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10 Unabashed Quacks in Medical History

The history of medicine is a noble one, with an ultimate goal of extending human life and easing human suffering. Unfortunately, medicine also has its share of charlatans, con-men, and incompetents whose greatest evil is to cast doubt on the benefits of any medicine in the minds of laymen. Merriam-Webster defines a “quack” as “a pretender to medical skill”. Presented here are some self-proclaimed, as well as licensed, “pretenders” who may have had the best of intentions, but certainly achieved the worst of results.


Paul Chamberlen

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The purported inventor of the “Anodyne Necklace”, Chamberlen claimed that the necklace would help “children’s teethe as well as woman’s labour”. It is no shock that children during the eighteenth century often died as infants, and as many times during infancy the baby is teething, it may have seemed natural that the teething itself was the source of illness and death. The Anodyne Necklace was invented to simply place around a baby’s neck to prevent infant death during teething. Chamberlen deserves the last place on this list for preying and capitalizing on the grief and terror of parents who were more often than not during this period resigned to the fact that their children would be more likely to die in infancy than to make it to adulthood. Unbelievably, such necklaces are still being sold today, despite an utter lack of evidence of their efficacy. See for yourself.


Albert Abrams
1863 – 1924


Invented the Dynamizer, which he claimed could diagnose any ailment simply by feeding into it a slip of paper upon which had been blotted a drop of the patient’s blood. If a drop of blood was unavailable or the patient didn’t want to give it, a handwriting sample would suffice! One made the Dynamizer work by connecting it with an electrode to the forehead of an assistant, who was stripped bare to the waist. Then the assistant was turned to face West under dim light and his abdomen struck repeatedly with a mallet. The vibrations coming off the assistant’s abdomen would indicate to the doctor the nature of the disease. The medical community, ever the distrustful skeptics, sent an Abrams practitioner a drop of rooster blood to be analyzed with the Dynamizer. The “patient” was diagnosed with malaria, syphilis, diabetes, and cancer.


Bernard Jensen
1908 – 2001

Bernard Jensen

Famous American chiropractor and iridologist who asserts that all of the body’s underlying dysfunctions and toxins can be identified through the iris (colored part) of the eye, despite the fact that the iris does not undergo major changes during a person’s life. Nevertheless, Jensen insisted that darker areas of the iris, or areas that changed from lighter to darker, would be read as indications that there were problems or diseases in the corresponding part of the body. Different areas of the iris would represent different limbs and organs, and the left and right eye would be read differently. For instance, if the bottom of your right eye’s iris had a dark fleck, your right kidney would be in grave danger. You can view one of Jensen’s iridology charts here.


Dinshah Ghadiali
1873 – 1966


Invented the Spectro-Chrome, which he claimed could cure ailments by changing the color of the light to which the patient was exposed. His theory was that different colors corresponded to different elements (blue = oxygen, red = hydrogen, etc.), and the lack of those elements in the body was what caused disease. Hence, if the body was exposed to that color for a prolonged period, the deficiency would be remedied, and the disease cured. Any disease except broken bones could be cured in this manner; furthermore, the patient did not necessarily have to be exposed directly to the colored lights: he or she could also drink liquids out of an appropriately colored bottle in order to achieve the same effects.


D.D. Palmer
1845 – 1913

Daniel David Palmer

Father of modern chiropractic, Palmer’s scientific method, leading to his theory that misalignment of the spine is the most common cause of all illness in the human body, boiled down to two incidents: 1) he whacked a deaf janitor with a book during some witty banter, and a few days later the man claimed he could hear better, and 2) he manipulated an undisclosed patient’s spine and “cured” her vague “heart trouble”. On these two incidents alone, Palmer postulated that there was a fluid called “Innate Intelligence” flowing through the body that could heal any ailment and that could be made to flow more easily by unblocking pathways through the manipulation of the spine. As chiropractic is a very common practice today, this will most likely be the most controversial of the entries on this list.


William J.A. Bailey
1884 – 1949


President of “Radium Company” of New York and a self-proclaimed doctor who never received his medical degree, he prescribed to his patients “Radithor”, essentially a solution of radium in regular water, which he asserted would help invigorate tired patients. His most notable patient was Eben Byers, a wealthy industrialist, who drank 1400 bottles of Radithor before having his jaw fall off and subsequently dying from radiation poisoning. Upon Byers’ death, it was discovered that the radium had eaten massive holes in his brain and skull. Bailey also marketed a radioactive belt-clip (for portable “energy”) and a radioactive paperweight (presumably to perk up lethargic businessmen).


John Harvey Kellogg


Immortalized in T. Coraghessan Boyle’s book “The Road to Wellville”, which was later made into a move starring Anthony Hopkins as Kellogg, and the brother of cereal magnate Will Kellogg, J.H. Kellogg, one of the few licensed medical doctors on this list, is well-known as an eccentric and monomaniacal leader of the “health movement”. His sanitarium in Battle Creek drew large numbers of “patients” who apparently volunteered for such masochistic treatments as: complete abstinence from any sexual activity, since it was the source of most illness; yogurt enemas to cleanse the body; marching while eating meals to help digestion; carbolic acid applications to the clitoris to prevent female masturbation; and immersion in freezing water laced with radium. Apparently, he, not Will, was the original Frosted Flake.


John R. Brinkley

Brinkley John

The “goat gland” doctor, Brinkley performed hundreds of surgeries on men who feared that their most virile days were behind them by opening up their scrotal sacs and nestling goat’s testicles alongside the men’s. There was no arterial conjoining, no grafting, no fusion – the goat gland and human testicle merely occupied the same sac, but Brinkley claimed that the extra flow of testosterone would revitalize a male patient’s sex life. Legend has it that his hypothesis turned into implementation while working for a meatpacking company, Brinkley was astounded by the sexual voracity of the goats, thus prompting him to half-jokingly suggest to his undersexed patient that he should try goat glands; to this suggestion his desperate patient responded, “So doc, put ‘em in. Transplant ‘em!” Brinkley went on to perform over 16,000 goat gland transplants. He also arguably established the first radio advice talk show in order to advertise himself and his services to as many potential patients as possible. The book “Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster”, by Pope Brock, is an excellent starting point to learn more about this irrepressible lunatic.


Walter Freeman
1895 – 1972

Freeman Patient-1

A prominent neurologist and psychiatrist, he popularized the lobotomy by making it easy and convenient: “perfecting” the transorbital lobotomy, where a sharp implement (the first was an icepick from his own kitchen) was inserted through the inside corner of the eye, tapped with a small hammer until it broke through the skull bone and entered the frontal lobe of the patient’s brain, then wiggled around like a stir-stick to cut neural connections. These “surgeries” were performed outside of the operating room, without anesthetic, and after the patient was incapacitated by electroshock therapy. Freeman eventually developed his own instrument for performing the lobotomies called the “leucotome”. He decided to refine his instrument further when one broke off inside a patient’s orbital socket. Even after his medical license was revoked for killing a patient with his technique, he would travel the country in his “Lobotomobile” to service the needy and the isolated. He performed 3,439 lobotomies during his career, though the psychological and physical damage caused by his practice of psychiatry is unquantifiable. For an amazing and heartbreaking first-person account of an 11-year-old victim’s lobotomy by Freeman, “My Lobotomy” by Howard Dully is a must-read.


Josef Mengele
1911 – 1979

Josef Mengele 01

No list about quacks would be complete without mentioning this undisputed king of cruel and inhuman “research experiments”. The “Angel of Death” at Auschwitz, Mengele’s crimes against humanity during World War II at the concentration camp are well-documented and well-known. Some of the more notable and horrendous “experiments” he carried out were: injecting dyes into children’s eyes to see if eye color could be changed; attempting to measure how much force would be needed to break a human being’s skull (while living, of course); putting Jewish prisoners in a gigantic oven and testing how long it would take for human flesh to sustain first-, second-, and third-degree burns; sewing twins together to see if he could create conjoined twins; and rubbed ground glass into injuries to see what the effect would be. The damage Mengele did to an entire race of people, to the human spirit, and to our perception of the depravity the human mind can invent is still unsurpassed.

Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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  • zagga20

    By far #4 is my favourite.

    Also, ‘lobotomobile’? great stuff.

  • Una

    No 1 – is he really a quack or just an evil person?

    • Eumesmopo

      He was a racist, cruel and insane butcher, but still a medic. Unlike the rest of the pseudodoctors in that list, Mengele’s research still had scientific aspects to it. For example: Mengele would take all twins that where brought to his deathcamp separate them and while leaving one the group of twins would be left as control group he give all sorts of drugs to the other group, when one of the twins died of overdose he would kill his brother and do a comparative authopsy to see what results the drugs had. That is (obviously) plain cruel, but still scientific. He’s not a quack at all.

  • max

    this list is really a cruel list da..y i was the first here

  • rose123

    haha lobotomobile, brilliant!

  • qabandi

    nice list,\\number 4 small error, move == movie ;O)

  • owly

    Can anyone think of something done in the name of science or towards medicine that people in the future will think as being horrible/unjustified?

  • Vanguy

    To the Lobotomobile!

  • cadist

    #9, lol at chicken having syphillis

  • Tenebrae

    Was Mengele really a quack or just a masochist? I don’t think he claimed to cure anything, but he did a massive amount of horrific experimentation.

    Interesting list though. Nice change of pace from the arbitrary nonsense that’s been up, of late.

  • joanne

    I was expecting at least one “psychic surgeon” on the list.

  • kay

    #1…cruel, digusting and just…horrible…he was just plain evil and crazy!

  • Mindforge

    To see a modern day quack, search for Munir Khan and his so-called, all-disease-curing potion “Body Revival”. It’s a shocking story of how gullible people can be.

  • Iain

    It’s kind of ironic to read a list about Quacks prefaced by advertisers saying “3 weird tips to lose your stomach fat… etc”. You could argue that quackery helps keep this site going.

  • MN

    A note on the chiropractor – the benefits of chiropractic treatment certainly do not go as far as some people, Palmer in particular, claim, and this is why it is sometimes controversial. The modern chiropractor, if he/she is a good one, knows the limits of treatment and doesn’t attempt to make more of it than it is.

    I blew a disc in my neck three years ago and all the conventional treatment, including cortisone injections, muscle relaxers, and pills managed to only mask the problem. I was in agony. I began to go to a chiropractor on my mother in law’s advice, starting off with weekly visits. I am now only going in every ten weeks for adjustment and though the chiro himself told me that I would never be pain free, I actually am pain free for the most part, and can do a lot of the things I couldn’t do. A bonus is that I am not on the strong pills I had to take to be able to function.

    The key is a chiropractor that understands his limitations and how the human body really works, unlike Palmer, who made up a lot of malarky to justify his treatments and attempted to cure everything with it. It is a practice that has come a long way over the years and certainly isn’t quackery anymore.

  • Iain

    In the realms of mental health quackery, you would certainly say L Ron Hubbard and the whole Scientology thing. You could even make a case for Sigmund Freud.

  • joey

    I don’t want to sound like a bad person or anything but many medical discoveries were probably made during WW II had it not been for extreme medical practices.. Soooo a small salute to Mengele?

  • MN


    I second the comment on L Ron Hubbard!! He built an empire on quackery!

  • Kabbi

    When people suffer, and their ill has no medicine, they will go to any person who promises that he will cure them. Its basic human nature. And thats why such quacks fool people by making fool of sick people by promising them th cure thru such means, and even intelligent people fall fr such treatments. Its a Sad sad sad story…

  • Frank

    While Mengele certainly was an evil f*cker, the medical advances he and his cohorts created can not be ignored either. Thousands of people have been saved from hypothermia with methods we would never have known about if it wasn’t for him.

    So he killed one, or ten, to save thousands. Moral dilemma much?

  • Geronimo

    1&2 are not quacks…they may have been the most diabolical of the lot but that doesnt take their credentials away….

  • jim

    The inventor of Homeopathy should have been included in this make more potent medicine by diluting it. yeah right!!!

  • nuriko


  • Homer Simpson

    Mmmm!!!! Yogurt enemas!

  • Eyeswideshut

    Why did the list miss Dr. BENJAMIN SPOCK? Putting babies to sleep on their stomach is such a pathetic idea that i cannot believe folks thought it was normal!

  • Iain

    In answer to Joey (17) and Frank (20) – there’s no moral dilemna. Whatever silver linings you may pretend to discern, don’t make Mengele any less of an evil, sadistic asshole. In fact there’s no evidence of any beneficial spin-offs from his so-called work – it was all cruelty devoid of any scientific basis or serious intent. In any case, the hypothermia experiments (often quoted in these inane discussions) were, I’m pretty sure, the work of different sadisitic assholes.

  • sqook

    … and as always, place #1 is reserved for the Nazis. As much as I love listverse, it seems to embody Goodwin’s law more than any other blog.

  • Kabbi

    No. 1 was not a quack, but was training to be one. If germany would have won th war, then he would have been a qualified practicing quack.

  • macph

    and you thought ghosts are scary huh? =D

  • Miss_Info

    Great list Simptimatik.. this list could’ve gone way beyond ten people. Like jim was saying, Homeopathy could have been up there. In 1790, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann started homeopathy in Germany. One of his theories was that two different illnesses couldnt exist in the human body at once. His other theory was that medicine was more potent in smaller doses. Homeopathic remedies sometimes consisted of a single molecule of the active ingredient, the rest was water. Homeopathy is still around today..

  • Shameem

    Reading through the list, I couldn’t help but think of the cosmectic companies nowadays. Each year they come with new creams and solutions with weird chemicals like Q10 and phony studies conducted I don’t know where. And all this because our money “is worth it”. Quacks all the way!

  • Moloch1123

    @Tenebrae (10): I believe you mean Mengele was a sadist, Tenebrae.

    @MN (15): I injured my spine by not maintaining form while weightlifting at the gym. When I went to the chiropractor, he told me the limits, and said some other underlying problems I had might go away too. This was because with as many problems as I had(the subluxation I gave myself was just the tip of the iceberg apparently), I probably had all kinds of pinched nerves and inflammation.

    Guess what – he was right. No, he didn’t cure diabetes, cancer, or anything like that. But I had been in pain for ten years without ever knowing why, and doctors couldn’t figure it out. After two weeks I was pain free, and some other mild maladies were gone too. All because the inflammation caused by pinched nerves and out of place vertebrae was removed.

    I’m personally glad its there.

  • Moloch1123

    @Shameem (31): CoQ10 is an enzyme necessary for proper joint function, among other things, Shameem. Though I agree that all of this hype about new skin creams, moisturizers and all is quackery.

    Want soft skin? Drink water, eat right(which includes fats, what do you think so many parts of your body, including your brain, are made of – FATS), and get a healthy amount of sunlight.

  • oouchan

    Good list, Simptimatik. I know that cases of homeopathy and psychic healing could easily fit on this list as well. How about praying for health? That one gets me. Having a postitive attitude is one thing but “wishing” yourself well without proper treatment is ignoring the issue. *shrug*

    As for number 1…evil, evil man. No matter what he “might” have brought to medicine….sure doesn’t outweigh how he “obtained” that info.

  • MN


    I hear ya. I hurt my neck by turning it to see what my dog was barking at, silly as it sounds. I lost the use of my left arm due to pinched nerves and inflammation, and suffered horrible insomnia due to the pain. While the childish and reckless part of me got a kick out of all the pills I got for pain management and sleep, I was so afraid of becoming addicted to that crap that I had to find something else that actually worked to relieve the pain and not simply mask it. |It was a great day when I was able to dump all the pills that no one in their early thirties should be taking on a regular basis. My chiropractor has made it so that I can be active again, and do the things I never thought I would have to give up, like racing the car, horseback riding, and a bunch of other things.

    I acknowledge that we have a total quack to thank for our relief, but he stumbled onto something good that has helped a lot of people once someone had the sense enough to bring science and reality into it. :)

  • sonicsuicide

    Approximately 3,000 twins passed through the Auschwitz death camp during World War II until its liberation at the end of the war. Only around 26 pairs of the twins survived; 60 years later, they came forward about the special privileges they were given in Auschwitz owing to Mengele’s interest in twins, and how as a result they have suffered, as the children who survived his medical experiments and injections.

    Auschwitz prisoner Alex Dekel has said: “I have never accepted the fact that Mengele himself believed he was doing serious work — not from the slipshod way he went about it. He was only exercising his power. Mengele ran a butcher shop — major surgeries were performed without anesthesia. Once, I witnessed a stomach operation — Mengele was removing pieces from the stomach, but without any anesthetic. Another time, it was a heart that was removed, again, without anesthesia. It was horrifying. Mengele was a doctor who became mad because of the power he was given. Nobody ever questioned him — why did this one die? Why did that one perish? The patients did not count. He professed to do what he did in the name of science, but it was a madness on his part”.

    Copy/pasted from Wikipedia. No salutes. This man was a monster.

  • Moonbeam

    @joey (17): @Frank (20): Have you ever heard the expression, “Do the ends justify the means?” Or in other words did the end results justify the method it took to achieve the desired outcome?

    I have to agree, of course, with @Iain (26): There are methods of medical research that don’t involve torturing people who were enslaved victims. BTW what possible benefit could there be to rubbing ground glass into wounds or sewing together twins?

  • Moonbeam

    What’s tragic is that these quacks will prey on desperate people in order to make a profit. I know a mother of a boy who has autism and a fairly profound level of developmental delay. She was sold a variety of expensive vitamins after being told they would cure his problems. Besides the financial cost, the fact that she is tying her hopes to whole idea that her son will get better this way is pretty sad. To think that someone’s making a profit off of her sorrow makes me sick.

    It reminds me of that former playboy model who claims she knows the cause of autism based on – her advanced medical degree and numerous years of research? – Um no – on the fact that she has one child who is autistic and after all, she is famous so she must be an authority, right? She uses something called chelation therapy on her son which rids the body of heavy metals such as lead and mercury, although there is a lack of actual scientific study proving that it’s effective. I don’t place the blame on her; after all she desperately wants her child to be better. I blame the people who sell these half baked cures in order to make money.

  • Davy

    Nice list, Simptimatik.

  • max

    why my comment of 1st 1st 1st was removed from the top??

  • General-Jake

    @Joey #17 and Frank #20- Honestly? A small salute? Fuck both you sick fucks to even remotly condone those kind of experiments on your fellow man. I hope someone breaks into your home while your on your little pcs and injects your eyes with dye and puts you in a giant oven to slowly burn and publishes what he learns on web md and see how worth it is after that. You only give a salute to the man because you werent one of the ones screaming in pain and torment in the name of science. Fuckin scum

  • ianz09

    Really cool list, great job!

  • Davy

    Number 1 is just twisted and evil.

  • Disc Huker

    from #4 – “such masochistic treatments as: complete abstinence from any sexual activity…marching while eating meals to help digestion”.

    that bastard.

    somehow these don’t strike me as masochistic.

  • Ninja_Wallaby

    mengeles was never a quak

  • Ninja_Wallaby

    sadistic scientist yes quak no

  • oouchan

    @max (40): It’s because you didn’t read the “Read me first” section just above the comment box. No “firsties” allowed.

  • lemongrass

    Would have liked to see Dr. Benjamin Spock because of his lethal baby advice. Also, John Money, who ruined David Reimers life by telling his parents to treat him as a girl after giving him a sex change as an infant, not because of need, but because of failed circumcision.

  • Jobrag

    You’ve left out the biggest quack of all Samuel Hahneman inventor of homeopathy.

  • GTT

    @Moonbeam (38): And that´s not even the worst part… She´s advocating that parents NOT get their children vaccinated because that´s what causes autism. So basically, let´s invite back all the deadly diseases we have all but erradicated because of what this ONE ex-Playboy model believes.

    @Disc Huker (44): It may just be the newlywed in me but “complete abstinence from any sexual activity” sounds pretty sadistic to me! ;)

    Interesting list by the way… As one poster already asked, I wonder what current, state-of-the-art medical treatments our great-grandkids will look back on and shake their heads in wonder…?

  • robneiderman

    I was expecting to see Bates, the guy who said you could fix vision problems with his special method. Despite being contrary to all science when his quackery originated over a hundred years ago, and despite it being unsuccessful, I still hear the occasional radio commercial for “better eyesight without glasses or contacts.”

  • joey

    I never said I agreed with mengele and his ways, I only siad that and I qoute “many medical discoveries were probably made during WW II had it not been for extreme medical practices.. Soooo a small salute to Mengele?”. And with the small salute to mengele, I’m pretty sure he probably came up with a discovery that advanced medicine at that time

  • Davy

    @joey (52): I don’t give a damn if he made any discoveries. He was an disgusting, evil psychopath.

  • oouchan

    @joey (52): By stating that he should be given a small salute you are agreeing with his methods. The only “salute” Mengele deserves is a one-finger salute.

  • gabi319

    “Dr.” Satori’s a recent one. Claimed his injections could cure cancer, AIDS, and hardening of the arteries.
    The comments there are pretty interesting. Apparently some actual Satori Patients felt the need to comment.

    @Moonbeam (38): She uses something called chelation therapy on her son which rids the body of heavy metals such as lead and mercury,
    Is that similar to those foot sticker things I see on TV every so often? There’s a stereotypical Japanese-looking lady (complete with traditional dress) smiling at the river and all of a sudden they pull out these rectangular strips that had supposedly drew out the toxins from the body so the woman is refreshed! Yes….drew toxins out from the feet… only where the thickest skin in the entire body resides…

    Brown sticky rectangles doesn’t mean they drew out dangerous toxins. That only means she’s got dirty feet.

  • alexman

    to be honest though the nazis- despite all the pain they caused actually carried out very important scientific tests in the camps and found out much important information that wasnt known as there was no way to test without being really cruel- no 1 was an actual doctor carrying out proper (if insanely cruel) experimentation with valuable results unlike the others who just made up wild theories and put them into practice with no logic to back them up.

  • alexman

    all the atuff mentioned under no 1 sounds useless and crazy but much of it and the results ( especially heating and freezing people) is now used by armies and doctors worldwide as the nazis were testing it for the war effort and people didnt know until they experiemented. little was know about twins until then aswell.

    anyway interesting list- people always ask who would listen to such stupid advice but i wanna know how these men became so unbalanced one day they made up these theories and why they stuck with them. i guess money helps :)

  • Davy

    @alexman (56): You and joey disgust me. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for the Nazis’ horrific ‘experiments’.

  • Kasee

    Good list! I still see some of these remedies and products in mailing catalogs along with copper bracelets and fart pillows.

  • JustSayin’

    Some of the posters here are confusing the words “sadist” and “masochist.” Remember: the sadist gets off on inflicting the pain; the the masochist does so on receiving it.

  • JustSayin’

    And wow, alexman–you’re really defending Mengele and condemning the others on the list? That evil Nazi is really in higher standing in your mind than someone like Dinshah Ghadiali, whose theories, though silly, would’ve harmed no one if put into practice? With that last comment (#57), you give literal meaning to the term “Devil’s advocate.”

  • notorioustgb

    great list, although I must agree with earlier comments that no list of quackery is complete without homeopathy.

    re: Mengele’s contributions to medical science? What about the Hippocratic oath to first do no harm? He is excluded from the ranks of healers and/or scientific contributors by his flagrant disregard for human life. Great, he supposedly helped us learn about how to treat hypothermia. he was still a ego-maniacal sadist whose motivations and actions completely undermine any supposed contributions that may have come from his special brand of systematic torture. Holy moral relativism Batman!

    Re: chiropractors. I went to one because my back was all gnarled from way too much time hunched over a computer or a stack of books. This breathlessly enthusiastic man announced to me that he could cure ALL illness and restore me to total wellness! wow. I just wanted my back to stop hurting. After a few weeks of treatment it did. He asked how I was feeling. I said I was feeling better. He said I was experiencing a surge of “increased wellness” due to the treatments, my body’s flow was being recalibrated or something. I just thought it was the relief from the 24/7 back pain i had been living with but he seemed to think he had performed a miracle.

  • Abi

    @Davy So if a family member started dying of say, hypothermia, would you not take the treatment because part of the discovery was made by the Nazis?

    You aren’t making a balanced statement at all. Of course noone condones Mengele and what he did but it’s been done and we shouldn’t take it for granted.

    Oh and btw the suffering hasn’t stopped. Millions of animals a day are used in medical labs, and in my opinion that isn’t much worse than Mengele.

    And no im not saying an animals life is worth more than a human, in my view its all equal.

  • Savage

    Lol! Nice list. I love to see how many quacks there were.

    In the days of the cowboy and stuff, they had a whole hell of a lot of “doctors” going around selling there cure all medicines. My favorite would be “H20”. Can anyone guess what it really was? Yup, H20 just like it said. That’s how they got people since the majority of people weren’t educated enough. Those damn con-men! >O

  • ames801

    @lemongrass (48): I just recently read “As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl”. I believe that John Money could definitely be added to this list.

  • Skrillah

    These guys must be the noble ancestors of Listverse commenters.

    Highly educated but retarded.

  • undaunted warrior

    Nice list informative to us that did not know some of this history, but I am sure that most of us have heared of # 1 and all the pain and suffering he brought forth.

    Thanks Simptimatik well written pal.

  • Maggot

    @max (39): why my comment of 1st 1st 1st was removed from the top??

    Please explain to us all, in detail, the thinking that went into making that initial comment, what value you feel was added, and why you are now so upset that it is removed.

  • mcamilleb

    #1 The US government offered Nazi scientists immunity and secret identities in exchange for these human medical experimentations. Clearly, they rather let those mad scientists out than do the experimentations by themselves.. Its beyond cruelty what these Nazi scientists did to their victims… and we’re not talking about tens or hundreds of victims, its hundred of thousands of people died due to these evil experimentations…

  • Nia

    @ comment 19 aka “Frank”…to say he killed one or two to save thousands, what utter fuckery that is. He TORTURED to DEATH and it certaintly was not one or two but possibly thousands, it’s praise to the evil that fucks others up, you might as well say “praise Hitler for teaching others how to give inspiring, awe acheiving speeches”. Mengele was beyond quack material, he was insanely evil. Would you pour acid on an innocent person “just to see what would happen”? NO scientific acheivement should be praised on account of others suffering. It is just plain wrong. Mengele was just an evil Nazi bastard son of a bitch.

  • Spiff17

    Abi: Really? You said that? Like…really? Do you maybe want to reread what you said and retract it? Cause I’m not sure you thought that one through. Cause it was grade-A crazy. This goes for anyone speaking the name Mengele in any form of a positive light. The man should receive zero acknowledgment for any form of scientific discovery. He should be acknowledged only as one of the most evil people in history. We could have learned about hypothermia in a way without freezing people. Did you skin cats as a kid to see if they could survive without their skin?

    And no, that doesn’t mean we should let our loved ones die from hypothermia….you seriously said that?? Wow…

  • Maggot

    @gabi319 (54): Brown sticky rectangles doesn’t mean they drew out dangerous toxins. That only means she’s got dirty feet.

    Lol maybe not even that:

    Excerpt: “There’s no evidence that it’s toxins. When I dropped distilled water on the pad, it turns dark in seconds.”

  • Spiff17

    Oh and great list Simptimatik!! I had to scroll to the top of the page like a half a dozen times to make sure I spelt your name right.

  • Nia

    wow Joey, seriously small salute to Mengele. He tortured PEOPLE, as in they agonized for days at times, people who had families, whose “crime” was their genes. What the fuck seriously? It wouldnt be so much of a crime if someone with ridiculous views like you was shoved in an oven and cooked slowly for UTTER STUPIDITY. so small salute to you sensless fucker for being that inhuman. That will probably be the most you’ll accomplish. Nothing justifies what was done to people at Nazi concentration camps or anywhere in the world as a matter of fact. To inflict pain on others is wrong, have you not been taught that.

  • Woyzeck Returns

    @joey (16):

    Mengele made none of these advances. The advances were made by people who were trying to cure illness and fix wounds, not by people who got their rocks off torturing the defenceless.

  • gabi319

    @Maggot (71):
    Apparently, not dirty feet… all you need is wet feet, lol.

    That was a GREAT article! Here’s my favorite part:
    “I have not had a cold in a few months now, which is good, but I don’t know if it’s because I’m taking better vitamins or because of this.”

    LMAO! I’m going to credit Kinoki with EVERYTHING today!
    -Wow, I enjoyed my breakfast of Frosted Mini Wheats this morning. It was delicious but I don’t know if it’s because I know how proper milk-cereal ratios or because of Kinoki foot pads.
    -I didn’t run that red light! But I don’t know if it’s because I pressed the brake pedal or because of Kinoki!
    -I’m going to dinner at Melting Pot tonight so I know my lactose intolerance won’t be happy with me later on. DAMN YOU, KINOKI! It’s all your fault!!!

  • flamehorse

    Great list, Simptimatik! I always knew chiropractice was horse crap. But I disagree about Mengele. I knew he’d be on the list, but he’s different from the rest. They all thought they were doing good. Mengele just enjoyed hurting and killing people. Nazism enabled his morbid fetish.

  • Spiff17

    Flamehorse: I agree that I’m not sure “quack” is necessarily the proper term for Mengele. And he doesn’t really belong with this group of people. But can you imagine how many people would have complained if he hadn’t been on the list?

  • ianz09

    @Woyzeck Returns (74): Gonna go with Woyzeck on this one. Mengele didn’t accomplish anything except establishing his place firmly in the annals of history as a sick fuck.

  • BlueFox

    #8 – I don’t know about what this man was trying to do – but I do know our irises can change. I underwent some experimental regimes after being given 6 months at most to live in 1985.
    It was discovered that some of the steroids I was given hardened certain areas of my irises. These areas are dark specks – they thought this could lead to glaucoma or blindess. I am tested quite frequently and so far so good.

    #6 spine manipulation – again from my own experiences… I walked into physical therapy bent over on a cane in extreme pain – I walked out upright, painfree an hour later. My therapist gave me an exercise that I use frequently to relieve pain from herniated discs in my lumbar area. The exercise supposedly opens up areas for fresh blood/oxygen to flow to relieve inflammation, etc.
    The exercise: lay on your back, draw up your knees, have your arms down at your sides, swing your legs back and forth from your hips. First time I did about 50 swings. I do this every morning upon awakening and every night before going to bed. This has also helped some of my friends with similar problems. I don’t know the science behind it – I only know it works for me and a couple others – I am not going to question it. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

  • deeeziner

    When it comes to early 20th century quacks what about the entire industry of men who felt that women suffered from “vapours” or “hysterics”, and that the only cure for these women’s malady, was some manual manipulation.

    There may be great relief to a woman when she has an orgasm, but for these “doctors” to believe that only they had knowledge of the “cure” was quite a scam at the time.

    Couldn’t they have just written a prescription, perhaps accompanied with a do-it-yourself guide?

  • ChineapplePunk

    I know it doesn’t really fit in here but did anyone see that show about the ‘Dr’ who did sex swap operations without even qualifying as a surgeon??? He just left his patients there to die and he did another large amount of botched operations that killed patients too!!! Now that IS butchery!

  • Maggot

    @gabi319 (75): all you need is wet feet

    Your first mention of those pads actually reminded me of the “Aqua Detox” ads I’ve seen in those mail-order catalogs that come in the mail every so often. You soak your feet in this bath thingie, and the water turns dark…it’s actually kind of gross looking. But of course it is just quackery running rampant, check this out:

    Excerpt: “the skin has no ability to excrete toxins. Real detoxification of foreign substances takes place in the liver, which modifies their chemical structure so they can be excreted by the kidneys which filter them from the blood into the urine.”

  • psychosurfer

    According to that Iridology Chart, El the Erf suffers an acute hyperactivity in the annoyance gland.

  • daxxenos

    The problem with the data developed by the Nazis and Unit 731 is, what do you do with it? We had, or were preparing to hang, every government leader who had authorized the work. The actual perpetrators could have easily destroyed the data to protect themselves from prosecution.

    We, the Good Guys, could destroy the knowledge, pretend it didn’t exist, and people, today, who could have been helped would die.

    Up close, carefully documented case studies of what happens to a HUMAN freezing to death, or dying at high altitudes, or untreated bubonic plague, or gas gangrene, are both horrifying and priceless.

    When your child falls through the ice, how do you treat him? The Nazi experiments were done because Luftwaffe crews were freezing to death in the English Channel, despite the fact that German air search and rescue was 10 times better than Allied fumbling, .

    The Germans had special rescue buoys, were the first to have high visibility water stain packets, had better life jackets, yellow caps so they could be spotted in the water, special sea planes, painted white with big red crosses on them, to retrieve crashed flyers. (The Brits were under orders to shoot these planes down…)

    Are you people suggesting that we ignor the knowledge? Or do we swallow hard, villify the source, and try to help the future?

    Open to suggestions, here.

  • Forrest Greene

    Is there any genuine documentation that data from Nazi death camps was ever put to good use, as in for instance the often-mentioned hypothermia experiments resulting in improved treatment or improved prevention?

    Forget about that being a compliment to Mengele himself. It’s not.

    If some good did come from the suffering of his victims, would those benefits in at least some small way partially redeem that suffering? From the victim’s point of view?

    It’s similar to a soldier sacrificing himself taking out a machine gun nest in order the save the lives of the rest of his unit: a tragic sacrifice for the sake of others. Although at that point, of course, the fact that the death camp victims were not volunteers comes into play. Even so, could any benefits from their suffering properly be considered a sort of monument, not to Mengele & others like him, but to their victims?

    It’s a complex moral question, to say the least.

  • Davy

    @Abi (62): You, along with joey and alexman have absolutely no sense whatsoever. NOTHING justifies what Mengele did to his victims, NOTHING.

  • Honeywell

    I think it also depends on the chiropractor. I went to see a great one after I was badly rear-ended in my car a few years ago. Three months of treatment and not only were my injuries from the accident better, but suddenly my once-weekly migraines were gone. He said I’d probably never be migraine-free since my mother also got them quite frequently but that massage and chiropractic treatment would likely reduce the pain and frequency.

    I went to another chiropractor last year because they were offering free massages. They insisted that migraines were not at all hereditary even though it is a fact that it runs in families, and they used all sorts of computers and wands to find my weak spots, never once actually touching me. The massage was just lying on a noisy wave bed and the entire practice had a New Age element that made me uncomfortable. I definitely feel that the first one was much better qualified and actually concerned.

  • psychosurfer

    I just remembered the Pinhole Glasses, the most elegant way of telling the world “look I´m a moron, and I´m proud of it”:

  • ItsJustDave

    What about Dr. Phil ?

  • kennypo65

    It has been said that the true test of a person’s character is what they would do if they knew for a fact that they would never be caught. Before you condemn anyone for the horrible things they have done, ask yourself, what would you do, and be honest, if you can.

  • Forrest Greene

    Try a thought experiment:

    You’re an MD. You have a patient who is hypothermic & near death. You know a technique that will save the patient, but it’s one that was developed in Nazi death camps.

    You announce, “I will not use this Nazi technique! To do so would be to tacitly approve of & justify the immoral way it was discovered, & I am too good for that.” The patient dies.

    Has this been about the patient, about the Nazis, or about you?

    What do you think the hypothermic patient would have the doctor do?

  • Richard

    Dr. Kellogg was right about one thing: his Graham Crackers are good for you. They were made with graham flour, which is nothing more than 100% whole wheat flour. We now know that whole grains are very healthy
    and offer many benefits to the human body including all
    of the nutrition available in wheat. It doesn’t have to
    be “enriched” by only replacing the B-vitamins lost in
    the processing of regular flour.

    It’s a shame that there is not a national brand
    of authentic graham crackers available everywhere like Nabisco’s “Graham Crackers,” which are designed to appeal to both children and adults.

  • mom424

    Excellent list Simptimatik. (I used copy/paste to get your name right :) ) Preying on the gullible and desperate has always proven profitable. Just ask any Sunday morning televangelist. Or Tom Cruise.

    @deeeziner (80): They actually did exactly that. Ever seen the vibrators in the old Sears-Roebuck catalogue? Their purported purpose – although I’m quite certain the fun factor is what sold it, not the cure of phony hysteria.

    @Moonbeam (37): The scariest part of the Vaccination = Autism delusion is that otherwise sane people actually believe it to be true. Doesn’t matter that the CDC has done studies that show no correlation as have many European health agencies. Suggest that any of you considering skipping this necessary part of childhood read this article. It doesn’t take a huge pool of vulnerable people in order to create a huge health risk.

    @daxxenos (84): Nobody is saying that the knowledge should have been ignored. Just that it in no way justifies the way in which it was garnered. It does nothing to mitigate Mengele and his cohorts actions. By the way all of these “discoveries” were all confirmed – confirmed without killing or torturing anyone. I’m sure you’ve seen or read about the army volunteers and their experiments with hypothermia – that’s just one example.

  • Sandesh Mascarenhas

    lot of info on medial Quacks

  • mom424

    @Richard (92): And where would we be without s’mores? mmm, graham crackers.

  • losangeleskid

    #1 and #2 aren’t so much “quacks”, they’re straight up ducks.

  • deeeziner

    @mom424 (93): True that, Mom. :) I have a “friend” who has appreciated said device…

    I guess that makes Sears Roebuck one of the first adult suppliers whose products arrived in a ‘discreet brown paper package”.

  • ames801

    @kennypo65 (90): Ok, I might do something that I would be ashamed of if I knew that I wouldn’t be caught. But I’m thinking more along the lines of stealing a car, spending money I don’t have-stuff like that. Not torturing people for the *fun* of it. Good God, man. I shudder to think what you might do if no one were to find out.

  • norkio

    Someone might have already said it, but the hypothermia experiments were carried out by the Japanese during WW2, not the Germans. They were horrific. Sure we learned something about hypothermia, but at the expense of POWs.

  • Dr. Nick

    Hi Everybody!!!
    Be mindful of the 3 often neglected, but important food groups…
    1) The whipped group
    2) The congealed group
    3) And, the choco-tastic!

  • GTT

    @gabi319 (75): (Sorry but I´m very psyched after my meeting with my trainer at the gym…) Kinoki pads helped reduce 3kg in 1 month! No matter that I´ve been deiting and training for over an hour a day…

    @deeeziner (80): Yeah, I agree…. That sounds like a do-it-yourself kind of job.

    @Maggot (82): I HAD heard of this one…. It´s on those home-shopping ads all the time. It always just looks like someone is cleaning their incredibly dirty feet. I liked the part (from the website you posted) about how the water would change color regardless of whether or not a foot was placed in it.

  • Davy

    What’s with all the random comments?

  • deeeziner

    The experiments in Auschwitz on hypothermia occurred in 1941-42, by a doctor named Rascher.

    Mengele arrived at Auschwitz in 1943, which means that even if we do recognize knowledge gained in the field of hypothermia treatment because of Nazi experimentation, Mengele was NOT the person who made those discoveries.

    No, the Angel of Death was an evil man, and his experiments on twins, alone, cost the lives of over 3,000.

    There are rumors that his twin experimentation continued in South America, where he fled after the war. In a 2008 book about Mengele, Argentine historian Jorge Camarasa speculated that Mengele, under the alias Rudolph Weiss, continued his human experimentation in South America and as a result of these experiments, a municipality in Brazil, Cândido Godói, has a very high birthrate of twin children: one in five pregnancies, with a substantial amount of the population looking Nordic.

    He lived in a bungalow in a suburb of São Paulo for the last years of his life. In 1977, his only son Rolf, never having known his father before, visited him there and found an unrepentant Nazi who claimed he “had never personally harmed anyone in his whole life”.

    I don’t think “Quack” is a complete summation of this man’s career….But what IS the noun for a “thoroughly evil man devoted to the pain and suffering of others for his own ego and depravity.”?

  • Jono

    Sadly for many of the commenters who laugh now, they more than likely they believe in some other, more “modern” pseudoscience.

    •Many of you probably have learned CPR. You’d probably be surprised to learn than the breathing into someone’s lungs part has been proven in clinical trials to not help survival rate, and that focusing on chest compressions is the best method ergo.

    •Many of you probably believe in the food pyramid and it’s efficacy for human health. It’s been shown in numerous studies that excess carbohydrate consumption (advocated by the food pyramind) results in a higher occurence of insulin resistance, which in turn leads to diabetes.
    This knowledge is toxic to many people who prefer to hold onto the bastion of existing knowledge, rather than learn and adapt to new knowledge (sounds like a familiar scenario to anyone?)

    •Arguably the Pope (and previous incarnations too) is a quack as he feels he has the power and relevence to advise on the usage on condoms and other contraceptives (just like a real doctor, only stupid). He has indirectly caused the proliferation of more HIV/AIDS than any single human being on this planet (assuming we didn’t create it of course). Not to mention the sheer number of surplus children who can’t be fed for adequately, resulting in their premature deaths from starvation.

  • Seanette

    No mention of Linda Burfield Hazzard, who killed multiple patients by convincing them that months-long fasting would treat their medical problems?

  • Seanette

    I was going to include some links, but you can find information about her on Wikipedia or at

  • ghost

    @deeeziner (103): should we thank you for this info, or wikipedia ???

  • ianz09

    @sammie (108): Persistent little ass, huh? They ban your user name so you make another. Damn, get a life. Even other trolls hate you.

  • flamehorse

    Thought you guys would like to be cheered up a bit fromall these rants. They’re gonna execute the D. C. sniper tonight in Virginia! Look it up. 9:00 PM ET. Here’s hoping for no last-second salvation.

  • oouchan

    @flamehorse (109): I second that!

  • Moonbeam

    @gabi319 (54): Chelation therapy is taken in pill form or intravenous infusions. It was originally used as an antidote to the arsenic-based poison gas during WWI.

    @GTT (49): It’s scary that people might take medical advice from a celebrity rather that their doctors or medical science. If people choose to follow the recommendations of a former model for their own health, I suppose that’s one thing, but to put their children at the risk of getting devastating diseases, that’s a whole other story. If it stopped there it would be bad enough, but the unprotected children can then infect other people.

    Before skipping the vaccines people should explore old cemeteries and count how many tiny children’s graves they find. Or ask their parents/grandparents to tell them about any friends who had contracted polio.

  • Maxx the Slash

    Nice list, but you forgot the guy who made up acupuncture. Sticking needles in a patient’s skin to help them feel better? Yeah ****ing right!

  • Disc Huker

    jono (104) – just to play devil’s advocate, so you are upset at the “premature death due to starvation” of children that you say should have never been born anyway?

  • deeeziner

    @ghost (107): Do I detect a hint of sarcasm there, ghost?

    So I made a couple of uncredited direct quotes from Wiki at the end of my post. Since I had to get to my kids’ bustop, re-wording that info wasn’t much of an option to complete my post.

    Pardon moi. But you seem to have spent some time doing a little side research there yourself, to have caught me out.

    I don’t feel that doing so made the info any less apropos to my point, and a lot of infosnobs here don’t give the site ANY credit for providing useful information.

    My point was to separate Nazi experimentation from the evils of Mengele’s personal obsessions, and if I did make a couple of direct quotes without citing my reference, I’m sure I’m not the first.

  • Spiff17

    deeeziner: I would hope that you didn’t find out that knowledge firsthand! No shame in a little quick research. And in this day and age no shame in using wikipedia for a quick reference.

  • GTT

    @Moonbeam (111):

    Yes, well, I´ve been reading this one article on called “An Peidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots endagers us all” (sorry, dont know how to link). It´s scary. You start reading the comments and you´re surprised at how many people really believe in this whole vaccine-autism thing. And not one of them backs it up with any research. It´s either “Well, my child seemed to develop autism about the same time he got some vaccine” or “Well, my gut feeling is that we are bombarding kids with toxins.”

    You want to know the sad part? All these misinformed (though probably well-meaning) parents are putting us all at risk. The more unvaccinated people you have living in your community, the higher the chance that a certain disease will be able to take hold and spread. It´s referred to as herd immunity in the article.

  • Carole

    One of Walter Freeman’s patients was the actress Francis Farmer, Jessica Lange starred in a movie about her life. Freeman made lots of money from state hospitals that thought his method was a cheap way to clear patients out of the system. Turn them into zombies and send them home.
    To include Mengele on this list is wrong He wasn’t a quack, he was evil. Many of his so called experiments could have been done without torturing innocent children, if he was in fact interested in advancing science, which he wasn’t. I saw a film showing the results of his skull breaking tests Disgusting !

  • Kanza

    @Maxx the Slash (112):

    Acupuncture is a part of traditional chinese medicine, so no western doctor or quack “made it up”.

  • Kanza

    And for the record: I think it’s possible to argue that menguele was not a quack, but by no means he should be saluted. Even if he had made the most unbelievable discoveries, they would still be the outcome of unacceptable methods.

  • GTT

    @Jono (104):

    Arguably the Pope (and previous incarnations too) is a quack as he feels he has the power and relevence to advise on the usage on condoms and other contraceptives (just like a real doctor, only stupid).

    The thing with this is that the Pope advises against contraception because of religious beliefs. Not that I agree with him (even if I am Roman Catholic) but there it is. He´s not a medical doctor and he´s not claiming to be one. It´s a religious conviction.

    He has indirectly caused the proliferation of more HIV/AIDS than any single human being on this planet (assuming we didn’t create it of course). Not to mention the sheer number of surplus children who can’t be fed for adequately, resulting in their premature deaths from starvation.

    This is just hilarious. To think that people living in poverty do not use contraceptives because the “Pope told them” is just beyond credible. These people dont have accesss to contraceptives because they are either “inconvenient” or out of their budget. It has very, very little to do with religion.

  • Maggot

    @GTT (116): sorry, dont know how to link

    Just copy the URL from your browser address bar and paste it into your comment. :-)

    Or, you can get all fancy schmancy and embed the URL into some regular text in your comment. Read item #4 in the FAQ:

    Remember though, if you post more than one link in a comment, the comment usually goes into moderation before showing up.

  • Not only were they quacks, some were really demented too.

  • Iakhovas

    Do all the people who are almost defending Mengele actually think that treatment for hypothermia would never have been discovered without him? Come on…. Science was advancing quite quickly in that era, so I am sure doctors elsewhere in the world could have found a more humane way of learning this knowledge.

  • Sport

    What did Freeman think he was helping with the lobotomies, and why did people go to him?

  • flamehorse

    @oouchan (110): 20 minutes to showtime!

  • GiantFlyingRobo

    Holocaust deniers, anyone?

  • Nuit93

    Nothing about the guy who claimed vaccines caused autism?

  • astraya

    I was just doing some further reading on Walter Freeman (ok ok ok on wikipedia, if you really want to know).

    His father and grandfather were both doctors (his gf had been president of the AMA). He trained at Yale and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. He was at times president of the American Association of Neuropathologists and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. This is not the usual background for a quack. On the other hand, it is no guarantee of being right.

    On the negative side (if we needed any more) he would show off by icepicking both of a patient’s eyesockets at one time – one with each hand. One biographer wrote that Freeman operated “with a recklessness bordering on lunacy, touring the country like a travelling evangelist.”

    And it has been conclusively established that he didn’t operate on Frances Farmer.

  • How about Dr Harold Shipman?

  • porkido

    Only one person has mentioned Freud, although some of his hare-brained ideas remain central to common conceptions of the mind…

  • @Kabbi (18): So saith Kabbi “When people suffer, and their ill has no medicine, they will go to any person who promises that he will cure them. Its basic human nature.”
    This is only true when the sufferer is uneducated and poor. Those in third world countries, or followers of every nutty “New Age” healer who comes along.
    I can speak with some authority, having been struck twelve years ago with an extremely rare, and hideously painful disease which strikes only 1 in 1,700,000 world-wide. I may be the only patient in the US.
    I immediately, and continue to, study my condition, for which (in the area in which I was attacked) no surgical intervention. I see my Pain Control doctor once a month, my Neurologist 4 times a year.
    I am following the protocol, and doing the best that can be expected.

    Those who fell for the charlatans above (and countless others), were duped into believing they could something impossible. Cures for the incurable. Cures for the curable which did not work, and, if anything, made the condition worse.

    Mengele is an evil in his own right.If evil lives, it is , or was, personified in him. He seemed to enjoy his studies, his tests, his inhumane treatment of his subjects. If there is a Hell, I know he is a featured guest.

  • astraya

    Freeman managed to convince the Kennedy family. They hardly classify as “uneducated and poor. Those in third world countries, or followers of every nutty ‘New Age’ healer”.

    By my calculations, 1 in 1,700,000 multiplied by the population of the USA makes approx 200 sufferers, so I’d be very surprised if you’re the only one (unless the rate in the USA is far less that the rate overall).

  • archangel

    Aye… how sad.

  • Cubone

    boy . . . that Dr. Doolittle . . . What a quack(er)

  • Kanza

    @Porkido (130): “Only one person has mentioned Freud, although some of his hare-brained ideas remain central to common conceptions of the mind…”

    Freud was an acute observer, if we shall say so, of the human condition. His ideas remain widely debated and resourced to in many conceptions of the mind – besides of the psychoanalytical, of course – precisely because they are anything but “hare-brained”, no matter if we agree with them or not. Agreeing with Kant doesn’t make Hume “hare-brained”, for instance.

    You’d be in for a good surprise if you were to do some serious work on Freud’s papers, essays and books. Work serious enough to upgrade any criticism you might have to somethig far more sofisticated than “hare-brained”.

  • Kanza

    somethig = something

  • Tibby Dunbar

    Where’s Samuel Hahnemann? He’s the first person I thought of when I saw the title of the list, and his ridiculous quackery (homeopathy) is unfortunely still extremely popular.

    Very informative list otherwise!

  • gabi319

    @Maggot (82):
    I actually hadn’t heard of AquaDetox before! I would’ve thought I’d know about all the crazy gimmicks. Hmm…Electricity and water… Sounds like a party!!

    @GTT (101): No matter that I´ve been deiting and training for over an hour a day…
    Dieting for an hour a day and you’ve accomplished THAT much?! Why doesn’t Kinoki work that well for me?!?!!?!

    …lol…I know what you meant. Still can’t help teasing you ;-)

  • @astraya (132): You’re right about Freeman and the Kennedys. Unfortunately, at that time, lobotomies were considered high-tech remedies. I was speaking of today, not 60 years ago. I thought we’d learned a lot, scientifically and medically, in the time between Freeman and today. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we are all still living under the same illusions as they were 100 years ago.
    As to your math, and 1 in 1,700,000 coming out to 200 sufferers in US. You have it pretty much on the nose, but think of the size of the country and the widespread population. Any one sufferer is the only one in his or her population. I have yet to come across a doctor who has ever faced a case before. When they have to start looking up your disease while examining you doesn’t make for a calming situation.
    Make fun if you want, astraya, but I have to take enough narcotic pain meds to kill a man three times a day, just to function as close to normally as I can.

  • JThompson

    @gabi319 (54): They’re not quite the same. The detox pads, though a really dumb idea, are pretty much harmless. Chelation therapy is anything but. Chelating agents were actually invented to combat the effects of a few chemical weapons in WWI and are now used to combat lead and mercury poisoning. The problem arises because the kids with autism don’t actually have toxic metal poisoning. So far there have been a few deaths (almost all children) and lots of really really sick people from the practice.

  • BishopWhiteT

    I used to work for a holocaust survivor who, under Mengele’s direct supervision, had a gun put to his head and was told that he would be killed if he screamed…as his testicles were removed without anesthetic.

    Sounds unbelieveable, but it’s the absolute truth, I worked for him for years. He was a serious pain in the ass, but I guess it was justified. I can’t impagine living through something like that. He was the only survivor from his entire family.

    The evil men do is truly shocking.

  • sofkes

    I don’t understand how a complete abstinence from any sexual activity is masochistic? Somebody?

  • Oni

    Although #1 is truly evil, Jewish people are not a “race”.

  • Mark S.

    This has probably already been mentioned but while Mengele was a horrible person and in no way am I defending him a huge amount of modern medicine especially with stuff concerning cold weather injuries is actually based on his “research”. Again not defending him just thought i’d share that as i’ve always found that interesting

  • astraya

    segue: I’m sorry if you thought I was making fun. I wasn’t. I highly respect you and your condition and your suffering. I was talking purely mathematically.

    As for odds, in childhood my sister had (a completely fixable and completely fixed) condition which was so rare that the average doctor might encounter one case in his/her lifetime. Yet we knew a mother and son with the condition.

  • Life support

    Ooh a cure for hypothermia genius, wonder who thought up runnin cold water over a burn..

  • Mary

    I am truly amazed that some people on this list think that being told to abstain from sexual activity for health reasons is NOT masochistic!

    Sex is a natural biological urge that humans have – yes we can show mental disipline and choose to abstain from it (if we want to), but to be told that we must abstain for bogus reasons is just cruel!

    I’m guessing the people who dont think this is cruel are either pre-puberty, too old to care about it anymore, or just plain prudish.

  • @astraya (145): You’re forgiven. I should have known you weren’t making fun anyway. I’ve just been in a tense mood the past few days, so reacted out of proportion to the situation.

    @Mary (147): Mary, at what age are people too old to care about sex? I want to make sure I’m dead before I get there.

  • porkido


    Freud had an incredible mind, but he practiced pseudo-science. I could list the wacky ideas he came up with, but you are no doubt familiar with them.

    If you’d like to quibble with the term “hare-brained”, ok…as a quack, then, many of his ideas were “duck-brained”…

  • Eyspire

    The iris does change – and dramatically throughout life. Have you never watched someone grow sickly, or old. There are minute changes, i’ve noticed them from year to year on myself.

    It’s also particularily ironic regarding Bernard Jensen (number 8) that his practices (which he would have used on himself of course) enabled him to live to nearly 100. Laugh out loud.

  • Maggot

    @Eyspire (150): The iris does change – and dramatically throughout life. Have you never watched someone grow sickly, or old. There are minute changes

    Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean you can trace those “minute changes” to specific body-part ailments as the quack Jensen claims.

  • Mary

    segues @148,

    LOL, point taken! Scrap “too old to care about it anymore” from my previous comment.

  • Frosty

    @ (40) General-Jake & (73) Nia, fair enough you disagree with other users comments, but saying they should “burn in ovens” and “get needles injected into their eyes” for their opinions makes you sound like the Nazis you decry and completely undermines your statement.

  • mintzy

    no 1 is just horrible!

  • GTT

    @gabi319 (138): :lol:

    You want to know the really funny part? Dieting for one hour a day might actually be the case… I´ve broken and rebroken my diet so many times it´s a wonder I´ve not gained weight!

  • EliW

    the problem with this list is that these are not quacks-simply people who where theorizing in the past, when there was not necessarily any contravening scientific knowledge. mainstream 19th century medicine was no better, and often even more dangerous, for example there was a great reliance on mercury as a cureall.

    Also, for the last time gaddamit, Walter Freeman was NOT a psychiatrist. For a wonderful book about early somatic treatments of mental illness read “Great and Desparate Cures” by (I think) John Valentine.

  • @Oni (143):
    Perhaps “race” is not the right word, but it is one commonly used and commonly accepted by Jewish people. Jews are an ethnic group and a civilization besides just being a religion.

    To someone who said that Walter Freeman wasn’t a quack because he was credentialed, the thing that makes one a quack in my eyes is not necessarily practicing medicine when you shouldn’t be, but claiming to be able to cure many conditions with a miracle procedure that really does nothing, or even has negative effects.

    Regarding “My Lobotomy” by Howard Dully, I read it and recommend it. I didn’t find it a particularly engaging book, but the subject matter itself is definitely interesting enough to keep you reading.

  • @widdersyns (157):…Regarding “My Lobotomy” by Howard Dully…Is it only me, or does the name Howard Dully just scream pseudonym for a book called “My Lobotomy”?

  • sof

    I had a feeling that Freeman and Mengele would be in the top two spots.

  • Kanza

    @Porkido (149):

    As you’re clearly not interested in debating this point, I will save both your time and mine and won’t carry this discussion on.

  • porkido

    @Kanza(160): Is it clear?

    I called Freud a pseudo-scientist, but decided not to list examples, as you, obviously familiar with the doctor’s life and thought, must already be aware of them. Perhaps you are not.

    Are you suggesting that psychoanalysis is a science?

  • @porkido (161): @Kanza(160): Is it clear?
    Immediate image? Scientologists on Hollywood Blvd.

  • porkido

    It all makes sense now…Freud was a Scientologist…

    (on the Ringstrasse)

  • Kanza

    I said it was clear because you didn’t offer arguments to back up your view – you said that Freud was a quack, and to back it up you said he practiced pseudo-science. That’s circular logic, if not an outright pleonasm or tautology. Sorry if I sounded too harsh.

    You said Freud had wacky ideas. I’m more than familiar, I’d say, with his works and ideas, which doesn’t mean I know which of his ideas are the wacky ones. You must tell me which one are the wacky, as you are the one making the claim.

    I’m not suggesting psychoanalysis is a science. But all the work of Freud is oriented towards science, and he takes science as an ideal. Freud is a man who, through science, discovered something that is related to science, but covers another field – that being psychoanalysis. If you read Freud’s works, you’ll notice that he never claims scientifical status to validates any of his assertions, but only his own clinical experience. Psychoanalysis stands (or should stand) on its own feet, and not on the shoulder of science.

    It’s important to note that the criticisms to psychoanalysis contemporaneous to Freud never adressed the scientificity of psychoanalysis, but rather were of moral – concerning the question of child sexuality – and philosophical content – concerning the problem of the discompleteness of the consciousness. Freud was recognized as a scientist by his peers. It was quite the contrary in the case of Mesmer, for instance – who was accused of charlatanism. Why was that? One of the reasons – if not the main one – is that Mesmer, very much like other charlatans that appear in this list, introduced a mystical element – in his case, animal magnetism – in the positive, materialistic view that dominated XIX century science. Freud doesn’t introduce such an element, he was a radical materialist. Another reason is that Freud did not diverge from pre-popperian epistemology, which was inductivist. You can only call psychoanalysis a pseudo-science from a popperian point of view, which is based on deduction and refutation. But the first main work by Popper was published in 1934, five years before Freud’s death and more than forty years after the beginning of his research.

    But I repeat – psychoanalysis is not a science. It constitutes a different field. That, though, doesn’t make it a pseudo-science.

    And please forgive the typos that probably abound!

  • Kanza

    @Segues (162):

    I might not have understood, Segues, but you are comparing psychoanalysis to Scientology?

  • porkido

    @Kanza(164): There is no circularity at all. I was making a statement, and rephrasing it for clarity. There had been no debate at all.

    You’re tiptoeing around the issue…it’s not a ‘science’, but Freud is ‘oriented’ towards science, discovered something ‘related’ to science, takes science as an ‘ideal’…I have no idea what any of this means…though the prefix ‘pseudo’ certainly jumps to mind…

    And going ‘all Popper’ on the issue…what’s wrong with refutation as a yardstick?

    The bottom line is that psychoanalysis is supposed to treat ailing patients, right? If we have no way to judge how or whether it does, then it’s just faith and magic.

    And there’s nothing wrong with faith and magic, but we’ve pretty much concluded that they are more entertainments than treatments…

    Now off to brunch…will hopefully get back with some examples of ‘Freudian wack’ later…

  • porkido

    @Kanza(165): segues is playing on the word ‘clear’…if you’re curious, you can look it up in a reference book on pseudoscience…right next to the article on Freud…


  • @Kanza (165): porkido got it in one.

  • Dantheman

    How is Harold Shipman not on this list?

  • Polymath

    Lets face it..they still do things like it today.
    Trishna and Krishna rescued,23739,26355230-421,00.html

    You can not tell me that is not done for experiment and notoriety. I can’t get a tooth out without having to pay for it. Let alone Bangladeshi orphans that are state owned.

  • segue

    @Dantheman (169): My guess, as a very long time reader of LV, is that there were ten spots, and dozens of contenders. Simptimatik had to chose, and choose well.
    As the saying goes around here, if you think you can do better, make your own list!

  • Kanza

    @ Porkido (167) & Segues (168):

    Thanks for the clarification. I know very little about scientology, had to look it up alright.

  • Kanza

    @ Porkido (166):

    Sorry for the delay in responding, but lots of work popped up this week. I will write briefly now, and may continue later if necessary.

    Before adressing the points you’ve raised, I think some clarification is needed. My previous post ended up being somewhat confusing, as you pointed out, because I was addressing two different issues without clearly distinguishing them:

    1) That Freud was not a quack – even if by today standards psychoanalysis cannot be considered a science – because he didn’t practice, at his time, anything that couldn’t be deemed a pseudo-science. That’s the reason why I pointed out that Freud didn’t diverge from the epistemological criteria of his time, and that he was never accused by his contemporaries of being a charlatan (there´s no problem with taking refutation as a paremeter, and I never said there was. But it’s validity as such has a birth date, so to say). In fact, when Eitigon was accused of charlatanism, it was because he practiced psychoanalysis without being a doctor – not because he practiced psychoanalysis. The issue, then, was that only a qualified professional – a cientist – should practice psychoanalysis. Freud, though, opposed such position – to which refers his paper “The question of lay analysis”. In my opinion, it would be at least an anachronism to call Freud a quack.

    2) That the fact that psychoanalysys is not a science doesn’t make it automaticaly a pseudo-science. That’s the issue I tried to address in the paragraph you foun most confusing. And it wasn’t clear, in fact. I’ll try to explain it a little better (it’s tough without writing something almost as long as a paper!):

    19th/early 20th century epistemology is mainly marked by two criteria: materialism/empiricism (they’re not exactly the same, but let’s not haggle over this) and inductivism. Freud, through his works and reserch, tries to push forward this materialistic world view, in the sense that he banishes form the study of human mind any trace of Chance, Randomness, Fate or metaphysics (you’ll see you I wrote some of these names with the initial in capital letters).

    Take for instance his questions in “The psychopatology of everyday life”. He asks a simple question, not exactly but alike to: if someone asks me to randomly pick a number between minus infinite and infinite, why do I choose precisely one number and not any other? If it’s really “random”, like 178346, the probable answer would be “I don’t know; by chance”. But it could not be so random: I could pick 56 because it’s my birth year (Freud’s, not mine!). But then, again, why did I pick the number that correspond to the year of my birth, and not to the month? Again, one could answer “By chance”, or maybe “Because I wanted to; it was an act of will”.

    But answering by any of these ways means introducing (in the scenario of 19th/early 20th century science) either “mystical” categories – Chance, Fate, Randomness – that would govern something that we can’t explain, or a metaphysical category – the will. Freud hypothesis of the unconscious – where, he says, there is no chance – is, as strabnge as it may seem, a way of applying the materialistic world view to the mind.

    That is why I said Freud is oriented towards science, and that he discovered something that is related to science (unfortunately, to properly argue this very last point would take much, much longer). Because the discovery of the unconscious was made possible by the scientific world view – you can even say that Freud is indebted to science.
    Still, the rigour of his research program did not lead him to discovering another field of science – but a whole different field. And this field has nothing to do with the mysticisms that underlie almost all of the pseudo-sciences described in this list – what Freud set at the core of this field was responsibility and choice.

    Some points you’ve raised were left unanswered, but I’ll have to come back to them later.

  • @Kanza (173): I am guessing that English is not your native language. Reading your post was extremely difficult because of all the misspellings and grammar mistakes. It’s understandable when one is writing is a language not one’s own, but there are software programs which will translate from one language to another.
    You seem to be fairly intelligent, so it would be highly interesting to be able to have conversations with you unencumbered by faulty spelling (faulty to the point at which I can not always guess exactly what word you meant).
    Do not take this as a criticism, it’s not, just a suggestion as to how you might improve your English postings.

  • Kanza

    @Segues (174);

    You’re correct; English is not my native language. Rest assured that even if I took your post as a criticism, which I did, I took it as a constructive one.

    The main issue, I guess, is the haste in which I usually have to write. That shows mainly in the spelling mistakes – because there are more typing errors – and in punctuation – when writing in a hurry, the punctuation of my native tongue tends to creep in. To top it all, great hurry equals… no revising.

    I’ll rewrite the previous post to make it more understandable. Not now, unfortunately.

  • nynattirb

    oh, the leucotome

  • Physician

    I am a physician. I can attest that nothing of any use derived from Mengele’s crimes.

  • ainsliemae

    Came for the lists- stayed for the comments.You guys are great!
    I bet if we offer to repeat Mengele’s experiments on them – all in the name of science of course- on those who feel what he did had merit or was worth it in some small way, they would decline.
    Have to say I am not convinced that vaccines haven’t played a part causing autism in some children. But hey- the government says it isn’t so and we all know that they would never falsify information, fake or alter studies or lie to the American public in order to get us to do things they want us to do. And I did not have sexual intercouse with… well never mind.
    That said I did have my kids vaccinated, despite feeling there were risks, because of the benefits to everyone and acknowledge that overall vaccinations save many lives and are crucial. I just feel there is more to the side effects than are being admitted. I am hoping it is not so but I know a family who had the experience of a perfectly ‘normal’ child (developmentally on target, social, happy) change completely after getting vaccinations. The child had a fever, started screaming on and off for days and within the space of a couple of days became severely autistic and like a different child. Until I saw this happen I didn’t believe the claims but I believe if you had witnessed what I did you would question the claims that the vaccine did not play a part in what happened, too. Just my opinion.

  • Nicolai

    Where’s Freud? That’s the one person missing from this list.

  • Kabbi

    @segues (131): sorrry fr such a late reply…

    I am proud of you. But this topic covers the global scenario, not u personally. Study any paper on medical anthropology and then tell me how many ppl go to the big big hospitals… After my masters in medical anthropology, i know of highly educated and rich ppl who went to quacks. I was talkig of basic human nature, not the basic ‘segues’ nature. U r an educated and an intelligent person, and u know the reality of medical problems and solutions, but ppl are not generally as smart and stable as you. They want to be cured and for that they can go to anyone. And yes, there is a difference in the number of uneducated going to the quacks compared to the educated people, but it is very small. And i am not talking only about the people of ‘third world countries’.

  • Egg

    Where is Sigmund Freud. He prescribed cocaine to all of his patients and called it a miracle drug.

  • Matthew I

    This list is average. Where are the quacks that prescribe ritalin to kids with ADD…
    What the hell is DD Palmer doing there? He founded the largest form of alternative healthcare that has been since PROVEN effective on several occasions, including by a New Zealand governmental commission.

    I think the list needs to be expanded to include all the medical doctors who’ve irreparalby damamged society due to over relieance on drugs… but that would make for one LOOOONGG list.

  • Icalasari

    …He wanted to test what would happen if you put ground up glass into injuries?

    That doesn’t require an experiment. That requires common sense v.v

  • justcurious1

    I noticed many of them were chiropractors–any connection?

  • Spence

    what about sam hahnemann?

  • Me123

    Where’s Freud? Should be #1

  • Eldo

    I’m greatly surprised that Hulda Clark was neither in the original list, nor mentioned in the comments so far.

  • oleg

    i think Samuel A. Cartwright needs to be on this, he's the guy who specialized in "negro diseases" during the Slavery period of the US and claimed that the only reason slaves tried to escape was because of a disease called draptomania

  • full

    in his pic, dr. megele looks like a great family doctor. too bad he was a wacko.

  • Chronicus

    Vita Radium Rectal Suppositories for men. And I saw box from Radium Nutex containing Radium Condoms. For vitality, brighten sex and bla-bla-bla.
    It's gone? No way. Twenty-first Century Products marschieren. Radic Hot Spring Kitchen Ware. Year 2005 :) Stupidity forever.

  • jaylene

    Interesting list. Jensen doesn’t really fit in well and is well respected in the natural medicine community today. Somehow I knew this would end with something Holocaust related as Jewish issues take the focus on so many lists. Remember that Jews weren’t the only victims of the violence.

  • Ellha

    Mengele was no doctor. He was performing warfare experiments. Medicine is about cure people not fing out how to harm them.
    This list’s item is not consistent.

  • petet2112

    Didn’t Josef Mengele also perform the horrifying method of submerging Holocaust victims into a bathtub filled with ice, leave one in their for close to 3 hours and to see what the victims results were to be and what it would do to the victims reaction would also be (that’s if the victim lived) ?

  • teleny

    There’s a bill for an “Anodyne Necklace” in the Death of the Harlot engraving by Hogarth. It’s on the floor near the upended stool/table.