Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/171

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MEDICAL QUACKS AXD QUACKERIES.

charge of homœopathic physicians; quite recently they have been relieved from further attendance by the managers, because of the extravagant expenditure of money for drugs. Among the items are three pounds of salicylic acid and four thousand grains of quinine.

In Ontario, up to ten years ago, homœopaths were yearly registered by scores; since then they have to pass through the same courses and examinations as the regular students, in all but therapeutics and pharmacy. The consequence is, that in ten years there have only been two or three applications for examinations as homoeopaths. Homœopathy, being a system utterly devoid of any scientific foundation, is now dying a natural death.

It is difficult to give the exact reason or reasons why quackery is so prevalent. The causes are very various and obscure. Southey says: "Man is a dupable animal; quacks in medicine, quacks in religion, and quacks in politics know this, and act upon that knowledge. There is scarcely any one who may not, like a trout, be taken by tickling." It is extraordinary what a hold the mystic and marvelous still have on many people; there seems to be in almost every one a vein of credulity and superstition against which argument is useless. The disposition to be humbugged preponderates in human nature over reason and common sense. Education, at least the education of the day, apparently has no influence in depriving people of this quality. Men of education are the very ones who have been, and are now, duped by clever quacks. A man may be an able politician, distinguished in literature, of great shrewdness in the ordinary business of life, and yet believe in spiritualism, homœopathy, Perkinism, and tar-water. When he is ill he will probably, after taking in vain the various much vaunted and advertised panaceas, call in some quack who promises a cure in a certain time and in some uncommon manner.

Bishop Berkeley is an example of a man of great attainments, whose mind was obscured by quackery. His tar-water he considered an infallible remedy for all ailments, and wrote a book describing its universal efficacy in curing disease. Dr. O. W. Holmes says: "He might have lived longer, but his fatal illness was so sudden that there was no time to stir up a quart of the panacea. He was a very illustrious man, but he held two very odd opinions, that tar-water was everything, and that the whole material universe was nothing ("Currents and Counter-Currents," p. 72). Alfred Russel Wallace,[1] the emi-

  1. Mr. Wallace, in his book on "Miracles and Modern Spiritualism," holds that the theory of a future existence as taught by spiritualists is the "only one yet given to the world that can at all commend itself to the modern philosophical mind," and in the spiritual world the law of "progression of the fittest" takes the place of the grand law of the "survival of the fittest" in the material world. He also holds that witches were what are now called "mediums." Owing to the number of witches destroyed for several centuries, the production of spiritual phenomena became impossible, which accounts for spiritualism being of comparatively recent origin.