Monday, October 31, 2011

‘xkcd’ offers a literary homeopathy metaphor

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Today’s xkcd presents us with a clever little metaphor for the pseudoscientific racket that is “complementary and alternative medicine” (and one particularly insubstantial branch thereof):

Comic: Alternative Literature [by Randall Munroe @ 10/31/11 12:00 AM] | xkcd
My transcript: (click the [+/-] to expand/collapse →) []

PERSON 1: [looking through library] All your books are full of blank pages.

PERSON 2: Not true. That one has some ink on page 78.

PERSON 1: [holding blank book] A smudge.


PERSON 1: There are no words. You’re not reading, there’s no story there.

PERSON 2: Maybe not for you. When I look at those books, I think about all kinds of stories.

Reading is about more than what’s on the page. Holding a book prompts my mind to enrich itself.

Frankly, I suspect the book isn’t even necessary.

The whole industry is evil. Greedy publishers and rich authors try to convince us our brains need their words.

But I refuse to be a sucker.

PERSON 1: [holding blank book] Who sold you all these blank books?

As if the point needed further clarification (or hammering home), check out Munroe’s message in the comic’s 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.

Ouch. Harsh, but true.