Step right up, Soda Jerks! What the boys at Caustic Soda have for you today is going to REinvigorate, REvitalize, REVULGARIZE you with their astounding look at the world of QUACKERY! It’s a homeopathic, detoxifying, quantum colloidal-silver potion that cures what ails ya! Ingredients include Joe, Kevin, Toren and special guest Doctor Rob!

Music: Snake Oil by Vaughn DeLeath




24 Responses

  1. In the good old days gentlemen strolling the streets were in danger of getting chamberpots dumped on their heads so they would hire young boys to walk ahead of them and yell, “Hold your pots. Hold your pots.”

  2. Homer trying to sell Grandpa’s revitalizing tonic; “Excuse me, sir, you look like you have difficulty satisfying your wife.” *punch*

  3. When I think of quack doctors I always think of ‘Hare Tonic’ starring Bugs Bunny. He shows up as Dr. Killpatient and convinces Elmer that he’s got Rabbit Fever.

  4. I saw a doctor who suggested i try reiki for migraine headaches. I looked in to it and found out Reiki is where the practitioner holds their hands over you and concentrates their energy in to you. They will also do “distance reiki” where the practitioner will just concentrate on you for a set amount of time so you don’t have to even show up or take time out of your busy schedule to participate in this healing process. Load of malarky. a) I did not try reiki. b) I did not go back to that doctor.

    I am considering getting certified in malarky and only practicing this distance reiki. i’ll think about you 24 hours a day 7 days a week for low prices.

  5. My suggestion of Pete’s Dragon is going to be like the time that I dragged my friends to Event Horizon, the hatred for which was only eclipsed when my gf took as all to the god-awful Haunting movie for her birthday.

  6. Is it wrong that I kind of want argyria?

    Also, the first time I had the chance to see Bob McCoy’s collection of questionable medical devices was a few years back, when I was walking out of a (particularly disturbing) Body Worlds exhibit. I wish I could have know how Caustic Soda-y that shit was.

  7. Another pop culture reference for quackery is in Sweeney Todd. There is a hair growth formula which may in fact be made of “piss and ink” and quickly eats through boots if spilled. The child salesman wears a wig to assist his pitch.

  8. Um, did I hear right that that radioactive wax rod was to be inserted in the urethra?! The rest of your discussion made it sound like it was to inserted in the rectum but Toren definitely squad “urethra” (I’ve listened to the show twice now). That would be even more awful!

    Fantastic show guys! Best ever IMHO!

  9. Hello! Love the show, I’ve been downloading past episodes even and listening to them at work, makes the time fly by. 🙂

    Had to comment on this one on the chiropractor topic. Sure they are a lot of questionable chiros but there are good ones too. I was really dismissive of them until my Reynaud’s (blood flow is impeded somehow causing digits to become white and very cold, if left unchecked it can cause gangrene) became a big problem. Doctors would not help me because my blood pressure is very healthy, they recommended I wear heavy socks and mittens… Which makes no difference I was still in pain running my feet and hands under warm water. So I went to a chiro who found that my head wasn’t sitting straight and my the angle of my neck was pinching main nerves. STILL skeptical I went ahead with the adjustments and lo and behold a year later it’s winter and I have rare attacks, my skin color isn’t tinged blueish anymore and people shake my hand remarking on how warm it is.

    So anyway, I wanted to share this to give a bit of balance to the whole alternative medicine thing, I don’t think chiropractors can fix just anything and thankfully neither does my chiro, he was very straight forward on his practice and does recommend ‘real’ doctors for some patients or work alongside them as well. He also works with physical therapists for more serious injuries/problems.

    The friend that was mentioned who was seeing his chiro all the time and more frequently sounds like he was being swindled, it should be the opposite once you get treated you go less and less often until you’re done or go once in a blue moon if you have a condition like mine. If not I’d seriously stop going… 😛

    1. How exactly does a spinal adjustment affect blood flow in your fingers and extremities? I can tell you my guess, though you might not like it — the adjustments are causing a placebo effect (physical contact and manipulation is one of the strongest sources of placebo) which keeps your stress levels down.

      Stress is a major trigger for Reynaud’s Phenomenon, and placebos are great at reducing stress.

      If you can afford your chiro and you’re happy with why your symptoms have receded — and you’re ok with the risk of stroke — then carry on! But it’s not chiropractic, it’s placebo.

      1. I’m interested to know how many times you’ve seen the chiropractor for that (or any other) ailment. Did you just got the one time, or are there regular visits? Did you stop seeing the chiro and your Reynaud’s got worse again? There’s always the possibility that it was something completely unrelated to your chiro visits that made the Reynauds get better, or perhaps even something your chiro did that has nothing to do with the non-scientific chiro theory. Thanks for listening, Cindy! -Toren

  10. Hi

    Long time listener, but this is the first time I have felt strong enough about an issue to respond. As far as my own chiropractic experience is concerned, I feel you were not being totally fair to the field. While I must agree with you that some chiropractic practitioners make the broad, unsubstantiated claims for chiro as a cure-all should be approached with caution, please do not discourage those seeking pain relief to avoid chiro altogether.

    In my own case, I was essentially paralyzed by pain as a result of many back injuries over the years. Standard medicine could offer NOTHING other than bed rest (no cure there) and physio (relaxed the muscles, but weeks of therapy did not even lessen the chronic pain, only gave temporary relief.

    I was very skeptical of chiro treatment, but became desperate, as I was literally unable to walk, and required help to rise from a chair or bed. After a few adjustments I was restored to full mobility, with only the manipulation of the misalignment. I should point out here that I had XRays of my spine that showed the points of damage (misalignment – I don’t like using the term ‘subluxation’ either). Images taken afterward showed how treatment was able to move the vertebrae back close to normal. My chiro did not promise a full cure of everything after he saw the first images, but after a round of intense treatment, I regained a significant amount of mobility, and was able to reduce my use of ibuprofen and acetaminophen from 8-10 a day (each), to one or 2 pills a week. I was able to go for months at a time without a re-visit, and when I did have to go back for an adjustment, it was because of my own foolishness.

    The ONE case you gave as an example of the stroke risk really is bad science; you guys have always approached claims with skepticism; a case for veracity must be built with good statistics. 1 case is not good statistics. You have to ask “What was this woman’s stroke risk regardless of whether or not she received a neck adjustment?” Also, you thought the penalty assessed to the chiropractor was light. Do you not think that AMA would have done their best to crucify that practitioner, if they had valid evidence?

    I cannot speak for others, nor will I claim efficacy for anything other than pain treatment, but chiropractic has quite literally saved the quality of my life, and very likely prevented a decline into dependency on opiates for pain treatment.


    1. If you’d like more information on chiropractic and the risk of stroke, read Science Based Medicine’s post “Chiropractic and Stroke”.

      Here are a few quotes:

      Strokes are a major reason for chiropractic malpractice insurance payouts – 9% of claims paid by the major chiropractic insurer in 2002, the only year for which I was able to find statistics.

      One study of patients under the age of 45 who had this kind of stroke showed that they were 5 times more likely to have visited a chiropractor in the preceding week than control patients.

      And, for you:

      “Don’t ever let a chiropractor touch your neck “is the safest advice; but we can’t expect everyone to accept it. Some patients have had good experiences with neck manipulations and will continue to ask for them. We can’t presume to dictate to others. If someone judges that there is a one in a million risk of a stroke and is willing to take that risk, he has every right to do so.

      There’s more information at Quackwatch

      This isn’t “bad science”, it’s just not completely-known science but that’s probably because chiropractors don’t actually value science. If they did they’d be clamoring for research into the safety of their treatments. Any good doctor would want to know if what they’re using is safe — surely chiropractors can agree we need more research into chiropractor adjustments and stroke.

  11. Loved the show, especially the section on radiation as a health improver. The chiropractic section was a bit of an eye-opener, as well. I’ve long known chiropractors to be non-doctors who manipulate sensitive parts of people’s bodies for no permanent benefit. I would NEVER have suspected it could lead to stroke. Thanks for a genuine health warning. The fact that Joe is posting sources here is also awesome 🙂

  12. Only just started the episode but I really need to say…as an attorney, that bit about the company Dr. Phil worked for really burns me. It could get somewhat ironed out in voir dire since each side should have a certain number of objections, but for one, the other side could run out of objections before the side that paid for this BS, unethical service runs out of options, AND, assuming they have enough objections, they might not know who to object to. /rant

  13. And now for my quackery story. My dad has this tendency to buy in to a lot of these natural remedies. I sort of just let him do his thing, he might get a placebo effect, whatever. But one time in high school I got a really bad stomach bug and could barely eat anything for about two weeks. My dad had apparently suggested to my mom that they give me some sort of natural thing he’d found, and my mom said no. But then, right when I was finally starting to get better, he stopped at the house to help me with lunch, and he got me some water to drink. Then he left, and I was there on the couch, all done with my soup, drinking my water, and I had to throw up so suddenly that the only place it was going was right into my recently emptied soup bowl. So I called my mom in tears over this sudden relapse, and she got really mad and said he must have put whatever it was he wanted to give me in the water, thinking it would help. She told me to get new water, and I was fine the rest of the day. Needless to say, no natural remedies for me ever again.

  14. Just heard this tune and thought of this episode (possibly one of my favourite eps, though it’s so hard to choose!) 😀

    Kormac – Quackery

    Thought you might like it – or at least, whoever it is that finds all those fantastic old swing/jazz/folk gems for your interlude tunes 🙂

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