Tag Archives: charlatans
In an earlier post, I discussed the source of the Renaissance charlatan’s power and suggested that charisma—that difficult to pin down, divinely endowed quality that inspires devotion and awe in others—was the secret of the charlatan’s ability to manipulate an audience and attract buyers for his nostrums. The sociologist Max Weber defined charisma as “a […]
How do charlatans operate? What is the source of their fascination—and their power? Charisma, of course. But what is the source of that charisma? I think that two things are important: First, the claim to possess “secret knowledge”; and second, the claim to have discovered the single cause (or causes) of all diseases. Two examples […]
One of my previous posts, “The Disease of Curiosity,” generated a lot of comment in the blogosphere [Daily Dig; Morbid Anatomy]; so I’ve decided to follow that post with a piece about what was surely one of the strangest curiosities of the Renaissance: The appearance in the town square of the snake handler.