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.

Sometimes my listening and reading come together in natural themes. There has been a lot of that for me lately, so this week's newsletter is based around three main playlists of ideas.

Also, I love the trend of more and more podcast sites and apps allowing for linking to playlists of podcasts. But for this newsletter I tend to link to all sorts of stuff. That is why I've been excited to be beta testing something called Listory, which allows for easy sharing of lists of all types of media.

Check out one big list with everything this newsletter links to.

Ok, on to the show!
Pseudo-science playlist: Some episodes that call BS on things that pretend to be based in science.

The Dream: Magic Little Pills and The Dream: Take With Caution.
  • These two episodes go together and tell the story of how the vitamin and supplement industry has become a multi-billion dollar industry that can get away with very little regulation.
  • “The average consumer is assuming that because it’s in a bottle and that it's sold in a store, somebody is a watchdog. And in the case of dietary supplement products, there are not many watchdogs."
  • "The irony being is these [supplements] are often taken by people who distrust in the pharmaceutical industry because they think that there are sketchy things going on there, who think that dietary supplements are 'natural', again because they are borrowing from vitamins' halo, and don't recognize it's multi-billion dollar companies who don't have the same standards or rigor or requirements as the pharmaceutical companies, flawed though the pharmaceutical companies may be, at least they have a much stricter...well they [at least] have a drug approval process. It takes up to twelve years on average and costs billions with a b of dollars. So even though there can be corruption and even though there can be mistakes, there is a whole system there that has greatly improved the safety and efficacy of America's drug supply."
  • These great quotes were delivered by Catherine Price, a science journalist who made listening to these episodes a satisfying experience. 

Citations Needed: The Goofy Pseudoscience Copaganda of TV Forensics.
  • First of all, copaganda. what a beautiful word.
  • A thoroughly researched discussion on the complete junk science behind most police forensics like blood spatter analysis, body language reading, bite mark analysis, and even finger prints.
  • “Next up is bite mark analysis, this is mega bullshit.”
  • “If you are a doctor on Law and Order, the odds that you did it are about 100%.”
  • There is an interesting look into how Law and Order SVU completely changed the public perception of prosecutors from one of distrust to one of trust. The pendulum is starting to swing back hard the other way.

Big Ideas: Can better science communication help counter pseudo-science?.
  • A panel of experts and science communicators in Australia have a wide ranging conversation on how to combat misinformation and pseudoscience.
  • Everyone agrees that the idea of schooling someone with lots of information has an extremely small chance of changing their mind. It's much better to first genuinely engage with them and find common ground.

Futurology Playlist. A selection of shows and links about predicting the future.

Ologies: Futurology (THE FUTURE) with Rose Eveleth.
  • Rose Eveleth hosts Flash Forward.
  • She prefers the term futurology to futurism, and says futurology breaks down roughly into three buckets: 1) Consultants for big companies helping them plan around their future challenges. 2) Science fiction writers who imagine the future. 3) Academics who think and talk about the future. She straddles all three of these. 
  • Eveleth thinks the biggest changes in the coming decade will be social and cultural, not technological.

List of stories set in a future now past.
  • Very satisfying and thorough Wikipedia list of all the sci-fi stories that were set in the future, and what year they were based around.
  • Hat tip to the Interesting Things newsletter from Colin Wright.

Three Theories for Why You Have No Time.
  • From Derek Thompson in The Atlantic.
  • No matter how amazing the future could be, one thing is for certain. We won't have more leisure time because we won't let ourselves.

Quote from Nassim Taleb in Antifragile.
  • I have mixed feelings about this book, but I really liked this part where he discusses why futurists tend to be wrong about the future.
  • His argument boils down to the fact that they add too many changes to the world.
  • “So the prime error is as follows. When asked to imagine the future, we have the tendency to take the present as a baseline, then produce a speculative destiny by adding new technologies and products to it and what sort of makes sense, given an interpolation of past developments. We also represent society according to our utopia of the moment, largely driven by our wishes - except for a few people called doomsayers, the future will be largely inhabited by our desires. So we will tend to over-technologize it and underestimate the might of the equivalent of these small wheels on suitcases that will be staring at us for the next millennia.”
  • His point about the wheels on suitcases is that nobody predicts small changes like when wheels were finally added to suitcases and then instantly spread everywhere.

  • An amazing site that showcases the history of our imagined futures.
  • The site has since been moved over to Gizmodo, but this link is to the archive that has all the early stuff. Check out the menu bar to browse by decade in the past.

Friends of the newsletter playlist. There has been an amazing burst of creative output from people I know in the podcasting space, and I just wanted to carve out a little room to give them all a special shout out.
  • Paul Kondo of the Podcast Gumbo newsletter has a new podcast, called, wait for it, the Podcast Gumbo podcast! It’s actually a very fun, super short (a few minutes) show built around the idea of helping people discover new podcasts using a pretty great premise.

  • Stories about objects with special meaning to people. The second episode was an emotional roller coaster and extremely touching.
  • If you listened to the Things episode of Radiolab back in December, and you found yourself siding with Robert Krulwich that objects can have very special meaning imbued inside them, then you will love this show.
  • Well to be honest, I did not agree with Krulwich’s mindset in that episode, but I still very much loved this show. 
  • Lori Mortimer is an indie creator based out of Boston who is the poster child for the idea that a solo indie creator without a radio background can make an excellent well-produced narrative show. 

Feedback with Earbuds.
The University of Podcast.  


The 100 Worst Ed-Tech Debacles of the Decade [long, satisfying list].

Can you suggest history podcasts for me? [Reddit thread].

A beginner's call for science-fiction [Reddit thread].

For fun: Broad City's tribute to the Elaine dance during last year's Mark Twain award.

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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