Wednesday, 26 January 2011


One of the many aspects of quack medicine that I find incomprehensible is the sheer persistence and tenacity of patently absurd beliefs and practices. No matter how implausible the theory it still gets churned out as pseudoscience. And it does not matter how much evidence demolishes these beliefs, the proponents get more and more entrenched.

I am constantly bemused that practices such as homeopathy, reiki, chiropracty and all the other weird and ludicrous practices can just keep going, in the face of logic and reason. It is enough to make you despair of humanity.

In fact there is hope. If you look back you can find other quack practices which have died out completely, where people have come to their senses and recognised the nonsense for what it is. 

One such is this one. Like other quack practices it has a philosophy claiming that all disease is due to one specific cause, rather like chiropractic subluxations, only in this case it is asserted that all your ills are due to a tight arsehole. 

The logical treatment therefore is anal dilatation, using some of these.

Absurd, but no more so than the altmed practices prevalent today. 

I can envisage the exchange between a practitioner of this technique and one of his uncured and disappointed patients. “Dr Quack, those dilators you gave me did me no good at all. For all the good they did I might as well have shoved ‘em up my arse.”


  1. That's quite a find, Dr Z. Though you may be being a bit optimistic... this is a fairly rare example of a now-defunct quackery.

    Most of the quackeries (even seriously bonkers ones like Radionics) seem nigh-on indestructible. Or at least, they are a bit like my old mate Count Dracula - no matter how many times he is killed off, he always rises again after a while to make more money... I mean "another film".

    In the modern era, one one the more depressing reasons for the persistence of CAM might be that some people in medicine seems determined to embrace it - see e.g. this rather disquieting piece from academic surgeon Orac.

  2. Most of my patients ills are due to one tight arsehole - me!

  3. Are you sure anal dilation has died out? How do you think the altmed loons get their heads so far up their own anus?