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A blast from the past: Seinfeld on alternative medicine

Here’s blast from the past.

Interestingly, this doesn’t exaggerate all that much…

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

12 replies on “A blast from the past: Seinfeld on alternative medicine”

Yeah, I remember seeing that scene when it was still fairly new. When I started getting deeper into skepticism, the alties I met on the JREF forums didn’t exactly do a whole lot to challenge that stereotype.

My aunt spent $550 for a 10-minute alternative “health consultation” once. That practitioner was the “cheapest” out of a dozen where she lived. Also, that $550 didn’t even include all of the fees she incurred and the books and supplements she bought from him.

Ha! I’ve seen every episode of Seinfeld and I remember this one, but I just realized the guy in the TV is Larry David. I wonder if something similar to this happened to either David or Seinfeld in real life.

To re-phrase something I heard many (many) years ago:

“If all the people who went to ‘alternative’ practitioners were laid out end-to-end, nobody would surprised in the least.”

“Alternative” medicine is exceedingly good at treating imagined disorders; not so good with real disease, however.

Thanks for the chuckle, Orac.


“You should have been born in August. Your parents would have been well-advised to wait.”

Admit it; you’re not gonna get advice like that from your mainstream doctor.

Ha! I’ve seen every episode of Seinfeld and I remember this one, but I just realized the guy in the TV is Larry David. I wonder if something similar to this happened to either David or Seinfeld in real life.

That’s one of the three times I was able to spot Larry David in the show—other than him basing George Costanza on himself, obviously. When Jerry and Elaine saw Frank Costanza talking to a guy in a cape—turned out to be Frank’s lawyer—and crossed the street to avoid him, that was Larry. And once when George was convinced the cashier at the coffee shop had stolen his $10 bill, he discovers he still has it when he buys something from a little hole-in-the-wall and the guy sticks his head out and says: “We don’t accept bills with lipstick on the presidents”.

Anybody else spot any other examples?

Especially the part where Kraemer defends (Eckman – sp?), saying they’re trying to suppress his ideas, it sadly rings very true (thinking of Geiers and Wakefield). This is a very convenient out for those who get caught out and sanctioned for their fraud. Seeing this episode as a teenager is probably what inspired me to “roam amongst” alties of various flavors, figuring out how they work and the appeal. Which had absolutely nothing to do with grandiose plans to scam people.

Love it. I watched Seinfeld here and there, but not regularly, so I missed this ep. I like him much more knowing his head is screwed on right where alt-med is concerned.

They did a good job cramming in a lot of alt-med-ery in a very short time. Holistic! Conventional medicine is a business! Avoid hot water! Drink this healing tea!

Anybody else spot any other examples?

I don’t remember appearances offhand, but there are also some voice parts. David was the voice of George Steinbrenner as well as the voice asking “is anyone here a marine biologist?” when the whale was stranded.

I wonder how many tries it took to do 1:39 to 4:13 without laughing

BTW, I have now officially adopted the holistic healer’s gestures from 2:59 to 3:04 when I talk about the “wonders” and “benefits” of alternative medicine. 🙂

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