Podcasts, videos, and links to make you think
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Welcome to the Hurt Your Brain newsletter, a place for people who immediately go to "educational" when they open up a podcast app.

My goal is always to recommend podcasts and links that you can learn from, and I am always toying with the format to best do that. My ideal:
  • That this is skimmable for people in a hurry (I won't judge you if you won't judge me).
  • That you can learn a few interesting things even if you don't have time to listen to every show.
  • That you discover new shows to satisfy your endless curiosity.
  • That you get a heads up on what you'll learn if you do listen [experimenting by putting what you'll learn in brackets like this].
I'm always open to feedback! Ok let's get to it. 
The Happiness Lab: The Unhappy Millionaire [the psychology of money and happiness].
  • A new show from Pushkin hosted by Dr Laurie Santos, a psychology professor at Yale who recently created Psychology and the good life, their most popular class ever. 
  • This is an excellent show to listen to with a friend or partner and discuss afterwards with.
  • Even the top .1% of wealthy people have problems, but nobody feels bad for them. We have a hard time envisioning that WE would also struggle with certain things if we happened to be in the top .1%. 
  • The truth is, the happiness that money brings plateaus around $75K and no matter where you are above that, you might think that just a little more will do the trick. This is true even for people with hundreds of millions of dollars!
  • We are bad at predicting how much getting what we want will make us happy and even worse at predicting how terrible things will not be as bad as we think. This is called hedonic adaptation
  • “When you mentally simulate a breakup, you mentally simulate the anguish, but you never mentally simulate the rationalizations.”

Words for Granted: Philosophy [learn etymology].
  • Language and etymology podcasts like The Allusionist have given me the bug on wanting to learn more about where words come from.
  • This podcast from Ray Belli provides some rich history and a well-researched walk through on one interesting word per episode. 
  • The word philosophy comes from philosophia in ancient greek, which literally means the "love of wisdom".
  • Philosophy in ancient Greece pertained to all intellectual knowledge and had various branches. 
  • Natural philosophy slowly morphed into science and ethical and metaphysical philosophy largely morphed into what we today think of as philosophy. 

Conversations with Tyler: Margaret Atwood on Canada, Writing, and Invention [smart interview].
  • I'm getting ready to read The Handmaid's Tale and I don't really know anything at all about Margaret Atwood. Enter the magic of podcasts where you can learn an incredible amount about someone in one interview.
  • She's Canadian, funny, and quite the business person.
  • I've also become a quick fan of this show, which is full of intelligent interviews. Tyler Cowen is a well-known economist who writes the popular Marginal Revolution blog. Cowen's inteview style is not super conversational but is chock-full of great question after great question.
30 Animals: Ants and Networks [animal behavior].
  • A typically great and informative show from the BBC about what we can learn from animals.
  • Ants are amazing and their swarm intelligence can help computer scientists develop better algorithms for a huge variety of problems.
  • Also, you really must check out this video about army ants.

Radiolab: Silky Love [feeling of wonder about the animal world].
  • I love a good Robert Krulwhich episode where he gets excited about something, and doubly love it when other people get even more excited than him and they feed off each other in a nerd spiral.
  • The nerd spiral in this episode is all about the surprisingly mysterious breeding behavior of eels. 
  • “Forget the Coca-Cola recipe, eel sex is the real mystery of our generation.”


It's that special time of year again called #shareyourbudssunday! Click on the link to see some great recommendations and to see what people are doing to get friends and family into podcasts. My method is to simply always be the driver and by default get to hijack what we all listen to.

One last reminder to grab your tickets for Sound Education, a podcast festival coming up Oct 9-12 that anyone who loves to learn from podcasts will love to attend. Check out the site and event registration. See you there.

A good Twitter thread where people recommend non-fiction and non-true crime shows created by people of color.

A list of higher education podcasts curated by the folks over at ConnectEdu, which is a network of podcasts by and for people in higher education. I can vouch for With a Side of Knowledge and Democracy Works being two shows definitely worth checking out in the list.

Reddit thread of people's favorite history podcasts.

Another great Reddit thread with recommendations on science podcasts that don't lean on comedy or over-enthusiastic hosts.

Jack Conte, Patreon, and the Plight of the Creative Class. An interesting look into the founder of Patreon.

The White-Collar Job Apocalypse That Didn’t Happen. A New York Times piece that talks about one of my favorite things, predictions that didn't come true. Well it's more nuanced than that, but the article and comments give good context and this thread on Hacker News fleshes out the conversation even more.

For funShia LeBeouf eating hot wings and being interviewed took me from not really having much of an opinion on him to liking the dude quite a bit. This show is also the best kind of YouTube rabbit hole. 

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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