Spammers are trying to sell me the Acai Berry. This remarkable foodstuff will, among other things, help me lose 20lb in two weeks, rid me of my fear of the measuring tape, make me look better in a bathing suit this summer and enhance my virility ‘like a rabbit’.
So much for progress and so much for Dawkins. Science can’t kill off even the crudest quackery, never mind bonedeep religions. And technology has only given us ever more effective ways to distribute horoscopes and absurd urban myths.
A couple of years ago I went into one of those little health food-type stores to buy some tea. I waited at the counter while the owner, a tubby man with cropped grey hair, exploited a vulnerable member of the public. She, it seemed, had been trying to conceive but was running out of time and options. He sold her at least four items of ‘alternative medicine’ all the while keeping up a classic quack’s patter about ‘some people have found this to be very effective’ and 'one lady came in here just like you, tried this and the next week she was pregnant'. All smothered in a screed of soft-voiced pseudoscience which I don’t have the will to recreate here.
I felt myself becoming surprisingly angry. When he sold her the silver ‘health bracelet’ I chucked my packet of tea on the nearest shelf and stormed out, vowing never to set foot in the place again. Afterwards I wished I’d said something to him or her, but what? I even thought about coming back at midnight and smashing his windows and daubing ‘Quack’ on his door, but of course I never did.