Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/173

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MEDICAL QUACKS AND QUACKERIES.

certain disease, we have, first, to be sure that the disease exists; secondly, that it was cured; and, thirdly, that the remedy cured the disease.

It is very common for quacks to call carbuncles cancers, ordinary sore-throats diphtheria, and so on, and so boast of their wonderful cures, when Nature alone deserves the praise. In no country in the world are quacks more abundant than in the United States. Every city teems with faith-cure men, rubbers and strokers, clairvoyants, homoeopaths, eclectics, bone-setters, cancer-doctors, etc., etc. The advertising columns of the daily and weekly press, in the smaller towns especially, are principally filled with quack advertisements, some of them of the most disgusting and disgraceful nature, and these too in perfectly respectable sheets, which find their way without question into family circles. Religious newspapers are no exceptions to the rule; in them the advertisements have a religious gloss to attract the holy. Perhaps texts are quoted, or the advertiser poses as a philanthropist or clergyman, and treats the poor gratis; at the same time he hints that the only reason he is so generous is that he enjoys the luxury of doing good to suffering humanity. Quacks have many ways of advertising. One asserts, as a scientific fact, that all diseases originate in disorders of the nervous system, and urges every one, before it is too late, to come and drink of his nervine tonic. Another states that physicians now admit that all diseases are due to impure blood, and vaunts the efficacy of his magnetic blood-purifier. Then comes a vile woodcut of the inventor, with a list of the testimonials of the most laudatory character, showing how this more than human doctor had snatched the writer from the jaws of death, and perhaps something worse; or perhaps we have a "Golden Medical Discovery," and are told that the receipt for this medicine was found in the luggage of a deceased Zulu chief, or that it had been a secret of the medicine-men among the Yucatan Indians for hundreds of years, and was providentially discovered by the advertiser. To suit patients who dislike internal remedies, artful and designing quacks have furnished liver, stomach, and kidney pads, and magnetic belts, giving illustrations at the same time to show how these should be applied. I have been told by a wholesale druggist that thousands are sold by the trade, monthly, to the credulous who are continually seeking for new medical divinities. Their action is much the same as Perkins's Tractors. That these advertisers are successful in selling their wares is shown by the enormous prices they pay for advertising, and the colossal fortunes which men like Holloway, Helmbold, Ayer, and others have made. If bread-pills were to be advertised, until they came into notice, as some wonderful vegetable compound from the center of the "Dark Continent," and that they cured all diseases, they could not fail to acquire celebrity, for, of the thousands who would take them, a certain number would be sure to get well.

Another kind of quack is one who does not charge for advice, but