Podcasts, videos, and links to make you think
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Welcome to the Hurt Your Brain newsletter, a collection of podcasts and links that make you think.


I put some thoughts down on one major thing (among so much else) I learned at Sound Education.

Also, more news to come, but I am incredibly excited to see the announcement of Lyceum, a new educational platform I am involved with that is tackling the question of what an audio university might look like. Read the vision here, sign up for updates here, and if you make an educational podcast and would like to learn more, click here.

Alright, on to the recommendations and links:

Science Vs: Exercise–Fat Buster or Belly Flop? [the science behind exercise].
  • An excellent overview of exactly what exercise can and cannot do.
  • If you want to lose weight, exercise will have minimal long term impact. What you put into your mouth is a much bigger factor.
  • BUT, the benefits of exercise are long. These include reducing your risk of heart disease, dementia, and many types of cancer. 
  • As far as depression, there is not great data that it has a significant clinical benefit, but this doesn’t mean it might not help specific people.
  • Contributing to this episode is Dr Yoni Freedhoff, who has an excellent weekly email if you are interested in cutting through the b.s. of nutrition science.

Reply All: 30-50 Feral Hogs [a massive problem affecting large part of the rural US].
  • I wasn’t excited to learn at the start that this whole episode was going to be based around one tweet from a random person, but boy am I glad I stuck with it.
  • Living in the Northeast, I have been completely ignorant to the absolute terror that wild hogs are starting to cause across certain parts of the US. 
  • They are an invasive species that are smart, they breed and multiply incredibly quickly, and nobody seems to know exactly what to do about it.
  • Allowing unlimited hunting has backfired because now there is a whole industry that takes people hog hunting who are incentivized to keep the status quo.
  • Most options have some significant downside and likely unintended consequences.

Short Wave [daily science reporting].
  • A new daily science show from NPR that focuses on one topic per episode, clocking in at around 10 minutes or so.
  • I checked it out and it is indeed very good, so keep an eye out for topics that interest you (if you are like me and can’t commit to another daily podcast every day).

Radiolab: Dolly Parton’s America [learning about the Dollyverse].
  • The first episode of nine in a new series from Radiolab's Jad Abumrad (available in it’s own feed).
  • You don't need to be a Dolly fan going in, but you'll be one going out.
  • Dolly Parton is a rare figure who is beloved from all sides of the ongoing culture wars, and this podcast isn't just biography, but also look into why she is able to bring people together. 
  • Redditors raving about it.

Words To That Effect: Jekyll & Hyde [power of fiction on culture].
  • A narrative podcast about the stories that shape our culture from Irish podcaster Conor Reid.
  • An interesting look into the origins of the Jekyll and Hyde story we all know and love.
  • We all know the story beats, but few of us have actually read the original novella by Robert Louis Stevenson (guilty as charged). 
  • Stevenson’s wife was a frequent collaborator and was not afraid to critique his work. After giving feedback on his first draft, Stevenson’s threw the whole thing in the fire and started over. 

How Do We Fix It?: Dementia–Memory and Forgetting: Nicci Gerrard [the disease and caregiver strain of dementia].
  • If you read the article below, this is an example of learning about a show from the podcaster directly. In this case the wonderful Richard Davies.
  • Dementia can be caused by dozens of different reasons and its definition can be boiled down to severe cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common causes. 
  • An important conversation all around about the effects that dementia has on our lives and culture. This disease has affected so many of us and isn't talked about nearly enough.

List Envy: Top 5 Journeys to Scientific Discovery [scientific process].
  • A show where the host and the guest come to the table with their top ranked picks on the subject of the episode. 
  • An enlightening conversation that weaves in and out of the journeys that led to some of the biggest scientific breakthroughs, including classics like the discovery of penicillin and the classic but maybe not as important discovery of Viagra. 

What Sound Education Taught Me About Podcast Discovery. Some thoughts and drawings on updating my discovery algorithm.

The Tyranny of Economists. "How could economists be so wrong, so often, and so clearly at the expense of the working people in the United States, yet still ultimately triumph so totally? It’s likely because what economists’ ideas did do, quite effectively, was divert wealth from the bottom to the top. This entrenched their power among the winners they helped create."

Focused and Diffuse: Two Modes of Thinking. A short read from Farnam Street. I took the Learning how to Learn MOOC several years ago, and this article summarizes well one of the main concepts from the course. "It was found that taking a break from consciously working on a creative problem and engaging in an unrelated task improves subsequent creativity, a phenomenon termed incubation.” I personally call this "strategic procrastination", and this is all I needed to justify it even more. 

A good thread from Reddit: What podcasts have the most intelligent guests?

Another great Reddit thread for anyone looking for horror fiction recommendations.

For fun: I frequently recommend the Wait But Why blog from Tim Urban. Here he is on procrastination in one of the most popular and light-hearted TED talks, which I recently re-watched and still very much enjoyed.

That's all for this week!

Connect with me @erikthejones on twitter and if you've learned anything interesting, please forward this link to any curious natured friends or family so they can subscribe. Many thanks!

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