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Take, for example, one entitled Pain-Free America. In this infomercial, celebrity host Lee Meriwether enthuses with low-key urgency about a product known as the Stimulator. The Stimulator is a device about the size of a lipstick that purportedly offers instant relief of aches and pain of all kinds. Position its tip against your throbbing elbow, depress its plunger, and, voila, you'll be swinging that tennis racket like a pro again.

What's that you ask? How exactly does it work? Keep wondering, because during the course of this 30-minute presentation, Lee never actually gets around to telling you. She doesn't describe its technology, she doesn't say who developed it, there aren't any doctors or physical therapists on hand to recommend it or explain the medical principles behind its miraculous never even see a very good close-up shot of the damned thing.

What you do see is a parade of long-suffering, vaguely alcoholic-looking souls describing how their litany of pains--previously impervious to all known drugs, salves, and therapies of modern medicine--quickly vanish upon application of the Stimulator.

Specific testimonies range from the benignly ignorant to the preposterous. A woman says "I don't know how it works, but it works." A man claims that the Stimulator is "on par with St. Jude. It works miracles." Another man states that his wife is not for sale, his car is not for sale, and neither is his Stimulator.