Monday, December 27, 2010

Healing waters

At my part-time school, there are three vice principals - each is in charge of a different shift. Just a couple hours ago, two of them walked into the lounge area. One of them set down a pail of water on the floor and walked away. The other one sat down, leaned over, and put his hands in the water. He continued to sit there, slumped over with his hands in the bucket. I kept reading my book and pretended not to notice.

A little while later, one of the teachers came by to retrieve a printout from the nearby printer. The following conversation ensued:

Teacher: Oh, did you hurt your hand?
VP: No, but I'm not feeling very well.
Teacher: Ah. I have some cold medicine at my desk - do you want some?
VP: I'm ok with this, thanks.
Teacher:, is that going to help?
VP: Yeah, it looks like it will.
Teacher: Ah...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds some of these unconventional healing methods a little less likely to help than just taking some medicine.


  1. Thanks, Joe. You know, I've never really bought into the whole Eastern medicine thing, although I'm sure there are some merits. I'd really like to know why he thought soaking his hands in water would make him feel better.

  2. I think every culture in the world has some fairly bizarre conventional wisdom. A lot of people aren't very good at figuring out what makes sense and what doesn't, so weird and nonsensical ideas can really take hold. Of course, what takes hold in one area doesn't always spread worldwide...

    Where I come from, at least a third of the population (maybe more) sincerely believes that going out in cold weather is how you catch a cold. We learn in school that the common cold is a virus, but I guess that's harder to understand or something. Even people who understand that it passes from person to person don't really understand *how*: even after being in the same room with a sick person for several hours, breathing the same air for hours, they're often afraid to touch the person, for fear of catching whatever they've got.

    The Japanese custom of wearing masks during cold season may seem silly (it sure seems unnecessary to me), but it would seem to indicate that the Japanese understand what a virus is. The custom would never catch on in America, because Americans know the word "virus" but (most of them) clearly don't understand how it works.