YANSS Podcast 027 – The New Science Communicators with Joe Hanson

I recently collaborated with Joe Hanson of the YouTube channel It’s Okay to be Smart and helped him write an episode about pattern recognition.

The video is all about how our hyperactive order-generating brains can lead to us to incorrect assumptions, and how those assumptions can lead to widespread, social phenomena causing millions of people to do completely ridiculous and futile things, sometimes for generations. In our video, Joe talks about blowing in Nintendo cartridges to get them to work (totally pointless, and damaging), but you can substitute that behavior with a lot of other silly things that we did until science came along and tested to see if we were wrong.


I thought it would be great to bring him on the show and interview him in an episode all about the new science communicators, the people who grew up with Carl Sagan and Bill Nye, who are now watched by millions of people online as they explain everything from why some sounds are scary to whether or not Spanish delivers more information per minute than does English. Most of those YouTube channels get more viewers per episode than any FOX News program. Many YouTube science shows, numbers-wise, are far more popular than Game of Thrones.

Joe HansonIn this episode, we sit down with Joe Hanson, a biologist turned YouTube star, who runs the fantastic blog and channel, It’s Okay to be Smart. We learn what it is like to be part of the new wave of science communication, talk about science literacy, and discuss the ramifications of rubbing a beard with an infected chicken before conducting lab work.

After the interview, I discuss a study about the difference between dogma and belief superiority, and how it helps explain why some politicians will never compromise.

In every episode, before I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my first book, “You Are Not So Smart,” and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode’s winner is Trudie Wang who submitted a recipe for chocolate fudge peanut butter cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Links and Sources

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Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

It’s Okay to be Smart



Smarter Every Day

Minute Physics

Idea Channel

The Beard Study Article

National Science Foundation Survey

Study: Feelings superior is a bipartisan issue

Symphony of Science

Publisher’s Weekly Review of You Are Now Less Dumb

Feynman’s Fun to Imagine


David Attenborough’s Life on Earth

Bill Nye The Science Guy

Network Decay