Title text: I just noticed CVS has started stocking homeopathic pills on the same shelves with--and labeled similarly to--their actual medicine. Telling someone who trusts you that you're giving them medicine, when you know you’re not, because you want their money, isn’t just lying--it’s like an example you’d make up if you had to illustrate for a child why lying is wrong.
While the comic is funny on its own in a "Wake Up, Sheeple" kind of way, the full joke requires the title text, so make sure you read it. The comic title is a play on Alternative medicine.
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. The title text likens this to the CVS Pharamcy selling homeopathic pills using methods that does not clearly distinguish them from traditional pharmaceuticals. Homeopathy, widely considered a pseudoscience, is 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.
Homeopathic remedies are prepared by repeatedly diluting a substance with alcohol or water. 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 molecules of the active ingredient can remain.
Selling a homeopathic remedy as actual medicine when it is just water is analagous 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.
Homeopathy is ridiculed in other xkcd comics and in the what-if blog (http://what-if.xkcd.com/79/).
- [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.
- [The Friend looks at 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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I would totally buy a blank book. I could hollow them out to make boxes, or wire up the insides to build a revolving door, or hire an artist to draw wonderful images in them to put on display for anyone who comes over to my home. Davidy²²[talk] 08:21, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
Interestingly, this is exactly the argument used to explain why reading books is better than watching TV: TV gives too much of the ready context, while a book allows the reader to fill in the blanks with his own imagination. The empty books just go one step further. 22.214.171.124 22:15, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
- I dunno, I mean, there's plenty of space in TV to work in stuff, exercise your imagination. In my view a book is for having stuff in it. A story in a book gives you a structure to build on, a framework that lets you build higher than you would go on your own. -Pennpenn 126.96.36.199 04:19, 16 October 2015 (UTC)
I write short stories all the time but nobody reads them.
Maybe I should get a printer?
"Telling someone who trusts you that you're giving them medicine, when you know you're not, because you want their money, isn't just lying--it's like an example you'd make up if you had to illustrate for a child why lying is wrong."
I think it is worse when vets do it to cattle and sheep. You never get to hear the farmer saying "Bah!"
though. Odd, that. I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 19:10, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Anybody else reminded of "The Library of Babel" by Borges? 188.8.131.52 16:32, 14 September 2019 (UTC)
Going way back to the 2013 comment (writing in 2021): there are excellent reasons to buy blank books. As you say, writing in them is a really good reason. Buying them to read is not, for my non-hallucinatory self, a good reason. Nitpicking (talk) 13:44, 18 September 2021 (UTC)