Podcasts, videos, and links to make you think
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Welcome to the Hurt Your Brain newsletter. Every two weeks I send out a playlist of podcasts and other links that make you think.

First, a shoutout to Kavein, who is always sending excellent stuff my way. Like the Short Wave episode below and this Twitter megathread on 40 powerful concepts. Thank you and keep it coming!

Second, we'll start off with two short playlists, each with two podcast episodes that go together in a theme. 

Lots of really smart, thoughtful content out there. Let's get to it!

The Science of Stories
One, a short science show from NPR. The other, a new show from Freakonomics host Stephen Dubner and renowned psychologist Angela Duckworth. In combination, a great primer on why humans are such story-telling machines.
Stick figure of human as storytelling machine.
Humans love stories. We love learning in story form and our superpower is being able to take any piece of data about the world as input and create a story out of thin air to explain it, as output. 

Short Wave: The Science Behind Storytelling [website, Apple, Google, Spotify]
No Stupid Questions: Why Are Stories Stickier Than Statistics? [website, Apple, Google, Spotify]

Two terrible tales of syphilis trials
I was aware of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Trials where a population of African Americans were, unbeknownst to them, left untreated for syphilis in order to study its effects. I did not know the details though. I was completely unaware of another terrible study, done by some of the same people, that went on in Guatemala. BBC's Witness History provides shocking details on both accounts with a nine-minute episode for each, both using first hand accounts.

Witness History: The Guatemalan syphilis scandal [website, Apple, Spotify]
Witness History: The Tuskegee Syphilis Study [website, Apple, Spotify]

Amended: Myths and Sentiments [website, Apple, Google, Spotify]
  • A new podcast from Humanities New York that revisits the story of women's suffrage in the US.
  • 100 years have passed since the passing of the 19th Amendment, but like with so many things within US History, the lessons we learned in school tell a very incomplete story. 
  • This first episode is an excellent framework around what has been missing in from our history books and who some of the passed over voices have been.

How to Save a Planet: The Witch of Wind [website, Apple, Google, Spotify]
  • A new Gimlet podcast from Alex Blumberg and Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson (marine biologist and policy expert) about climate change and what we can do about it.
  • I really liked this first episode. A great combination of interview, narration, and storytelling. There is even some humor which is welcome for such a serious subject.
  • Learn about why it is so difficult for off-shore wind farms to get approved and why coal is finally on its way out.
  • Also, not going to lie, it's nice to hear Blumberg back in this kind of reporting role.

Strides Forward: The Will to Try [website, Apple, Google, Spotify]
  • This whole season of Strides Forward focuses on stories of women runners and the Comrades Marathon of South Africa (90 kilometers/56 miles).
  • The feature of this story, Karen Williams, is my new hero. She went from a non-runner to a ultra-marathon runner in a relatively short span and has a very relaxed attitude about it.
  • Without spoiling it, the race needs to be completed by 12 hours on the dot, and she had a very dramatic finish.

The Hard Problem: The Puzzle of Consciousness [website, Apple, Google, Spotify]
  • An opening episode of an ongoing series from neuroscientist Jesse Winters.
  • It lays the groundwork on why understanding consciousness is such a puzzle. Winters also lays out his starting assumptions.
  • A really interesting and satisfying listen for anyone interested in the brain.
  • Found this show in Caroline Crampton's podcast newsletter, The Listener, which is really one of the best assortment's of hidden treasure podcast recommendations you will come across. Subscribe here, it's great! 


Florida is going to release 750 million mosquitoes genetically engineered to decimate the mosquito population [Fast Company]

‘The Biggest Monster’ Is Spreading. And It’s Not the Coronavirus. [The New York Times]

Heavy Medals: A Series of Missed Opportunities [Bello Collective]

The 10 Best Episodes of Song Exploder [Podcast Review]

For fun: King T'Challa on SNL's Black Jeopardy (RIP).
For fun 2: This is some bardcore Jolene, ye all. 
For fun 3: If you never thought you would be at risk of going down a lock-picking YouTube rabbit hole.

Click here for a Listory list for all the #114 links.

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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