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Astral Codex Ten Podcast

Nov 2, 2019




About five years ago, an Italian surgeon with the unlikely name of Dr. Zamboni posited the theory that multiple sclerosis was caused by blockages in venous return from the brain causing various complicated downstream effects which eventually led to the immune system attacking myelinated cells. The guy was a good surgeon, nothing about the theory contradicted basic laws of biology, and no one else had any better ideas, so lots of people got excited.

As far as I can tell, the medical community responded exactly one hundred percent correctly. They preached caution, urging multiple sclerosis patients not to develop false hope. But at the same time, they quickly launched studies investigating Zamboni’s experiments and used newly gathered data to test the theory. All the results that came back made the idea look less and less likely, so that to my understanding by now it is pretty much discredited. Having successfully spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to empirically disconfirm Zamboni’s hypothesis, we can now reflect at leisure on the reasons it was kind of dumb and we should have realized it all along.