An island getaway with Carl Sagan, that “pool” smell, and forgetting what you read

Welcome to the Hurt Your Brain internet playlist from Sep 3, 2017. It’s a collection of podcasts, videos, and other links for people who love to learn online and are fascinated by the world. Click here to get playlists emailed to you as they come out.


Carl Sagan’s Desert Island Getaway

Carl Sagan is one of my favorite people. The logo for Hurt Your Brain is actually a nod to the influence Sagan had on me after watching his “Cosmos” series. A quote from “Cosmos” immediately struck me as both completely profound and completely bonkers. “If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe” (yes that’s pie in the logo). This series kind of changed my life and made me realize how exciting learning is for learning’s sake. After endless years of school drudgery, I needed that. For some reason, this bit from “Cosmos” still stands out years later as particularly mind blowing. Anyway, I recently listened to an old BBC interview with Sagan called Desert Island Discs. where he picks 10 songs he would take with him if stranded on an island. I am so glad I stumbled upon it.

+ Radiolab’s recent Where the Sun Don’t Shine contains extended clips from Ann Druyan (Sagan’s wife), and the pretty remarkable circumstances of how they got together.

Podcasts To Learn From

You Are Not So Smart: Debate
Host David McRaney takes a trip to Mississippi to uncover the power of a public, heated debate on public opinion and policy. Episodes like this are why I support this show on Patreon.
Learn: Individuals are really bad at seeing the errors of their thinking because no one knows what they don’t know. A group coming up with a collective argument typically leads to much tighter and more accurate view points.

Revisionist History: Basement Tapes
Last newsletter, I mentioned I was was surprised that host Malcolm Gladwell didn’t feel the need to talk about the role of fat in our diets while he was singing the praise of old school french fries cooked in beef fat. Now I know why. The next episode would be entirely about that exact issue. This end to the second season is one of my favorite Revisionist History yet.
Learn: An excellent and not boring overview on why there are major problems with the famous seven countries study that laid the groundwork for decades of anti-fat health policies. For starters, the study didn’t include countries like France, which has a long history of high fat eating while also having low heart disease rates.

Constitutional: Ancestry
I love this show because it’s so much more than a dry exploration of the history of the Constitution. It weaves great interviews into a larger narrative, is thoughtful, and above all, enlightening. Everything about it is well done and riveting.
Learn: Chief Standing Bear is the Martin Luther King Jr for Native Americans. “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.”

Planet Money: Robocall Invasion
Everyone I know has been getting more spammy calls on their cell phones over the past year, usually from numbers that look local. What the hell gives? Planet Money serves up a thorough explanation that involves a bizarre confrontation.
Learn: “Spoofing” any phone number has been do-able for years, but some shitty person had the bright idea to call everyone with a number that looks local. This trend can be boiled down to shitty people copying each other.




That’s all for this week!


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