A person referred to as a “charlatan” in the classic sense is being accused of resorting to quackery, pseudoscience, or some knowingly employed bogus means of impressing people in order to swindle his victims by selling them worthless trinkets, goods or services that will not fulfill the promises made about them. The word calls forth the image of an old-time medicine show operator, who has long since left town by the time the people who bought his “snake oil” or similarly named tonic realize that it does not perform as advertised.
Ear candling, also called ear coning or thermal-auricular therapy, is an alternative medicine practice claimed to improve general health and well-being by lighting one end of a hollow candle and placing the other end in the ear canal. Medical research has shown that the practice is both dangerous and ineffective and does not help remove earwax or toxicants.
Ear candles were inspired by charlatanism at its most creative level. So clever was the idea that the artifact itself, the candling procedure, the claims of health benefits and a percentage of people willing to enthusiastically part with their money has made it a profitable venture for vendors and kept the myth alive to this day.
Typically, there is evidence of medical procedures that have been around for thousands of years. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of ear candling being passed down through the ages in any culture. I’ve talked to historians, medical translators, the Hopi Indians and… nothing. You can find more argument for the existence of extraterrestrial aliens in ancient artwork than for the presence or use of ear candles.
Many years ago I did experiments like the ones you’ll find on YouTube now. I got the same results. What you get in the end is not ear wax! If you just roll up the money you have in pocket, put it to your ear and burn it you won’t even have to go to the store.
Ear candling is a silly idea. It’s not as crazy sounding as fecal bacteriotherapy, but fecal bacteriotherapy has been proven to work!