Medical quackery revisited

When you joke about smarmy snake oil salesmen, did you know that there really were such people?  Back in 1905, an American cowboy named Clark Stanley billed himself as the “Rattlesnake King”, gathering crowds by killing rattlesnakes while delivering his miracle cure sales pitch. For 50 cents a bottle (at a time when your income averaged $1 a day), you could cure your toothaches, neuralgia, ankle sprains and pretty much everything else that ailed you by using Stanley’s snake oil liniment.

Stanley kept making his magical promises – right up until the federal government seized one of his shipments in 1917 and tested it. Continue reading

What has happened to you, Dr. Oz?

The show biz career of Dr. Mehmet Oz has been on fire ever since he started in 2003 on the Discovery Channel. The first guest on that show was one Oprah Winfrey, who dubbed the charmer, “America’s Doctor”. Dr. Oz now spends his time writing best-selling books on diet and beauty, and hosts a hit TV show. One wonders when he has time to practice cardiology anymore.

Less cardiology would seem to be a tragedy.  His useful book Healing From The Heart made a profound impact on me when I read it after my own heart attack in 2008. But in an unprecedented frenzy to win TV viewers and boost ratings, the skilled cardiologist-turned-entertainer is now in danger of becoming a pathetic caricature of his former well-respected self.  Continue reading