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Googling symptoms

 •  • by Paul Ingraham

Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Googling your symptoms is as unavoidable as it is unwise. We almost literally cannot help ourselves. I imagine there is a modern epidemic of reckless, panicky self-treatment based on really bad Internet-powered self-diagnosis — something I am acutely aware of every time I hit my magic “publish” button. (With great power … )

The Flemish government is acutely aware of it too, which is why they commissioned a couple of (hilarious) public service announcements about it, one that’s pure sketch comedy, and one about their clever delivery method: the clever monkeys used Google’s own advertising program to target people searching for common symptoms!

Confession: reading about many kinds of symptoms actually makes me swoon. I get dizzy and queasy. It’s not really a hypochondriac effect — I don’t really start worrying about having the symptoms. It’s more like the way some people can’t handle the sight of blood. I just can’t handle the idea of many symptoms.

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