Toxoplasma gondii, a tiny single-celled parasite, uses the cat as its ultimate host and spends its life needing to get from one pussy to the next. Sans legs of its own, it infects small rodent brains and makes them attracted to their feline predators–a veritable intermediate host taxi service. Alarmingly for Indeterminists, Toxoplasma is also lying dormant in the brains of over two billion humans. What it does in the brains of mice and men is still largely unknown, but there are clues that it might be changing human behaviors, too. Join us as we travel from ancient Egypt, to orphanages in 1950′s France, to the amygdalae of middle-aged Russian mistresses and unravel the story of one of the most successful and terrifying challenges to free will humanity has ever faced.
Patrick is getting a Ph.D. in neuroscience at Stanford, studying Toxoplasma gondii infection and the brain. But he has already peaked, having won The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Caption Contest a few years ago. Since then he has had trouble living up to the expectation of being witty, which he is not.