Justin and Dr. Sydnee McElroy on Pliny the Elder, hiccups, and more!
Have you ever wondered how we learned so much about the human body? Things like how did we learn what hearts do or when did we know that thoughts come from our brains? Or maybe even something more innocuous like why do we call fake medicinal remedies “snake oil?”
Dr. Sydnee McElroy, a family doctor and assistant professor at the Marshall University School of Medicine and her husband, My Brother, My Brother, and Me‘s Justin McElroy wondered too. So they decided to do what McElroys do best when they’re curious about a subject: they started a podcast!
Justin and Sydnee host the podcast, Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine. They describe their show as them digging through “the annals of medical history to uncover all the odd, weird, wrong, dumb and just gross ways we’ve tried to fix people over the years.” It’s a fun, hilarious, and very eye-opening look at the evolution of medicine. They’ve even written a book based on their podcast. It’s called The Sawbones Book: The Hilarious, Horrifying Road to Modern Medicine. They recently released an updated paperback version that you can buy now.
When we talked to them back in 2018 the book had just been released. Sydnee and Justin joined Jesse to talk about why they started the podcast, how medicine evolved from balancing humours to germ theory, and how in spite of all our advances, we still haven’t found a cure for the hiccups. Plus Justin explained what a “zzyzx” is!
So buckle up folks, it’s about to get weird and maybe even a little bit icky! That’s on the next Bullseye!
A quick warning: This conversation is about medical history. It contains discussions about blood, guts, injuries and other potentially squeamish stuff. If you’re sensitive to that, we thought we’d let you know.
About the show
Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.
Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney’s, which called it “the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world.” Since April 2013, the show has been distributed by NPR.
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