Medicine: A Revival of Quackery

Elisha Perkins was reputed to be able to cure almost any kind of ailment with two small pieces of "magnetized" metal. A couple of centuries ago, his "magnetic tractors" allegedly drew diseases out of such celebrities as George Washington. He was discredited only when his magnetic tractors were discovered to be two pieces of painted wood. Since Elisha Perkins' day, medical charlatanism has made great strides, notes Dr. William H. Gordon in the medical magazine GP. Frequently the quackery is keyed to news of medical progress. Use of radioactive isotopes in medicine, for example, inspired some Comanche County, Texas entrepreneurs to...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!