72 years and counting

Modern Mechanix has been so good as to reprint the Popular Mechanics article BEWARE The Gasoline DOPE Racket, describing a bunch of worthless fuel additives which are, in promises and even in composition, the same darn thing that umpteen companies are still selling to suckers today. (Regular readers of this blog may be able to name at least one of these companies.)

The date of the article?

November, 1936.

(See also "Impossibility of Perpetual Motion Shown at Chicago Fair", from September 1934.)

7 Responses to “72 years and counting”

  1. rsynnott Says:

    Bah, beat me to it. I get the absurd inventions one, though!

  2. pompomtom Says:

    So, you reckon this racket has another 60 years in it?

    Anyone want to buy my snake oil?

  3. MichaelWright Says:

    Well, I have a snake that's squeaky and gets very poor mileage.

  4. adrian Says:

    In 60 years I hope we finally have electric cars, think how big the batterylife activator stickers will be! They could double as vinyl graphics...

  5. Daniel.McCormick Says:

    Umm... Dan, Did you read the section of a different article on page 154A? It is about the miracle benefits of Asbestos in houses. Now we all know how that turned out so I suggest that this could be turned against the other article by those so inclined.

  6. pompomtom Says:

    >Now we all know how that turned out

    Well, asbestos did at least do what it said on the tin.

  7. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Yeah - people who have asbestos in their houses are, generally, perfectly safe, because the stuff's bound up in wall panels and such and never gets into their lungs. There's lots of scary electricity in the walls of your house waiting to kill you, too, but you probably don't lie awake at night worrying about that.

    People who worked with asbestos or otherwise got lots of inhalation exposure are, of course, often in pretty big trouble; the actual mesothelioma rate is very low, but simple asbestosis is no fun at all and is rampant among people who had such exposure (and surprisingly common even among people whose only exposure was dust from Dad's overalls). I also don't for a minute seek to minimise the culpability of the corporations who did the usual tobacco-industry dance over what they knew and when.

    But asbestos, for all its danger, does work, and it works very well. Asbestos wall panels insulate, asbestos brake pads stop cars. Snake-oil products often, at least, carry no intrinsic risk, but that's only because they do nothing at all.

    (And there are plenty of cases in which "harmless" snake oil has done harm, either by turning out not to be so harmless after all, or by displacing an effective product, or by simply taking time and money away from people that they would otherwise have used to actually improve their situation.)

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