Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Alternative austerity

In this age of austerity many people are looking for ways to earn an extra buck or two and what better (and easier) way to leach the samolians from your fellow human beings is there than inventing an “alternative medicine”. There are however a few important tips that you should digest and follow in order to improve your chances of success; here are ten of them to get you started.

1. Minimise specific effects – Let’s face up to it straight away, your medicine won’t actually work. Progress in medicine does not happen with people just making stuff up, but instead relies on remarkable insight, careful analysis, detailed research and long and expensive clinical trials, with lots of false starts and wrong turns before progress is made. You will not have the time, inclination, money or intellect for this. So, the best you can do is ensure that you do as little direct harm as possible, choose something that is inert, harmless and inconsequential in action, like water (or something very close to it).

2. Maximise placebo effects – Make your treatment as theatrical as possible, make customers feel like you listened to them and lots of effort has gone into your cure. This ensures the placebo effect is maximised, we already know that the more dramatic the intervention the greater the placebo effect will be.

3. Choose what you want to cure carefully - The number one reason for people believing in alternative medicine is that it “works for them”. What this means is that their particular complaint just happened to improve sometime after rubbing whatever magic beans they had chosen. Chronic illnesses are ideal – they represent repeat business. Bad backs are a classic. People will come to you when their backs are really playing up.... now you have a loyal and evangelical customer. Correlation is causation to your customer. “Regression to the mean” is your friend. Understand it and use it.

4. Have excuses ready - if things are not quite getting better yet – or even if things are getting worse.... Have a story ready for every outcome, good or bad. Never admit you have failed.... Perhaps the most lucrative path is to invent illnesses. Create your own problems, diagnostic techniques and cures and you can provide an end-to-end service of imaginary illnesses and cures. The Detox industry has thrived on this. Food intolerances and allergies have made shed loads for vitamin pill sellers. People love their daily aches and pains, tiredness and mood swings to have a name and to have something to blame. You can provide a wonderful service by filling in the gaps for them.

5. Embrace the language of quackery - It is compulsory that you start using a few alternative medicine terms. ‘Holistic' is probably the most important one, say things like, “Toxins cause all illness. So do parasites, acidic blood, vitamin and mineral depletion, miasmas, vibrations” whatever. Pick one and stick to it. Describe yourself as holistic. No one will notice that you are the exact opposite. ‘Natural’ is another compulsory word... Avoid using the term ‘alternative’ to describe your ‘medicine’. It is very 20th Century, and also frightens a potential lucrative source of income – government and insurance companies. Even ‘complementary’ medicine is falling out of favour. The hot button is ‘Integrative’. You want your business integrated with the health care provision of the state and private sectors.... No, you want to be a ‘choice’ – a ‘lifestyle choice’ for the modern health consumer, and they can select you from within a single integrated market. Choice is the biggest buzz word in healthcare politics in the UK. Make sure you offer it. People criticising you will look like they are restricting consumer choice - always a bad thing.

6. Adopt the victim posture - If a critic asks you for evidence about your treatment, then do anything but answer the direct question. Scream that the questioner is closed minded and probably a shill from Big Pharma. Say that your patients’ successes are all the proof you need. Claim that your technique does not lend itself well to ‘conventional’ scientific testing. But if some dodgy paper does exist, then wave it around furiously, despite just having claimed that science cannot measure what you do.

7. Wear the mantle of science - People love science. They do not understand it, but they love the authority of science. Most people form opinions based on various authorities in their life. So, embrace the authority of scientific language, but ignore the methods of science – the methods may show you are speaking hogwash. Your customers will not be interested in the details. They will never check references or take the time to understand what you mean. But they will be impressed by science experts and scientific language.

8. Award yourself a title - If you do not have a PhD then don’t worry too much. There are correspondence courses where you can get one for a few thousand quid. A wise investment. Gillian McKeith was unlucky in being caught out. Chances are, you will not be. If you really have balls, just style yourself Dr anyway. It is not a protected title – it is yours to use.

9. Envelope yourself in ancient wisdom - Take a leaf out of the Ear Candling trade. They picked on an obscure American Indian tribe on which to base their claims of antiquity. Despite the Hopi tribe writing to the manufacturers to deny the claims and to request they stop using their name, nothing has changed. People like to think they are tapping into ‘ancient wisdom’ and more ‘natural’ health approaches. Preferably use an Oriental connection. This is much more beguiling (and also harder to check) ....

10. Embrace weasel words - Be careful what you say in advertising. Do not claim to be able to cure things. Instead, claim to ‘treat’ illnesses. You may be totally unsuccessful, but you are not lying. Your punter will not notice the subtle difference between treating and curing....

If you follow all of these tips then fame and fortune could be just around the corner, who knows, you may even start believing it yourself!

No comments: