The openness to experimentation and unconventional ways of doing things, though, extended beyond social and religious matters. The field of medicine was another area where the willingness to try new things manifested itself. Witness, for example, the mineral-water craze that I've written about in previous posts. Indeed, there was a tolerance toward (some might say a gullibility toward) anybody who claimed to be able to cure you of whatever ailed you, make you rich, read your mind, or tell your fortune.
For instance, I recently ran across a series of newspaper reports that appeared in the Joplin Globe during the month of May 1899 about a palm reader who called himself Professor Babboo the Hindoo Wonder. The so-called professor set up his headquarters in a Joplin hotel charging customers $1.00 per reading and was kept so busy that he tarried in Joplin throughout the whole month of May. The Globe reported in one instance that he was "besieged all day long by an eager, anxious crowd of patrons, seeking the consolation derived from a reading of the palms of their hands by this scientific adept." The Science of Palmistry, according to Professor Babboo, was "not fortune telling but is as plain as reading a book if one is educated in the Hindoo method." The Globe reporter, who seemed to be a true believer, urged his readers to take advantage of this rare opportunity to meet with a scientific adept such as Professor Babboo.