A recent news story....

GOVERNMENT APPROVES POPULAR FOLK REMEDY, WITH CAUTIONS

WASHINGTON. A federal agency announced today that a widely used and very popular folk remedy has been approved for general use, but issued cautions to prevent possible harm. The remedy, popularly known as "faith" or "belief," seems to grow naturally wherever human beings are found, and is thought to be as old as the human race itself.
   Testing was undertaken after the agency received many complaints that widespread and indiscriminate use was having harmful effects on large segments of the population. Researchers encountered immediate difficulties because there are an almost infinite number of varieties of faith.
   Faith is widely available, usually marketed under various brand names by franchised outlets; it is a multi-million dollar industry in the United States alone. This fact is surprising, since it can be found naturally almost anywhere, or manufactured easily at home.
   Although fides religiosa - to use its scientific name - is not, strictly speaking, a drug, it was subjected to the more rigorous testing used for drugs, since it often seems to have drug-like effects.
   The agency tried to test the drug's effectiveness in comparison with its many claimed benefits, although claims as to its benefits post mortem were not tested; the agency claimed that to do so would exceed its already large budget for the project.
   Although researchers tried to use traditional double-blind tests utilizing placebos, no placebos could be found that did not turn out to be varieties of the drug itself.
   Test results showed that, for those claims that could be tested, faith does, in fact, provide effective remedies for many of the ills for which it is used, including: depression, low self-esteem, anti-social feelings, criminality, alcoholism and substance abuse, despair, Weltschmerz, and many mild physical ailments. Regular users of faith (usually called "believers") claimed to be happier, healthier, more well-adjusted, and more self-confident than many non-users.
   Approval of the drug was based on these positive findings.
   However, officials also found that even slight abuse of the drug may have harmful effects. Overdoses often caused the very ills which the drug is supposed to alleviate, especially depression, low self-esteem and inability to get along with others. Overdoses or too frequent use sometimes affected body organs, causing strange tumor-like growths, thus preventing normal functioning of those organs. Most likely affected are the brain (faith-induced tumors there are called "dogmatism") and the heart ("bigotry"). The excretory system can also be affected, causing its output to increase several-fold in volume, usually with an extremely offensive malodorousness which the patient rarely is even aware of.
   The drug was also found to be extremely habit-forming. Many users required a weekly dose (usually called "services" or "meeting" or "church"); some required a fix several times a day (called "prayer" or "scripture reading"). Many carry a small book with them, containing faith fixes, which they can turn to for relief at any time.
   The strength of the addiction was evident when any users were threatened with removal of their faith: invariably they exhibited panic, animosity, belligerence and a willingness to sacrifice anything rather than give up their faith.
   Antidotes to overdose, abuse or addiction are fortunately easily available, and, when administered in small doses over a period of time, will counteract most deleterious effects of faith. The antidotes are: reason, facts, common sense, skepticism, and inquisitiveness.
   Dispensers of faith, therefore, will in future be required to label their products with cautions and warnings, to include the following:

   CAUTION: MAY BE HABIT FORMING

   USE ONLY AS DIRECTED

   DO NOT EXCEED RECOMMENDED DOSAGE

   KEEP ANTIDOTES HANDY IN CASE OF OVERDOSE

   BE ESPECIALLY CAUTIOUS DISPENSING TO CHILDREN: MAY CAUSE LONG- TERM DAMAGE

   TAKE ONLY WITH A GRAIN OF SALT

Just in case you haven't figured it out, let me assure you that this "news story" is completely fictitious, even though it may contain much truth.


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