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The 20 Million Dollar Duck

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skepcindy

The 20 Million Dollar Duck

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(Gomen nasai for not posting in so long)

So Chris's boss hadn't known anything about homeopathy, and after talking about it a bit, amused himself for a while on the internet learning about how bizarre it is. He apparently came across an article about the 20 million dollar duck.

Remember Oscillococcum? That sugar pill with 10^-400 g of duck liver, because duck liver has the bacteria that causes the flu? Apparently, it's a 20 million dollar per year business. I saw some in the drug store the other day for 12$ a package for a sugar pill that does precisely nothing. I just stared in disbelief, realizing that there's really no way of fighting something like this. If you can get even a very small percentage of people to buy your 12$ sugar pills, you will be very very very rich. In a capitalist society, that's a pretty attractive profit margin.

And of course, staying power comes from the same principle as fraternity hazing. Anything you had to go to great lengths to get feels more valuable to you. Someone has a strong incentive to believe it works since the moment they admit it doesn't, it means they've been an idiot who pays 12$ for sugar pills.

Anyway, back to the duck. With the extremely high levels of dilution, they can make 20 million dollars worth of pills with a small piece of one duck's liver every year. Thus the 20 million dollar duck. Actually, with some back of the envelope calculations, assuming a dollar a pill, that's 20 million or 2e6x1g pills per year. At 10e-400 grams dilution, that's still roughly an expected value of 10e-394 g of "molecules" in their whole supply. Meaning that even if they're in business a hundred years, they really only ever needed one duck.

What I'm saying is that the real victim here is the 20 million dollar yearly duck. There's no reason to kill that poor duck. (Though I realize that France has a history of abusing ducks in general.)
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