Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

By the pricking of my thumbs...

I tend to have a caveat emptor attitude toward a lot of things.

If you're considering something new -- whether to trust a claim about a medication or therapy, for example -- it's not like information isn't available.  You can always track down reliable data if you work at it.  Sometimes it's hard to sift the good information from the bullshit, but it's a skill that anyone can learn.

That's what critical thinking is all about.

So when people fall for claptrap, I can be a little unsympathetic at times.  If you've been hoodwinked by the latest scam psychic, well, maybe you shoulda known better.

Some claims, however, cross the line.  And I ran into one of those yesterday, a claim so catastrophically idiotic that it's hard to see how anyone could fall for it -- but which, if they do, could easily cost a loved one their life.

The claim is that you can treat (or at least minimize the damage from) a stroke by pricking a person's fingers.

The claim appeared at the site Health Freedoms Alliance, and if you don't believe me, you can check out the link provided.  On the other hand, if you are reluctant to add another count to the site's hit tracker, here's a direct quote about the seven steps you should follow if someone near you has a stroke:
  1. Keep the needle — over the fire, a lighter or candle to sterilize it and then use it to prick the tips of all 10 fingers.
  2. There is no specific acupuncture, it should only be a few millimeters from the nail.
  3. Prick in a way that the blood can flow.
  4. If blood does not start to drip, tighten and start squeezing in order to make the blood flow.
  5. When all 10 fingers begin to bleed, wait a few minutes — you will see that the victim will come back to life!
  6. If the victim’s mouth is distorted, massage his ears until they become red – which means blood has reached there.
  7. Then prick the needle in the soft part of each ear, to fall two drops of blood from each ear. A few minutes later, the mouth would no longer be distorted.
Wait until the victim comes to normal, without any unusual symptoms, and then send him/ her to the hospital. 
This method of bloodshed to save the life is part of the traditional Chinese medicine, and the practical application of this method has proven it to be 100% efficient, since it helps people survive strokes.
Okay, yeah, you'd think people would know better.  Any one of my tenth grade intro biology students should know better.  Pricking a person's fingers has absolutely zero effect on a blood clot or aneurysm in the brain, which are the two most common causes of stroke.  It has been shown over and over that any delay in getting a stroke victim competent medical help increases the likelihood of irreversible brain damage.

And that delay would include messing around pricking a person's fingers and earlobes with a needle.

[image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]

So I'm stepping away from my usual caveat emptor stance, and will state for the record: any public media that makes claims like this is acting in a fashion that the word "irresponsible" doesn't even begin to cover.  You're free to dose yourself up with the latest homeopathic sugar pills, have your practitioner balance your chakras, and slather essential oils all over your body.  Have at it, you know?

But when you state a claim that might well cause some poor gullible soul to make a decision that could lead to a loved one's death, you've lost the right to a public forum.  I know it's probably impossible to do, but Health Freedoms Alliance, and any other sites that publish this foolishness, should be shut down permanently.

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