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If You Can Get 100% On This Quiz You Might Be A Mad Scientist

Featuring leeches, pelvic douches, and creative hemorrhoid cures!

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But do you know about all the wacky shit doctors did through the ages in the name of advancing science (and, of course, their money and reps)?

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Well, now's your chance to test your knowledge of all the weird and ill-advised remedies, tools, and theories actual doctors of yesteryear tried in their practice of medicine. The information in this quiz is taken from Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways To Cure Everything by Lydia Kang, MD and Nate Pedersen.

Let's see how much you know!

  1. 1.

    Quackery, Workman Publishing / “Mrs. Winslow Soothing Syrup” from the Walter Havinghurst Special Collections, Miami University Libraries, Oxford, Ohio
    Hemp seeds
    Strychnine
    Bleach
    All of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Strychnine

    Strychnine has been used since Medieval times as a poison — a high dose causes severe muscle spasms and eventually asphyxiation. However, when taken in tiny doses, the authors say, it zings the nervous system in kind of the same way caffeine does. So it was basically Victorian-era Red Bull. Seriously: In 1896 one medical student wrote about micro-dosing with strychnine while cramming for an exam; he took about 0.02 ounces and experienced a near-fatal overdose. In conclusion: Stick with coffee.

  2. 2.

    "Doctors report: Not one single case of throat irritation due to smoking Camels!"
    "20,679 physicians say Luckies are less irritating!"
    "Give your throat a vacation...smoke a fresh cigarette!"
    "More doctors agree: Your lungs will thank you for Pall Malls!"
    None of the above/they're all real.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    "Doctors agree: Your lungs will thank you for Pall Malls!"

    In 1955, when more than 50% of the adult male population smoked, physicians' recommendations were cigarette brands' go-to advertising strategy. You can read more about that here.

    "Doctors agree: Your lungs will thank you for Pall Malls!"
    Via Twitter: @stephpaterik
  3. 3.

    Painkiller for toothaches
    Anesthetic for dental surgery
    Anesthetic for eye surgery
    Hemorrhoids
    All of the above
    None of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    All of the above

    Cocaine has been used as a topical anesthetic during eye surgery, as a numbing agent for dental surgery, as a suppository for hemorrhoids, and as drops for toothaches. Remember, cocaine is a schedule II drug the DEA says has "limited medical usage!," so definitely stick to Motrin.

    All of the above
    Via Quackery, Workman Publishing, public domain
  4. 4.

    Quackery, Workman Publishing / Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
    A metal tool used to slice open the abdomen to remove poisonous material from a person's stomach before it could be digested
    A small ball made of earth, red clay, and arsenic, which, when rubbed on a wound, was thought to have antiseptic properties
    A mass made of undigested food, plant matter, or hair found in an animal's digestive tract that was thought to be an antidote to deadly poisons
    A wooden buckle thought to prevent toxic humors from circulating throughout the body
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    A mass made of undigested food, plant matter, or hair found in an animals digestive tract that was thought to be an antidote to deadly poisons

    According to the authors, people believed that undigested matter from the digestive tracts of deer, porcupines, fish, and humans could be made into small stones that could counteract deadly poisons when swallowed. Probs a better call to just let the poison do its thing tbh. :(

  5. 5.

    Yanking bad teeth and boil drainage
    Bloodletting and leeching
    Amputations
    All of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    All of the above

    Tonsures were barber-surgeons. Yup, spa day in ancient Rome meant getting a fresh one, softer hands and feet, and some good old-fashioned blood loss/major surgery. IDK about you but I like my barbers to be barbers and my surgeons to be surgeons.

  6. 6.

    Quackery, Workman Publishing / Public Domain
    Getting your stomach pumped
    Having your blood let to the point of heart failure
    Having your shoulder broken and re-set
    Being dunked in ice-cold water repeatedly
    All of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Having your blood let to the point of heart failure

    The authors explain that Jacques Ferrand wrote a book on the surgical cures for lovesickness, one of which included bloodletting to the point of heart failure. FFS, eat a poundcake and listen to "Unbreak My Heart" like the rest of us!

  7. 7. What kind of surgery is happening in this painting from 1475?

    Hieronymus Bosch / commons.wikimedia.org
    Lobotomy
    Trepanning, aka creating a hole in the skull
    "15th century haircut," aka scalping
    Leucotomy, aka removing some of the brain's white matter
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Trepanning, aka creating a hole in the skull

    What's pictured above is trepanning, or creating a hole in the skull in order to do anything from removing a clot or even pieces of skull after a fracture to relieving pressure. In this painting, which is called Cutting the Stone, the trepanning is being performed in order to remove a stone that was thought to reside inside the head, causing "madness, idiocy, and dementia," according to the authors. Bonus question: Why is the surgeon wearing a funnel on his head and the onlooker wearing a book on hers?

  8. 8.

    Cold water enemas
    Cauterizing them with a hot iron
    Massaging them until their irritating properties were released
    All of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Cauterizing them with a hot iron

    Sorry to make you think about this, but according to the authors, Hippocrates used a red hot iron to cauterize hemorrhoids. :(

  9. 9.

    A poultice of cooled mud
    A poultice of lentils and vegetables
    Olive oil
    Wine
    Any of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    A poultice of lentils and vegetables

    The authors say that Hippocrates recommended applying vegetables and lentils to the anus after your hemorrhoid treatment. Go plant-based or go home!

  10. 10.

    Cascading anus cleanser
    Internal fountain bath
    Interior soaking spray
    Inner cleansing geyser
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Internal fountain bath

    The authors explain that enemas were a popular treatment due to the belief in "autointoxication" — that the waste inside our bowels is poisoning us from within and the only way to avoid the many health problems it caused would be enemas. Lots of enemas. Fortunately, we know now that unless you're directed to by your doctor, you really don't need to do enema after enema (after enema) to keep yourself healthy. In fact, you probably shouldn't...

  11. 11.

    To wash the genitals and prevent infection
    To cure hysteria by giving women an orgasm
    To cure hysteria by numbing the clitoris
    To relieve incontinence by stimulating the urethra
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    To cure hysteria by giving women an orgasm

    The pelvic douche was "a high-pressure water jet aimed at the genitals" in order to cure hysteria in women, explain the authors. In 1843 a French doctor explained that it creates "so agreeable a sensation" that it was important to limit each treatment to four or five minutes. OK, I can see this curing what ails you tbh.

  12. 12.

    A patient whose testicle was accidentally sliced off
    His assistant, whose fingers were accidentally cut off
    An onlooker, who dropped dead when Dr. Liston's knife almost slashed him
    All of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    All of the above

    Dr. Liston was so well-known for his lightning-quick amputations, the authors say, that spectators would gather in the galleries to watch. But his speed came at a bit of a price, precision-wise. He once accidentally sliced off a patient's testicle. In another surgery he accidentally amputated the fingers of his assistant (who was holding the patient's leg in place and later died of gangrene), and in that same procedure his knife came so close to a spectator that he (the spectator) dropped dead "of terror." Not a great batting average for the good doctor.

  13. 13.

    A physician gave it to a patient thinking it was oxygen and the patient fell into a prolonged deep sleep
    A neurosurgeon used it as an anesthetic for trepanning patient
    A dentist inhaled it before pulling out his own tooth
    Medical students were using it recreationally when one of them huffed too much and fell into a deep sleep from which he couldn't be awakened
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    A dentist inhaled it before pulling out his own tooth

    In 1844, an American dentist by the name of Horace Wells pulled out his own tooth while under nitrous oxide's influence and discovered he felt no pain. He went on to develop an apparatus that allowed patients to breathe it in before surgery. Voilà!

  14. 14.

    Cocaine
    Chloroform
    Strychnine
    Ether
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Chloroform

    in the 19th century, a physician found that inhaling chloroform caused giddiness and heavy limbs, followed by unconsciousness. This made it seem like a great candidate for anesthesia and it was used before surgery as well as recreationally. Because it was a great numbing agent, it was later used in cough syrups and lozenges. Unfortunately chloroform turned out to also be lethal, and once a few too many healthy patients died from inhaling it, doctors stopped using it as a sedative. Good call!

  15. 15.

    Anywhere on the pelvis was acceptable
    On the lower right abdomen, or the "womb quadrant"
    On the vulva or cervix
    On the temples as physicians believed that menstrual cramps were a psychosomatic afflication
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    On the vulva or cervix

    Bad news, gang. According to the authors, leeches were placed on the upper thighs as well as on the vulva and sometimes on the cervix to treat menstrual cramps. Yikes.

If You Can Get 100% On This Quiz You Might Be A Mad Scientist

You don't know a ton about sketchy medical treatments

Fair enough; this shit is pretty brutal! But maybe you learned a thing or two you can tell people at cocktail parties!

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You know a thing or two about sketchy medical history

Or maybe you're a decent guesser. Either way, you have some sweet, sweet knowledge of historical medical sketchiness.

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Whoa, you really know your sketchy medical history stuff

Were you a doctor in the olden days? If not, how do you explain your level of expertise? Anyway, it's super impressive. Just please keep your leeches away from us.

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