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Article
March 1986

Clues to the Cultist

Author Affiliations

PO Box 776 Park Ridge, IL 60068

Arch Intern Med. 1986;146(3):457-458. doi:10.1001/archinte.1986.00360150055003

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Abstract

In recent decades we have witnessed the sad saga of a series of evanescent international therapeutic fads involving short-lived miracle drugs, medical devices, and surgical procedures. These misadventures were precipitated by the enthusiastic claims of advocates of "cures" such as krebiozen, laetrile, chelation therapy, dog dander from Chihuahuas, honey from Boulder, Colo, and a variety of operations for chronic obstructive lung disease. In every instance, the proponents of such therapy possessed more enthusiasm than confirmatory scientific data.

The era of the pseudoscientific zealot is unfortunately still with us in 1986. How does one distinguish between the cultist and the legitimate investigator? It is important to share these clues with our patients because characteristically the pseudoscientists utilize mass communication media to reach laymen directly. The true nature of unsubstantiated claims can be identified if their advocacy includes one or more of the following characteristics.

  1. Proof of efficacy has never been established

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