Your Brain on Facts

Your Brain on Facts

yourbrainonfacts.com
Things you didn’t know, things you thought you knew, and things you never knew you never knew.


Patent Schmatent (ep. 95)
Jan 21 • 29 min
While history is full of stolen ideas and missed opportunities, hear why some inventors *chose* not to profit from their ideas.
My Name Is Mud (ep. 94)
Jan 14 • 27 min
This ubiquitous combination of water and dirt is useful to science, employed in health and beauty, a little-known component of professional sports, and even eaten.
New Year, New Everyone (ep. 93)
Jan 7 • 30 min
More new years days than you can shake a calendar at.
The Jews Who Wrote Christmas (ep. 92)
Dec 23, 2019 • 32 min
You know Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, but did you know this song, and the poem it was based on, were both written by Jews? You won’t believe how many classic Christmas songs were!
Greatest Hits - Christmas Spirits (and monsters)
Dec 17, 2019 • 29 min
You’ve probably heard about the Austrian Christmas demon Krampus, but what about Befana, the Italian Christmas witch? In what country do you need reservations for Xmas dinner at KFC? Where do people wish you happy holidays with a specific request for…
hiStory 2 (ep. 91)
Dec 10, 2019 • 28 min
Just because it’s in all the history books, doesn’t mean it’s true.
Greatest Hits — Read A Rainbow
Dec 3, 2019 • 29 min
From the Yellow Pages and Golden Book, to Mao’s little red book, three different green books and more!
You Gonna Eat That?, with Where Does It Go? podcast (ep. 90)
Nov 26, 2019 • 27 min
One man’s holiday feast is another man’s traumatic experience. With special guests Where Does It Go?
Conspiracy Truthies (ep. 89)
Nov 20, 2019 • 25 min
Sometimes the craziest thing about a conspiracy theory is the fact that it’s true.
Greatest Hits: The Dogs (and Inventions) of War
Nov 12, 2019 • 42 min
Amazing animals, intriguing innovations, and colorful characters from a world at war.
Moral Panic! at the Disco (ep. 88)
Nov 5, 2019 • 31 min
What could be more wholesome than reading a book or riding your bike? It depends on who you ask. Find out why the post office and dancing the waltz are the gateway to doom.
The Devil Made Me Do It (ep. 87) with Ignorance Was Bliss
Oct 29, 2019 • 27 min
People who tried to play the ultimate blame game
Freaks! (ep. 86)
Oct 22, 2019 • 29 min
“We told you we had living, breathing monstrosities. You laughed at them, yet but for the accident of birth, you might be even as they are! They did not ask to be brought into the world, but into the world they came.” Thus begins a movie such as had never…
Twinsies, part 2 (ep. 85)
Oct 15, 2019 • 25 min
The conclusion of our twin episodes, wherein we look at conjoined and a parasitic twins.
Twinsies , part 1 (ep. 84)
Oct 8, 2019 • 29 min
The first of a pair of episodes about twins, synchronicity, science, and dark mysteries.
Against All Odds - Military edition (ep. 83)
Oct 1, 2019 • 27 min
Being hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned is no reason to give up the fight.
Greatest Hits - Sigmund Freud was Full of S—-
Sep 17, 2019 • 54 min
The following podcast contains frank discussions of human sexuality and anatomy. Listener discretion is advised. Sigmund Freud may be the father of psychoanalysis, but he got a LOT of stuff wrong. Special guests Bunny Trails, Ignorance Was Bliss,…
Sold My Soul to the Company Store (ep. 82) with Cutting Class
Sep 10, 2019 • 25 min
Think your boss is all up in your business? Imagine if he was also your landlord and social director. What if you left work and went home, but you were still on company property?
Some Pig (ep. 81)
Sep 5, 2019 • 28 min
From Zuckerman’s Famous Pig to a sow in the British Royal Navy, from a porker winning acting awards to pigs for president!
Righteous Among The Nations (ep. 80)
Aug 27, 2019 • 26 min
As voted on by our patrons, we look at three non-Europeans who saved the lives of Jews during the Holocaust of WWI—a Japanese Christian, an Indian Hindu, and a Moroccan Muslim.
Greatest Hits: This Means War?
Aug 20, 2019 • 31 min
Mankind has waged war for many reasons: land, oil, a pretty face, a wooden bucket, you name it. How did a pig put the US and UK on the brink of war in Canada? Who declares hostility over watermelon? And what about the Golden Stool?
Not Going Anywhere (ep. 79)
Aug 13, 2019 • 24 min
Remember that time you were stuck in traffic for more than an hour? Imagine if that lasted a whole day. Or two. Or twelve! Today we look at a biblical traffic jam, ships stranded for years, and flight delays like you wouldn’t believe.
Greatest Hits: Meeting New Peoples
Aug 6, 2019 • 28 min
pockets of people unlike any others
Factstravaganza (ep. 78)
Jul 30, 2019 • 29 min
How many different topics can fit in one episode? Find out now!
Boldly Go (ep. 77)
Jul 25, 2019 • 22 min
Lat week, the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, we celebrated how we went to space, but how do we go in space?
Never Work with Children or Animals, pt 2 (ep. 76)
Jul 16, 2019 • 29 min
The triumphs and tragedies of the tiny tots of Tinseltown.
Never Work With Children Or Animals, part 1
Jul 9, 2019 • 31 min
We’ve been filming animals as long as we’ve been filming ourselves, but what goes into making an animal a star and, more importantly, keeping them safe on the job?
Feeling Salty (ep. 74)
Jul 2, 2019 • 28 min
You want it, you need it, but if you get too much, it could kill you. Salt is so much more than just a seasoning; it has changed the course of human history!
For The Last Time… (ep. 73)
Jun 25, 2019 • 27 min
Einstein didn’t flunk math, people in Columbus’s time didn’t think the earth was flat, and lemmings don’t fling themselves off cliffs. Why is it the false facts spread so quickly and dig in so deep?
Science Fiction Redux (ep. 72)
Jun 18, 2019 • 34 min
My father was a sci-fi fan of the old school. The man had the entire original Star Trek series on VHS, commercial free, and an Enterprise technical manual. So in his honor, a little late for Father’s Day, we go back in time to look to the future as we…
How and Why Do Dogs Bark?
Jun 16, 2019 • 7 min
How do dogs bark? Do they have different barks for different reasons? Do wolves bark? Music by audionautix.com
We Can’t Have Nice Things - Advertising edition (ep. 71)
Jun 11, 2019 • 27 min
“Unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public; ethical advertising uses truth to deceive the public,” and failed advertising uses bad ideas to entertain the public.
Science With Savannah, Age 7 (ep. 2)
Jun 8, 2019 • 7 min
Why is all this air moving? Are there different kinds of wind? What is equilibrium?
Throw the First Stone(wall) (ep. 70)
Jun 4, 2019 • 21 min
Why is Pride Month in June? Did Marsha P Johnson really throw the first brick at Stonewall Inn? Did the Stonewall Riots start the gay rights movement?
Science With Savannah, Age 7 (ep. 1)
Jun 1, 2019 • 11 min
(Science With Savannah, Age 7 will be on the YBOF feed while we try to work out some technical problems with its feed.) How do fish breathe underwater and worms breath in the dirt? Do insects have lungs? Why are things in the air more harmful to birds…
Mishmash Mashup (ep. 69)
May 28, 2019 • 27 min
Here’s a special trio of topics for your Tuesday (or whenever!): Great Moments in Forgetting Your Mic Was On Chuck Cunningham Syndrome Childish Weapons of WWII
Flashbacks and a Sneak Peek
May 21, 2019 • 33 min
Post-op’s been a bit rough, so to tide you over until the next proper episode, here are some fan-selected favorite clips as well as the first episode of our new show, Science with Savannah Age 7.
Butter in the Bank 2 (ep. 68)
May 14, 2019 • 31 min
In the first “Like Butter in the Bank,” we talked about strategic reserves — Canadian maple syrup, Chinese pork, Indian cotton, European butter, and American raisins — intended to stabilize prices. Today we look at stockpiles designed to help us survive,…
A Girl and Her Camera (ep. 67)
May 7, 2019 • 30 min
fearless female photojournalists
We Built This City (ep. 66)
Apr 30, 2019 • 31 min
There is something in modern man that makes him look at society and say “I could do this better, but smaller, and over there.” What does it take to build a utopia? No one knows yet, because they’ve all failed.
A Thousand Lakes Under the Midnight Sun (ep. 65), with Conspiracy Theoryology
Apr 23, 2019 • 30 min
What do you know about Finland? … That’s what I thought! So sit back, closer your eyes (unless you’re driving) and fill your brain with fine Finnish facts.
Bird-pocalypse (ep. 64)
Apr 16, 2019 • 27 min
The havoc that human beings (and a cat named Tibbles) can wreak on native birds.
Well-traveled Bodies (ep. 63)
Apr 9, 2019 • 33 min
Follow the stories of five people (an outlaw, a murderess, a nightclub dancer, a natural wonder, and a first lady) who covered a lot of ground… after they died.
Heard But Not Seen (ep. 62)
Apr 2, 2019 • 31 min
Voice acting is so much more than just cartoons; it’s documentary narration, GPS voices, smart speakers, and so much more. And if you can get in good, your career will be legendary, even if no one knows your name or what you look like.
The Man Who Gave His Birthday Away
Apr 1, 2019 • 44 min
April Fools! But it’s the good kind of prank. Today I’m participating in Operation Switcheroo, where podcasts hosts share their feed with a similar show to help grow our audiences by introducing people to shows they might not have heard of. Your…
Earth’s Unsung-est Heroes: medical edition (ep. 61)
Mar 26, 2019 • 31 min
When you think of world-saving heroes, you think Superman, Captain America, Randy Quaid’s character from Independence Day. But there are real life people who have thousands, even millions of lives within living memory, and you’ve probably never heard…
Objection! (ep. 60)
Mar 19, 2019 • 29 min
From Twinkies and PMS to sleepwalking and The Matrix, we look at brilliantly bizarre legal strategies people have tried and sometimes even succeeded with.
Career Critters
Mar 12, 2019 • 26 min
From military dolphins to railroad monkeys, hear about some of the more surprising jobs that our cousins in the animal kingdom can do.
We Can’t Have Nice Things: Vandalism edition
Mar 5, 2019 • 31 min
Welcome to the third installment of our infrequent series: We Can’t Have Nice Things. This time, we’re looking at people who, through ignorance or malice ruins something not theirs — vandals. Their motives range from greed, to anger, to unchecked…
Black Sparrow and Buffalo Soldiers
Feb 26, 2019 • 26 min
Black soldiers have put their lives on the line for a country that for centuries has enslaved, segregated, and discriminated against them. Until the Korean War, blacks served in segregated units under racist leadership and were often relegated to labor…
Unkillable
Feb 19, 2019 • 30 min
The human body can be a frail and fragile thing; we can be taken out by a small clump of our own cells. Then there are some bodies that seem to be made out of pure testicular fortitude.
Roses Are Red
Feb 12, 2019 • 27 min
We’ve all been through bad break-ups, but we should count ourselves lucky we were exiles, imprisoned or beheaded.
We Can’t Have Nice Things - Vandalism edition
Feb 5, 2019 • 31 min
ego + paint = destruction
Amazing Races
Feb 5, 2019 • 27 min
From using a train in a car race to marathon doping with deadly poison, there’s far more excitement in racing than simply declaring a winner.
Physician, Test Thyself
Jan 29, 2019 • 34 min
If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself, even if it means inhaling strange gasses, being stung by wasps, or swallowing patient’s bodily fluids.
More Cowbell (and Goat Bagpipe), with guest host Archivists Bet On Sexy Witches
Jan 22, 2019 • 29 min
What is the oldest playable instrument we’ve found? How do you make music with lightning? From clacking rocks together to the magnificent Marble Machine, musical instruments are as varied as our imaginations. Special guest, Elizabeth from Archivists Bet…
This Means War?
Jan 15, 2019 • 29 min
Mankind has waged war for many reasons: land, oil, a pretty face, a wooden bucket, you name it. How did a pig put the US and UK on the brink of war in Canada? Who declares hostility over watermelon? And what about the Golden Stool?
Sigmund Freud Was Full Of S***
Jan 8, 2019 • 54 min
Sigmund Freud may be the father of psychoanalysis, but he got a LOT of stuff wrong. 50th episode special guest extravaganza with Bunny Trails, Ignorance Was Bliss, Interesting Sex, and The Story Behind podcasts.
It’s A Small Plate After All
Jan 1, 2019 • 29 min
7 billion people spread across 59 million square miles, but we all need to eat and we eat more things that are than same than different. Learn about pizza preference, drunk foods, and truly unique fare around the world.
Christmas Spirit (and Monsters and Other Fun)
Dec 18, 2018 • 30 min
You’ve probably heard about the Austrian Christmas demon Krampus, but what about Befana, the Italian Christmas witch? In what country do you need reservations for Xmas dinner at KFC? Where do people wish you happy holidays with a specific request for…
Meeting New Peoples
Dec 11, 2018 • 28 min
In our instantly-connected world, there are entire groups of people you may never have heard of, whether they have never had contact with others or they live alongside the better known population. Learn about the Sami of Norway, Yali of New Guinea,…
Format War Veteran
Dec 4, 2018 • 31 min
two formats enter, one format leaves
Baptism By…
Nov 27, 2018 • 29 min
From naming ceremonies around the world and adult circumcisions, to unexpected disasters and baptising the dead whether they want it or not, we look at different ways people are made part of their faith or community.
Surprise Polyglot
Nov 20, 2018 • 33 min
Think you don’t speak French because you failed it in high school? Wouldn’t know Hindi from Urdu? You actually speak them every day!
Read A Rainbow
Nov 13, 2018 • 30 min
From the Yellow Pages and Golden Book, to Mao’s little red book, three different green books and more! Music by Kevin MacLeod, Audionautix, and Rooster Teeth (I love you, please don’t sue).
Panto to Python - a history of British Comedy
Nov 6, 2018 • 34 min
From music hall to Red Dwarf, pantomime to Absolutely Fabulous, we look at the history of British comedy, the names, shows, and historical events that made it what it is today.
Cannibal! The Podcast, with Nature Vs Narcissism and Sketch Nerds
Oct 30, 2018 • 29 min
There are many reasons why an individual or group would eat other people - religious rites, shows of strength, signs of respect, and of course desperation. Cannibalism can be split into four often overlapping categories: by choice, by necessity,…
Words You Can’t Say On TV Or Radio, with special guest JoChristie
Oct 23, 2018 • 28 min
George Carlin wasn’t wrong with his list of 7 dirty words you can’t say, but he missed a whole lot. Lucille Ball was pregnant on “I Love Lucy,” but they weren’t allowed to say the word ‘pregnant.’ Movies were forbidden from showing drugs, murder,…
Short-lived, Long-remembered, with Based On A True Story podcast
Oct 16, 2018 • 25 min
There are some musicians that leave an enduring legacy through long and storied careers, like the Rolling Stones, who formed in 1962. There are actors who are iconic because they have been onscreen for decades, like Sean Connery, James Earl Jones, and…
Hispanic Heritage Week
Oct 9, 2018 • 33 min
Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept 15 to Oct 15. Join us in celebrating cultural touchstones and famous people, as well as learning things like the distinction between Latino and Hispanic.
Banned Books - Kids, YA, LGBTQ
Oct 2, 2018 • 24 min
Will Shel Silverstein turn your kids into cannibals? Is a baby penguin spreading the “gay agenda”? We look at children, young adult, and LGBTQ books challenged or banned for silly reasons.
Banned Books - The Classics, with Oh No! Lit Class podcast
Sep 25, 2018 • 31 min
Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Learn why parents objected to such…
Got Your Goat
Sep 18, 2018 • 35 min
Goats are the internet’s second favorite animal, a ruminant quadruped that gives us milk, meat, fiber, and hilarious videos. Legend has it they also discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls, cataract surgery, and coffee. They can climb seemingly impossible heights…
What’s In A Nickname? City & State edition
Sep 11, 2018 • 31 min
What’s in a name? Some nicknames are obvious. Denver, CO is the Mile High City because it’s precisely one mile above sea level. Dallas, Texas is The Big D; everything’s bigger in Texas. But which American city can also be called The Emerald City, which…
You’re How Young?!
Sep 4, 2018 • 30 min
If you want to open an actual door to the past, you’ll have to do it without a doorknob. The patent for the a knob that turns to move a latch inside the door wasn’t filed until 1878. Lots of things, from CPR to timezones to sliced bread, that seem like…
Mixed Bags of History, with Dimly Lit podcast
Aug 28, 2018 • 31 min
Genghis Kahn’s empire killed 2/3 of Northern China, but people under his rule knew unrivaled gender equality and religious freedom. Mother Teresa gave aid to the poor, but also encouraged their suffering. We’re all some mix of good and bad.
Good Mourning To You. with Life in Stories podcast
Aug 21, 2018 • 28 min
There is a literal world of funeral practices to choose from, from an Irish wake to Tibetan sky burial, from New Orleans Jazz funerals to Balinese ngaben cremation, from being buried in a car-shaped coffin in Ghana to burying the head of family with a…
This Is Only A Test
Aug 14, 2018 • 24 min
Tests are all around us. You probably took a test the minute you were born. We look at tests, from movie theaters to hospitals, named for the people who created them.
Stolen Innocents
Aug 7, 2018 • 27 min
A century ago, the American government took tens of thousands of children from Native families and placed them in boarding schools with strict assimilation practices. Their philosophy - kill the Indian to save the man. Sadly, this isn’t the only time a…
Life After Death, with Dumb & Busted podcast
Jul 31, 2018 • 31 min
Death doesn’t mean everything stop for you. There are lots of ways we can live on after shuffling off the mortal coil. From body parts taken from famous bodies, to cells that won’t stop growing, to a taxidermied person on display in a museum, we look at…
Swiss Army Wife, with Bunny Trails Podcast
Jul 24, 2018 • 29 min
From French pirates to Chilean warrior to American filmmakers, we look at women who earn the title “super wife,” with special guests, the hosts of Bunny Trails Podcast.
Ink and Pain: Tattoos, with Hobbit from GUI Podcasts
Jul 17, 2018 • 33 min
“The body is a temple and it’s our job to decorate it.” From tatau in Polynesia to Sailor Jerry to the oppressed class that gave rise to the Yakuza, we touch on some highlights from the history of tattoos. Huge thanks to my guest presenter Mike “Hobbit”…
Secret Cities
Jul 10, 2018 • 33 min
Hear the stories of three towns built in a hurry but kept off the map, secure enclaves known only by their post codes, ancient cities found by modern technology, and the ingenious engineering of underground dwellings.
Foxtrot Alpha Charlie Tango Sierra, pt 2
Jul 6, 2018 • 20 min
For Independence Day, we’re doing a two-parter on heroic animals, innovations from the field, and noteworthy bad-asses. Topics include a pigeon who saved hundreds of lives, a crossbow for grenades and Jack Churchill, who went into WWI with a claymore and…
Foxtrot Alpha Charlie Tango Sierra pt 1
Jul 3, 2018 • 21 min
For Independence Day, we’re doing a two-parter on heroic animals, innovations from the field, and noteworthy bad-asses. Topics include a pigeon who saved hundreds of lives, a crossbow for grenades and Jack Churchill, who went into WWI with a claymore and…
We Can’t Have Nice Things: Art & Antiquities Edition
Jun 26, 2018 • 33 min
Ecce Homo was a fresco of Jesus Christ that had degraded significantly over time. No one asked the little old lady next door to help. She had no training, but how hard could it really be? Pretty damn hard, as it turns out. In place of the…
Science Fiction Double Feature, featuring Shaun Ennis of Stories of Yore and Yours
Jun 19, 2018 • 35 min
My father was a sci-fi fan of the old school. The man had the entire original Star Trek series on VHS, commercial free, and an Enterprise technical manual. So in his honor, a little late for Father’s Day, we go back in time to look to the future as we…
Like Butter in the Bank
Jun 12, 2018 • 27 min
A strategic reserve is a commodity held back by governments to stabilize prices or protect against shortage. Your mind may go immediately to the 35 million barrels or so of crude oil that the US has in storage, but there are all kinds of strategic…
The Last Word(s)
Jun 5, 2018 • 30 min
We assign a great deal of significant to last words. We expect them to be deep and profound, the sort of thing you immortalize on a $3,000 headstone. We hope we’ll say something really clever when it’s our turn, and not “what’s this button do?” or “hold…
The Role of a Lifetime
May 29, 2018 • 27 min
Some actors fall victim to typecasting, but others have a single character they can’t disassociate themselves from. Sometimes that means always being cast as a character similar to the one they made famous or that made them famous, or not really being…
Copy-wrong
May 22, 2018 • 26 min
If a monkey takes a picture in the woods, can the monkey claim the copyright? Trademark and copyright laws can get pretty sticky. For the layperson, trademark, copyright and patent sound interchangeable. If you work in advertising, stay tuned for a list…
Mummy’s Day
May 15, 2018 • 36 min
We cover the ways Victorian Europe used (and abused) Egyptian mummies; whether or not mummies were burned for fuel; Catholic saints who do not decay; natural mummies preserved in ice, moss, and salt; child mummies of the Andes; and Buddhist monks…
Lunules and Tittles and Barms, Oh My!
May 8, 2018 • 27 min
From the skin between your thumb and forefinger to the stringy things you have to pick off bananas, today’s episode will teach you dozens of names for everyday items, even if you can’t tell your natiform from your weenus.
Steal (pretty) Big
May 1, 2018 • 25 min
What we remember as the daring heist of one of the world’s most famous paintings was really neither of those. The theft of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa wasn’t even noticed when it happened. That story, plus a stolen art technique that made a man world…
A Dish Best Served Loud
Apr 24, 2018 • 27 min
A microphone is a good enough platform for getting back at people, but an entire recording studio is even better. Popular music is littered with songs getting back at an ex lover, from Waylon Jennings to Taylor Swift, but a fair number of the tracks you…
We Can’t Have Nice Things: Gamer edition
Apr 17, 2018 • 25 min
From trolls and griefers, to crashing virtual funerals and spreading digital plagues, we look at online gamers ruining everyone else’s fun in the first of our series We Can’t Have Nice Things.
For Want of a Nail
Apr 10, 2018 • 28 min
Small things can have reverberating effects on history, both good and bad. In 1453, the great walled city of Constantinople, which had withstood sieges for 1,100 years, fell to the Ottomans…because someone left the door open.
It’s Good To Be The King
Apr 3, 2018 • 30 min
Mel Brooks said it best, “It’s good to be the king.” There’s the seemingly limitless power and unspendable amounts of wealth. On the flip-side, though, there’s the back-stabbing, political intrigue, and of course, the inbreeding to deal with.
Obligatory Holiday Episode: Easter & Passover
Mar 27, 2018 • 25 min
Hop on down the bunny trail as we examine the origins of some beloved Easter traditions and teach the goyim a little about Pesach.
You’re How Old?!
Mar 20, 2018 • 25 min
modern technology that’s not so modern