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23 Brainy Corners Of The Internet For Lovers Of Knowledge And Trivia

“Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.” ― Samuel Johnson

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1. TED Talks


TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a series of conferences and webcasts held around the world that are carried out by local and global leaders, experts, and notable professionals who share their insights and ideas with colleagues and laymen alike in order to inspire and engage. The main event in Vancouver organized by the Sapling Foundation has been going on for about 30 years, and the speeches and ideas presented at TED have since been watched by millions around the world. Follow entire debates on the TED website and the dedicated podcast, or tune in to the more radio-friendly, abridged coverage offered by NPR.


The history of our world in 18 minutes

The best stats you've ever seen

My stroke of insight

2. Intelligence Squared


Originally founded as a series of events in London, Intelligence Squared (U.S.) features Oxford-style debates by experts in their field who present opposing sides of an argument in front of an audience tasked with evaluating the claims and evidence presented and voting on the winning panel. Covering issues as wide ranging as second amendment laws, reproductive rights, feminist discourse, and US foreign policy, the discussions are always interesting, engaging, and refreshingly civil. Follow entire debates on the IQ2 website and the dedicated podcast, or tune in to the more radio-friendly, abridged coverage offered by NPR.


Too Many Kids Go To College

3. 99 Percent Invisible


Part This American Life, part How Stuff is Made, part Atlas Obscura, podcast host Roman Mars' 99 Percent Invisible delves into the subject of Design, and explores its many facets and applications through a historic and contemporary lens. Each 20-minute episode is packed with fascinating insight into designed objects, ranging from underground schools built during the cold war to the elusive cow tunnels of New York, the history of fire stairs in buildings, the intricacies of sound design used in modern sporting events, and beyond.


Episode 114 - Ten Thousand Years

Episode 104 - Tunnel 57

Episode 127 - The Sound of Sports

4. Radiolab


Another excellent podcast, WNYC's Radiolab is popular science explored through a creative storytelling lens that blends together the scientific and the philosophical aspects of the universe to shed light on the world around us and the human experience. Join hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich as they take on their subject of the week by lovingly and expertly weaving "stories and science into sound and music-rich documentaries" that engage your heart as well as your mind.




Memory and Forgetting

5. Now I Know


Short and sweet, without the glitz and polish that may be found on some of the other sites on this page, Now I Know is an online repository of short articles about all sorts of topics, and the perfect beginners' guide to trivia. You can check back daily for their subject of the day, or explore their archives at your own pace.



Nine-Tenths of a Cent

Marking One's Territory

6. BoingBoing


With an online presence of more than 25 years, the self-described "Directory of Wonderful Things" BoingBoing is a well-established zine that features short and long-form articles as well as in-house video productions that cover topics from technology and science fiction to politics and popular culture. BoingBoing is also the home of several similarly geeky podcasts that each get their own separate shout-out in this article; namely, Futility Closet, Gweek, and You're Not So Smart.


Resurrecting the Dead: what did Jane Austen look like?

How to Get a Figurine Produced in China and Not Lose Your Shirt

The Art of Neil Gaiman

7. Futility Closet / Via

Put together by a husband and wife team who are passionate lovers of all things curious, Futility Closet is a fairly new weekly 30-minute podcast about interesting facts, events, mysteries, and legends from history presented in a casual, conversational tone. The hosts, Greg and Sharon Ross, are still finding their flow, so the discussion during the earlier episodes might feel a little dry at times, but the couple put in the effort to make the listener feel like they're guests at their home, while they explore subjects ranging from history and literature to art and philosophy. Their mutual love and respect makes each episode highly enjoyable, particularly when they tease each other during the last five minutes of the show, where they test one another other with lateral thinking puzzles.


Episode 13 - An Ingenious Escape From Slavery

Episode 15 - The Flannan Isles Mystery

Episode 22 - The Devil's Hoofmarks

8. Gweek


Gweek is an hour-long podcast put together by BoingBoing founders Dean Putney and Mark Frauenfelder, where they invite notable guests to join them in a discussion about media, technology, entertainment, medicine and even social policy. Despite the occasional socially awkward delivery of Frauenfelder in particular, the podcast is always interesting and guides the listener to unexpected aspects of a subject, and doesn't hesitate to cover topics as silly as how to best tie your shoes to ones that are as serious as how to eradicate disease.


Episode 150 - How to rebuild our world from scratch

Episode 141 - The Remedy

Episode 137 - The Horrors of Ancient Medicine

10. Snopes


You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn't heard of (or spent inordinate amounts of time reading) the popular website Snopes. The granddaddy of internet productivity black holes, Snopes is an ever-growing collection of urban myths that have been meticulously analyzed, graded, and sorted according to topic and truthfulness. The perfect way to waste a few minutes (or hours), and a great tool to shut down clueless acquaintances who insist on forwarding you those obnoxious, sensationalist emails.

11. The Skeptic's Dictionary


Similar in vein to Snopes, The Skeptic's Dictionary is a website dedicated to exploring beliefs and traditions of dubious origin and veracity in a rational manner. An unofficial guide to critical thinking, as well as an online compendium of legends, junk science, fallacies, and more, SkepDic webmaster Robert Todd Carroll explores his subjects through a lens of skepticism and logic, and takes into account cognitive biases created by perception, culture, and education, while aiming to explain the appeal, popularity, and harms of unsubstantiated beliefs around the world.

All right. Let's start getting into sites dedicated to more obscure knowledge:

12. Mental Floss


Originally a popular printed magazine, Mental Floss's online blog is arguably a better and more immediately accessible resource for interesting news articles, questions about the workings of the world, history, trivia, and more. Truly a great online compendium of interesting miscellany.

Recommended article:

The Most Amazing Lie in History

10 Facial Reconstructions of Famous Historical Figures

8 Grand Yet Forgotten Profane Expressions

13. Damn Interesting


An online blog, as well as a monthly-ish half-hour podcast, Damn Interesting is a great source of obscure stories from history, science, anthropology, and psychology that are skillfully presented in a layered and rich story-telling format. Always interesting, and consistently well-produced, even if the updates do come in a less-than-regular schedule due to the webmasters' personal schedules.


The Clockmaker

The Mediterranean Be Dammed

Another World

14. Dark Roasted Blend


A vast anthology of curiosities that cover every subject under the sun, Dark Roasted Blend is an online magazine that is updated daily with articles about "all things weird and wonderful". A joy to get lost in, the publication has many vocal fans of note, from Neil Gaiman to John Malkovich.


World’s Strongest Drinks & Strange Liquor

Megastructures: Bigger-Than-Worlds

Weird Vintage Ads (Outrageous!)

15. The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things


The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things is just that - a collection of historic and contemporary artifacts that explore the whimsical aspects of human creativity and imagination. MofRIT is curated by Chelsea Nichols, a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford, who has set up the site with the goal of inspiring intelligent reflection and discussion in order to promote a better understanding of our history and the human experience.


Portraits génétiques

17th century palm-reading chart

Tipu's Tiger

16. The Straight Dope


Penned by "the world's most intelligent human being", the fictional Cecil Adams, Straight Dope's mission and style can be summed up by their tagline "Fighting ignorance since 1973 (it's taking longer than we thought)". Organized in a short and snappy Q&A format, TSD features "Adams" truthfully (and snarkily) answering reader-submitted queries, ranging from "why can't you buy turkey eggs in stores?" to "Mountain Dew = shrinking 'nads?".

17. Good Job, Brain!


This weekly podcast is an hour-long celebration of all things trivia, and a perfect blend of education and entertainment. The fantastic hosts are four friends who regularly attend pub quizzes and trivia nights in their hometown of Berkeley CA, and aim to create a similar atmosphere on their show, which is often filled with hilarious sides, geeky in-jokes, and creative games of knowledge and skill. Listen to any Good Job Brain episode with Karen, Colin, Dana and Chris, and your Wednesdays will be that much brighter.


Episode 21 - Plants Are Messed Up

Episode 59 - Creepy Crawlies

Episode 112 - Cracking the Code

18. Cracked


Blending its signature comedic sensibility with a focus on all things interesting, Cracked offers tons of articles written by its contributing authors on subjects that range from zoology and history to sociology, human sexuality, and even a-day-in-the-life type exploratory pieces. Highly recommended for those who like their geeky knowledge with a healthy dose of (delightfully puerile) humor.


The 6 weirdest cities people actually live in

5 True stories cut from movies for being too unrealistic

13 Real animals lifted directly out of your nightmares

19. BigThink


The BigThink family of blogs are dedicated to exploring important current topics by way of interviews with experts in their field or direct contributions from people knowledgeable about a certain subject. Divided into several smaller blogs that are organized by topic, BigThink allows readers to immerse themselves in subjects ranging from musings on A.I. by Michio Kaku in the Ideafeed blog, to inspirational quotes by noteworthy figures such as Jane Goodall and Akira Kurosawa on the Words of Wisdom blog. Arguably one of the most interesting subsections is their Strange Maps blog, where contributors take a look at the world through a fresh perspective and chart its hidden patterns and truths in fascinating, whimsical maps.


Europe, Equipopulous

US States Renamed For Countries With Similar GDPs

A Cucumber Map of Europe

20. Something About Maps


A true treat for cartophiles, Daniel Huffman's Something About Maps blog is a collection of interesting maps that are either created or lovingly curated by the webmaster. While updated infrequently, the posts and collections at SAM are a great resource, in the sense that they are not only explorations of a topic, but are themselves mini-lessons in map-making and cartography.

21. Fuck Yeah, Cartography!


Fuck Yeah, Cartography! is a tumblr dedicated to interesting, strange and beautiful maps, as well as cartographic art and paraphernalia. While the owner of the blog does not extensively comment or elaborate upon their posts, the content is engaging enough to keep readers coming back for more.

22. Amusing Planet


Amusing Planet is a treasure trove of short articles created by editors and guest contributors that shine light on some of the most interesting bits of culture and jaunts around the world. With topics ranging from art and architecture to food, travel, and technology, there's always something interesting to explore in the pages of this blog that blends striking photography with international trivia.


Art and Decor of Moscow Metro Stations

Jabuticaba: The Tree That Bears Fruits on its Trunk

Bubblegum Walls: America's Stickiest Attractions

23. Atlas Obscura


A community-curated collection of interesting, little-known locations around the world, Atlas Obscura features an ever-growing number of short articles that highlight historic and contemporary sights, traditions, buildings, and structures from all corners of the globe, accompanied by a brief description and user-submitted photographs of the subject at hand. Perfect for upping your trivia game, as well as indulging in a bit of armchair travel.


The Living Chess Game - Partita A Scacchi Di Marostica

The Gates Of Hell

Sedlec Ossuary "Bone Church"

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