971: Alternative Literature
While the comic is funny on its own in a ", " kind of way, the title text reveals that the comic is a parable about . The comic title is a play on .
In the comic, it is implied that Cueball has been scammed into buying blank books, though he attempts to defend it as a valid choice (ironically, he thinks that it is the other people who are being scammed, not he). The title text likens this to the CVS Pharmacy selling homeopathic pills using methods that does not clearly distinguish them from real pharmaceuticals. Homeopathy is a based on the idea that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people will cure that disease in sick people if administered in sufficiently small doses. It is possible that Cueball actually bought blank notebooks and is scamming himself into believing he made a valid and logical choice.
Homeopathic remedies are prepared by. Somewhat counter-intuitively, homeopathy considers the weakest dilutions to have the most powerful healing effect. Frequently, in fact, the dilutions are repeated past the point where any number of molecules of the "active ingredient" can remain.
Selling a homeopathic remedy as actual medicine when it is just water is analogous to selling blank books. The smudge of ink Cueball mentions in the comic may be referencing the fact that some of the less diluted homeopathic remedies can contain a tiny amount of the original substance.
Five years after this comic was published, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) filed lawsuits against CVS in 2018 and Walmart in 2019 "to try to boot homeopathic products from pharmacy aisles for good. CFI claimed that deceptive placement of the water-based products violated the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA).". Nine years later, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled on September 29, 2022 that these lawsuits have merit and may move forward.
- [Cueball and a friend stand in front of Cueball's bookcase. His friend flips through a number of them.]
- Friend: All your books are full of blank pages.
- Cueball: Not true. That one has some ink on page 78.
- Friend: A smudge.
- Cueball: So?
- Friend: There are no words. You're not reading. There's no story there.
- Cueball: Maybe not for you. When I look at those books, I think about all kinds of stories.
- Cueball: Reading is about more than what's on the page. Holding a book prompts my mind to enrich itself. Frankly, I suspect the book isn't even necessary.
- Cueball: The whole industry is evil. Greedy publishers and rich authors try to convince us our brains need their words. But I refuse to be a sucker.
- Friend: Who sold you all these blank books?
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