Not so long ago I discussed antiquated ideas that turned out to be valid and relevant in modern science. It seemed like a good excuse to spend some time on Wikipedia, ask my friends for ideas, and work a paragraph about pigeon crap into an article. Little did I know that I was scratching the surface of a story that could rock the very foundation of science, medicine, faith, and candy. Prepare to have your minds blown.
We’ll start with placebos. When doctors are trying out a new drug, there is always the chance that it won’t work. One would imagine that it would be easy to determine that. “Administered headache pill, Result: Subject still has headache. Finding: Pill doesn’t work.” As always, reality gets difficult when you throw human beings into the mix. We are a stupid bunch. So stupid, in fact, that we can actually feel the effects a pill is supposed to have, even if it doesn’t work, simply by BELIEVING that we should. This is the Placebo Effect, and it has a way of really screwing up medical research. To weed out the chunk of the test group with an imagination so strong it cures diseases, they give some of the guinea pigs placebos, dummy drugs. That way they know they are on to something if the real drug is more effective than the fake one. Usually the effect the placebo has is pretty minor. Sneezing goes away, a fever drops, something of that nature. Sometimes, though, it can be massive to the point of being inexplicable. Curing diabetes, getting rid of a speech impediment, or increasing intelligence. Somehow, all of these effects are brought about by believing that they would happen.
Let us, for a moment, imagine that it isn’t just the power of positive thinking that is making the placebo effect happen. Maybe it is the combination of expectation and the actual pill itself. The only problem is, most placebos are just sugar pills. Sugar couldn’t possibly be doing anything special… except…. When I was a kid, I didn’t do drugs. I didn’t need to, because there was a candy out there that was pretty much 98% pure sugar. You literally tore open a sleeve and dumped sugar into your mouth. That has got to be the ultimate evolution of candy, the purest sugar delivery system yet devised. The only possible next step would be hooking up intravenous high fructose corn syrup, which I’m sure will be hitting the shelves next Halloween. Until then, you can still get your hands on the colorful mixture of Dextrose and citric acid we call Pixy Stix. So, now we know that Pixy Stix are sugar, the same thing used to make placebos. This, my friends, is the key. Brace yourself, we are about to go down a rabbit hole.
Peter Pan’s sidekick in the Disney animated feature Peter Pan was Tinkerbell, who was a pixie. She used a magical substance, pixie dust, to bring about amazing effects, most notably the power of flight. This power was produced by a certain state of mind, thinking happy thoughts. In the stage productions of Peter Pan Tinker Bell is a fairy, not a pixie, and she is at one point poisoned. The audience is informed that if they believe in fairies, then they should clap their hands and Tinker Bell will recover. Sure enough, she does. Now we have all of the pieces. Fairies, which are in some situations interchangeable with pixies, can be restored to health using faith alone. They also produce a dust which is similarly empathic in its effects. Pixy Stix, clearly named for the aforementioned supernatural creature, contain a dust which might rightly be called pixie dust. This dust is sugar, the same substance that fills a placebo pill, the same pill that brings about inexplicable effects if the patient really believes. It thus follows that Pixies are real, and we have been harvesting their dust for culinary and medicinal purposes for years. We are through the looking glass, people.
I don’t have to spell out the implications this has on the world in general, but I will, because I’ve got another paragraph to fill. The first concern is how exactly the dust is harvested. In the cartoon we see Peter Pan shaking dust off of Tinkerbell, which would indicate that it is sort of an eldritch dandruff. The idea of sprinkling fairy dander on my Cheerios every morning isn’t the most appetizing I’ve had. It is either that or they are grinding up the graceful woodland sprites, which is hardly an improvement. (Say… Sprite is a beverage full of sugar. More evidence!) At the very least it will strike sweets from the vegan menu. The second thing to consider is that, if the lore surrounding the mythic substance is true, then enough sugar and enough happiness will allow children to achieve flight. This, I think, is proven. At a birthday party I attended recently where two massive cakes were administered to a fleet of preteens, I’m pretty sure I saw a few get airborne. One of them also seemed to vibrate through a wall, and rumor has it my 3 year old cousin Gabby singlehandedly killed a bear and ate its heart.
This all goes to show that you never know what sort of profound and earthshaking truths you will discover when you put your mind to it. First the origin of vampirism in the plains of Africa, now the wonder drug found in convenient packets on you local diner’s table. Not to mention the existence of fairies, and the difficulty in telling them from pixies. What sort of facts will be churned up in our next analysis? Only time will tell! (Though chances are very good it will involve bacon somehow.)