by, 6th January 2010 at 10:04 PM (3523 Views)
A couple of years ago I helped out (actually I narrated) on a video project. The remit was to come up with some completely daft pseudoscience that no one had heard of before and then make it into a spoof. The first problem we encountered was that inventing a novel pseudoscience was really not that easy. The trouble was that virtually every idea we came up with had already been thought of. To take just one example, we tried to think of a really bizarre “cure-all”. There are plenty of cure-all remedies out there - from zinc to oregano oil but we wanted something so outlandish that no one in their right mind would believe it. One member of the team suggested human urine might be a good candidate.
Good idea but there is already something called urine therapy? I quote from http://www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com/urine.htm “You may think that when it comes to alternative health therapies you've heard it all. But there is one natural therapy you've probably never heard of - even though its one of the most powerful, most researched and most medically proven natural cures ever discovered”. Just in case you find “the most medically proven natural cure ever discovered” part reassuring, don’t forget that we are talking here about drinking your own wee!
So we abandoned the cure-alls and went for something more psychic. What we eventually came up with was the essence of daftness. There are plenty of psychics who claim they can make contact with pet animals but what if this was turned around and the pet had some psychic ability? My children have had several pet hamsters over the years and so how about psychic hamsters? On searching the internet at the time I couldn’t find any precedent for the idea except a legitimate recording business and so the video was made. It was subsequently loaded onto YouTube if anyone is really interested.
That however is not the end of the story. After the project was all but forgotten, a blog post appeared that actually claimed psychic contact with a pet hamster and then there was a second post when this particular pet became an ex-psychic hamster. Now the video I helped make was a bit silly, I know. But a “bit silly” does not even begin to describe someone who really and honestly believes his pet hamster (actually it was his daughter’s) was psychic - words at this point fail me (which is a little unfortunate on a blog).
There is a serious side to all this. I think most people would recognise that the idea of drinking your own urine or psychic hamsters as just a little bit too much to believe. And yet they may well go to a homeopath or an acupuncturist. In reality however, there is no more evidence that homeopathy or acupuncture is any more real than urine therapy or some disembodied communication with a household pet. In fact you might argue that homeopathy or acupuncture have actually been studied and shown to be ineffective and, as far as I know urine drinking and psychic hamsters have never been scientifically disproven. So next time someone says they are getting homeopathic remedies or acupuncture, perhaps you should explain that your psychic hamster recommends urine therapy instead.
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