Since I'm not sending them in to the paper, I'm free to publish the sample articles I came up with publically. The material isn't quite up my normal niche, but there's no reason not to post it anyways. Here's the first article, and you can expect to see the next two over the next couple of days.
HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead.
HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead.
HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead. (Repeat ad nauseum)
The ad may be annoying, but it does succeed in getting your attention. It’s also succeeded in convincing thousands of consumers to buy the product, leading the producers to create spin-off products with their own annoying commercials.
What the ad doesn’t do, however, is tell you what Head On actually does. It implies that it treats headaches, and it tells people to apply it to their foreheads. Later commercials have included people coming onto the screen claiming the product is “great” or “amazing.” The manufacturers, Miralus Healthcare, state that “It can be used by anyone and as often as needed. There are no dosage restrictions or health risks associated with its use.” But not a single claim that it actually does anything, and in fact, HeadOn turns out to do exactly what they claim it does: nothing.
HeadOn, as well as its spin-off products, are what are known as “homeopathic” remedies. Homeopathic medicine works by the very counter-intuitive principle that “Like cures like, and the smaller the dose, the better.” For instance, if a certain plant causes a headache when consumed, then a homeopath would argue that consuming very little of the plant would cause less of a headache. So, if you have a headache and consume very little of this plant, then your headache should go away, by their logic.
What homeopaths generally do to prepare a product is to repeatedly dilute the active ingredient (generally some harmful substance) by factors of ten or a hundred. Supposedly, the more dilutions, the better. A typical minimum dilution of homeopathic products is 6X, which means it’s been diluted by a factor of ten six times (to one millionth the original strength). Many products are sold with even greater dilutions than this, and “Extra Strength” means there’s even less of the active ingredient. With the strongest dilutions, such as the 30X of Golden Seal Hydrastis in one of Miralus’ other products, there isn’t likely to be even a single molecule of active ingredient.
Despite the illogical nature of homeopathy, there are thousands of people out there who will claim that homeopathy does indeed work. Doesn’t this mean there’s something to it? Well, no. This is just what’s known as the Placebo Effect. What happens here is that when people take what they think is a cure for their ailment, they’re likely to claim it actually helped them, even if all they took was a simple sugar pill. These perceptions stem partly from the general cyclic nature of most ailments. Left untreated, most ailments steadily get worse, and then get better on their own. It is when they are at their worst that people go out and look for cures, so it’s no surprise if it gets better soon afterwards. Additionally, positive thinking after taking medicine can lead people to overestimate their recovery, also contributing to this effect.
The problem with homeopathy is that it flies in the face of both common medical practice and logic itself. One of the most important criteria a treatment must demonstrate to be accepted by the medical community is dose-response correlation. This means that the more of the treatment is used, the more effective it is (within some reasonable range). Homeopathy, on the other hand, claims that less is better. As for the logical problems with it, first consider the fact that homeopathic products are sold with multiple applications. By their arguments, wouldn’t multiple applications decrease the overall effectiveness? Now, consider the logical extreme of the dilution process: taking none of the active ingredient at all. Hey, we’re already doing that! Why bother buying it at all? We’re already at maximum effectiveness