Monday, January 3, 2011

no case is typical

When the ads arrived, I muted the television and then watched idly, waiting for the movie to continue. On the screen, a woman who seemed to be in her 50's spoke without sound. Her head and shoulders were framed by white space above and below. In the white space above, the words appeared: "No case is typical. You should not expect to experience these results." In the white space below was a logo and the name, if I remember correctly, Cancer Centers of America.

So someone thought enough to advertise this institution, but was forced to add a disclaimer saying that what was being advertised might not be true for you or me even though you or I were being invited to absorb the good news the advertising laid out ... and have faith and spend money on what we might reasonably hope would be a similar, smiling outcome.

No case is typical.

Perhaps religious persuasions should put a similar disclaimer on their temple doors and over their various altars. No case is typical: We have good news, but it may not be good news for you. A reasonable inference might be drawn that in fact it might be very bad news indeed. We, the institution, spend money on advertising and trying to convince others of ... what may be bad news. No case is typical, after all.

If this snake oil doesn't work for you, at least we have given you something to smile about and warned you -- no case (meaning your case) is typical: That's why we get to keep the money.

What a bizarre damned world we live in.


  1. I think our view needs to be flipped. We should be surprised that what works for me also works foryou in any field of human endeavor. This view almost makes the traditional hard sciences seem magical.

    The following quote is from an Australian Bloggers Diabetes website -

    "The history of many drugs makes salutary reading. First the euphoria, then the glowing reports, then the doubts, then the reaction. Some recent relevant cases for the drugs commonly prescribed for type 2 [diabetics] include the statins, Byetta, Avandia, Actos and even insulin. All may be beneficial to a large number but have significant risks for minority. The difficulty is knowing whether you are in the majority or the minority in advance. Nothing is risk-free."

    Is it really surprising that some thing similar happens in the treatment of cancer?

    However, lately during one of two programs that I watch there's been an advertisement that states outright that treatment may cause depression and feelings of suicide. My reaction always is "Holy shit! The cure is worse that the disease."

  2. Unless you actually have cancer.