Hello readers, I’m Crommunist. I’m not a witch. I’m not anything you’ve heard. I’m you!
No, actually I’m not you. I’m me. But none of that is important, because I can predict the motherfucking future. You may remember back in April of this year I talked about the so-called “liberation therapy” for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In that post, I said this:
When you’re sick, you have only one goal: getting better. Millions of years of evolution have hard-wired a strong survival instinct into all living species, and human beings are no exception. People suffering from disease and their families are willing to do just about anything for a chance at recovery, and logic plays nearly no role in the decision-making process. The problem with this is that people suspend their disbelief and are willing to jump at any chance, no matter how remote, unlikely, or unproven.
When the stakes are high, we will abandon logic and chase after whatever seems right – putting rational thought to one side in favour of quick and dirty heuristics. It’s why the Republican party is so adept at getting votes – they stoke the fears of the populace (the Muslims are coming to get us with their socialist Obamacare!) to shut down the critical thinking part of the brain (the part that notices that Republicans are bad on security, bad on the economy, bad on individual freedoms, bad on pretty much any measure you can think of). Once critical thinking has ceased, your lizard brain takes over and you make decisions based not on evidence or critical thinking, but on gut reactions (blame illegal immigrants!)
The sudden popularity of the new treatment has prompted Jeff Donegan of Chilliwack, B.C., to sign up to get the therapy through another company in California. “When [liberation therapy] first came out, I was very skeptical,” said Donegan, 31. But five years of constant nerve pain, blindness in one eye and severe fatigue have been a nightmare, he said. “Every day is different,” he said. “I don’t know what I’m going to wake up to.”
The stakes could not possibly be higher when you have a debilitating, degenerative disease. And like the Republicans, there will always be those who are willing to put ethics and common decency aside for the sake of profit:
A Vancouver-based medical tourism company is cashing in on the reluctance by many provincial governments to fund a controversial therapy to treat multiple sclerosis. Passport Medical has arranged for foreign treatment using so-called liberation therapy for more than 350 MS sufferers from all over North America, said company owner Mark Semple. The company’s two-week trips include surgery and recovery care in Costa Rica for about $13,000.
Semple said the outcome for many of the patients is encouraging. “Some of the things I’ve seen could only be described as miracles,” he said. “Is it a cure? No. Is there a vascular component of the disease? I can only say yes.”
Safety regulations got you down? Is The Man telling you that you can’t have this experimental surgery that has no proven efficacy and will likely as not do nothing to alleviate your illness? Got 13 grand to spare? Fuck it then, give me your money, I’ll send you to a place that has no safety regulations. You’ll come back $13,000 poorer, and no better off than you were before (for all we know). Also note the complete lack of confidence on the part of the owner, who admits it’s not a cure. He likens it to a miracle – not a good thing when you’re talking about a medical procedure. You don’t want miracles in science, you want regularly-occurring phenomena that can be predicted and replicated. If it’s ‘miraculous’, you’re probably looking at the placebo effect.
But yes, I called it in April, and it’s happening now. People are flocking to Costa Rica to get surgery, paying ridiculous sums for it, and Mark Semple is laughing all the way to the bank.
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I understand the reasons why people have been flocking to this therapy — they’re desperate. But I also said when we first saw this on the CBC that the science behind this surgery was and is extremely weak.
I’ve seen this kind of thing before. Remember laetrile? There are always purveyors of snake-oil science to people with chronic debilitating illnesses for which there are no (or few) adequate treatments.
MS is just one — a quick search on the internet will show extensive lists of Fab “cures” for everything from migraines to cancer.
It’s a truly despicable way to make money but desperate people continue to spend whatever they have for “hope.”
This is why skepticism is important to me as someone who suffers with a medical condition: I want treatment that is based on good, solid science. Treatment that -works-.