5. Franz Mesmer:
Franz Mesmer was a physician popular among the nobility of 18th century France. He claimed he had a theory that he could use to cure anything. Mesmer believed that every living thing and in fact everything in the universe gave of a magnetic fluid. He claimed that by moving his hands on a person, occasionally with the help of magnets and he could get this fluid to flow through the body in a healthy way. This good flow would cure what ever was wrong with them.
Some people believed that he had actually cured their illnesses and because of that he became pretty famous. Mesmer though wasn’t actually moving anything other than his hands. He was unknowingly hypnotizing his patients into believing they had been cured of a illnesses they never had or would have gone away on their own. It’s now from Mesmer’s name that we get the term to mesmerize a person.
4. Byron Robb’s electric hair brush:
Byron Robb was known scam artist livening in Ohio. In 1879 he was given two official US patents for a electrical hair bush. The claim was that electricity flowing from the brush would clean the blood. Among some of the things it claimed to prevent insomnia, paralysis, softening of the brain, and of course sudden death. And this magic brush could be yours for only 80 of modern day US dollars. In fact the brush was just two metal plates a zinc one and copper one hidden in the brush. The brush didn’t produce electricity and of course didn’t prevent anything.
Eventually Robb was publicly outed as a conman but it seems it didn’t faze him much because in 1882 he moved to Texas and bough a ranch to raise Shetland ponies these of all things with this ill-gotten cash. Soon he became rich enough that he got the small town nearby named after him but it wasn’t his real name but last name of his well-crafted alias Van Raub.
3. William Radam’s microbe killer:
William Randam was living in Austin Texas when he claimed that he invented an amazing new tonic called Microbe killer that cured his own case of malaria. At first he sold it at the local fair but soon became an amazing success. Microbe killer became so popular that it was being made in factories all around the world. After a series of legal battles it came out that the Microbe Killer was really just water mixed with some sulfuric acid and was actually toxic in high amounts.
Oddly though the tonic was so popular that even after Radams death in 1902 it was stilling being produced. It wasn’t until the Shirley Amendment was passed in 1912 that Microbe killer was off the market. The Amendment said that any medicine had to be effective for any advertised claims and Microbe Killer was actually an example used in passing the bill.
2. Norman Baker’s cancer cure:
Norman Baker was a radio announcer for a 1920’s radio station in Iowa. Baker had become some what famous for making wild claims on air and for his many conspiracy theories. In 1930 with fellow con artist Harry Hoxsey they came up with the idea of selling a cancer cure. Baker would then use his radio show to promote the cure by accusing all of modern medicine for being fake and evil. Baker was able to convince enough people to buy his cure that he even opened up a hospital to treat people with his cure.
Eventually the law sort of caught up with him when he was ordered to spend one day in jail and pay 50 dollars after running away to Mexico to avoid a court case on his cure. After this his he was striped of his radio station. But this was not the last of Baker who actually preceded to start up a pirate radio station in Mexico and kept promoting his cancer cure.
As if the story couldn’t get any stranger, Baker then bought the crescent hotel in Eureka Springs Arkansas and turned it into another hospital. Though the American Medical Association called him the dangerous quack in America Baker only severed 4 years for mail fraud since his business didn’t have a real address. This was a small price to pay since baker had become a multi-millionaire from peddling a cure that was water melon seeds, corn silk, and water.
John Brinkley’s goat gland surgery:
In 1917 John Brinkley was your run of mill doctor in Milford, Kansas when a local farmer asked him to cure his impotence. The cure they decided on was that Brinkley would transplant a goat’s testical into the farmer. Something must have happened afterwards because soon Brinkley was the goat gland business, charging 750 dollars a surgery which would amount to 12,523 dollars today and surprisingly performed the surgery over a thousand times. The result of this was that Brinkley became extremely wealthy.
His success however was short lived. When he decided to sue the AMA for liable after they claimed the goat gland surgery to be fake. In court the AMA proved that shockingly implanting goat testicles into people did absolutely nothing and was actually pretty dangerous. After Brinkley was sued by his earlier patients for everything he had. He died completely broke in 1942.
Mesmer – https://www.famousscientists.org/franz-mesmer/
Robb – http://thequackdoctor.com/index.php/a-damnable-villain-byron-h-robb-and-the-electro-magnetic-brush-co/
Radam – http://www.bottlepickers.com/bottle_articles61.htm
Baker – http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=4885
Brinkley – https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/non_fictionreviews/3671561/John-Brinkley-the-goat-gland-quack.html