On July 1, 2020, I published the very first episode of this podcast. Since then, it has been quite a journey.
Some of you have been along for the entire ride, some of you found me along the way, and some of you are brand new.
I’ve done some special episodes in the past about how I started this podcast, but in this anniversary episode, I want to do something a bit different.
Learn more about why this podcast exists and who it was made for, on this episode of Everything Everywhere Daily.
The short version of why I decided to do this podcast is because this is the podcast I wanted to listen to, and no one was really doing it. There are other educational podcasts out there and I don’t want to disparage them, they are fine, but it wasn’t what I was looking for.
I didn’t want to hear an overproduced public radio clone podcast with two hosts talking to each other, expressing their fake astonishment after learning some fact that they most probably knew before they started recording.
I wanted something that was tight and to the point. So, I sat down and figured out a format for the show and so far, 725 episodes in, I haven’t changed a thing.
Creating a show that I wanted to listen to would certainly satisfy myself, by the big question was how many other people were out there? I knew there were others, but I had no clue how many, or how to reach them.
If there is a central theme to this podcast, a podcast that is literally about everything, it is having curiosity about a wide range of subjects. Curiosity is really the key.
If curiosity is the general theme, then there are several underlying principles which are behind this podcast that I would like to go through.
The first is that I am a firm believer that learning is ultimately up to the learner. If you don’t want to learn, you will not learn. You can put someone in a classroom, but if they don’t want to be there, being in the presence of learning isn’t going to impart knowledge to them.
We probably all know people from school who simply didn’t want to be there. They didn’t care. Maybe it was a particular subject they didn’t care about, or maybe it was school in its entirety. They would goof off, not pay attention, and as a result, usually got very bad grades.
Maybe that person was you. Maybe you just didn’t care for school or you were bored or you didn’t have good teachers. Later on, after you graduated, you began to figure things out on your own. You followed your own interests whatever they might have been.
Even quote-un-quote good students often are so driven by seeking accomplishments and good grades that they never let the things they studied sink in.
I went to a pretty good, nationally ranked liberal arts college. I was always stunned at the number of people who didn’t know very basic things that they should have known.
The second thing is that when stripped to its essence, learning only requires two things: literacy and curiosity.
I realize that this might be a gross oversimplification, but I think it is true. If you are curious, there is literally nothing that you can’t learn on your own, and in a world with the internet, it is all at your fingertips.
You can get the equivalent of a master’s degree in almost any subject from material that is online. Books and research papers are widely available to anyone.
MIT, Stanford, and other colleges literally put their courses online for free that anyone can access. Years ago, I binged watched every lecture from the first three semesters of physics courses at MIT. The exact same lecture that the students there watched in person.
When I said any subject, I do mean any subject. I’ve gone looking for some very esoteric things that were covered in the graduate-level geology courses I took, and I was able to find everything online.
You can go from 2+2 all the way through differential equations in free Khan Academy courses.
As a society, we do pretty well with literacy. There is certainly room for improvement, but the vast majority of people are literate.
Where we fail completely as a society is in the area of curiosity. We don’t encourage curiosity. Young children are naturally curious, but we seem to beat it out of them.
Being smart and having intellectual interests is often looked down upon socially. Lowest common denominator entertainment, such as reality TV and social media influencers tends to dominate the culture.
If you are sufficiently curious, then everything else can sort of take care of itself. You will learn not because you have to, but because you want to.
I’ve had many people reach out to me to tell me how after listening to an episode, they went down a rabbit hole on a topic. I think that is great.
The third thing is that learning is a lifelong pursuit. It never ends. There is no point in your life where it ever will or should end. Too many people feel that now that they are out of school, they don’t have to bother with reading or intellectual pursuits.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
A person’s formal education is only supposed to provide a foundational level of knowledge. Once you are out of school, however, you might realize a few things.
Perhaps you just never learned something you should have learned. Maybe you didn’t pay attention, or maybe you just put it into your short-term memory long enough to pass a test. Or perhaps you just forgot it. That happens.
You also might realize that there are significant gaps in what you know. This happens to everyone. The universe of potential things you could know is enormous and they will not all be covered in during the course of your schooling.
As an adult, it is up to you to fill in those gaps. What those gaps are and which are the highest priority to fill only you know, but we all have them and they will always exist.
The only difference in learning as an adult is that there is no one forcing you to go to school. You don’t have to sit in a classroom all day. No one is grading you and no one is looking over your shoulder.
How you learn is up to you. You can read a book, watch a documentary, and of course listen to podcasts.
Also, most adults will be surprised by what they can learn when they put their minds to it. Many of you might say that you aren’t good at math. What you are really saying is that you weren’t good at math when you were in school before you were an adult, and you have worn that label of “not being good at math” around with you ever since.
You would probably be shocked at how easy you could pick it up now that you are an adult. You can watch videos online that are usually no more than 10 minutes, and just rewatch them until you understand the concept.
Moreover, I think everyone should be in the middle of learning…..something. Something new that they knew nothing about when they started. Something where you are a complete novice. It could be anything from learning a language to archery to photography or calculus.
The fourth thing is that it is important to have a broad knowledge base.
One of the things that angers me more than anything else is when I hear people say you don’t need to know facts because you can just look up anything you need to online.
This is balderdash. If you don’t know anything, to begin with, you will probably never look up anything in the first place, and if you do, you will have no clue how to put it in any sort of context.
I heard some online guru say this once who does nothing but talk about business and making money. Despite his success, I have a feeling this guy would be a terrible bore to talk to.
There isn’t anything wrong with trying to make money, but to have no other interests in life other than a business just seems like a horrible waste.
A broad knowledge base covers the basics of physics, chemistry mathematics, history, economics, astronomy, art, music, literature, and geography.
It doesn’t just cover academic subjects, but practical skills as well.
A reasonably well-rounded person should be able to cook a meal, jump-start a car, start a fire, sharpen a knife, set up a home network, and use a map and compass, among a host of other things.
I feel that in many ways, the average person living in the 19th century probably had more practical skills than a person living today does, because there was no way to get around not having them back then.
Personally, I have a ham radio license, became a certified rescue SCUBA diver, learned CPR, and I spent time every day working on learning Latin. There is no particular reason, I just enjoy doing it.
Having a broad knowledge base gives you a starting point for other subjects and interests you might want to learn more about.
The fifth thing is sometimes you need to hear something in a different way to finally have it click.
Many of the topics I’ve done episodes on are things that you might have heard about before or maybe it was covered in school. For whatever reason, maybe it just didn’t sink in, or maybe you forgot it.
I took an entire coure on trigonometry in high school and the way it was presented was such that you just had to memorize all the triangle ratios to know the trig functions.
I did fine in the course, but it wasn’t until several years later when someone explained trigonometry using the unit circle that everything just clicked. When I saw it this way, everything instantly just made sense. I figured out an entire semester of trigonometry in a matter of minutes by just seeing it in a different way.
Now, I don’t need to bother memorizing trig functions, I can just visualize the unit circle and deduce everything from that.
For me it was trigonometry, but for you maybe it is something else. You might know it, but you don’t know it well. You just need someone else to explain it in a different way for it finally click and sink in.
So how does this podcast fit into such a worldview and the five principals I’ve listed?
This show is designed to give you a brief overview of many different topics every day in a short, concise format. It is meant to be a starting point for the investigation of topics you are interested in, not the final word. There is after all only so much you do in ten minutes.
I know that many of you listen in all sorts of different ways. Sometimes when you go to bed, sometimes, when you wake up in the morning. I’ve had many parents tell me that they listen with their kids during breakfast or when they drive them to school.
It is my hope that you will listen to all the episodes, even and especially those, where you don’t know anything about the topic. It is only by being exposed to topics you are unaware of that you can broaden your knowledge base.
As for me, this is something I really enjoy doing. I’m in my element doing this show. I hope to continue doing it into the foreseeable future.
I know that if you are listening to these words you are one of the curious people, otherwise, you wouldn’t be listening. So much of this episode was really just preaching to the converted.
I want to thank everyone who listens every day and has told their friends about the show. The more curious and inquisitive people listen, the greater will be my ability to continue producing the podcast.
With that, I will resume regular programming next episode.
Everything Everywhere Daily is an Airwave Media Podcast.
The executive producer is Darcy Adams.
The associate producers are Thor Thomsen and Peter Bennett.
Today’s review comes from listener oneskweek over at Apple Podcasts in the United States. They write,
Other than brush my teeth I don’t do anything every day. Certainly not research topics in-depth and find a way to distill that information into something easy to listen to and understand. Bravo sir.
Thanks, oneskweek! I do hope there are some things that you do every day beyond just brushing your teeth. As for doing an episode every day, I pretty much have it down to a science. Once you do it 700 times, it becomes easy.
Remember, if you leave a review or send me a boostagram, you too can have it read the show.