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Dealing with Quackery

Quackery is a really interesting window onto how medicine and science sit in  contemporary culture.


That’s actually one of the really interesting things about quackery; I feel quite relaxed about quackery generally, like I think it’s more interesting than evil, quackery is a really interesting window onto how medicine and science sit in contemporary culture.  Isn’t it amazing, really, that people are willing to pay money for homeopathic sugar pills that have no medicine in them and are no better than placebo when tested in rigorously designed fair tests added up all together.

But one bit where my good humour and sort of snooty academic, ‘oh, isn’t this fascinating?‘ breaks down is actually, it’s not…it’s not the cases where people die, because I think they’re fairly rare and people die of all kinds of strange freakish things, it’s when people are ill and other people in their family bully them into going to do some completely pointless quack ritual and they have to play along because they feel that, you know, they’re dying, right, and they’ve got to do everything they can, they’ve got to be seen to be doing everything they can to stick around to see their granddaughter’s third birthday or their daughter’s wedding, do you know what I mean?  And that’s…that’s I think where it gets really vicious; people making their own choices to go and see a quack, I’m fine with that, you know, I don’t see that as exploitation actually, it’s, um, as Withnail says, these aren’t accidents, they’re throwing themselves willingly into the roads.  But it’s when people are bullied, or just feel pressured by their family to participate in these meaningless rituals while they’re dying, I think that’s where…that’s weirdly my limit.