This week, we celebrate April Fools’ Day with a little medical trickery.

Episode 118 | April 1, 2011

Episode 118: Placebos by Distillations Podcast

This week, in honor of April Fools’ Day, we take a look at a familiar medical hoax: the placebo. First learn more about the earliest documented evidence of the placebo effect in action, when doctor Franz Mesmer’s patients thought he was successfully treating them with magnetic cures. Next, producer Josh Kurz takes a look at why placebos are used in medical trials—and how the brain can trick the body into believing almost anything it wants.

Show Clock

00:00 Opening Credits
00:31 Introduction
01:08 Mesmerism
05:06 Modern Placebos: A Necessary Hoax?
10:27 Closing Credits


Our theme music is composed by Dave Kaufman. Additional music from Music Alley. Additional music includes “Joseph Haydn’s Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, mvt. 3,” by Mario Ajero, “Joseph Haydn’s Hen Symphony, Allegro spiritoso, mvt. 1/4,” by Mario Ajero, and“You Just Called Me A Bastard, Didn’t You?,” by Jeremy Jacobs.

Special thanks to Michal Meyer for researching this show.