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Stuff You Should Read

A new line of books from major podcast publisher iHeart Media and leading book publisher Flatiron Books

From your earbuds to the pages of a book

Stuff They Don't Want You To Know by Ben Bowlin, Matt Frederick, and Noel Brown

About the Book STDWYTK

The hosts of the podcast Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know, discern conspiracy fact from conspiracy theory in this lively, erudite, and insightful book

From internet rumors to lying politicians to the tinderbox that is social media, it has become remarkably clear that a vast swath of people believe really bonkers things. Why is that? How did these theories proliferate? Is there a kernel of truth to them or are they fully fiction?

Ben Bowlin, Matt Frederick, and Noel Brown are the hosts of the popular iHeart podcast that seeks to answer these questions. With cool heads and extensive research, they regularly break down the wildest conspiracy theories, from chemtrails and biological testing to the secrets of lobbying and why the Kennedy assassination is of perennial interest.

Written in a smart, witty, and conversational style, and with amazing illustrations, Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know is a vital book in understanding the unexplainable and using truth as a powerful weapon against ignorance, misinformation, and lies.


Book launch with Ben Bowlin, Matt Frederick, & Noel Brown.

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Stuff You Should Know by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant

About the Book SYSK

An exploration of the fun and fascinating world around us, from the duo behind the massively successful and award-winning podcast Stuff You Should Know.

Armed with their inquisitive natures and a passion for sharing, Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant are taking their near-boundless curiosity from your earbuds to the pages of a book for the first time. Follow along as they uncover the weird, delightful, or unexpected elements of a wide variety of topics, digging into the underlying stories of everything from the origin of Murphy beds, to the history of facial hair, to the psychology of being lost.

Come join them and escape into Stuff You Should Know—where you can get curious about the world around you and find the magic in the everyday. With Josh and Chuck as your guide, there’s something interesting about everything (…except maybe jackhammers).

Sneak a look at STDWYTK


Excerpt from Chapter 4


Imagine camping late in the evening, near a river along an isolated stretch of woods.

The sky above you shines clear, deep, and endless. You can see stars and constellations in breathtaking detail. Some stars shine brighter than others. Some twinkle. A few lights move lazily through the distance—satellites, you muse, or maybe planes. You’re not an expert on these things, yet you can appreciate the aesthetic of the cosmos all the same.

And then it happens. Something much faster than a plane, much closer than a star, appears. It hovers. You see a number of lights, but the shape is unfamiliar. You fumble for your phone, holding it up to record—and you grab just a few seconds of shaky footage before the thing moves away. Whether you consider yourself a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic or a true believer in all things officially unexplained, you have just seen a UFO.

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Secret Societies

Excerpt Chapter 8

Secret Societies

I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member. —Groucho Marx, as quoted by Arthur Sheekman, The Groucho Letters, 1967

Who doesn’t want to be part of the in-crowd? Human beings love exclusivity.

You see it in schools, where children sort themselves into cliques based on common interests, talents, or goals. You see it in the history of conflict, where countless people have died due to ideological or religious differences that can often seem obscure and irrelevant to outsiders. You see it in academia, where disputes over an arcane point of interpretation can launch a thousand ships of discourse, prompting multigenerational schools of thought in direct opposition.

For better or worse, we all want to feel like a part of something bigger than ourselves. We like having an “in.” Secret societies are the bread, butter, and adrenochrome of conspiratorial thought. That ancient impulse toward exclusivity and advantage, toward belonging to something, is both inherent and universal. Secret societies, as a concept and practice, are real, though not always in the ways we think they are. In fact, many of the stories surrounding these groups are myths. Which, for some members of secret societies, is just fine, since some of these tall tales may well have been created by them.

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Get a peek inside SYSK

Direction Head

Excerpt from Chapter 1

How to Get Lost

Do you want to hear an astounding number? 65,439. Sure, it’s not so astounding on its own, so you have to know the context: That’s the number of search and rescue (SAR)39 missions launched for people who went missing inside America’s national parks between 1992 and 2007.

65,439! Basically, the entire population of Jupiter, Florida.

Over a fifteen-year period, that’s nearly twelve lost people per day. One every two hours who just went *poof* and disappeared into the wilderness somewhere across America. Like we said, astounding. Fortunately, the period of time people are typically lost for is rarely ever very long. The average search and rescue mission for a lost hiker or hunter—who make up more than 40 percent of those national parks cases—lasts about ten hours, which usually isn’t a life threatening amount of time, although it’s probably several hours longer than it takes to scare the bejeezus out of them.

There are a million different ways to get lost, but what’s interesting is that when people get lost (particularly out in nature), they all act in the exact same ways. This is the discovery of psychology professor Kenneth Hill, who studies the psychology of being lost at Saint Mary’s University way up in Nova Scotia, Canada. Independent of race or gender or nationality or outdoor experience or even age, when people get lost, they kind of lose their minds—but in predictable ways. They forget their training (if they had any). They forget what they were taught by parents and teachers—some forget themselves entirely and just kind of go berserk. And they engage in some combination of the same eight behaviors, kind of like robots that have been programmed with outdated guidance software that’s chock full of bugs: random traveling, route traveling, direction traveling, route sampling, direction sampling, view enhancing, backtracking, staying put.

The thing is: when you take a closer look at each of these “lost person behaviors,” as they’re called in the search-and-rescue field, it’s easy to see how each one of us could fall prey to them. Including you—yes, you!—and everyone you know and love. All of you: lost, lost, lost!

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Excerpt from Chapter 3

Mr. Potato Head: America’s Toy

Vegetable Heads

We love toys. New toys, old toys, big toys, small toys. Toys that need batteries, toys that only require your imagination. It doesn’t matter to us. We love toys the way Brick loves lamp.

Those of us who were raised in America are all probably familiar with the same basic version of Mr. Potato Head: the smiling, quasi-legless Russet potato that, when fully assembled, looks a bit like a Portland mixologist, if mixologists were allowed to smile in Portland.

But he didn’t always look like that. For the first decade or so of his life, Mr. Potato Head wasn’t even really a potato head. He was barely even a mister. He was an oddly configured, thirty-piece “funny face man” kit that cost 98 cents and required buyers to provide their own potato—an actual potato— to use as the head. Potato in hand, obtained by who knows what terrible means, a kid could commence to attach said funny face and build said man.

It’s weird to think of a world where Mr. Potato Head never existed, because you could make a pretty strong case that Mr. Potato Head is the toy of the American century. In fact, we’ll just say it: Mr. Potato Head is the toy of the American century. Yes: a legless plastic potato person, who started out as a collection of disembodied plastic parts and accessories with pins attached to them so kids could stab them into the sides of an actual potato, isn’t just some disposable, forgettable childhood distraction. It turns out he is a reflection of America’s recent history and cultural evolution. As Mr. Potato Head went, so went the country (or vice versa, but let’s not split hairs). You could even say Mr. Potato Head is America. You could even say Mr. Potato Head is America.

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