Weighing the Evidence | Science Museum of Minnesota

Weighing the Evidence

Healthcare in the United States is expensive and complex. All too often, consumers feel confused or overwhelmed by their options. The Science Museum of Minnesota's Weighing the Evidence exhibition, related Science Live performances, and outreach programming inform visitors and encourage them to become more aware and knowledgeable healthcare consumers.  
 
Odd, fascinating, and outrageous objects from the Science Museum's Questionable Medical Devices collection are used in Weighing the Evidence to examine erroneous practices and fraudulent health products of the past and to illuminate parallel realities in our contemporary healthcare marketplace. The exhibition is rich in humor and entertaining interactives, but it also offers opportunities to reflect on science, society, ethics, and personal decision-making. Throughout Weighing the Evidence, visitors are urged to keep a few decision-making aids in mind: seek out trusted sources of information; ask lots of questions; look for scientific evidence, and consider costs, risks, and benefits.  

SEPAWeighing the Evidence is made possible by Science Education Partnership Award funding from the National Institutes of Health.

 

HealthPartnersPlanning for this project was supported in part by a contribution from HealthPartners.

BACK TO PROJECT HISTORY

1-weighing-the-evidence.jpg

Weighing the Evidence
Weighing the Evidence
Visitors to Weighing the Evidence are introduced to Bob McCoy, the curator of SMM’s Questionable Medical (QMD) Devices collection, learn about his commitment to evidence based science.

2-vibratory-chair.jpg

Vibratory Chair
Vibratory Chair
The Battle Creek Vibratory Chair. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, founder of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, was enthusiastic about vibration therapy and prescribed time in the chair to encourage regular bowel movements!

3-everything-is-chemical.jpg

Everything is Chemical
Everything is Chemical
Here, the wild claims of patent medicine purveyors in the late 1800s and early 1900s are compared with the claims made in marketing supplements to consumers today.

4-radiation.jpg

Radiation
Radiation
The discovery of radium at the end of the 1800s made radiation-laced products all the rage in the first decades of the 20th century. Visitors are encouraged to consider how science changes over time.

5-spectrochrome.jpg

Spectrochrome
Spectrochrome
Here visitors use a replica of a Spectrochrome, a colored-light device manufactured by Dinshah Ghadiali in the 1940’s. There are light therapies supported by scientific evidence, but Ghadiali’s Spectrochrome-metry has never been one of them.

6-radionics.jpg

Radionics
Radionics
A display of radionics equipment from the mid-1900s relates stories of preposterous theories, unscrupulous practitioners, and useless treatments.

7-violet-ray.jpg

Violet ray
Violet ray
Visitors willingly subject themselves to the buzz, glow, and mild shock of a violet ray device at this Try-it component. Violet rays were sold in the early 1900s to treat a range of health issues.

8-magnets-placebo.jpg

Magnets/Placebo
Magnets/Placebo
Throughout Weighing the Evidence displays of currently available products are paired with graphics that highlight their costs, risks and benefits. This display focuses on magnetic products ranging in cost from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars.