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Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know

If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

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SYSK Selects: How Sleepwalking Works

Sleep behaviors are pretty fascinating. Some people snore, some grind their teeth -- and some take a little stroll, or perhaps a drive. In this classic episode, Josh and Chuck investigate how sleepwalking, or somnambulism, works.

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2019-08-24
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How Ventriloquism Works

Ventriloquism ? where a skilled performer ?throws? their voice, making it seem like a dummy on their knee is talking ? has taken a long, circuitous road from early prophets, to witches, then finally to the stage. Get to the bottom of this uncanny trick.

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2019-08-22
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Short Stuff: Horseshoe Crab Blood

Perhaps the most expensive liquid on the planet is the blue blood that comes from horseshoe crabs. Researchers realized that horseshoe crab blood could indicate the presence of pathogens and the massive, ongoing horseshoe crab harvest began. 

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2019-08-21
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Nuclear Semiotics: How to Talk to Future Humans

The nuclear waste we produce will be dangerous for a very long time. We?ve figured out how to safely store it in the earth until it?s no longer a biohazard. Now we just have to figure out how to warn humans 10,000 years in the future to stay away from it.

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2019-08-20
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SYSK Selects: Are We in a Cyberwar?

There's a secret war going on around us, and it's happening on a daily basis. The Air Force has a unit specifically designed to carry out and defend against cyberwar. Go deep into this alarming type of war in this classic episode.

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2019-08-17
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How Peyote Works

Josh and Chuck have tackled a lot of drugs on the show, but peyote has loomed like a bad Jim Morrison poem. Learn all about this plant today. 

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2019-08-15
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Short Stuff: Petrichor

You know that amazing smell when it rains? Kind of clean, kind of earthy, one of a kind? It turns out that a miracle of nature produces it.

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2019-08-14
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Solar Power: The Future or What?

We?ve been promised solar energy for a while now ? where is it? Turns out, it?s been quietly and steadily growing across the world. And with a few breakthroughs, we just may be able to say goodbye to fossil fuels. Learn about sun-based energy in this episode.

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2019-08-13
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SYSK Selects: What Is a Shotgun House?

Shotgun houses are iconic pieces of American architecture: they're long, narrow, and filled with artistic flourishes. But where did they come from? Join Chuck and Josh and explore the mysterious origins of shotgun houses.

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2019-08-10
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Iran-Contra Affair: Shady in the 80s, Part 2

As the operation expands it also begins to unravel. Word starts to leak out of the illegal stuff the Reagan administration was up to, Congress and the press investigate and people start to point fingers. Spoiler alert ? they all got off scot free.

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2019-08-08
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Short Stuff: Time Zones

Time zones are a pain. Let's get rid of them! Can we? Sure!

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2019-08-07
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Iran-Contra Affair: Shady in the 80s, Part 1

When Ronald Reagan was president, America got involved in some deeply shady stuff, not the least of which was the Iran-Contra scandal ? a convoluted operation that managed to combine an illegal covert war in Nicaragua with secretly selling arms to Iran.

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2019-08-06
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SYSK Selects: How the Black Death Worked

The Black Death was gruesome: Symptoms included tumors, purple splotches, fevers and vomiting. But how did this disease manage to spread from the Gobi desert and kill approximately one-third of the population of 14th-century Europe? Find out in this classic episode.

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2019-08-03
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What Were the BONE WARS?

A pair of old timey fossil hunters had a rootin? tootin? rivalry that spilled from academic journals into the American Wild West - where fossils were dynamited and employees turned double agent. Learn about the two-fisted origins of American paleontology.

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2019-08-01
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Short Stuff: The Man Who Didn?t Eat for a Year

In 1965, a 456-pound man walked into a hospital in Scotland and asked for help with a fast. That was the last day he ate for more than a year. Learn about the medical marvel that was Angus Barbieri.

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2019-07-31
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Will Deepfakes Ruin the World?

Very recently, thanks to a new type of AI, it?s gotten much easier to create convincingly realistic videos of people saying and doing things they?ve never said or done. Will fake videos undermine our shared sense of reality and lead to the death of truth?

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2019-07-30
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SYSK Selects: How Human Cannonballs Work

There's no question that human cannonballs are daredevils. They pack themselves into the confines of huge cannons, which shoot them into the air. But how does it work? Join Josh and Chuck to learn more about the bizarre performances of human cannonballs.

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2019-07-27
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How Eyewitness Testimony Works(?)

Few things are more compelling than a witness pointing out a defendant in the courtroom as the perpetrator. But few things are also more unreliable than eyewitness testimony. Our memories can be pretty terrible, which matters when you?re facing death row.

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2019-07-25
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Short Stuff: Aristides de Sousa Mendes

This week we highlight another little known historical hero. In this case, a Portuguese diplomat who rescued people from Nazi Germany, at his own peril. Dig in and spread the word of Aristides de Sousa Mendes. 

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2019-07-24
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MOVE: Or When the Philly Police Dropped a Bomb on a Residential Neighborhood

Believe it or not, in 1985 the Philadelphia Police Department dropped a bomb from a helicopter onto a residential building in an African-American neighborhood. The fact that this story isn't more widely known says it all. Listen and learn about MOVE today.

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2019-07-23
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SYSK Selects: How Crack Works

Back in the mid-1980s a new and extremely potent drug hit the scene: crack cocaine. In short order, America was in the grip of both a sweeping addiction and a state of hysteria over use of the drug and the social consequences of crack, like crack babies. Let's take a look back at the receding wave of the crack epidemic and its lasting legacy on America in this classic episode.

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2019-07-20
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Sand Dunes: They Are What You Think They Are

Sand dunes are exactly what you think they are. But still pretty interesting. Learn all about them right now!

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2019-07-18
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Short Stuff: Yellow Rain

After the Vietnam War, the Hmong people told the world a toxic weapon was being used on them. Thus began a mystery that still remains today, which might have been solved when it was chalked up to bee poop.

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2019-07-17
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How Going to the Moon Works

Fifty years ago, the first humans stepped onto the moon. After going back a few more times, humanity lost its taste for moon travel. But it?s being revived again. NASA is planning to send humans back to the moon by 2024 and build a moon base by 2028. 

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2019-07-16
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SYSK Selects: Duels - A Guide to Throwing Down the Gauntlet

Pretty much everything you know about duels is true - it's a challenge to violence to defend honor. But did you know the U.S. Navy used to publish detailed guidelines in its midshipmen's handbook? Learn all there is to know about dueling in this classic episode.

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2019-07-13
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How Sloths Work

Everyone knows sloths are super slow, but do you know they?re slow because their bodies produce an astoundingly small amount of energy? And did you know that might be an adaptation that protects them from predators? Sloths are awesome and we prove it.

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2019-07-11
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Short Stuff: The Coconut Cult

Why we love short stuff - because we can tell stories like this one. A man goes to an island to start a commune of sorts that subsists entirely on coconuts. It didn't go well. 

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2019-07-10
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Cleopatra: Ms. Understood

One of the great misunderstood figures in history was the last pharaoh of Egypt. Cleopatra?s story is almost always told along with the men in her life, and from the view of the Romans who were threatened by her. Unsurprisingly, there was lot more to her.

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2019-07-09
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SYSK Selects: What Makes us Yawn?

What is it that makes us suddenly draw in a deep breath through a wide-open mouth? The beautiful thing about yawning is that researchers really don't know. Whether the answer is physical, mental or even contagious there is pretty much no chance you won't yawn during this classic episode.

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2019-07-06
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How the Fairness Doctrine Worked

Back in the day, broadcasters were bound by law to provide contrasting opinions on political matters. Why? Because of the Fairness Doctrine. What happened to it? Listen in and find out. 

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2019-07-04
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Short Stuff: Mitsuye Endo

In today's short stuff, we look at another amazing woman who has all but been ignored by history. The story of Mitsuye Endo. 

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2019-07-03
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Is photographic memory a real thing?

Photographic memory is the stuff of movies and TV, but is it real? Sort of. But not really. But kind of. It's a little bit a matter of semantics. Listen in and this will all make sense. 

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2019-07-02
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SYSK Selects: What Makes a One-hit Wonder?

The term "one-hit wonder" gets thrown around a lot, and - yes - you probably are using it correctly, but Chuck Bryant went to the trouble to really define what makes a one-hit wonder in the article this classic episode is based on. Join him and Josh as they get to the bottom of this disparaging term.

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2019-06-29
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What is the Civil Air Patrol?

The Civil Air Patrol is a civilian group of pilots and plane enthusiasts who do a lot of things, namely help out in search and rescue missions. But their history is a bit more colorful. Listen in today!

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2019-06-27
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Short Stuff: Prison Food

Prison food is kind of a joke, like airplane food. But there are real consequences involved. Let's get into it in today's short stuff.

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2019-06-26
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Planned Obsolescence: Engine of the Consumer Economy

If you?ve ever heard an old timer gripe that things aren?t built like they used to be, that old timer was right! Learn about the nefarious, possibly mythical, mechanism that?s responsible for the cruddy products and waste our consumer society is based on.

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2019-06-25
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SYSK Selects: How the Donner Party Worked

Did they or didn't they? There is plenty of written evidence that the ill-fated Donner Party resorted to cannibalism - except there are no bones. Learn the details of one of the worst disasters of the early West in this classic episode of Stuff You Should Know.

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2019-06-22
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What happened to the Neanderthals?

As recently as 40,000 years ago we lived among humans from an entirely different species ? Neanderthals. About the same time our species showed up, Neanderthals suddenly vanished. Just what happened to the other guys? Did our ancestors do something ? bad?

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2019-06-20
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Short Stuff: Emperor Norton

After a San Francisco real estate mogul went bankrupt, he reinvented himself as the Emperor of the United States ? and became the city?s most celebrated resident. 

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2019-06-19
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How the Hygiene Hypothesis Works

In the early 90s, a new study that found that kids who are exposed to more germs early in life are less likely to develop allergies later. With the West in the grip of a full-blown immunity crisis (still going on today), this was an interesting thought.

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2019-06-18
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SYSK Selects: What's the Deal with Crop Circles?

For a while in the 1980s, people were fascinated and confused about what exactly crop circles were. Now we know that they aren't signs left from aliens, but art made by humans. Learn all about these stunning, large form art installations in today's episode.

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2019-06-15
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How Area 51 Works

The secret military base Area 51 is inextricably linked to every secret, shady project the US government is rumored to be involved in ? from reverse-engineering alien technology to coordinating a one-world government. The truth is much more mundane.

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2019-06-13
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Short Stuff: Smoke Signals

Were smoke signals real or a Hollywood invention? Turns out, they were indeed a thing and invented by the Chinese, even. 

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2019-06-12
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What's the gig economy?

The gig economy is not new, but it's bigger than ever. Is that a good thing? We'll discuss that today!

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2019-06-11
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SYSK Selects: How Capgras Syndrome Works

There is an extremely rare condition where the sufferer is convinced that everyone around him is an impostor posing as their friends and family. Learn about the neurology behind this strange and sad mental disorder in this episode.

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2019-06-08
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Introducing Unpopular

At times when people accepted the status quo without question, some rebels have dared to resist. When a cause is noble, it often pays to be unpopular. Listen to Unpopular every Tuesday. 

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2019-06-07
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What is perfect pitch?

Perfect pitch, or absolute pitch, is when you can sing a note with no reference from other notes, perfectly on key. Is it an asset? Chuck says yes. Learn all about this musical rarity today. 

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2019-06-06
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Short Stuff: Robert Johnson and the Devil

Did the legendary blues singer really sell his soul to the devil in exchange for amazing musical skills? Probably not! But there?s still an interesting story there and it features the Coen Brothers.

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2019-06-05
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How Barcodes Work

Barcodes are everywhere. Those little lines and numbers that make up one of the most recognizable barcodes, the UPC, was designed to make going to the grocery a lot less miserable. It ended up becoming the central symbol of the global economy. 

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2019-06-04
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SYSK Selects: How TV Ratings Work

Ever wonder why some great shows go off the air after a season or less? Blame it on the Nielsen company, which has for more than 60 years been the almost exclusive decider of what goes and what stays on TV.

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2019-06-01
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En liten tjänst av I'm With Friends. Finns även på engelska.
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