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. If you like to learn on the internet, you're in the right place.

My determination to ease off on the news cycle has made me crave some big picture, philosophical content, which I think is reflected in my recommendations this week. 

But first, something quite fun that I am quite excited to share.
Nathan colored this on a color-by-numbers app. There's a real theme with this kid.
  • It all started when my son gave a double thumbs up picture review that we sent to Paul Kondo, the creator of this podcast, followed by this tweet. Then came a mounting pressure campaign from his fans to get my son Nathan on the show. Well, it worked! Peer pressure for the win.
  • Enjoy a four-minute episode about National Pretzel Day featuring my six-year-old son, who is now cooler and more famous than me (low bar for both).
  • Yesterday's episode was with Helen Zaltzman, and it was probably my favorite yet. Up until today of course!
  • Are you a subscriber to the great Podcast Gumbo newsletter? It's a constant source of A+ podcast recommendations that I eagerly anticipate every Wednesday morning. Grab it here.

Philosophize This!: Logical Positivism [sadly, not a way to stay positive in these times].
  • If there is some aspect about philosophy you've always been curious about, there is a good chance Philosophize This! has a great episode to tell you all about it. Logical positivism is a term I've heard a few times in a derisive tone and honestly didn't know what the heck it was.
  • It's basically another name for empiricism (what we know can only be derived from what our senses can tell us), not some kind of philosophy that uses logic to promote being positive. 
  • This episode is a fantastic walk through the modern philosophical arguments around the limits of knowledge and how scientific revolutions tend to come about. 

Becoming Human: The Myth of Secular Philosophy: Socrates as a Religious Martyr [history of philosophy].
  • From Yale trained philosopher, Samuel Loncar.
  • I love the style of this podcast. It's not as formal as a lecture and it doesn't feel completely scripted. It's basically like letting a friend who happens to be an expert hold court as you learn about fascinating philosophical history.
  • This episode lays out a compelling argument for why "secular" is a misunderstood concept and that the last four hundred years has completely warped our sense of the typical human existence.
  • “There is no secular antiquity, there is no secular indigenous society, there is no secular Middle Ages, and there’s certainly no secular philosophy before the modern world.” 
  • “The reason religion in our sense didn’t exist in antiquity is because everything in antiquity is religious, everything.”
  • “Everyone believed in gods like we believed in furniture.”

Writ Large: Seven Books, One Deadly Rumor [obscure anti-semitic book with huge hidden influence].
  • This show is about books that have changed the world, and the selection is a great balance between books you might have heard of and books you probably haven't. Changing the world isn't synonymous with being a modern best seller. 
  • Case in point is The Life and Passion of William of Norwich, a book from the 12th century that you've surely never heard of but has been extremely influential in it's chain reaction throughout the centuries that can be directly tied to modern anti-semitism. 

Radiolab: The Cataclysm Sentence [Feynman as a springboard into wide-ranging discussion].
  • In 1961, Richard Feynman, the famous physicist asked this question: “If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence was passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words?”
  • Feynman himself had an answer that I quite liked, but Radiolab here goes in search of what other deep thinkers might say to this question.
  • Some of the answers were a little predictable, but the framing of the question as well as the last two answers make this very much worth listening to.
  • About Feynman from his friend: "His primary approach to life was to seek joy". 
  • What better way to spend the quarantine than to read through the famous Feynman Lectures in Physics. I finally took the plunge myself and it's worth checking out for the introduction alone. 

EconTalk: Vinay Prasad on Cancer Drugs, Medical Ethics, and Malignant [critique and solutions for medical world].
  • Vinay Prasad is an oncologist and medical researcher who I've been following on Twitter for a while. He is savage when it comes to tearing apart studies with bad design which is entertaining and educational.
  • He gives sharp criticism to all the big players within medicine: researchers, pharmaceutical companies, doctors, pharmacy benefit managers, and the FDA to name a few. 
  • The take away is that these big players are full of good people but are working within a system with warped incentives that need to be changed in specific ways (which he details very effectively).


Zoom Is a Nightmare. So Why Is Everyone Still Using It? [OneZero].

In a fantastic trolling of the internet, CGP Grey released a video on 4/20 called Going to the Weed Research Lab in Colorado. But it was really about tumbleweeds. It's pretty fascinating though and was for research for the main video of The Trouble with Tumbleweeds. They are both much more interesting than you would guess.

To continue with some Feynman content, here is a three-minute clip on what it means to teach, the full Fun to Imagine video, and a video of his introductory lecture.

Some industry news
Pinna is a curated collection of podcasts for kids. It's also something I've called the original Netflix for podcasts before Luminary tried taking the title. They have a new show called TIME For Kids that is a partnership with TIME magazine. The first episode is the timely topic of explaining the pandemic. 

Check out Gritly, a new site for helping podcasters get discovered and for helping podcast listeners find new shows.

For fun: Journalist sucked into the void on CNN [reddit link so comments can be enjoyed].

And as always check out this newsletter in Listory, with all the links in one spot. 

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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