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5 Awesome Things With Inexplicably Bad Reputations

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  • 5 Awesome Things With Inexplicably Bad Reputations

    5 Awesome Things With Inexplicably Bad Reputations

    There are some things that everyone agrees are awful, like paper cuts, or cancer, or paper cuts from the hospital bills you receive after getting cancer. But not everything in life is that certain. It turns out that a lot of the things you've been using as synonyms for "terrible" are actually not that bad. Like ...

    #5. Snake Oil

    If you were sick back in 19th century America, your options were limited. The germ theory of disease hadn't caught on yet, and the ACA website was even slower than it is now. So it wasn't uncommon for salesmen to travel the country selling bottled "miracle tonics," which they touted as a cure for everything from muscle aches to syphilis. A common ingredient in these tonics was snake oil, because apparently grinding up rattlesnakes was less work than just filling the bottles with morphine or something. Unsurprisingly, these snake-based tonics were less useful than the bottles they were sold in, and the term "snake-oil salesman" soon caught on as a name for anyone selling a phony product.

    At least they ended up with a better reputation than the kitten-oil salesmen.

    The tonic pushers didn't just dream up the concept while cleaning out their grill after a snake barbecue: They got the idea from Chinese immigrants to America in the 1800s, who at the time were using their own version of snake oil. So in other words, the deathly reach of Big Snake Oil was global.

    The Reality:

    Well, that's what everyone assumed until someone finally got around to testing the original version of the oil, which is still in use in China. The tests showed it to be incredibly high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties and can help with pain. So when Chinese workers told Americans that their magic snake oil was the bee's knees, they were telling the truth.

    "Good for termite tendons, beetle's elbow, and roly-poly dick."

    But if that's the case, why was American snake oil so fucking useless? Well, the Chinese version was made from Chinese water snakes, which as the name implies are not easily found on the American continent. American snake-oil producers either used rattlesnakes, which have much lower omega-3 levels, or simply substituted cow fat. So the next time you call someone a snake-oil salesman for trying to sell you a homeopathic herpes remedy, remember that a more accurate insult would be "19th century entrepreneur without access to a wildlife import license."

    #4. American Space Pens

    Colonel Vogel : What does the diary tell you that it doesn't tell us?

    Professor Henry Jones : It tells me, that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try *reading* books instead of *burning* them!