Saturday, July 03, 2010

Now hear this!

Trust Dr. Rock Star

Farm life is not necessarily a bucolic idyll accompanied by the soulful lowing of cattle and the melodic twittering of songbirds. The roaring of tractors and other farm equipment may imprint you with less restful souvenirs—like a ringing in the ears.

During my childhood, no one on the farm wore ear protection during long hours in the field, driving tractors to and fro with equipment in tow. Some of the farm gear was unpowered and relatively quiet: discs, harrows, plows, and rakes. The diesel engines of the tractors provided most of the noise. Other devices raised a ruckus of their own, powered devices like balers, whirling choppers, reciprocating scythes, and stalk cutters. Then there were odd devices like the cultipacker, an unpowered farm tool that consisted of a big cylindrical axle festooned with toothed steel rings, which clashed against each other as they rolled across the field. It sounded like a continuous explosion in a cymbal factory.

One legacy of my life as a farm kid is tinnitus—a continual ringing in my ears. It's a mild case, usually easily ignored, but it varies from time to time and I wish it would go away. I unknowingly did my best to avoid it, always letting my brother volunteer for farm tasks that he would happily do while I would regard them as infringing on my reading time. Despite my shirking, the damage was done.

Naturally my ears pricked up when I heard a radio advertisement for a new remedy. Although my doctor had told me there was no useful treatment for tinnitus, hope springs eternal. Had there been a recent breakthrough? The pitchman on the radio cheerfully reported that Quietus would safely provide relief from the ringing, humming, or squealing in the ears that characterizes various forms of tinnitus. Sounded good to me.
Now you can alleviate the ringing with all-natural Quietus, a proprietary formula that helps support healthier cochlear auditory nerve function in the inner ear, to relieve that annoying internal noise.
Oops! I hear buzzwords. Do you hear buzzwords? “All natural”? “Helps support”?

I also smell something. Like a rat.

The male voice of the pitchman gave way to the female voice of a supposed satisfied customer of Quietus:
I like it that it's homeopathic and doesn't require a prescription.
Okay. Got it. Quietus is a bogus nostrum with no medical value (unless you count the placebo effect). Out of curiosity, I visited the Quietus website. That where I discovered that Quietus was “discovered by a drummer.”

Sounds like someone was inspired by Airborne, the supremely successful fraud perpetrated “by a school teacher.” Who wouldn't trust a remedy invented by a rock star? (They're way more credible than mere doctors and researchers.)

The only good part of the Quietus website was the fine, fine (really fine) print at the bottom of the page (complete with the product name misspelled!):
Queitus™ Advanced Homeopathic Medicine. **These results not typical. Individual results will vary. These real testimonials do not represent the typical or ordinary experience of users. They are for demonstration purposes only and do not accurately capture the actual results you will experience. Your results may vary and you may need to use the product for a longer or shorter period of time. Each person’s experience with Quietus is different, which cannot be determined from these testimonials.
It's a lovely bit of cover-your-ass prose, which approximately 99% of visitors to the website will not read (or perhaps even see).

We tinnitus sufferers will have to continue to wait for a genuine remedy from real scientists—perhaps something along the lines of current research, which has succeeded in regrowing cochlear hair cells in mice. In the meantime, one can find a consumer-alert message about Quietus on YouTube (although I must warn you that it has an irritatingly noisy soundtrack!). I'd rather direct you to this trenchant commentary by Dara Ó Briain, who thinks we should “bag” homeopathy. But please don't clap too loudly. My ears are delicate.


Eamon Knight said...

Damn you, now my tinnitus is squealing like mad! The power of suggestion....

Zeno said...

Hey, if suggestion can "cure" it, there's every reason to suspect it can aggravate it, too.

Stay away from cultipackers and I promise you it will get better!

Anonymous said...

I just like the connection to be drawn to Children of Men.

Blake Stacey said...

These people want us to pay for Quietus? I have it on good authority that a man can make his own with a bare bodkin.

Zeno said...

Ah, good show, Blake! I was going to be disappointed if no one cited the Bard.

(But I admit that I don't catch Unapologetic's allusion.)

Anonymous said...

In Children of Men, "Quietus" is a mass-marketed suicide kit. That will stop the ringing in your ears too!

DM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.