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This would have been written in the 80s or earlier. A man has traveled back to the present time from fairly far in the future, and is being questioned by scientists, engineers, leaders, etc. It turns out however that he's just an average Joe and doesn't know how anything works.

"Have you discovered... a cure for cancer?"

"Oh my yes, you just take a pill called Grow-Go-Way, and just... sleep it off."

All the other questions were similar - whatever it was has been solved in his time, but he has no idea how any of it actually works and can offer no meaningful assistance.

It's possible it was in this book, or if not, then a similar anthology: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/666584

Edit - I believe I read it in Microcosmic Tales: https://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?22079

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  • Not the answer, but similar idea: youtube.com/watch?v=BVxOb8-d7Ic
    – Steve
    Mar 2 at 10:01
  • 3
    I feel like this is unfair. They've basically cured a bunch of different cancers in my lifetime and I couldn't give more than the faintest description of how they do it.
    – Valorum
    Mar 2 at 21:03
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    Fun idea. The same would happen to 99% of us modern humans if we were sent back to, say, the middle ages.
    – Tom
    Mar 3 at 18:30
  • Further to Tom's Comment, exactly the same does happen to Mark Twain's 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court', as later greatly distorted on screen by Bing Crosby et al. Mar 3 at 21:59

1 Answer 1

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This is Renaissance Man by T.E.D. Klein.

He paused portentously, allowing the drama to grow.
"—have men in your time found a cure for cancer?"
The visitor smiled. "Oh my gosh, yes," he replied. "We hardly even talk about cancer anymore. 1 mean, the only ones who come down with it these days are men in deep space, and—"
Sklar cut him off. "Can you explain to us how it is cured?" There was urgency in his voice.
"Whew!" said the little man, puffing out his cheeks and glancing toward the ceiling. "Hmmm, let's see. That is a toughie, I'm afraid."
He looked blank for several seconds. "You see, I've never had that problem myself, and few people I know have... But if we got it, we'd ring for a physician, and he'd come and, urn..."
"What would he do?"
"Well, he'd administer this drug, and then we'd just... sleep it off, I guess you'd say."
"This drug?" demanded Sklar.
"Yes, well, I'm afraid I only know the brand name—Gro-Go-Way,it's called. But I suppose that's not much help to you..."

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