Sexually Transmitted Infections Part 2: Syphilis

RN Katie Scoular returns for the science and rather unpleasant history of that old Neapolitan bone-ache: syphilis. Plus news & pop culture.

Music: “Hot Nuts” by Williams Washerboard Band

Charity o’ the Week:




18 Responses

  1. Howdy. Another great episode guys, well done. 🙂

    I thought you were a little harsh on The Libertine though. I thought the film was okay, but I suspect the reason you thought the story was a bit slow and stilted was that it seemed to be pretty faithful to Rochester’s actual life. He was a real figure, and a lot of the film was based in fact, which is (almost) never as interesting as someone can imagine. I just felt so sorry for his wife the whole film. John Malkovich’s fake nose was rather distracting though, I agree.

    There was an episode of House from a few years ago that I seem to remember had an old lady who was suddenly remarkably cheerful and horny due to (neuro) Syphillis, and House wouldn’t treat her because it would degrade her standard of living. Not sure if anyone else saw that one.

    Sounds like you have another couple of Evil Dudes of History that you can look at, Mengeler and the guy who ran the Guatemala experiments. 🙂

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Hey, just so you guys know, the Season 3 feed did not get either Followups 6 or this episode.

    Thanks for making an awesome podcast.

  3. Great show, as usual.

    Salvarsan is one of the first chemotherapeutic agents. Great story that set the model for modern pharmaceutical development.

  4. Hi guys!

    In case noone has told you yet, “gumma” means “old woman” in swedish. So you weren’t to far off in your associations, though a “gumma” usually is a bit more kids friendly and cute.

    BTW, doing a picture search on “gumma” on Google gives you pictures of both gummor (old women) and some pretty unpleasing sores.


    1. But… condoms are good, and we do shows on weird/gross things.

      Unless you want an hour of me complaining that I hate wearing them but do anyway…

      1. well then did you know that condoms were originally made of lamb intestines, and men used to reuse them, but not before blowing on them to check for holes. And did you know that Charles Goodyear of Goodyear tires was the first to invent a rubber used in condoms. Yes my friend, people used to wrap there junk in the same stuff that made bicycle tires…..Just saying condoms have an interesting history.

      2. I’m sure the history of contraception in general could be interesting… I’m sure there were some wacky old wives tales about it back in the day!

        1. I think contraceptives would make an awesome episode. Then for the lesser of two evils, you could choose between having your 20th kid that you can’t afford to feed, or use that contraceptive…lol, I think no matter what it is I would choose the contraceptive.

  5. This is all sorts of horrible diseases, not just syphilis, but it is always funny.

  6. A lot of Ontario high-school students’ first taste of syphilis came courtesy of Henrik Ibsen’s “Ghosts”: whoring military father infects wife, who in turn passes the ol’ congenital brain-softening on to their son, and middle-class social drama ensues. It lacks the punchy ending of “Hedda Gabler”, but there’s still some Jerk value in Oswald drooling all over himself and muttering about “the sun… the sun…” as the curtain comes down.

    Speaking of HG, if we can’t get an episode on contraception (which I’m also going to suggest could be terrific), how about celebrity and/or spectacular suicides?