Despite having read the entirety of WebMD, we are not "pretty much a doctor now." Listening to six hours of celebrity YouTube rants does not make us an expert on vaccines. We watched Short Circuit 20 times, back-to-back, and yet our robot still can't do anything but beg for death. We like to believe we're experts in everything, but the Universe has a way of correcting us -- often in the grimmest manner possible.
The next time you're trapped listening to your neighbor prattle on and on about how he's never been healthier and it's all thanks to his early morning jogs, be sure say a silent "Fuck you" to running guru Jim Fixx and his books The Complete Book Of Running and Jim Fixx's Second Book Of Running. Titles are hard. God help us, we know that all too well.
At this point, it's a running joke.
In the late '70s, Fixx was a severely overweight, middle-aged chain smoker whose only experience with running was when 7-Eleven announced a sale on Marlboros. Then Fixx became enamored with pathologist Tom Bassler's theory that "any nonsmoker who could run a marathon in under four hours would never die from a heart attack." Fixx dropped the Marlboros, ditto the weight, and picked up several pairs of disturbingly short shorts. The idea that running was the surest path to nigh-immortality may have originated with Tom Bassler, but Jim Fixx spread that shit to the world.
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"I took the idea and ran with it."
And then Fixx literally ran himself to death.
As it turns out, the human body simply isn't built to handle a sudden switch from existing solely on smokes and hoagies to running daily marathons. And it sure didn't help that Fixx actively avoided going to the doctor for checkups, especially with a family history of heart problems. At the age of 52, Fixx keeled over on a Vermont back road while running. It's tragic, but at least it gives you a nice little anecdote to tell that neighbor.
In the late 19th century, Linda Hazzard inhabited a comfy nook within the Washington state legal system. Thanks to a loophole grandfathering in those claiming to practice alternative medicine, she was both A) free to practice medicine despite her utter lack of a medical degree, and B) free from being prosecuted for malpractice while doing so. It's a circumstance any self-respecting sociopath would kill for, so Linda Hazzard did exactly that.
via Wiki Commons
Pictured: Doctor Hazzard, inspiration for the DC villain of the same name.
Hazzard asserted that all illness -- and we do mean all, ranging from tuberculosis to a dropped uterus -- spawned from "impurities" built up in the digestive system. Thus, her prescribed treatment for every single patient was to check them in for a weeks-long fast. Once the patient had become sufficiently fashionable, she'd then proceed to the next stage of her treatment, which involved having them sign over their bank accounts for some reason, then enduring "massages" in which Hazzard would pummel them about the head and back with her fists while screaming "Eliminate! Eliminate!" Ah yes, Dalek therapy. Very soothing.
Thank God no one believes this stupid idea anymore.
Unsurprisingly, several patients died while in Hazzard's "care," and in 1912 she was convicted of manslaughter, for which she served two years in Washington State Penitentiary. After a brief stint in New Zealand following her release, Hazzard returned to her old stomping grounds, where she used her considerable proceeds to open up a "dream sanitarium" -- a place that locals nicknamed Starvation Heights. She continued prescribing enemas and face-punching right up until 1935, when tragedy(?) struck and Starvation Heights burned down.
Was she starving the fire extinguishers too?
Hazzard -- by then a fragile old lady -- finally and unfortunately believed her own bullshit. In 1938, she commenced a fast of her own. And get this: It totally worked! After all, "dead" is technically no longer "sick."
21-year-old University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior Derek Kieper, like all 21-year-olds, thought he was all but invincible and knew everything there was to know. This is not a happy story. In particular, Derek was all riled up about the tyranny imposed upon everyday Americans in the form of seat belt laws. In a September 2004 Daily Nebraskan editorial, Derek railed against this injustice, declaring that "It is my choice what type of safety precautions I take" and that "There seems to be a die-hard group of non-wearers out there who simply do not wish to buckle up no matter what the government does. I belong to this group."
And like every college newspaper opinion piece, it of course changed the world.
In January of 2005, Derek was a passenger in his friend's Ford Explorer when it skidded off of icy Interstate 80. Driver Luke Havermann and front-seat passenger Nick Uphoff emerged from the battered SUV relatively unscathed. Derek -- the only passenger in the vehicle who chose to eschew his seat belt in favor of sticking it to The Man -- was tossed clean out of the unjust steel cage that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration built for him.
Live free then die.
In memorializing the five-major UNL senior (history, psychology, economics, sociology, and political science, in case you were wondering), Daily Nebraskan opinion page editor Erica Rogers said that Derek's "brains and intensity would be missed" -- a statement that, in light of the circumstances, probably could have been worded better.
When Founding Father Benjamin Franklin said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes," he probably didn't mean it as a challenge. Yet between 1999 and 2004, everyone's favorite Daywalker took it as precisely that. Wesley Snipes -- who, during that period, appeared in more than six movies and took in $38 million as a result -- failed to pay so much as a single penny in taxes.
Michael Caulfield/Getty Images
He evaded the authorities by keeping a low profile.
Snipes cited the well-known (well-known to be complete horseshit, anyway) 861 argument. It's a movement in which tax protesters point to the wording of Internal Revenue Code Section 861, which states that "compensation for services" is taxable, and interpret it to mean that wages ... aren't ... compensation for services? Look, we don't get it either, but it probably makes a hell of a lot more sense if you also believe in chemtrails.
Gotta read the stuff that comes after that "if" part, man.
It's likely that Snipes's anti-tax stance came about as a result of his association with the Nuwaubians, a quasi-religious sect of black Americans who promote anti-government theories. Considering the timing, his refusal to pay may have even been in retaliation for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms rejecting his application to set up a military training compound on the Nuwaubians' land and- holy shit, Wesley Snipes. Holy shit.
Kenneth C. Budd
A government that doesn't support black power UFO militias is not a government worth funding.
Of course, taxes don't cease to exist because one stops believing in them (that's fairies -- you were thinking of fairies, Passenger 57), and Snipes was convicted of three counts of willful failure to file income taxes. After two years of thoroughly failed appeals, he eventually reported for his three-year stay in a four-star federal prison. We hate to say "We told you so," so we'll just say "Exactamundo."
After being diagnosed with HIV in 1992, Christine Maggiore became a highly vocal skeptic of AIDS research. Which is understandable when y-
Wait, what? Against?
Fact: A large percentage of subjects involved in AIDS research end up infected and dead.
It started with UC Berkeley biology professor Peter Duesberg, who shared with her his theory that AIDS symptoms were caused by "recreational drug use and malnutrition." After doing some "research" of her own, Maggiore decided that HIV did not in fact cause AIDS. She sold books, presented lectures, denounced safe sex, counseled pregnant women against using drugs to prevent the transmission of the virus to their babies, and apparently developed a religious aversion to common motherfucking sense. Worst of all, she had two babies and breastfed them, claiming that when her three-year-old daughter died of AIDS complications, it was really nothing but allergies. Needless to say, Maggiore would later go on to die from those same allergies.
"DAMN YOU, GLUTEN!"
But where Maggiore leveraged complete medical ignorance into a book tour, Hulda Clark turned that shit into big business. She claimed that every disease, from AIDS to advanced cancer, was caused by parasites within the body, and that these parasites could be vanquished through the use of a "zapper" -- a device less like the Ghostbusters proton pack and more like a cash vacuum. When Clark herself came down with multiple myeloma, it became clear that her trilogy of medical books -- The Cure For All Cancers, The Cure For All Diseases, and The Cure For All Advanced Cancers -- belonged in the fiction section after all.
Then there's infamous 1950s Texas evangelist Jack Coe, who renounced medical science altogether in favor of a good old-fashioned dose of God's love. Two days after being declared cured at one of Coe's faith-healing rallies (which basically consisted of Coe yelling the sick out of people), three-year-old polio sufferer George Clark was rushed to the hospital when his (obviously still polio-stricken) legs swelled dangerously. No sooner was Coe jailed and brought up on felony charges of practicing medicine without a license than said charges were dropped because, let's face it, Coe never technically practiced medicine a day in his life.
Probably feeling like the good Lord was on his side, the renowned healer waltzed out of the courtroom and was damn near immediately stricken with polio -- thereby proving that while he may have been a flailing asshole, he wasn't entirely wrong about the power of God.
For more proof that humanity is standing on the edge of both being great and being extinct, check out 6 People Who Died In Order To Prove A (Stupid) Point and 5 Ridiculous Ancient Beliefs (That Thrive on the Internet).
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