808: The Economic Argument
|The Economic Argument|
Title text: Not to be confused with 'making money selling this stuff to OTHER people who think it works', which corporate accountants and actuaries have zero problems with.
The image shows fields of human life that would be greatly improved and/or allow certain people to make a lot of money if some crazy phenomena (mostly paranormal) actually worked in reality or were testable and usable concepts. Crazy phenomena, in this case, means counter-intuitive things that go against common sense and which science often contradicts (though relativity and QM are a major part of physics, they are still counterintuitive and could be considered to sound crazy). As the comic tries to prove, if there were commercial use for it and proofs of it working, there will be high investment made in the technology to use and harness such concepts.
So far only relativity and quantum electrodynamics have major evidence backing them. Specifically, the theory of relativity is heavily embedded into how your Global Positioning System (GPS) device synchronizes with satellites a hundred miles in the air and calculates your current position. The design of modern circuit-boards and other electronic devices is influenced by quantum electrodynamics — smartphones or high capacity hard drives wouldn't be possible without this theory.
The non-scientific/disproved concepts trying to pass as real and scientific are:
- Remote viewing: Alleged ability to see and know things far away with the strength of your mind, without physically being in that place or using technology (cameras, TV screens and so on).
- Dowsing: Alleged supernatural ability to sense, using two dowsing rods/sticks/pieces of metal where underground water/oil supplies or hidden valuables are.
- Both dowsing and remote viewing would have greatly cut costs to oil companies, because it would have made finding new oil sources easier. The U.S. Army did seriously study remote viewing and other paranormal abilities in a series of programs collectively known as the Stargate Project, depicted in the 2004 book and 2009 film The Men Who Stare at Goats; however, the project was concluded in 1995 after reviews concluded that the rate of successful divination of actionable intelligence was no greater than that of random chance.
- Auras: Non-scientific belief that every human has an invisible "energy field" that can reveal and/or affect their health and feelings.
- Homeopathy: Pseudoscientific belief that the more diluted a remedy, the more effective it is, and that the remedy should, before dilution, cause similar symptoms to the disease it is said to cure. These "remedies" are often diluted so much that, usually, not even a single molecule of the original substance will remain. It is completely untrue, and proven no more effective than a placebo, so one can instead use much cheaper non-'treated' glucose and have the same effect. It is often advertised as an "alternative medicine".
- Remote Prayer: Non-scientific belief. Trying to help a person with their health problems by praying/pleading to a greater supernatural force to help them get better. While we're not ones to rag on anybody's religion, we don't have scientific proof or empirical evidence of it working; if anything, intercessory prayer seems to sometimes have a detrimental effect if the person knows they are prayed for (most probably due to causing extra stress).
- All three would have revolutionized healthcare if proven to work, which is very, very unlikely. Tim Minchin remarked in his beat poem Storm (released the year before this comic, adapted into an animated short film the year after) that "alternative medicine that's been proved to work" is simply..."medicine".
- Astrology: Trying to predict the future by studying the motions of the planets for answers - a non-scientific and very popular belief that tries to look scientific; this was a major focus of astronomy until science began to disprove it in the 1600s.
- Tarot: Trying to predict the future through dealing a special deck of cards.
- Both would have revolutionized our business planning, saving lots of money and lives, if true.
- Crystal energy: Non-scientific belief that crystals can store "soul energy" which can be tapped into and used by human beings.
- If true and correct, it would have revolutionized the world's technology by replacing energy sources with crystals.
- Curses and hexes: Non-scientific belief that a person can cause supernatural harm to people and things by doing certain magical rituals and mouthing magical words.
- If it were true, the military use of such would have proliferated rather quickly.
The title text points out that many people still believe in non-scientific, unproven, and disproved phenomena; thus, it's possible to make a lot of money by selling those (claimed) phenomena to such people (although knowingly selling non-existent phenomena, while claiming that they work, would be fraud, and thus illegal).
- [A three-column table. The headings are actually standing above the table.]
If it worked, companies
would be using it to
make a killing in...
Remote Viewing Oil Prospecting Dowsing Auras Health Care
Homeopathy Remote Prayer Astrology Financial/Business
Tarot Crystal Energy Regular Energy Curses, Hexes The Military Relativity GPS Devices ✓ Quantum
- Eventually, arguing that these things work means arguing that modern capitalism isn't that ruthlessly profit-focused.
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