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Complementary and alternative medicine Entertainment/culture Medicine Quackery Television

Hugh Laurie and Conan O’Brien: “I want actual medicine!”

I didn’t get to see this interview last night on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. After all, I usually show up at work between 7:00 and 7:30 AM. However, Hugh Laurie, star of House, was interviewed by Conan and revealed himself to be not unlike me in that he’s definitely a booster of reason and science in medicine over irrationality and dubious “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) therapies, not unlike the character he plays on House. Check out the interview. (The relevant passage begins at about 23:50 into the show.)

I knew there was a reason I liked Hugh Laurie, even though I haven’t been so much into House anymore the last season or two.

For those who might have problems playing Internet video, I’ve found a transcript:

From Late Night with Conan O’Brien Tuesday, December 9, 2008

CONAN O’BRIEN: We have something in common, which is… I believe your father is a doctor and my father is a doctor.  And so you’re playing a doctor now, and I’m curious.  Did you learn anything from your father?  Is there anything from growing up with a doctor in the family that helped you with the role?

HUGH LAURIE:  In a way, yes.  I mean, not, not…Not to do with the character, but to do with my attitude toward medicine.  Because I admired my father so much, I grew up with this immense reverence for Western Medicine. I think its about the noblest calling there is.

I don’t know about you, but I have no patience with the sort of bog-sucking crystals and the herbs and all that sort of stuff.  I’m a great believer in antibiotics and anesthetics.  These are great things that have saved millions of lives.

(GESTURES TOWARD AUDIENCE)

You know half the people who are here wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for antibiotics.

CONAN:  I am the same way.  Whenever something is wrong with me, and someone says, “There’s a tree root that you can hold against your head and then think good thoughts,”

HUGH:  Right.

CONAN: I push them aside and go to a pharmacy.

(LAUGHTER)

HUGH:  Right, me too!

CONAN: I want actual medicine.

HUGH: I want actual medicine, little white pills.  Yeah. Because when people try to persuade you of this alternative course because its an ancient medicine, its an ancient therapy.  “It’s two thousand years old.” But two thousand years ago people died at twenty!

CONAN: Yes.

HUGH: It’s no recommendation!

(LAUGHTER)

CONAN: If they made it to twenty, it was, “Hey old man!  Hey old timer!”

HUGH: Absolutely.

(LAUGHTER)

HUGH: Let’s have some more of that tree bark!  But, no.

Yes, I definitely grew up with that.  And that made me (I suppose) sympathize with the — Is it left brain or right brain? I don’t know which side it is — But that sort of logical, scientific side of the character, which I do greatly admire.  For all his cynicism, sarcasm, etc. etc., I love his belief in reason. It is his religion.  I definitely got that from my father.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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