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. This usually gets sent out every other Sunday (but not this time!).

There are just so many thoughtful podcasts out there and I wish I could recommend them all. What has been making you think lately?
Invisibilia: The End of Empathy. One of my goals is to recommend idea driven episodes that challenged me or made me think. This is definitely one of those. I haven't listened to Invisibilia in a few seasons and I'm glad I dipped back in.
  • Learned that empathy as a term is a relatively new cultural force that arose as a counterbalance to the Nazi ideology.
  • Initially the idea was to try to empathize with everyone, particularly people different from you. Younger generations are starting to question this concept of universal empathy, with the argument being that some people simply don't deserve the mental bandwidth it takes to understand their perspective. 
What is the future of universal empathy?
  • This episode is a good showcase in how easy it is to agree with the current narrative point of view of a podcast and how powerful the framing of an issue is on how you might feel about it. 

Science Vs: Fasting Diets. Science Vs has been on a roll lately with great topics. The highlights of their findings about fasting:
  • With fasting, even though it is effective for losing weight and your body does go into fat burning mode, there is nothing magical going on. It's still calories in/calories out. You typically lose weight from fasting because you are snacking/eating less in total if you are only eating during a small window. 
  • The constant drum of longevity hype from fasting is (at least for now) based entirely on animal studies.
  • Fasting combined with traditional cancer treatment does show promise, but is not well studied at this point.

Against The Rules. A new podcast from author Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Big Short) that is joining Malcolm Gladwell's recently formed podcast company, Pushkin Industries. With Against The Rules, Lewis examines fairness in our society, and so far I love it. 
  • Start with Ref, You Suck!, the first episode. It sets up the premise of the show and is one of those great sports episodes that you don't need to be a sports fan to appreciate.
  • The second episode, The Seven Minute Rule, is about the complete mess that consumer finance (like student loans) has become without a strong referee. 

Reply All: The Roman Mars Mazda Virus. This episode reminded me of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with all of it's crossovers. It basically created the Gimlet Podcast Universe (GPU?). I was smiling most of the way through this, a must listen for podcast nerds.

Soonish: When Minds and Machines Converge. A show about technology and how it is shaping the world of the very near future. 
  • This episode looks at the Muse neurofeedback headband, one of the first consumer brain-machine interfaces. This headband connects with an app that helps to train you in meditation. It allows you to know when your brain is producing alpha waves, which is an ideal target brain state for meditation. 
  • A fantastic overview of where we are with the science of brain-machine interfaces and how we are just starting to scratch the surface of this type of technology.

Ministry of Ideas: Progressive Souls, Part 1. I was happy to see Ministry of Ideas back in my feed as it wraps up season 2. 
  • What are your feelings towards the role Christianity plays in social issues within politics? If you are like me, thoughts of a close alignment with conservatism might come to mind. But this wasn't always the case, with Christianity playing a largely progressive and social justice role throughout most of US history.
  • This episode walks you through how we got here in fascinating detail.


What's your favorite/best episode of any podcast ever? [Reddit thread].

Mark your calendars, the second annual Sound Education conference for educational audio producers and listeners is Oct 10-12 at Harvard University. Last year was amazing and I look forward to checking it out again. 

Some new podcast newsletters! I'll have to update my list of all places to get podcast recommendations.
1) Caroline Crampton has a new daily podcast rec newsletter called The Listener. It's free for the first month so be sure to check it out.
2) is now sending a newsletter and has been very solid. Signup is at the bottom of the site is you don't get a pop up.

My favorite explainer on what exactly you are looking at in the now famous first-ever picture of a black hole. Because nothing is ever intuitive with a black hole, you are actually seeing the front AND the back of it at the same time. 

David Bowie Songs Reimagined as Pulp Fiction Book Covers: Space Oddity, Heroes, Life on Mars & More. I love when illustrators take on fun projects like this.

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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