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Three score and ten or more

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Deception by telling

Deception by telling the truth.

I had a bad time sleeping last night and as a result got to examine two different looks at one thing. First I read the latest Time Magazine which dealt, as a cover story with Dr. Andrew Wyeth, the living symbol of alternative medicine. I like Wyeth and have read at least one of his books. I also used to subscribe to his ongoing suggestions on the web. I’m not a terribly disciplined person so I haven’t had totally successful results, but what he writes generally makes sense and he has done a lot of good for people whose regular visits to regular physicians have not been satisfying . As an ongoing hypochondriac I love to try the odd herbal remedy and I enjoyed the review of his latest book.

I still couldn’t sleep, so I shuffled through late night television and ran across a huckster for alternative medicines name Kevin Trudeau. I haven’t read his book, and couldn’t logically or honestly review its contents, but as an old teacher of persuasion and argumentation I couldn’t resist an analysis of his sales procedures. First he began with the premise that the government, especially the FDA is involved in a conspiracy to keep people sick in order to increase the income of the pharmaceutical companies. (Now I’m not a fan of pharmaceutical companies and I think that their advertising on television is both dangerous and deceptive, and I am quite sure that anyone listening to those ads is in the process of driving physicians nuts) Also in on the conspiracy are almost all MD,s (because they couldn’t get rich if people got healthy), and as evidence he stated that no disease has been cured in the past hundred years except polio. (He has never heard of smallpox, whooping cough, measles, rubella, or any of the other diseases for which permanent vaccination has been successful. I wonder who he knows that suffers from Tuberculosis or any of the myriad diseases that have been basically conquered through antibiotics--- I know, they have their problems too.) As evidence he cites the growing numbers of living cancer patients, growing numbers of heart disease patients, and the growing numbers of all kinds of people suffering from a variety of diseases, without mentioning that these numbers have grown as a result of a population that has increased exponentially because modern medicine has kept so many of the victims of these diseases alive. (As a quadruple bypass survivor who would have been dead for almost ten years if those evil conspiring doctors hadn’t repaired the damage created by high cholesterol and a slovenly lifestyle I am rather pleased with a lot of modern medicine.) People are living longer and better than they have ever lived in the history of mankind, largely because of modern medical practice.

He then received phone calls from current listeners (anyone who knows anything about late night television scheduling knows that those listeners had to be cued to a particular time and number that was anything but spontaneous.)

He followed this with accusations about food producers introducing chemically addictive substances into our diet to make us all fat, and a conspiracy within the Federal Trade Commission to keep him from marketing his books. He tapped into the fears of almost all conspiracy theory nuts ( though he didn't quite involve Al Quaida.)

Trudeau’s books may be good, but that is not proven through shills that call in and testify that they lost forty five pounds in thirty days through reading his books.

Alternative Medicine is an interesting subject with interesting possibilities (if there is an herbal remedy or “natural” food I have missed, it was an accident), but this rhetoric should shame the publishers, producers and stations that show this garbage.

Addendum to the above. The thing that concerns me most, after thinking about it for awhile, is that he has designed his performance to appeal to paranoid conspiracy theorists with an approximate cumulative I. Q. of seven or thereabouts, and he is obviously successful enough to have made enough money to continue the advertising. What does this imply about the intellect and gullibility of the American Puplic.????/ Sigh!!!!

ADDENDUM #2 (with a small wink)
Perhaps this explains why so many people still think that Gore won the first Bush election.


At 6:38 PM, Blogger exMI said...

Isn't there an old saying something like "You'll never go broke overestimateing the gullibility of the American people."? I know that isn't right, but the idea is the same. Probably PT Barnum said it.

At 9:58 PM, Blogger looking for balance said...

Great site. I saw you on Polonco and liked your post.

Yes, PT Barnum was right. I don't think it will change. I agree, sigh!

At 7:33 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Good read, Three Score.

I take both modern medicine and the "alternative" with a pinch of salt. But I'll take the three stents in my heart anyday over some snake-oil "natural" remedy.

The only thing I really believe in is, as Jesus said: "You are not defiled by what you put into your mouth but by what comes out of your mouth."

I think it's equally true that we are not healed so much by what we take but what we think and say, by our faith in truth, goodness and beauty.

PS I was just looking at the comment you left on my blog about learning no matter how old we are. Yep! But not everyone keeps learning. Those who do keep on enjoying life.


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