This is a presentation by Roger G. Johnston, Ph.D., CPP and Jon S. Warner, Ph.D., from LANL Vulnerability Assessment Team.
They present a history of snake oil:
Ancient World: medicines made from snakes are believed to have curative powers.
1880: John Greer’s snake oil cure-all.
1893: Clark Stanley (“The Rattlesnake King”) sells his Snake Oil Liniment at the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. A big hit. Contained mineral oil, camphor, turpentine, beef fat, and chile powder…but no snake extract!
Today: A product is called “snake oil” if it is fake, shoddy, or severely over-hyped.