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Monday, May 15, 2017

Snake Oil

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss autism quackery

 David Robert Grimes, an Oxford physicist, writes at The Irish Times:
For as long as people have fallen ill, there are those who hawk dubious elixirs bereft of efficacy. In the late 1800s, Clark Stanley amassed a fortune with such an ointment, allegedly drained from the skin of rattlesnakes – which, in reality, consisted primarily of mineral oil.
Since then, “snake-oil” has become a catch-all term for ostensibly medical but utterly ineffectual concoctions. Yet even now snake-oil treatments remain resolutely popular, ranging from the merely useless to the actively harmful. The single contemptible trait uniting these diverse cure-alls is that they are inevitably pushed most aggressively upon the desperate and vulnerable, such as those diagnosed with incurable diseases, chronic conditions or terminal illness.
Children with developmental disorders are frequently targeted with unorthodox wares. In particular, families of autistic children are mercilessly pursued by purveyors of snake-oil, with potentially deadly results.
Miracle Mineral Solution is but one example of this. The innocuously named MMS is a product created by Jim Humble, a one-time Scientologist who more recently styles himself as archbishop of the Genesis II Church of Health & Healing.