Quacks, Opiates, Fake Cures

In this episode we find out why 1800’s medicine was more likely to kill than cure and meet the various quacks, crooks & kooks that made up the landscape of Goldfields medicine.


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  1. Excellent show! One of my favorite books is ‘The Golden Age of Quackery’ by Stewart Holbrook which covers this topic in the USA during the same time period. What amazes me is how some of the ones mentioned in it are still available even though that book was published 59 years ago. heck, I had a few of these when I was a kid!


    • Awesome! I’ll add that book to my list, sounds like a fun read. I think David actually mentioned it to me when we researched this one, but it was a bit too adjacent given it’s US-specificness to dig into.

      Too right about this sort of dodgy medicine still being around after all this time! We all age, irreversibly, and it seems as long as that is the case people will fall for all sorts of nonsense because they’d really like to believe they can cure their wrinkles and get all the energy of being a 20-something back.

      I think it’s almost reassuring to see that these kinds of fears, desires and those that will prey on them have basically always been with us. At least us 21st Century humans are not the only ones who fall for it 😛

      I recently watched the Netflix doco ‘The Bleeding Edge’ all about corporate greed and issues in the approval process of breakthrough medical technology in the US. I’d really recommend it, another example of a 21st century take on the timeless problems of medical quackery and dishonesty. Here’s an article about it from The Guardian.

      – Tom

      Liked by 1 person

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