The early 20th century was a time of rapid technological innovation and of demanding greater responsiveness of government and society to the needs of the common man. These impulses carried into the field of medicine, where quacks promised to overturn the medical establishment to bring wondrous new cures directly to the people. John Brinkley, among the foremost practitioners of that dark art, made a fortune implanting goat testicles into gullible men to cure sexual dysfunction and other ravages of old age. His medical training was limited, his treatments implausible, and yet, during a career that spanned over a quarter century, he became one of the best-known doctors of his era, through his use of technology, salesmanship, and politicking. Brinkley’s success illustrates how eager the public can be for panaceas, regardless of their actual merit, and the difficulty of interdicting the activities of quacks who have captured the public’s imagination.
Smith, Philip C.
"John R. Brinkley: A Quintessential American Quack,"
Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives: Vol. 12:
5, Article 1.
Available at: https://scholarlycommons.gbmc.org/jchimp/vol12/iss5/1