2019, Podcasts

Patient Zero (2019)

From the people that brought you Bear Brook, this is a podcast which looks at Lyme Disease, both the actual tick-borne illness, and “post-treatment Lyme syndrome”, which is the official name for the stuff that happens to people who claim they have “chronic” Lyme Disease.

The podcast does a rather excellent job of trying to stay neutral between the Medical Establishment, which feels, for the most part, as if Lyme Disease is treatable by antibiotics, and the anti-establishment views which encompass a wide range of beliefs, from the idea that antibiotics don’t always cure it to the belief that they never do or the belief that various collections of symptoms without a known source must be “chronic Lyme Disease” even when there is no positive test. It would have been really easy for the program to come down hard on these people, and they do their very best to keep an open mind.

Moreover, and to their great credit, they try to explain why alternative theories and treatments are popular. The episode on Lyme quackery is particularly great in this regard because, though it makes fun of a particular quack and is quite funny, it also does a good job of explaining why a quack like this – who literally jiggles his patients – could be successful.

For me, this is the real value in the podcast. Though I was interested in learning the state of the science on a disease that is becoming more common where I live, I am much more appreciative of the attempt to understand why so many people think they have incurable or curable “chronic Lyme Disease” when they likely do not have Lyme Disease at all.

So the show isn’t just of interest if you are interested in epidemiology but also if you are interested in the psychology of science and medicine in general.

Good stuff.


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