We now find ourselves in Part Two, where Craig comes face to face to face with the Ghost of Woo Research, a brutal tag team that addresses the issues with serious research on a less than serious topic. You’d be better off writing a peer-reviewed journal article on where Penn and Teller get the damn potato from in their cup and ball trick (look it up!).
This is a whopper of a comic, and I’m pleased with how it turned out. I wanted it to take place in a huge library, but settled for walls of text instead (ha!). The giant glasses and “Facepalm on a Stick” are probably my favorite thing ever. Though now I’m realizing how difficult it can be to distill a complex topic into a readable comic. I respect Darryl Cunninham (his comic on evolution is sublime) more than ever now. Anyway, let’s take a look at some of the key talking points of today’s comic:
- If it works just as well as a placebo, is it doing anything at all?
- Is it still acupuncture if you are no longer puncturing or using electric shocks (which actually have a physiologic effect)
- Is your result even a result?
- Wait, you can’t skip the part where medical science shows the mechanism for your woo doesn’t exist.
I have one objection to your objections. You are ridiculing doing further research into it because the proposed mechanism doesn’t exist. While that is not a good sign for the validity of the technique, it does not rule it out. Lets look at alchemy. The theories underpinning it where nonsense, and with our current knowledge are laughable. Yet, alchemists still had lists of recipes that produced results. They may not have been able to correctly explain why the reactions worked, but the reactions were sound.
Similarly, it would be feasible for some ancient Chinese guy to discover that poking people with needles had some benefit, and then mapped out what places worked. Then, in an attempt to explain it, drew the chi flow diagram under it, as a theory to fit his data. This scenario would leave you with working acupuncture with a bunk theory explaining why it works. Those studies show that this is not the case, but you can’t ridicule the study being performed based on that. If anything, rejecting the theory without testing it would be unscientific.