San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Magic Elixirs And The Fools Who Buy Them

Historians debate who actually said it but some notorious person from our past once uttered that there is a sucker born every minute.  Regardless of who said it, it is true.  Human nature never changes.  Despite all of the amazing progress the members of the human race have made in technology, capital creation and the scientific understanding of the universe, the human soul remains as spiritually dead and sinful today as it was the day humanity was first created.  Human beings can pass technology, capital and knowledge on to their heirs but human beings are incapable of passing on personal sanctification to their heirs.  As a result each new baby that is born comes into the world just as sinful as Adam or Eve.  Being spiritually dead and lost in sin, it is only reasonable to expect that the majority of human beings will also end up being colossal fools. 
One example of the amazing foolishness of men and women is their propensity to believe in the efficacy of magic elixirs.  From the very beginning of time there have been snake oil salesman who were willing to sell a bottle of vitamin water to a fool who believed it would cure him of everything that ailed him.  Things are no different today.  I was driving home from church last Sunday when I decided to change things up.  Rather than playing one of the Anthrax or MegaDeath CDs which are perpetually inserted into my car's CD changer, I made the bold move of turning on the radio.  What I heard next amazed me.  I had preset several stations years ago, when I first purchased the vehicle.  I have probably listened to the radio a dozen times since then.  I hit my first preset and was treated to an infomercial about some pill, the name of the product escapes me, that the promoter insisted would cure everything from hair loss to cancer.  I listened in amusement for a couple of minutes and hit the next preset button.  To my surprise I found myself listening to the exact same program.  I quickly hit the next preset and, you guessed it, there it was again.  In fact, four of my six preset stations were airing the same infomercial at the same time.  Amazed, and somewhat irritated, I turned off the radio.  I wondered what kind of sales figures the company was managing to generate with its commercials.
I was watching a series of "Star Trek - Next Generation" episodes over the weekend when I noticed that the commercial breaks during the shows were all of the same type.  One commercial informed me about a liquid women could put on their skin that would remove wrinkles and make them look twenty years younger.  Another commercial told me that if I took their pill I would lose twenty pounds in four weeks, without exercising or changing my eating habits.  The next commercial proudly announced that rubbing their cream on my skin would take away pain in my joints.  Not having any pain in my joints I did not bother writing down the name of the product.  Another commercial showed a happy and physically active older couple.  I was informed that they were happy and physically active because they were taking a pill that gave them the energy of people half their age.  The next product told me that all I needed to do was consume their drink and my colon would be cleansed.  Once my colon was cleansed I was expected to experience life on another, much more fulfilling, level.  I considered that one for a minute or two.  Did I really want my colon cleansed?  I decided to take a pass on that one.  I think you get the point.  You are probably thinking of a dozen or so similar commercials you have seen recently.  What is going on here?
The only conclusion I can draw is that most people are fools and they will believe anything people tell them if they really want to believe what they are being told.  In other words, rational arguments and scientific evidence are irrelevant.  If a person wants to believe something, he believes it, regardless of the lack of reasonableness of the belief.  People want to believe that something as simple as taking a pill or rubbing some fluid on their skin will make them happy, healthy and wealthy so they take pills and rub fluid on their skin.  When it does not work it does not matter.  They quickly forget that it did not work and move on to the next product that promises to give them what they want for no effort and with no requirement of personal discipline whatsoever.
Rational argument is irrelevant for most folks.  The handful of us human beings who live in the world of rational argument are incapable of reaching or communicating with the rest of the folks who populate the universe.  I know that taking a pill is not going to make me lose weight.  Taking another pill is not going to make me smarter.  It is not possible to rub a cream on my knee and heal arthritis in the knee joint.  It is also not possible to rub another cream on my lower back and eliminate muscle spasms, no matter how many times the computer graphic in the commercial shows images of warm lines making my muscles relax.  It is not possible to take a vitamin pill and cure myself of cancer.  Wearing a metal bracelet on my wrist is not going to keep me from catching a cold.  Wearing a garment with copper woven into the fabric is not going to make me run faster or jump higher.  Moving a hand held device that vibrates and flashes lights over my skin is not going to cure me of rheumatoid arthritis or make my age spots disappear.  In fact, flashing lights are not going to cure me of anything, even though the entire medical science of the Star Trek episodes I was watching that day is based upon it.  Just writing this stuff makes rational people laugh hysterically.  It is all so intensely silly and stupid.  But the great majority of human beings continue to believe in these lies.  So I will continue to watch and listen to these commercials.  I will continue to tell people that pills and potions do not work. And I will continue to watch a parade of fools plunk down their hard earned cash to purchase products they believe will make them better off.   Indeed it is true, a sucker is born every minute. 

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