The fork isn’t just a tool for eating. It’s also one of the greatest symbols of individualism — a utensil that people opposed for thousands of years, and that only gained acceptance once we started thinking differently about ourselves. This is the story of how the fork shaped us.
Covid changed many people’s relationship with technology… so what comes next? We explore why technophobia always happens in cycles, how we misuse science in a way that amplifies fear, and what everyone will be concerned about in five to 10 years.
What does it take for two different people to find common ground? To answer that, we dig into a nine-year-old mystery. In 2011, two very different guys shared a pair of earbuds on the New York City subway. A photo of them went viral multiple times … but who were they, and what were they really doing? All is revealed.
People are refusing to wear masks during a pandemic. Why? To understand, we rewind to the “Anti-Mask League” of 1919 and to the opposition to seatbelt laws in the 1990s. Then we answer the big question: If people won’t listen to mandates, what *will* they listen to?
Covid-19 has interrupted our world, but it’s also likely to improve it. After all, history shows that massive disruption is followed by massive opportunity. So what’s in store for us now? In this episode, we learn the surprising consequences of past crises, explore the innovations that may come from Covid-19, and try to understand why disasters are so productive.
People love natural foods and natural products… but what is “natural,” really? In this episode, we explore that question by going back to one of the very first times anyone claimed a natural product was better than a man-made one: It’s the great war between the “natural” ice industry and the brand-new refrigerator industry. And it can teach us a lot about the decisions we make today.
Today, people complain about self-obsessed millennials. Yesterday, they complained about children celebrating their birthdays. When the birthday party became popular in the 19th century, people worried that it would corrupt community, spoil children, and contradict the bible. But the truth — about why we celebrate our birthdays and ourselves — is far more complicated.
Do you suffer from automobile face? What about airplane face? Or moving-picture face? These are just some examples from a strange historical pattern: For more than a century, people have claimed that new technologies are physically deforming our faces — and we still say it today. (No, you don’t have “tech neck”!) On this episode, we explore where this fear comes from, what it means, and what happens when the fear really does come true. Time to put on your podcast face!
The teddy bear: Is it cute and cuddly, or a “horrible monstrosity” that’ll destroy humanity? In 1907, many people feared the worst — that this new toy would ruin young girls’ developing maternal instincts, and lead us to a terrible fate. This is the story of how the teddy bear changed us all… and how we then changed the bear.
Vanity was born when the mirror was discovered. That’s what the Chicago Record wrote in 1895, around the time when mirrors became a household item. People (and especially women) were condemned for looking in the mirror, and accused of being sinful. But then the mirror altered the way we think about vanity altogether — and forever changed the way we look at ourselves. In this episode, we explore the history of the mirror, the history of vanity, and what it can teach us about today’s obsession over selfies.