MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Yes, I have done it again: another book!

Bizarre Medical Ideas: … and the Strange Men Who Invented Them

In order to let you know what it is all about, allow me to post the intoduction here:

Medicine has always relied on extraordinary innovators. Without them, progress would hardly have been possible, and we might still believe in the four humours and be treated with blood letting, mercury potions, or purging. The history of medicine is therefore to a large extent the history of its pioneers. This book is about some of them. It focusses on the mavericks who separated themselves from the mainstream and invented alternative medicine, healthcare that remained outside conventional medicine.

Few people would deny that differences of opinion are necessary for progress. This is true for healthcare as it is for any other field. Divergent views and legitimate debate have always been important drivers of innovation. Yet, some opinions have been so thoroughly repudiated by evidence as to be considered demonstrably wrong and harmful.

The realm of alternative medicine is full of such opinions. They are personified by men who created therapies based on wishful thinking, fallacious assumptions, and pseudoscience. Many of the alternative modalities – therapies or diagnostic methods – that are today so surprisingly popular have been originated by one single person. This book is about these men. It is an investigation into their lives, ideas, pseudoscience, and achievements and an attempt to find out what motivated each of these individuals to create treatments that are out of line with the known facts.

The book is divided into two parts. The first section sets the scene by establishing what true discoveries in medicine might look like. It offers short biographical sketches of my personal choice of some of my ‘medical icons’. In addition, it provides the necessary background about the field of alternative medicine. The second section is dedicated to the often strange men who invented these bizarre alternative treatments and diagnostic methods. In this section, we discuss in some detail the life and work of these individuals. Moreover, we critically evaluate the evidence for and against each of these modalities. An finally, we attempt to draw some conclusions about the strange men who invented bizarre alternative methods.

Having studied alternative medicine for more than three decades and having published more scientific papers on this subject than anyone else, the individuals behind the extraordinary modalities have intrigued me for many years. By describing these eccentric men, their assumptions, motivations, delusions, and failures, I hope to offer both entertainment as well as information. Furthermore, I aim at promoting my readers’ ability to tell science from pseudoscience and at stimulating their capacity of critical thinking.

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