If It Sounds Like a Quack by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling

If It Sounds Like a Quack...: A Journey to the Fringes of American MedicineIf It Sounds Like a Quack…: A Journey to the Fringes of American Medicine by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This sarcastic survey of the fringes of alternative medicine is often funny and sometimes frightening. The author explores how wacko, unscientific medical theories have gained widespread acceptance in the United States. These include zombie cures, prayer healing, leeches and much more. The snake oil salesmen and women cooperated fully with the author in many cases, sharing stories of how they came to be such great healers (e.g. one guy came from the Andromeda galaxy), and even their failures (e.g. multiple criminal convictions and court orders that didn’t stop them from pushing their wares or their miracle cure sessions at luxury spas and luxury prices). The FDA fights these quacks valiantly, but the book explores how certain political elements (e.g. an unnamed “former game show host” who became president as the book phrases it) have fought to keep them on the market. I was surprised to find out how invested that political element is in the “alternative medicine” (i.e. alternative TO medicine) industry. Certain senators I won’t name sell their mailing lists to the snake oil salesmen according to the book. They also receive hefty campaign contributions from them. I can’t verify that, so I presume such details come from financial disclosure forms. The whole industry has merged with antivax and conspiracy believers in general.

Personally I don’t have a beef against the antivax and alternative medicine folks. I see it as natural selection in action. If they’re right, they’ll survive at higher rates than those of us who believe in actual medicine. If they’re wrong, they’ll be the ones dying off at higher rates. In either case, the gene pool is improved by definition. So far the statistics suggest by about 9 to 1 that they’re doing most of the dying. I have a healthy skepticism about medical doctors, too, since too many are clearly focused more on making money than healing or helping patients. So, choose your poison and drink up. Back to the book: the writing is too snide to be all that enjoyable, but the content is too delicious not to give it a high rating.

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