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 love learning, science, and you are overall into the idea of stumbling upon some interesting parts of the internet, you're in the right place. 

I've been introduced to some fantastic new science podcasts. I love it, keep them coming. 

In today's newsletter, learn about: neuroscience, Japanese folklore monsters, tiny vampires, creating third spaces, how Netflix really beat Blockbuster, why museums are hoarders, why race is a construct, why little humans forget everything, and more. 

Let's get to it!
Matter of the Mind: The Unfinished Brain [website, Apple, Spotify]
  • Quote: “Neurons that fire together wire together.”
  • This is an excellent, well-researched, and sonically rich independent science show. It is exactly the type of project that deserves our attention to keep podcasting viable in the indie space. 
  • One host is studying medicine and one is studying neuroscience, and they are both fascinated by the brain. This is the first of a five-part series on the mysteries of the brain.
  • It begins with a case study of a person missing half their brain who still led a normal life. The brain is mysterious indeed!
  • I knew of the concept of neuroplasticity, but never thought of how long it takes to actually grow a new neuron. It turns out it can happen in a matter of minutes! 
  • There is an interview with an expert on phantom limb pain that is interesting and a great peak into how science is done.
  • We can grow neurons and new pathways constantly throughout life, but while we are very young there is a critical period where the brain develops pathways for certain functions (like learning your native language) that really can't be replicated later in life.

99 Percent Invisible: Return of the Yokai [website, Apple, Spotify]
  • Quote: “Yokai are monsters from Japanese folklore and they’ve been part of the oral storytelling tradition here in Japan since before Japan has been Japan...they’re basically like superstitions with personalities.” 
  • Amabié is one such Yokai that was meant to ward off plagues, and has been making a timely come back.
  • Japan has a strong mascot culture and their ubiquity can be tied directly back to Yokai and Shintoism. 
  • A fascinating story. 99 Percent Invisible really knows how to pick em.

Tiny Vampires: How could one tiny tick paralyze a person? [website, Apple, Spotify]
  • Quote: “Of the 900 species of ticks in the world, only 73 have caused paralysis in one animal or another.” Now THAT is reassuring. 
  • Tick paralysis. It’s a thing. But it's rare in humans and mostly affects animals. The biggest offenders for humans are the Fowl tampan and Karoo paralysis ticks from South Africa, the Rocky Mountain wood tick and American dog tick in North America, the African blue tick in sub saharan Africa, and the Australian paralysis tick in Australia (this is the worst of the worst, which isn't a surprise, because Australia).   
  • Usually tick-borne diseases are from infectious organisms living in the tick, but paralysis is from neurotoxins produced by the tick itself.

Radiolab: The Third. A TED Talk [website, Apple, Spotify]
  • Quote: “Every story I tell has got to find the third. That place where the things we hold as different resolve themselves into something new."
  • This episode is audio of Jad Abumrad’s new TED talk, but I highly suggest watching it on the TED website because the visuals add to the experience. It's great. 
  • The idea of “the third” as a shared space we create and its relation to Dolly Parton specifically is something I had the opportunity to ask Jad about in my interview with him last year for The Bello Collective. This conversation is one of the highlights of my podcasting life for sure. 

Land of the Giants: who really killed blockbuster video? [website, Apple, Spotify
  • Really enjoying this new season of Land of the Giants and their format of different reporters for each season. First season was about Amazon and this season is about Netflix.
  • A surprise for me was that a large part of why Blockbuster didn’t win against Netflix when it finally pivoted to streaming involved a few strokes of bad luck. Namely investor Carl Icahn.

Revisionist History: Dragon Psychology 101 [website, Apple, Spotify]
  • Revisionist History is back for its fifth season and all three episodes so far have been solid. This is the season opener.
  • Gladwell makes the comparison between the extreme hoarding that art museums partake in and Smaug the dragon. There are some fun but also alarming bits about the art world.

Shortwave: Backyard Birding 101 [website, Apple, Spotify]
  • Sharing this mainly because this totally describes what is happening at our home this spring/summer. We adopted a family of robins (well kind of, they didn't know it) and have had the binoculars out more this year then all years previously combined. Also, for all the years we’ve had robins hanging out, we never knew they lay at least two sets of eggs each season. We even rescued the nest a few times after the babies kept falling down along with the nest (as the parents kept dive bombing me). Also, their eggs really are beautiful. 

Hidden Brain: The Founding Contradiction [website, Apple, Spotify]
  • Explores the glaring contradiction of Thomas Jefferson's life: He considered himself of the enlightenment and understood the evils of slavery, yet owned over a hundred enslaved people himself and famously had six children with Sally Hemings. Also, the whole beginning of the Declaration of Independence thing.
  • Historian Annette Gordon-Reed provides context and historical quotes around how Jefferson felt and how we might be able to think about this hypocrisy currently. 

Dope Labs: Lab 025: Skin Deep [website, Apple, Spotify]
  • Quote: "My book came out about a year ago and the number of times I've had to explain from first principles why race is a social construct, even to journal editors and science editors and scientists again and again and again. And what frustrates me is that this was debunked decades ago. You know, I'm not the first person to come along and say this. I am maybe the ten thousandth person to come along and say this."
  • Dope Labs is a science show hosted by Dr Titi Shodiya and Dr Zakiya Whatley and this episode addresses the history (and current reality) of invalid ideas about race within science. 
  • Science journalist Angela Saini was the guest and is the author of Superior: The Return of Race Science. She was also interviewed recently in the middle of this episode of The Skeptics Guide to the Universe and I became an instant fan. 
  • Their website has fantastic show notes (and transcript) with lots of additional reading worth checking out.


Peer-Reviewed Scientific Journals Don't Really Do Their Job [Wired]. "The most frequent concern I’ve heard—that preprints allow bad science to get into the hands of policymakers and practitioners—rings hollow. Peer-reviewed journals have been disastrously ineffective at preventing that very outcome.”

The Great Forgetting [Aeon]. "‘So much has to happen biologically to store a memory,’ the psychologist Patricia Bauer of Emory University told me. There’s ‘a race to get it stabilised and consolidated before you forget it. It’s like making Jell-O: you mix the stuff up, you put it in a mould, and you put it in the refrigerator to set, but your mould has a tiny hole in it. You just hope your Jell-O – your memory – gets set before it leaks out through that tiny hole.’”

The Unparalleled Genius of John von Neumann [Medium]. I didn't understand all the technical math references but a fascinating read on someone who clearly operated on a different level. I have also apparently been conflating this man with Werner Von Braun, an obviously very different person. Throw one "von" at me and I get all confused.

Every Jurassic Park Dinosaur Illustrated With Modern Science [Jurassic Park Hub]. “This means neither the pterosaurs nor the mosasaur from Jurassic World are dinosaurs. This also means that birds, all birds, are dinosaurs. They did not “evolve from” dinosaurs, they are dinosaurs.” [new podcasting publication]. A new site full of great interviews with podcasters. If you are a podcaster or someone who likes to hear behind the scenes stories from the world of podcasting, definitely check this out. You can subscribe by email easily on the home page. I enjoyed this story about Eric Silver and how he developed his hit basketball show (for non-sports fans), HORSE.


For fun: there's no better feeling than a mutual hatred of a coworker

More fun: the science fiction movie furthest away from science fact

As as always, for a Listory link with everything in one spot, check it out here.

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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