New from the "What The Hell Are They Thinking?" department, today I found out that the Chinese are marketing a new "alternative medicine" treatment for impotence: a supplement made from powdered kangaroo balls.
I wish I was making this up. Here's an advertisement for the product:
Well, I'm convinced. That guy has a bottle of "Essence of Red Kangaroo K-max 3000" pills the size of a garbage can, and he is clearly about to get laid. Or possibly, because judicious photo cropping leaves us unable to be certain, he may already be in the process. What more evidence do we need?
None, apparently, because John Kreuger, owner of a company that processes kangaroo meat, is now sending over a ton of testicles to China every month. In fact, he said that in order to separate the testicles from the scrotum, he has had to build a special custom "de-nutting machine," a phrase that I have a hard time imagining any male uttering without immediately going into a protective crouch.
Be that as it may, the dehydrated and powdered roo balls are then put into capsule form in Chinese traditional medicine manufacturing plants, and can fetch $165 for a bottle of 300 once it reaches the market. The selling point, apparently, is that male kangaroos have been observed to mate with as many as forty females, and "the capability to produce the spermatic fluid of the male kangaroo is twice that of the adult bull," which is a direct quote from the advertisements for the capsules.
I really hoped that the days of sympathetic magic were over -- the ancient idea that two things being similar means that one can be used in place of the other. It's the origin of the myth that walnuts are good for the brain (they kind of look alike) and that beets "strengthen the blood" (both are red). Traditional Chinese medicine is rife with these ideas, where both rhinoceros horn and dried tiger penises are consumed as aphrodisiacs. But given that tigers and rhinos are now both seriously endangered species -- in part, due to the lucrative nature of the use of their parts for this kind of nonsense -- desperately horny Chinese men have had to turn to a more readily accessible source of completely useless supplements.
I guess that if you really do buy into this, though, it's better to go after kangaroos than tigers. Kangaroos are common, to the point that a good many Australians consider them pests, and they're raised commercially for meat. May as well use the testicles for something, I guess.
The downside, though, is that people like Kreuger are turning a quick buck based upon the gullibility of people with more money than sense, and perpetuating an irrational belief in the process. Because, after all, the placebo effect is a powerful thing -- a guy who took his powdered roo ball pill and thinks he's going to have a really good erection is more likely to be, um, successful than a guy who is worried because he ran out of pills, and now is pretty sure he won't.
So on the whole, it's absurd, and kind of annoying that people in this day and age are still falling for this stuff. But the same might be said for most woo-woo beliefs, even those that are more pleasant to talk about because they do not involve the phrase "de-nutting machine."