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10 Best Stuff You Should Know episodes for curious minds

Ever felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of episodes in Stuff You Should Know? You’re not alone. With topics ranging from the quirky to the profound, Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant have turned this podcast into an adventure for curious minds. But diving into this ocean of episodes can be a head-scratcher.

That’s why we’ve put together a killer list of the best Stuff You Should Know episodes you just can’t miss. How did we pick these gems? We scoured forums, sparked debates among die-hard fans, revisited our own all-time favorites, and even peeked at what episodes got the most listens to give you the perfect mix of episodes that are not just popular but totally fascinating.

How Primitive Will Our Descendants Find Us? 

  • Release date: December 28, 2023
  • Episode duration: 51 minutes

Josh and Chuck take a unique look at history. Instead of laughing at the past, they fast-forward to the future and consider how coming generations will see us.

How Primitive Will Our Descendants Find Us?
12/28/2023 00:51:42

Imagine the scene: smoking on airplanes was a norm in the 90s, a fact that seems almost alien now. Another example is spanking children. Once widely accepted, this practice is proven to be harmful. What’s normal changes over time, showing a social shift towards less acceptance of violence in any form.

The episode will make you think differently about our past, present, and future. It’s a thought-provoking journey through our changing world.

Short Stuff: Magnetic Pole Switcheroo 

  • Release date: November 22, 2023
  • Episode duration: 12 minutes
Short Stuff: Magnetic Pole Switcheroo
11/22/2023 00:12:14

Josh and Chuck unpack the magnetic mysteries of Earth’s poles. They debunk the dramatic notion of a cataclysmic pole shift causing worldwide chaos, clarifying that while Earth’s poles do wander, it’s a slow dance over millions of years, not an overnight flip. The episode goes back 800 million years to a big shift in Earth’s crust, a slow but monumental tango of our planet’s surface. It’s an easy-to-follow journey through a huge part of our planet’s history, mixing cool science with great stories.

Things We Believed Before the Scientific Method

  • Release date: November 7, 2023
  • Episode duration: 43 minutes
Things We Believed Before the Scientific Method
11/07/2023 00:43:43

Josh and Chuck dive into what people believed before science got serious. They talk about funny old ideas, like mice coming from grain, and show there was some sense to them back then.

The episode covers how thinking changed from believing in spontaneous generation and old myths to the scientific method, which helps us find the real truth behind what we see. It’s a cool look at how even wrong ideas helped us learn more about our world.

Short Stuff: Why Spilling Salt is Unlucky

  • Release date: September 13, 2023
  • Episode duration: 11 mintues
Short Stuff: Why Spilling Salt is Unlucky
09/13/2023 00:11:18

In just 10 minutes, this Short Stuff episode cracks why spilling salt is considered bad luck. Learn about the ancient and cultural significance of salt and how people from ancient Rome to today have reacted to this superstition. Discover fun facts, like the story of Judas spilling salt in Da Vinci’s Last Supper and why salt was so valuable. It’s a quick, fascinating look at a simple belief with a long history.

Mangroves: Nature’s Best Tree?

  • Release date: July 12, 2022
  • Episode Duration: 44 minutes
Mangroves: Nature's Best Tree?
07/12/2022 00:44:06
best SYSK episodes

This 2022 favorite episode offers a fascinating look at mangroves. These thorny, cool-looking trees are nature’s superheroes, shielding coastlines from storms, helping in the fight against climate change, and fostering the most incredible wildlife, from tiny fish to majestic tigers, all relying on the unique environment created by mangroves. Get ready to be wowed by the incredible world of mangroves, where every day is a high-tide adventure.

How Effective Altruism Works

  • Release date: March 3, 2022
  • Episode Duration: 47 minutes
How Effective Altruism Works
03/03/2022 00:47:41

This episode offers a fresh take on giving that really makes a difference and will leave you thinking for a long time. This episode dives into how we can help others in the best ways possible, not just with good intentions or money but with intelligent choices. It’s all about how many lives we can save most effectively. Get ready to see charity in a whole new light and learn about those having a big impact.

How the Escape from Alcatraz Worked

  • Release date: September 1, 2020
  • Episode Duration: 54 minutes
How the Escape from Alcatraz Worked
09/01/2020 00:54:54

Join a thrilling chase and discover how three inmates became legends after their daring Alcatraz escape. With papier-mâché heads and a homemade raft, they disappeared into the night, sparking a mystery that still fascinates us. Did they beat the odds in San Francisco Bay? 

This episode takes you through the heart-pounding theories and clues, keeping you guessing about their fate. A true adventure that brings to life one of the most challenging escape stories ever told.

SYSK Selects: Fractals – Whoa

  • Release date: November 30, 2019
  • Episode Duration: 35 minutes
SYSK Selects: Fractals - Whoa
11/30/2019 00:35:53

Get ready for an episode that takes you through the fascinating and complex universe of fractals. Imagine looking at a snowflake or a coastline and seeing a pattern that repeats itself, smaller and smaller, into infinity. That’s what Benoit Mandelbrot, an IBM mathematician, discovered in the 1980s, sparking a revolution in math and our understanding of the infinite. Fractals are everywhere, and this episode will change the way you look at the world.

The Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978

  • Release date: December 17, 2015
  • Episode Duration: 53 minutes
The Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978
12/17/2015 00:53:51

Dive into the bizarre world of the Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978 with this SYSK episode and discover a rarely-seen part of Star Wars history, famous for its weirdness. The Special features Chewbacca and Han Solo on an unusual adventure, with the original cast and the first appearance of Boba Fett. Though it aired only once and was never released again, this special is still talked about today. Find out what made it so memorable and odd in this classic SYSK episode.

The Dark Origins of Fairy Tales

  • Release date: November 3, 2015
  • Episode Duration: 41 minutes
The Dark Origins of Fairy Tales
11/03/2015 00:41:31

Today’s fairy tales are sweet and safe for kids, but it wasn’t always like that. In this episode, Chuck and Josh uncover the dark and shocking origins of these stories. Originally filled with murder, cannibalism, and chaos, they were meant for adults, not children. Learn how tales, once rooted in harsh reality, were later collected by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm to be finally transformed into the gentler versions we know today. 

Stuff You Should Know is a fascinating guide through a world of wonders. From the secrets of nature to the meaning of human works, each episode is a journey into the unknown, packed with information and surprises. Whether it’s the magic of mangroves, the mystery of fractals, or the thought-provoking concept of effective altruism, SYSK makes learning an exciting adventure. 

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