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. It's a place to celebrate the smart parts of the internet. 

Bello Collective has put out its 4th annual list of 100 Outstanding Podcasts of the year. I was lucky to contribute five to the narrative nonfiction category and the list overall is incredibly diverse and wonderful. 
Undiscovered: Planet of the Killer Ape [science and Hollywood getting it wrong].
  • Undiscovered, one of my favorite shows, is unfortunately coming to an end. But not without some final great episodes! The last few will focus on times science got things wrong.
  • This episode traces the path of how the killer ape theory went from fringe, to taking up the first ten minutes of one of the most famous movies ever, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and then eventually to obsolescence.

Distillations: Rare Earths-The Hidden Cost to Their Magic Part 1 & Part 2 [well-done mini documentary].
  • Really informative and well-crafted science reporting on what rare earths are and how they impact our world.
  • Rare earths are in fact not rare, but are hazardous to mine because they are intertwined with radioactive material.
  • There are 17 of them on the periodic table and they have cool names like scandium and promethium.
  • They are called the "spices of industry" and are used in most of our modern electronics.

This is Not a Pipe: Marc Steinberg- The Platform Economy [smart interview].
  • I'm on a quest to discover more interview shows where academics and big ideas are the focus. This is Not a Pipe is such a show.
  • Great questions and interesting conversations with an expert on platforms, and specifically the history of Japanese platforms.
  • I didn't know that the trajectory of the consumer experience of the internet has been quite different for Japan vs the US. For example, the Japanese are much more accustomed to paying for services and subscriptions in order to receive content (or contents as they call it).

Podcast Brunch Club: Free Will Listening List Roundup [meta!]
  • A discussion of the free will playlist, that I very much enjoyed listening to and participating in a virtual conversation around.
  • Adela is joined by a special co-host, Zach Davis.  
  • If you enjoy this topic, I also just listened to a new Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe that does a quite excellent overview of free will from a physicists perspective. 
  • The first half of the episode is a great discussion around the topic, but the second half is the full story around Sound Education and the new upcoming Lyceum app (education for the audio age). I've been working with both of them on this project and can't wait for the world to see it. If you want to know what Lyceum is all about, check out the second half of this episode and sign up at for more info.

Bookmarks: Werner Herzog on 'The Peregrine' [book recommendation].
  • A new super short show (a few minutes each) from the team at To The Best of Our Knowledge. Each episode is a writer/director/artist describing an encounter with a life-changing book.
  • Ever since famed director Werner Herzog appeared on The Mandolorian, I've went down a bit of a rabbit hole on him. My favorite things is that he is in a new Star Wars show but has never watched a Star Wars movie.
  • His IMDB trivia page is great
  • Worth listening to this just for his voice. 

99 Percent Invisible: The Infantorium [fascinating bit of history].
  • “At this moment in history, if you wanted your at risk premature baby to survive, you pretty much had to bring them to an amusement park.”
  • Like the best 99PI episodes, completely unexpected and completely fascinating.
  • I've come to realize that 99PI has sneakily become one of my favorite history podcasts.


100 Outstanding Podcasts of 2019 [Bello Collective]. Need some new fantastic audio to fill your earbuds? This will have you covered for hours and hours. 

The 50 best nonfiction books of the past 25 years [Slate]. I've only read two of these!

What are the ten best books you've read so far? [Reddit thread on suggestmeabook subreddit]. 

The Bizarre Behavior of Rotating Bodies, Explained [YouTube]. Veritasium is the best science channel on YouTube IMO. If you are like me, you will immediately try flipping your phone a bunch of times after watching this.

The Science of the Butterfly Effect [YouTube}. Another one from Veritasium. I read Chaos last year and this is a nice summary of the concepts with some wild visuals I wish I had while reading. This will help you understand why we will never, ever, ever be able to predict complex systems (like the weather) very well, no matter the computing power. 

For fun: Look at this graph. No seriously. 

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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