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 spent last weekend volunteering at Sound Education at the Harvard Divinity School, the first conference of its kind that focuses on educational podcasts. It was just brimming with shows I’ve loved and recommended for years, and it was quite an amazing experience. More thoughts at the end of this email.

And there is a new article I collaborated with Galen Beebe and Elena Fernandez-Collins on about iHeartRadio's claim of creating the first major Podcast Awards (as they ignore all the existing ones).
The Anthropocene Reviewed: Pennies and Piggly Wiggly (21 min). My idea of supermarket dominance and loyalty is defined by Wegmans (at least for the Northeast). But there are only 98 stores in the U.S. Apparently, that’s nothing. In 1932, at the height of Piggly Wiggly’s dominance, there were 2500 stores across the U.S., and today there are still 600. Also, the man who created the chain was a business genius and apparently a bit of an asshole.

On a Mission: The Danger of Going to Mars (19 min). A new podcast from NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I understand that it's challenging to keep track of all the missions going on these days, but the below statistics still surprised me: 
Planet Money: The Seattle Experiment (23 min). Campaign finance is one of those things that will make you feel queasy the more you learn about it. Which is why the experiment Seattle ran where they literally mail people democracy dollars to spend on candidates in an attempt to level the playing field was pleasantly surprising. 

Undiscovered: This Headline Will Kill You (30 min). When I see headlines like "coffee will make you live longer!", and then a week later "coffee will give you cancer!", I get why some people have a distrust of science. But the key is that for every sensational or conflicting headline, there is a team of scientists feeling exasperated that their actual findings are being lost in the cycle of press releases and click bait articles. I think learning how to navigate science news is an extremely important topic, and the Undiscovered team knocks it out of the park as they walk through what went wrong with a headline about B12 vitamins and cancer. 

Literature and History: The Tower of Babel (88 min). I met show creator Doug at Sound Education and I now believe this show sets a high bar for what an educational podcast is. Between the podcast and the website, there is a TON of great stuff you can learn for free about literature (seriously, check out the website). In the first episode you get an excellent overview of the earliest literature in existence and a history of the first civilzations. I had never quite understood how long and successful of a run Cuneiform had (thousands of years), or how much rich history and literature happened before we even get to the Old Testament, let alone Greece and Rome. This first episode helped set me straight on how poorly I understood the grand timeline of literature and history.  


Watch This Blob of Cells Become an Embryo in High-Resolution. Self- explanatory and very cool.

The Preserve This Podcast team is collecting data on how people are archiving their podcasts. If you're involved in any part of podcast production, please take a few minutes and help them out by filling out this survey. They will be sharing their work next year (including a podcast) in an effort to help podcasters preserve their work.

The most "philosophically interesting" works of sci-fi as recommended by 34 professional philosophers. Looks like I need to finally read some Ursula K. Le Guin.

An Overview of the Podcast Award Landscape: The iHeartMedia Podcast Awards join (and ignore) a rich history of audio competitions. Some comments on iHeartMedia's announcement of their new podcast awards, and a list of all the awards that we know of that already exist.
I’ve always been drawn to podcasts that can teach me something about how the world works or that challenges my thinking. I’ve also been curious for years if I should try to attend one of the various podcast conferences, but I never knew where or how I would fit in. So when Zachary Davis from the Ministry of Ideas podcast told me about his idea of starting Sound Education, a conference geared towards pretty much the exact type of show I'm really into, I was immediately into the idea. So now that it's over I wanted to share some thoughts.
  1. I’ve long believed that if someone tells me they are into podcasts and can name at least a few shows, there is a 100% chance I’ll get along with them. Being around hundreds of these types of people is just bizarrely special.
  2. Zach interviewed Dan Carlin from Hardcore History and it was a great dialogue. The full conversation is available on YouTube right here (it starts a few minutes in). 
  3. I had the insane privilege of picking up Dan Carlin from the airport, and all I'll say is that I tried my best to not do a Chris Farley interview.  
  4. My new stance on podcast discovery is that in person discovery is the best kind of discovery. Meeting somebody and then listening to their show beats every other method hands down. I have lots of new shows to check out, so stay tuned for some of those.
  5. Speaking of podcast discovery, I was excited to finally meet the editors of Bello Collective as well as two other newsletter writers I've long been fans of. Make sure to check out This Week in Podcasts from Michael Yessis, and Podcast Gumbo from Paul Kando. If you love podcast recommendations, you'll love both.
  6. Podcasters I met who had shows I love were uniformly the nicest people. 
  7. The educational podcast community is full of generous, smart, and passionate people. I can't wait to see how it evolves. 
  8. There will be the second annual Sound Education next year so keep an eye open for that, and there will eventually be videos posted on YouTube of many of the talks and panels. I look forward to checking those out and I'll share my favorites as they show up.

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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