Podcasts, videos, and links to make you think
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Welcome to the Hurt Your Brain newsletter, the place to get podcasts and links that will make you think.

These past few weeks I've enjoyed catching up on some of my favorite podcasts I had been neglecting. The below are the best and most thought-provoking of that whole lot.  
Mindscape: Sean B Carroll on Randomness and the Course of Evolution
  • Famous physicists and podcast host Sean Carroll interviews a leading biologist in evolutionary developmental biology, also named Sean Carroll. 
  • A really fascinating conversation about the role of randomness in our evolutionary history. 
  • Because I’m fascinated by free will and the thought experiment of “rewinding the tape” to see what would happen if played again, I perked up quite a bit when this topic came up. Sean B Carroll (the biologist) said that genetic mutations are quantum mechanical events, which make them inherently unpredictable and random. This is an interesting addendum I can make to my free will thought experiment, where it now seems even more unlikely that things will repeat themselves exactly once biology enters the picture of the universe (even if certain large scale patterns might emerge). Basically, this means that if the Earth was perfectly rewound, the chances of dinosaurs or humans in particular showing up is very very low. 
  • I turned one of my favorite facts from the episode into the visual below. Sean Carroll retweeted it which I thought was I was pretty thrilled by.

Bio Eats World: Evolution—Animals, Aliens, and Ourselves
  • A nice complement to the interview above.
  • “The universal property of biology is the accumulation of complexity.” 

Unexplainable: Is a ton of psychology just...wrong?
  • The answer is not all, but close to half can't be replicated, which is....not great.
  • Great overview of why the science community is pushing for more rigorous psychological research.

Resistance: I Want To Report A Theft
  • Museums across the world are full of stolen artifacts. This is the story of a man named Mwazulu Diyabanza who has taken things into his own hands, literally. 

Radiolab: What Up Holmes?
  • Next time someone acts like we need to protect the ideas of the founding fathers at all costs, send them this episode. Most of what we see as American ideals were developed many years after all the founders were dead, modern free speech included.

Revisionist History: Druid Hills
  • Below is a long but excellent quote from Malcolm Gladwell on the nature of science taken from this episode.
  • “The lone success story in the pandemic thus far has been medical science. We have vaccines available just over a year after the pandemic started. That’s bananas. But we shouldn’t draw the lesson from this that science is fast. Science only looks fast. It’s actually really slow. The quote, unquote sudden development usually had 20 years of work behind it. And you can’t order up progress, because sometimes progress happens only at the end of a wandering serendipitous journey that may have looked like folly before it became a success. And what all this means is that progress doesn’t come from ideas, it comes from places where smart people have the time and freedom to wander around and make mistakes and pursue interesting ideas that one day may end up saving your life.”


Toonstack: Listen Up! Toonstack is a new newsletter put out by a collection of cartoonists that I've been enjoying quite a bit. This newest edition includes plenty of podcast recommendations as well as a few podcast related cartoons. 

Do you remember that great collection of culturally relevant valentines The New Yorker put out a few years ago? One of which said "will you be my podcast guest?" I was lucky enough to interview the creator, Sophie Lucido Johnson about her visual creativity over at my other project. 

Vanishing head illusion. This video is only a minute long and totally worked. Pretty cool. 

What if you ran a 5k with the analogy in mind of 5k distance = timeline of life on Earth? A thread breaking it down

The Secret of Synchronization. A super interesting video from the always interesting Veritasium YouTube channel.  

Quick plug for my favorite non-profit
On Point for College celebration eventOn Point for College is a local non-profit that I love to support. I can vouch for how well spent your money will be if you decide to donate. Their mission is to break down barriers that prevent young, underserved individuals from achieving education and career success. If you are looking for an organization to support, you'd be hard pressed to find a more impactful one that serves a community. In lieu of their annual gala, they have produced a video series showcasing the stories of a few students (the video also works great as just audio as it will be airing on a few local radio stations). Register to be notified when the video launches later this week if you would to learn more and have a new awesome non-profit to check out.

For fun: the iceberg finally has its say

That's all for today. See you in two weeks!

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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