In a supposedly rational age, why do so many people still avail themselves of so-called alternative medical treatments that have a success rate of essentially zero? Dalrymple first notes that most alternative medicine is an addition to, rather than in replacement of, the orthodox kind, and he identifies many possible reasons for its use, including this one:
…alternative medicine seems warmer and friendlier. Alternative practitioners seem to have more time to devote to their patients than the orthodox. Moreover, the theories on which they work imply a mystery if not the mystical: there are [more] things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy, doctor, especially where I am concerned. My case is special, not just a run-of-the-mill case of disease x, y, or z. Alternative medicine is perfectly adapted to an age of neo-paganism, to the needs of people who claim to be spiritual but not religious.