Thursday, September 22, 2005

Leeches and other parasites

I hear there have been some red faces in the offices of the Oxford University Press. Apparently 10,000 newly printed copies of the latest edition of the OUP dictionary do not contain the word gullible.

Sorry, it's an old joke. I frequently try it on people and if you say it with a straight face it's amazing how many believe it. There's probably a valuable lesson there somewhere.

To be honest, I struggle to find sympathy for people who believe that they've won a holday in a competition they never entered or that thay've been randomly selected to be given a free kitchen. There's no such thing as a free lunch is a cliche for a reason. There is always a catch. Unfortunately, there are easily enough gullible people in Britain to make such activities economically viable. In my own selfish way, I find this a bit annoying. If these people would just wise up, I wouldn't have to deal with having to get out of the shower to answer the phone only to hear a recorded message telling me I've won a holiday to Florida if I just press 9 now. It's particularly annoying when the phone is already registered under the TPS scheme. Bah, that's what I say.

I dislike the idea that people make money running those sorts of scams. People who exploit the sick and the vulnerable to make money occupy a place of special loathing though. If you saw the documentary linked above I'm sure you'll understand what I mean. Getting rich by telling terminally ill patients that you can cure them with hocus pocus is about as low as it's possible to go. How does anyone find it within themselves to scam someone at a time when they have the greatest possible need for human kindness and compassion? And advising them to refuse all pain medication? It makes me sick.

Normally, I don't like the way this government likes to legislate on whatever at the drop of a hat. In this case I really think that this whole area need to be looked at as a matter of urgency. The government should be looking to provide protection to those vulnerable people who are the victims of these fraudsters.

Having said all that, I actually think there is some limited value in "faith healing". By that I don't mean that I believe any of the mad claims about channelled energy manipulation or any of that nonsense. I do think it can help to produce positive attitudes in patients and it's medically accepted (as I understand it, I'm no expert) that mental attitude can have an influence on physical symptoms. As such, I don't think all "faith healing" should be banned outright. What we must do is ensure that the bloodsucking leeches are unable to harvest their dirty blood money in our country.

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