Jan 18, 2010

Alternative Medicine

acupuncturepix Someone posted on Facebook: "Does anyone know if you can get acupuncture if you're allergic to nickel?"

I was tempted to respond, "Don't risk it unless a medical professional is present - and an acupuncturist doesn't count."

The placebo effect is a big part of healing. Finding ways to trigger it is not a bad thing. But taking risks with allergies, and infections, and paying someone handsomely in the process -- that shouldn't be acceptable behavior for a thinking person.

As a result of this posting, I've been reflecting on the sham triumvirate: homeopathy, chiropractic, and acupuncture. I've been searching double-blind placebo-controlled studies on all three, trying to determine how confident I should be in my disdain. So far, it looks like I should be pretty confident.

sexy needles 2 Now, I'm doing a movie with a flu-stricken character who believes in alternative remedies. Should I say something about these practices? Mock them? More to the point, can I afford to offend the 6% to 12% of Americans who subscribe to one or more of these optimistic fantasies? Or is this an area that I need to shush-up about? I fear Hollywood is full of folks putting sugar pills under their tongues while getting their spines aligned and their skin pricked. I bet that 6% to 12% skyrockets to 40% or 50% amongst influential Hollywood schmucks.

But - how do we write comedy if we can't ridicule the things that are verifiably ridiculous? We can't. Which means, the challenge becomes: how do you mock it in such a way that even the mocked will laugh? How do you pile the ridicule upon a masked target, and then unmask it.