Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything
There have been some strange “cures” for a variety of ailments over the centuries. In Quackery, Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen catalog a huge number of outrageous cures that each were, at one point in history, the state of the art. Things like leeches, snake oil, and filling patient hospital rooms with smoke are well documented. But there are others, treatments that seem like the stock of nightmares.
Take an 18th century “cure” for drowning. There were a good number of people who believed a drowned person could be revived buy shoving a tube up the butt of the victim (a victim in more ways than one at that point) and blowing smoke into the bowels. To be sure, some folks woke up, but they were clearly not dead. There aren’t likely many unconscious states that can’t be reversed with that treatment.
The authors cover a bunch of other hilarious “cures.” That also discuss the history of not so funny treatments, like lobotomy. The book is educational and a fun read, more so because the authors have such a great sense of humor and are constantly making tongue in cheek comments and other jokes. I found it entertaining to read about the fits and starts that humans had on our way to modern medicine. And never fear, there are still some treatments in existence that seem crazy and improbable. The authors cover a few of the strangest, and you will have to read the book to learn about these and other “cures” you should question.