Signs of a Quack Device

September 23, 2000

How can you tell whether a medical device will live up to the claims made for it? Bob McCoy, curator of the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, provides tips in his book Quack! Tales of Medical Fraud. You should be suspicious if:

  • It is said to use little-known energies that are undetectable by ordinary scientists.
  • It can diagnose or cure people living miles away.
  • It has a convoluted yet scientific-sounding name.
  • It was invented by a “world famous” doctor that is not actually well known.
  • It has bright lights that serve no apparent purpose.
  • It has knobs and dials that serve no practical purpose.
  • It shakes, rattles, rolls, sucks, shocks, or warms your body.
  • It supposedly can cure just about anything.
  • It is available only through the mail or at special outlets.
  • You can’t find one at a regular doctor’s office.
  • The manufacturer isn’t exactly sure how or why it works.
  • To get results, the patient must face a certain direction or use the device only at unusual times.
  • You’re supposed to use it even if there’s nothing wrong with you.
  • The FDA has outlawed it.

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This page was posted on September 23, 2000.