Thursday, January 10, 2008

Quacks and Their Nostrums

Via NeuroLogica I found a video from the 1950s about products with bogus health claims. It's a must-watch. The description from the video's poster captures its essence:

We're used to laughing at videos from the 1950's which show overly-conservative social values, stereotypes and primitive science. However this video shows how we may have taken a few steps backward.

Although it may contain some 1950's sexism and idealism, it illustrates how medical education and regulations seem to have gone in the wrong direction in recent times.

Questionable medicine and quackery is a bigger problem now then ever.

Listen to this. It may be old. It's more relevant than ever

This video is great in that it's exactly what people need to know about these "cures:" they aren't typically dangerous themselves, but prevent or delay real treatment; testimonials are less than worthless; the process of cracking down on violations is laborious and twisted, but it can be done.

The video is horrible, however, in that America hasn't learned a thing in fifty years! In fact, this situation has gotten worse. From Steve Novella:
A couple of things have changed since the making of this film. The most obvious is the shameless and direct fashion that the actors talk about “quacks.” There is no bowing to misguided political correctness or false open-mindedness. That was a time when quacks were quacks, before con artists and health frauds became savvy enough to hide behind conspiracy theories, cries for health care freedom, and appeals to post-modernist anti-scientific jargon.
Not to mention that "medicine" of this nature is funded by the government through NCCAM, and is given a legal double standard through DSHEA.

How can we progress in bringing medical skepticism to the public when we seem to have been losing ground for decades?


Ben said...

That is a great video. I should carry it around on my ipod. That way when I get into some alt. med. discussion, I can just whip it out.