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Witchcraft, wicked witchcraft

August 17, 2014 - Harry Eagar
To the surprise of no one, the entrepreneurs have rushed forth with worthless Ebola fever cures and prophylactics. The Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization have issued a warning against them.

The New York Times report is unfortunately reticent about who these evil capitalists are. The FDA is restricted in what it can say by idiot congresscritters who have made the supplement business a libertarian paradise -- anything goes. But the Times is not restricted.

The Verge does a better job, at least with one particular fraud, garcinia -- and also uses the Internet in useful ways that the Times has not caught up with:

"There's nothing new about companies capitalizing on fear. For every health scare, there's a bogus cure, and for every existing illness there are a ton of supplements and sham products purported to treat or prevent it. Yet there’s something particularly sinister about promoting products that can 'prevent' or 'treat' Ebola"

(Witch cures are not exclusive to capitalism; they are universal. But capitalism is unique in having generated a political philosophy that glorifies this kind of wickedness.)

Of course, nutritional supplements are not just worthless against Ebola. They are worthless period. Irony piles on irony here.

The US government (and news outlets of a more respectable kind) tell us we can be confident Ebola will not break loose in a country with an advanced public health system, so the damage -- other than in lightening wallets -- to Americans from taking, say, colloidal silver, is small. Yet tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars are siphoned off to crooks each year without any significant warning campaign from the overseers of public health; in fact, with the active encouragement of some crooked elected officials.

The situation is different in West Africa. There the supplement sellers, some based in America, are active participants in what should be called what it is -- cold-blooded murder for money.

This episode also has a lesson for anyone concerned about controlling health care costs. To the extent that schemes to do this rely on a better-informed citizenry, that battle has already been lost. We have known this for a long time.

In the late '70s and early '80s there was a lot of talk about transferring responsibility to the potential patient. The company I worked for went so far as to give employees a $500 health care account we could use however we chose; for example, to pay for precautionary tests not covered by our (not especially generous) company medical insurance.

Supposedly, we would cleverly direct resources to where they would do ourselves and our families the most good. But the money was just as readily spent on quacks and worthless nostrums as on real medical care, and the experiment was quickly given up.

(An amusing, but unanticipated result arose from the fact that the company, which had a lot of family members working for it, decreed that the $500 was per family, not per employee; so that a husband-wife pair did not get $1,000. There were enough husband-wife pairs, and there was a particular husband who was so aggrieved by the supposed unfairness of this that his bitching became a serious morale problem. But, it was soon discovered, his wife was screwing one of the men she was reporting on, so he shut up and left the paper. But by then the "medical savings accounts" were dropped anyway.)

The notion that a better-informed citizenry will use medical resources more wisely still lingers, but it is obviously fatuous. And it is not a matter of better general education. My observation is that consumption of worthless supplements goes up, not down, with greater formal education, if only because better educated people have more income, and that stuff ain't cheap.

No doubt, too, fear of Ebola will goose ammunition sales. Everything does.

 
 

Article Comments

(8)

OneAikea

Sep-03-14 5:14 PM

More cases of Ebola in Africa. A female Doctor. Seems she had contact with someone who had the Ebola. Diagnosis of Ebola is touchy as Clinical Lab tests results are far from accurate.

OneAikea

Aug-30-14 10:11 PM

Remission is not Cancer Free. Like a dormant volcano, it can erupt, again.

If Cancer Free, there would be no need of yearly tests, colonscopies, blood tests for Cancer proteins. Doctors would not have a job.

HarryEagar

Aug-29-14 12:40 PM

'There is no such thing as Cancer Free.'

Not so. I had cancer about 20 years ago and with a combination of surgery and radiation have been completely free of cancer. There are many cancers, most not as easily handled as mine was.

OneAikea

Aug-26-14 7:41 PM

"The Last Ship" recently ended its season.

A man and woman got Ebola? Relationship? So the man and woman should be held back and their blood used as a cure for Ebola. A serum made from the cured blood. I don't think so. AIDS works well on those with weak immune system. There is no such thing as Cancer Free. Remission means being dorment. Blood proteins tell of Cancer returning or not. All depends on the strength on Ones immune system.. I WILL not accept blood transfusion from one with AIDS or Cancer.

HarryEagar

Aug-23-14 2:33 PM

Yes, cured and immune to re-infection. At some point, these survivors will be a resource to be caregivers to Ebola fever patients.

Ebola spreads even more easily, apparently, than HIV. You can get it from sweat, which would be most unlikely with HIV.

Clothes, bedsheets etc. would be treated like other infectious material. Burned in controlled conditions.

OneAikea

Aug-21-14 9:28 PM

Patients with Ebola are free to leave, Hospital. Means they are cured? I believe I heard that Ebola can be spread like AIDS and in the same way. Clothes of patients were burned?

The Walking Dead or Zombie hunters?

OneAikea

Aug-17-14 9:31 PM

There was once a test or survey taken on placebo pills. Some who took the test said it cured their ailments. There are side effects on most medication including sugar.

OneAikea

Aug-17-14 9:25 PM

"There is no cure for either HIV or Ebola infection. Ebola causes a hemorrhagic disease that kills 70 percent of its victims within days."

Doctors and pharmaceutical companies will go out of business. Less need for Doctors and much less for Medication. All this if there was a cure for AIDS or Ebola or any other life threatning disease.

 
 

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