November 5, 1960

The Golden Age of Quackery

JAMA. 1960;174(10):1351-1352. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03030100119040

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On more than one occasion I have commented upon the fact that the capacity of the human mind to deceive itself knows hardly any limit. Perhaps this is only just less cynical than Mencken's hard but shrewd statement that "Nobody ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the American public." Human nature being what it is, the history of mankind reveals that people who want to help their fellow man deceive himself have always been in ample supply. Some even sense a surfeit. "The Golden Age of Quackery" deals with a phenomenon of self-delusion in the United States which, though not by any means extinguished, passed its high point during the first decade of the present century. Morris Fishbein and many others have waged an effective campaign to expose frauds, quacks, nostrums, and fakes of various kinds. Though diploma mills still operate, "doctors" fraudulently practicing medicine are very few

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