giving them medicine, when you know you're not, isn't just lying -- it's SCIENCE!

Nah, a proper scientific study is double-blind, so you (the researcher) don't actually know whom you are giving medicine or not until after the data has been collected.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby phlip » Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:33 am UTC

Not exactly the same - the other thread beat this one by a full 38 seconds.

Code: Select all

enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
[he/him/his]

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby phlip » Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:37 am UTC

When I was reading the first few panels, I thought this was going to be one of those arty, "know no borders", "ignore normality" type strips that xkcd does from time to time (Grownups, Interesting Life, to a lesser extent A-Minus-Minus)... it wasn't until the last panel that it started throwing me off. I didn't see the connection to homeopathy until reading the title text.

Code: Select all

enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
[he/him/his]

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:40 am UTC

Of course, since there are 12,000 (known) diseases, to make sure that your medicine isn't correlated with extra instances of any particular disease, you would need, hmm, Chi-squared with 12,000 distinct groups, chance of correlation with any 1 disease <5%, umm, more humans in your test pool than have ever existed or will ever exist. Not accounting for new diseases that will inevitably pop up.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Stanistani » Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:55 am UTC

Homeopathological?

Just get a glass of water from the tap, it has molecules in it from all of the medicines that have ever existed, plus a few atoms of Jesus... powerfully good for you.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Cranica » Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:57 am UTC

irishnut wrote:
Cranica wrote:I've been trying to convince my parents about homeopathy for years, they refuse to listen :(


...did you READ the comic before posting it? I'm not one to get all preachy to someone who chooses to use it, for example my friend who has something for anxiousness which is really just all in her head, it works for her I might as well leave her be.

But facts on the table, this stuff isn't dangerous just because you're not treating what's making you sick, they are dangerous by themselves and can seriously harm you.

http://www.cracked.com/funny-7368-homeopathic-medicine/


Convince them NOT to believe in it, that is.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby skeptical scientist » Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:01 am UTC

Turing Machine wrote:Who on earth trusts CVS?! Is CVS your dad, or your pastor, or something?

I thought it was just a retail store.

I agree completely. "Caveat emptor" still applies, and people who trust the salesman are naive. That said, it's a sad state of affairs that companies routinely market worthless remedies and get away with it, and CVS is partly to blame for their dishonesty. But I'd lay more of the blame at the FDA, which is not doing its job when it allows people to sell sugar pills with no active ingredient (or worse, untested and potentially harmful compounds) while making untested claims about their effects.
sardia wrote:When I go to a store to get aspirin, I assume the bottles labeled aspirin are, in fact, aspirin. If they were lying to me, I would have a hard time telling due to placebo effect, or if the headache was just really bad.

The problem is not pills claiming to be aspirin which are not, as aspirin is a specific compound and it is illegal to sell something other than aspirin and call it aspirin. The problem is pills claiming to be "headache remedies" which do not in fact do anything to help your headache.
phlip wrote:When I was reading the first few panels, I thought this was going to be one of those arty, "know no borders", "ignore normality" type strips that xkcd does from time to time (Grownups, Interesting Life, to a lesser extent A-Minus-Minus)... it wasn't until the last panel that it started throwing me off. I didn't see the connection to homeopathy until reading the title text.

I read the final exchange, "I refuse to be a sucker. // Who sold you all these blank books?" looked back at the title "alternative literature", and it clicked.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby KeithIrwin » Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:14 am UTC

Some of the "homeopathic" medicines aren't really homeopathic. For instance, if you look at the Zicam nasal spray product which was pulled from the market, it was diluted to 2X, which is to say 100:1. That's not the normal homeopathic concentration. Homeopaths dilute their medicines to placebo levels of 10X or higher. Common dilutions are 10X, 15X, 30X, 10C, and 30C. X means 10:1 dilution, C means 100:1 dilution. Thus, 1C=2X. 10X is 10,000,000,000:1, i.e. 0.1 parts per billion. 15X is 1,000,000,000,000,000:1 (0.000001 ppb). These are the sort of concentrations which take virtually all substances into the placebo range. I would gladly drink arsenic diluted to 15X. Zicam nasal spray was 2X, i.e. 100:1 or 10,000,000 ppb. It was diluted in the range of normal medicines and not into the range that real homeopaths would consider appropriate for medicine. (Although they would argue that the medicine would be too weak, rather than too strong.)

So, if it was real medicine, why did they market it as homeopathic? Simple: homeopathic medicines don't have to meet FDA safety approval. Zicam nasal spray was terribly unsafe and could cause permanent lose of smell. At the time they started selling it, this was a well established side effect of other nasal zinc sprays which had been tested. But they didn't have to test it for that the before bringing it on the market.

Here's what a real homeopathic product looks like:
http://www.cvs.com/CVSApp/catalog/shop_ ... dtabdetail
Notice in the ingredients, everything is diluted to 30C. That's a 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000:1 ration of dilutant to the original chemical.

Some of the "homeopathic" stuff at CVS isn't like that. It's like the Zircam: the ratios aren't in the range any real homeopath would ever use. Consider these "homeopathic" zinc cough drops:
http://www.cvs.com/CVSApp/catalog/shop_ ... dtabdetail
Dilution level: 2X. That's normal medical range, not homeopathy range. It's a dodge around having to prove safety, not real homeopathy. People should be very worried and upset about these sort of shenanigans, but the media hasn't really covered it.

When the Zicam nasal spray was yanked from the market, I tried to alert people to what the real story was, but I didn't make any headway. I hadn't realized that there were still other fake homeopathic products being sold. Now that I see that there are, I'm going to talk to people I know in media who might be able to write about it.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Ocker3 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:15 am UTC

Just because the FDA has approved it, doesn't mean it's good science. How many studies have turned out to have been fudged to get a significant outcome, or just downright wrong?

I mean, anti-depressants that Increase the risk of suicide? How was that not picked up during the testing, and not a valid reason to call the entire thing off?
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby tuxedobob » Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:35 am UTC

KeithIrwin wrote: (Although they would argue that the medicine would be too weak, rather than too strong, because they are $@*&ing stupid.)


Fixed that for you.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby madjo » Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:58 am UTC

The link from this comic to the subject of homeopathy. One of the books had a smudge on one of the pages, the rest were blank pages.

Homeopathy contains a smudge of active ingredients dissolved in liters upon liters of water.

The guy in the comic infered that he could learn everything just from that one smudge dissolved in all those blank pages, just the same as people believe that homeopathy works because of the smudge of active ingredients within all those liters of water.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Thibaw » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:08 am UTC

I wonder how many of you got the homeopathy reference before reading the alt text. Because I didnt and now I feel like my intellect failed me on this one.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Anachrome » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:11 am UTC

Thibaw wrote:I wonder how many of you got the homeopathy reference before reading the alt text. Because I didnt and now I feel like my intellect failed me on this one.

I actually thought it was a reference to "imma just splash this paper with some paint, and maybe a square trololol" style modern art until I read the alt text.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby SirMustapha » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:32 am UTC

Really? Another stab at homoeopathy? Clearly Randall is going through some self-esteem issues -- first it was that stupid "Jet Fuel" comic, in which Randall showed he was better than those silly conspiracy theorists, now it's this comic, in which he shows he's better than people who take homoeopathy. In short, Randall's been acting like the worst kind of troll: not the most aggressive or the most disruptive, but the most pathetic, that which desperately needs to get out of the house and talk to real people.

Besides, I've seen many snarky homoeopathy analogies, and this is one of the lamest I've ever seen.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby willpellmn » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:50 am UTC

When the alt-text is as long as this one, it becomes distinctly annoying trying to read it in a tooltip which disappears after a couple seconds and won't come back until you refresh the comic. The message is a good one, but alt-texts are always better off being shorter if they can manage it (in this case it probably couldn't). Hence I came to this thread for no other reason than to read the transcribed alt-text.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby das7002 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:17 am UTC

willpellmn wrote:When the alt-text is as long as this one, it becomes distinctly annoying trying to read it in a tooltip which disappears after a couple seconds and won't come back until you refresh the comic. The message is a good one, but alt-texts are always better off being shorter if they can manage it (in this case it probably couldn't). Hence I came to this thread for no other reason than to read the transcribed alt-text.


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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:22 am UTC

SirMustapha wrote:Besides, I've seen many snarky homoeopathy analogies, and this is one of the lamest I've ever seen.
I thought it was actually very clever.

EDIT: Also, I wouldn't feel bad if you didn't get it till reading the alt-text. Good jokes are all about timing, and the 'moment' it 'clicks' is part of that timing.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby reploid » Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:30 am UTC

sjcrowe wrote:Telling someone you're giving them medicine, when you know you're not, isn't just lying -- it's SCIENCE!

don't confuse science industry with science and the scientific method. In this case, you would have to honestly be logically convinced it has medicine-like effects by the statistically relevant body of evidence, so you'd technically not be a liar... whatever "technically" means

Turing Machine wrote:Who on earth trusts CVS?! Is CVS your dad, or your pastor, or something?

I thought it was just a retail store.

You seem to be doing well in your figures of speech research , but I'm still not convinced about you being strong AI. Google "mavericks" and look for a ftp site, run file v10f.mvk after instrucions on readme.

meticulousDrafstman wrote:Well hey, at least he only paid for physical goods.

indeed a bit better than paying for a "high qulity" .ogg white-noise "sample". I would be amazed to know what noise generator they used to sample their file.

KeithIrwin wrote:Some of the "homeopathic" medicines aren't really homeopathic. ((some excessive text was cut)) I hadn't realized that there were still other fake homeopathic products being sold. Now that I see that there are, I'm going to talk to people I know in media who might be able to write about it.

Oh me yarm, good point. All the time I was thinking that the actual point is that "trully homeopathic medicines" have virtually no effect other than that of the solvent since any volume of it isn't likely to contain more molecules of the medicine than of impurities. I must be stupid.


and I couldn't help noticing that CVS has launched an amazing halloween discount of 25% on products' price on its online shop only for human customers. If you know a good deal when you see one, just enter coupon code 25SITEWIDE on the checkout. Check it at CVS.com (Coupon codes are case sensitive.)

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Eutychus » Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:31 am UTC

27 posts in and still nobody seems to have got the central issue to my mind, which is not pro- or anti-homeopathy, but that of a retailer attempting to pass off one product as another. I see the firm in question has a whole section on deceptive marketing practices on Wikipedia...
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Member » Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:53 am UTC

reploid wrote:
KeithIrwin wrote:Some of the "homeopathic" medicines aren't really homeopathic. ((some excessive text was cut)) I hadn't realized that there were still other fake homeopathic products being sold. Now that I see that there are, I'm going to talk to people I know in media who might be able to write about it.

Gee Willikers, good point. All the time I was thinking that the actual point is that "trully homeopathic medicines" have virtually no effect other than that of the solvent since any volume of it isn't likely to contain more molecules of the medicine than of impurities. I must be stupid.

I guess you must be, since his point was that actively dangerous substances are being passed off as mere useless placebos. Maybe try reading that "excessive text" before you embarrass yourself next time.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Karilyn » Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:16 am UTC

Ocker3 wrote:Just because the FDA has approved it, doesn't mean it's good science. How many studies have turned out to have been fudged to get a significant outcome, or just downright wrong? I mean, anti-depressants that Increase the risk of suicide? How was that not picked up during the testing, and not a valid reason to call the entire thing off?

That's more a function of getting out of depression than anything else, not a side-effect of the drug. Essentially, many people who suffer severe depression are too depressed to even kill themselves. As their mood begins to elevate, they start to get some energy back. If they feel crappy enough still, they make take that energy and use it to kill themselves in denial of the fact that they are getting better.

There's not an anti-depressant drug in existence which would not cause that. That's like asking for a laxative for constipation that doesn't cause you to need to take a shit shortly afterwards.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby musicgeek » Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:25 am UTC

Walgreens is now doing the same thing (stocking homeopathic products alongside their actual medicines, with no obvious labeling separating them). What really bothers me is that some of these "remedies" will actually work because of the supposedly inactive ingredients. There are cough suppressant syrups containing a whole host of 30x bizarro ingredients, in a base of honey or barley syrup, both of which have been shown (by themselves) to have a cough suppressant effect. I mistakenly bought an athlete's foot product once ("Fungicure" soap) which contained tea tree oil, a fairly powerful antifungal ingredient. However, according to the fine print on the label, the tea tree oil was part of the supposedly neutral base and the actual active ingredients were a bunch of 30x nonsense. I'm still trying to wrap my head around a company that makes and sells a product that works, but tells its customers that it works for completely made-up reasons.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby gormster » Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:37 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...


I don't get it. You know it's about homeopathy, right? I mean... this is a terrible troll. You need to go back to troll school, son.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Dudely » Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:51 am UTC

Ocker3 wrote:Just because the FDA has approved it, doesn't mean it's good science. How many studies have turned out to have been fudged to get a significant outcome, or just downright wrong?

I mean, anti-depressants that Increase the risk of suicide? How was that not picked up during the testing, and not a valid reason to call the entire thing off?


Antidepressants increase suicidal thoughts. There has not been a proper large study that has shown they increase actual suicides. Further, they only increase suicidal thoughts if you're under 25. If you're 30+ they actually decrease them.

The result of those studies was that they do not prescribe SSRI's to anyone under the age of 18 (those most at risk) except in the most extreme cases and under close scrutiny.
I'd say the studies did exactly what they were supposed to.

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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby DragonHawk » Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:51 am UTC

At first I was wondering why the blank-book-owner wasn't wearing a beret. Then I read the title text.
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Re: 0971: "Alternative Literature"

Postby Dudely » Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:55 am UTC

SirMustapha wrote:Really? Another stab at homoeopathy? Clearly Randall is going through some self-esteem issues -- first it was that stupid "Jet Fuel" comic, in which Randall showed he was better than those silly conspiracy theorists, now it's this comic, in which he shows he's better than people who take homoeopathy. In short, Randall's been acting like the worst kind of troll: not the most aggressive or the most disruptive, but the most pathetic, that which desperately needs to get out of the house and talk to real people.

http://xkcd.com/774/


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