As regular, sporadic or even accidental listeners to our podcast might know, our very own Mike recently discovered ear candles lurking in the murky, unforgiving depths of Chester town centre. Dragged away from the peddler of this particular brand of dangerous crazy before he’d had a chance to a) ask why ear candles are on sale when they’re proven to be ineffective and ludicrously dangerous and b) stop the stupid burning his brain, Mike was left with only one option – rant about it on Skeptics With A K. I suspect being on the show is actually far more beneficial to Mike’s mental health than it is to our listeners’ entertainment levels.
Still, it got me wondering – how many people actually know anything about ear candles? How many people know what they are, what they’re meant to do, what they actually do, and why they’re crazy crazy crazy? Canvassing opinion around colleagues and friends, it seemed to my (entirely un-scientifically-small) survey that the number of people who’d even heard of them was pretty low, and amongst those it was a mixed response on whether ear candles are any good or not. Which is a bit disturbing, because – as I mentioned – they’re actually crazy crazy crazy. So I found myself trying to explain to these lovely folk what an ear candle is, and the potential for harm that it can do. ‘If only’, thought I at the time, ‘I had some kind of video where a well-known yet annoying-enough-not-to-mind-seeing-them-in-discomfort celebrity had filmed themselves using an ear candle, so I could show people how woo this crap really is (and how crap this woo really is), and they could be in equal parts informed and grossed-out’.
Well, this is Christmas after all – the time of the year that wishes really do come true. They do. Ask anyone that’s been on Noel’s Christmas Presents and they’ll tell you. Oh, plus I can tell you they do, because lo and indeed behold what the intertubes have presented us with:
If you ask me it entirely kicks the arse off Gold, Frankinsense or Myrrh – if the little baby Jebus had been given a video of irritating blondelette Jessica Simpson sticking a burning candle in her ear in pursuit of some quack treatment, I’d wager he’d have kicked the three wise men to the curb, and history (by which I only mean the Bible, not actual history in terms of things that actually happened of course) would have been so much different. Then again, Jebus was but a tiny infant, so already he wouldn’t have been trusted to be smart enough to know not to put burning things in your ear because it’s ludicruously dangerous. How would a baby – even a messiah-baby – be able to figure out that putting a burning roll of waxed cotton into a very delicate area such as your ear could result in a perforated eardrum, or that the hot wax dripping from the quack-candle could very easily burn your face, drip into your ear and cause major damage, or even that the flame could set alight to your hair or surroundings?
I’d imagine the little baby Jebus would also be too young to be trusted to work out that the ear candle doesn’t really create a vortex that sucks the ear wax out of your ear, forming a residue at the bottom of the candle by way of proof. He’s also be too naive to realise that the real reason for the waxy residue at the bottom of the candle isn’t anything to do with ear wax, but it’s to do with the fact that you’re burning a candle. Made of wax. Which melts when burnt. Into a waxy residue. Around the bottom.
Thank Christ then the tiny baby Christ wasn’t given an ear candle, or he could have very easily caused permanent damage to his hearing, suffered severe burns to his skin, or even set alight to his surroundings resulting in death by smoke inhalation (he was, after all, in a wooden manger filled with straw, in a wooden shack, thousands of years before the invention of the emergency services).
I suppose, then, it’s a good job that the littlebabyJesus didn’t get given a dangerous and unproven quack therapy to play with then, and an equally good job that Jessica Simpson has did – she’s done something really stupid and dangerous, so you don’t have to. I suppose you could say this one’s her very own sacrifice for the good of mankind…