Endless Thread

Endless Thread

By WBUR

Hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson dig into the internet's vast and curious ecosystem of online communities to find untold histories, unsolved mysteries, and other jaw-dropping stories online and IRL.

Episodes

Encore: Getting home

Endless Thread co-host Amory Sivertson spent three years unraveling a cold-case murder. Her reporting eventually became the forthcoming podcast series Beyond All Repair. Every story has its beginning. Amory's investigation starts here: Endless Thread's second-ever episode—originally released in 2018—about a man and his folder of documents. Credits: This episode was produced and co-hosted by Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson. Mix and sound design by Paul Vaitkus.
01/03/24·37m 1s

Endless Thread: The Musical

As Shakespeare once said...all the internet is a stage, and all keyboard warriors merely players. In this episode of Endless Thread, the members of the Nashville-based musical improv group Cherry Bomb stage an homage to their very active neighborhood Facebook group, and put some posts inspired by the Endless Thread subreddit to song. Credits: This episode was produced by Grace Tatter. Mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Ben Brock Johnson and Grace Tatter are the co-hosts.
23/02/24·24m 50s

Dinner and a (Slide) Show

Instead of a typical first date — dinner and light conversation, maybe — he presented 29 slides about one of his favorite movies. The internet loved it. But did his date? Credits: This episode was produced by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts. Image Credit: X/Jason Carman
16/02/24·27m 5s

Recess Therapy's Julian Shapiro-Barnum is skeptical of kids becoming social media stars

The point of Julian Shapiro-Barnum's Recess Therapy, a video series where he interviews kids about life's bigger questions, was never to make the kids social media superstars. But that's exactly what happened when he posted a video that went mega-viral in the summer of 2022. Endless Thread host Ben Brock Johnson talks to Julian about making the internet a fun space for kids and adults, Julian's multi-parent upbringing, and the wisdom of children.
09/02/24·23m 23s

Half a million eyes are on TikTok's "tunnel girl"

In 2022, a TikTok creator who identifies herself as "Kala" began digging. What followed was an increasingly viral series of TikToks chronicling the efforts of Kala, who some on the internet dubbed "tunnel girl", as she excavated and constructed a tunnel system under her suburban home. Her more than half-million followers watched and weighed in with support, suggestions and at times, concern. That is, until a stop-work order halted the project in its tracks late last year. Producer Katelyn Harrop joins Endless Thread hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson to look at yet another tunneling phenomenon that has taken the internet by storm.
02/02/24·27m 15s

The schism at the end of the tunnel

The discovery of a secret tunnel attached to a Brooklyn synagogue earlier this month quickly went viral, fueling antisemitic conspiracy theories that long predate the internet. Endless Thread host Ben Brock Johnson and producer Grace Tatter dig into what we actually know about why this group of Brooklyn yeshiva students got into extracurricular excavation.  Credits: This episode was produced by Grace Tatter and Ben Brock Johnson. Mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Ben Brock Johnson and Grace Tatter are the co-hosts.
26/01/24·22m 30s

Encore: The Faker

Earlier this week, the New Hampshire Attorney General's office announced that it was investigating some suspicious robocalls urging residents not to vote in the state primary elections. The voice appears to be an artificially generated imitation of President Joe Biden — a deepfake. With that in mind, we bring you an episode from the archive showcasing the pitfalls of deepfakery and how the technology affects more than politicians and celebrities. Credits: This episode originally published on April 22, 2022. It was written and produced by Dean Russell with mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts.
24/01/24·39m 50s

Where's the Beef?

What if vegetables are poison? What if, instead, humans evolved to consume an animal-based diet of steak, liver, brain, testicles, eggs, butter, and milk? Shirtless influencers on TikTok and Instagram have acquired millions of followers promoting the carnivore diet. They say studies linking meat consumption and heart disease are flawed — and plant foods are making people sick. Likewise, meatfluencers say the livestock industry has no significant impact on the climate crisis despite abundant evidence suggesting otherwise. No controlled studies have been published confirming the advertised benefits of the carnivore diet. Yet, its popularity online is undeniable. Endless Thread looks at how social media cooked up the anti-establishment wellness trend. You can find our transcript, with links and additional resources, here: www.wbur.org/carnivore Credits: This episode was produced by Dean Russell and Ben Brock Johnson. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell are the co-hosts. Image Credit: Peter Dazeley/Getty
19/01/24·53m 27s

The Minnesota Timberwolves score NBA fandom in Brazil, but there's a kink

Rodrigo Barbosa runs social media for the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves Brazilian fan club. He's fluent in Brazil's particularly zany brand of internet humor. But when one his weirdest tweets went viral in the U.S., he had some translating to do. Credits: This episode was produced by Ben Brock Johnson with Grace Tatter. Mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
12/01/24·31m 57s

This episode is a sign from the universe

Manifestation, astrology, tarot — during tumultuous times, people are more likely to look for answers from the universe, and social media has caught on. People are manifesting their luck with the mantra "delulu is the solulu," and TikToks are claiming they know what the future stores for people scrolling by. Ben Brock Johnson, Amory Sivertson and producer Grace Tatter look into the difference between signs from the universe and signs from an algorithm...and why signs from either are so likely to feel true. Credits: This episode was produced by Grace Tatter. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
05/01/24·23m 30s

Encore: Today You, Tomorrow Me

As we approach the new year, we revisit a story with a timeless message. Ten years ago, a man was stuck on the side of the road for hours with a blown-out tire. Just as he was about to give up, something changed him forever. Credits: This episode was produced by Ben Brock Johnson. Mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts. Photo: Anna Karakalou
29/12/23·22m 56s

Introducing Click Here: "Israel, Gaza and all the light you cannot see"

An episode from the Click Here podcast from Recorded Future News. The story of two ordinary people who decided to tackle two extraordinary problems: identifying the thousands who went missing in Israel in the days after the October 7th attacks, and one man’s leap of faith to get internet and cellphone service into Gaza.
27/12/23·28m 50s

Encore: Niall Needs a Friend

As many people gather with family and friends for the holidays, we revisit a story about our listener Niall. In 2020, Niall emailed us saying he felt isolated during the pandemic. He wanted to know if we could help him make some new friends. So, we did. Credits: This episode was produced by Josh Crane and Frank Hernandez. Mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts. Photo: u/archaelleon on Reddit
22/12/23·36m 39s

This song wants you to stick out your what!?

If you know what "Sticking out your Gyat for the Rizzler" means you're likely a part of Gen Alpha or you're chronically online. And if, like us, you have no idea what that means when you first encounter it, then strap in and get ready to be schooled on what the internet is coining "Gen Alpha Lingo."
15/12/23·26m 45s

What Is That?!

Have you ever heard an odd sound that sounds oddly musical? A spatula that rings like a toy piano? A storage container with a satisfying pop? Endless Thread's Ben Brock Johnson brings co-host Amory Sivertson the subreddit r/SoundsLikeMusic, where everyday sounds are turned into music. He then turns to r/whatismycookiecutter, a subreddit of bewildering yet delightful shapes. Credits: This episode was produced by Ben Brock Johnson with Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts. (Photo Credit: 4cloverstorm)
08/12/23·16m 0s

"Extremely Online" with Taylor Lorenz

Washington Post tech columnist Taylor Lorenz talks to host Ben Brock Johnson about her new book, "Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on the Internet," where she argues that we've been paying too much attention to the Elon Musks of the world, and not enough to everyday internet users.
05/12/23·19m 26s

NPC Streams! So Good! Mmm, So Good!

Earlier this year, TikTok livestreamers began mimicking lifeless "nonplayable characters," or NPCs, by repeating motions and phrases like in a video game. Then, people started paying them to keep doing it. Like the show? Help us out! Donate at https://wbur.org/podpower. Credits: This episode was produced by Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts. (Photo: TikTok/@ishowspeed/@natuecoco/@cherrycrushtv)
01/12/23·33m 57s

The Vault (from the vault)

We're going underground into what might be the most important vault in the world. What's inside? A treasure that originates with a Russian scientist during WWII.
24/11/23·24m 24s

Women are from Venus, men are from... the Roman Empire?

Within a few months, the question "how often do men think about the Roman Empire?" conquered Instagram, TikTok and countless group chats — and then morphed into something else. What links this to other memes of the moment? Do all roads lead to Rome, or is something else at the root of the Roman Empire, girl math, and girl dinner?
17/11/23·22m 54s

The Grand Can-Spiracy

In 1909, the Arizona Gazette ran an article titled "Exploration in Grand Canyon." It said that an explorer by the name of G.E. Kincaid went into the National Park for the Smithsonian and found caves full of mummies and ancient Egyptian treasures that put everything we thought we knew about civilization on its head. Well, the Smithsonian called the articles bunk reporting that Kincaid never worked for the institution. And it turns out he never existed! So how can a conspiracy that has been repeatedly debunked for decades, survive for so long? Endless Thread finds out.
10/11/23·31m 13s

Introducing ICYMI: "How a Substack Revived the Dracula Fandom"

This episode is brought to you by Slate's ICYMI podcast. Co-hosts Rachelle Hampton and Candice Lim talk to writer Cyrena Touros about Dracula Daily, a newsletter that emails bite-sized passages from Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel to more than 235,000 readers. As an epistolary novel, Dracula is broken into letters written between May and November. Dracula Daily emails those letters to readers, who have now created a book club-like fandom rife with memes and sidebars about a guy stuck in a vampire’s castle.
03/11/23·33m 3s

Endless Dread: Campfire Chills

Gather round the fire with us for three hair-raising tales from the internet. For the finale of our series "Endless Dread," we explore stories of haunted woods, computer bugs, and mysterious hole to the unknown. Like the show? Help us out! Donate at https://wbur.org/podpower. Credits: This episode was produced by Amory Sivertson, Dean Russell, and Ben Brock Johnson. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Amory Sivertson, Dean Russell, and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts. (Photo: Getty Images)
27/10/23·30m 0s

Episodes We Love: Listener beware… it’s ‘Goosebumps The Musical’

“Goosebumps” book fans and musical theater fans, unite! In this episode, Amory and producer Quincy introduce you to “Goosebumps The Musical” and find out what it might take to get it to Broadway (hint: you can help!). This episode originally aired on December 23, 2022.
25/10/23·39m 50s

Freaky Furby Friday

Alert: Furbys have invaded "Endless Dread!" They're having a bit of a moment. In this episode, producers Jacob Garcia and Quincy Walters dig into the creepy and paranormal corners of Furby internet — from haunted Furbys, and cursed ones to one that hunts... ghosts. And an unexpected guest that Dr. Frankenstein himself would shriek at!
20/10/23·30m 3s

The Spider Web

With new and exotic species available at the click of a button, the digital age forever changed the multimillion-dollar arachnid industry. What has that meant for spiders? Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mixing, sound design, and original music by Matt Reed. Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell are the co-hosts. (Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images)
13/10/23·33m 29s

Introducing 'The Gun Machine' Ep. 1: The U.S. gun industry's surprising origin story

Hey, threadheads. It's a different day than we'd normally be in your feed, and we HAVE... something different for you! It's the first episode of a new series from WBUR, our home station, of course, and The Trace. It's called "The Gun Machine," and it's an 8-part series about the history of the gun industry in America and the industry's biggest supporter... THE GOVERNMENT. This first episode is all about how the United States has shaped, and been shaped by, the gun industry — and how we all play a role. A trigger warning... some actual triggers get pulled in this episode. You'll hear that. So take care. And you dig it, the second episode is already waiting for you. Just search for "The Gun Machine" wherever you listen to Endless Thread. https://link.chtbl.com/thegunmachine
09/10/23·40m 12s

Find A Grave: Social Media Icon

Host Ben Brock Johnson and producer Quincy Walters go to an historic Boston cemetery to try out findagrave.com — a volunteer-generated database of millions of graves throughout the world. At the cemetery, Ben and Quincy have a hard time finding anyone who's ever heard of the site that's been around since 1995. Despite this, Quincy makes the argument that Find a Grave is one of the first social media sites that doesn't get the respect it deserves. "But how is it social media if no one knows about it?" Ben asks. Then the pair encounter a veteran user of the site. After that, they get ahold of the guy who started Find a Grave. Does he think Find a Grave is social media? Find out in this episode of Endless Thread. 
06/10/23·33m 3s

Dune Boy

Back in 2013, the sand dunes of Michigan City, Indiana swallowed a six-year-old boy. It took rescuers nearly 4 hours to dig him out of 12 feet of sand. It was a phenomenon that scientists hadn't studied in-depth. But Facebook recreational naturalists were on the case. In this episode of Endless Thread, producer Grace Tatter and host Ben Brock Johnson go down an internet rabbit hole and bring bring us an explanation of what happened, the coexistence of miracles and science and even the including the six-year-old boy who's now an adult. "We're pro-portal and we're pro- tree hole," Ben says. "Basically anywhere there's space, we want to explore it."
29/09/23·28m 14s

The online legacy of 'To Catch a Predator'

Back in 2004, NBC’s 'To Catch a Predator' captivated millions of viewers as it followed a vigilante group called Perverted Justice, which has a goal to thwart pedophiles searching the internet for minors. Adult volunteers go online to pose as minors in order to, well, catch predators. Three years later, amid its growing popularity, it came to an end. But nearly two decades later, it's inspired a genre of influencers who have tried to fill the void.
22/09/23·25m 12s

Lofi Girl

The popular YouTube channel Lofi Girl provides a 24/7 livestream of chill beats to relax and study. Endless Thread producer Nora Ruth Valerie Saks and co-host Ben Brock Johnson look at how the Lofi Girl phenomenon has expanded into a record company, inspired copycats, and prompted academic research.
15/09/23·37m 25s

Meet the Gen Zs archiving the Muzak of the Twin Towers

On Discord and YouTube, hundreds of Gen-Zers are teaming up for the purposes finding and archiving the Muzak (aka elevator music) that played in the plaza and lobby and mall of the Twin Towers.  On this 22nd anniversary of 9/11,  join Endless Thread in an episode where teens and young 20-somethings collect the seemingly innocuous sonic artifacts of the original World Trade Center people thought were lost and the lengths they've gone to find them.
08/09/23·35m 23s

Artist: Known

The cover art for the 1976 paperback edition of Madeleine L'Engle's classic sci-fi/fantasy novel "A Wrinkle in Time" — featuring a rainbow-winged centaur and a green, glowering, red-eyed face — is iconic. And yet, for nearly 50 years, no one has known who illustrated it. Well, not NO ONE. Not anymore... Endless Thread cracks the case!
01/09/23·44m 28s

PARKS! Pt. 4: Death Sea

A Redditor proposed a quick fix to one of humanity’s greatest threats. But the real threat may be our fixation with quick fixes. Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
25/08/23·29m 50s

PARKS! Pt. 3: Close Encounters with Mato Tipila

As of late, Endless Thread co-host Ben Brock Johnson has been obsessed with a rock in Wyoming, a lot like the protagonist of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But you won't find Ben in the kitchen, making a replica of the rock out of mud and chicken wire. Instead you'll find him and co-host Amory Sivertson in this episode, traversing Reddit and TikTok and YouTube and Wyoming to find out why hundreds of thousands of people have been drawn to a monolith that has so many names and meanings.
18/08/23·35m 43s

PARKS! Pt. 2: Slime Mind

Two years ago, he didn’t even know slime molds existed. Now, he may be the internet’s most famous slime savant. Co-hosts Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson take a walk in the park with Regular Slime Guy. Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts. (Photo by Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
11/08/23·27m 29s

PARKS! Pt. 1: Social media gone 'wild'

"To avoid crowds, visit areas that are less crowded." These comically obvious, wise words come from the Twitter account — ahem, X account — of the National Park Service, who has been hitting it out of the park lately (get it?) with its social media content and reaping viral rewards. Who is behind this material? And why has a more than hundred year old government agency chosen to let its hair down on social media?  Amory and Ben talk to the National Park Service's lone social media ranger, Matt Turner, and to Sarah Southerland from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, whose delightfully outrageous social media presence has captured the hearts and funny bones of hundreds of thousands of people. 
04/08/23·31m 15s

Best of Summer: MEMES: Scumbag Steve

If there is an OG meme in which a human is the star, Scumbag Steve is it. He spread across the internet like wildfire in 2011 as a universal representation of dudes who are the worst. And, like any person grappling with immediate internet fame, Blake Boston — the man behind Scumbag Steve — tried to capitalize: merch, rap songs, public appearances. But the full story of what happened to Blake — and his family — has never been told. The Scumbag Steve meme became a bargaining chip in a custody battle, a complicating factor in meeting his birth mother, the cause of fights with extended family members, a source of anxiety attacks, and an echo of trauma. In this episode, we go past the origin story of Scumbag Steve and learn about Blake’s real struggles with PTSD and abuse — and how trauma has brought him and his mother, Susan Boston, even closer. 
28/07/23·42m 23s

Best of Summer: Goblins, Toenails, and Beach Rap

In times like these, you've got to take joy wherever and however you can get it. Amory and Ben swap unexpected sources of joy they've bumped into recently — from a goblin-themed Reddit post, to the scariest toe talons on the internet, to a funky 1980's little-known bop about going to the beach on Massachusetts' North Shore.
26/07/23·25m 17s

Best of Summer: The Loudest Sound

Imagine if an explosion in California was so loud that it could be heard in New York City. This is the story of a real event that was just as loud — the loudest sound ever recorded in human history. This sound ripped across oceans in 1883, reaching people 3,000 miles away. Infrasonic pressure waves circled the globe four times. News of its destruction traveled through the early internet, the telegraph system, and altered the course of scientific history. In this episode of Endless Thread, we recreate this magnum opus — a hotly debated darling of Reddit — with the help of scholars and infrasonic scientists.
24/07/23·39m 34s

Best of Summer: The 100-million-year origin story of laughter and humor

The first documented bar joke was copied onto a clay tablet 4,000 years ago in the ancient language of Sumerian. Scholars have translated it, but the meaning remains lost. After the Twitter account @DepthsOfWiki posted the joke in March, thousands of people attempted to decipher it to no avail. Yet, as cryptic as the bar joke may be, it offers clues into humor’s role in human civilizations and raises questions about when humor — and its sibling laughter — first emerged. In this episode, the second of two parts, Endless Thread continues its journey attempting to deconstruct the beginnings of humor and explain an unexplainable joke from the forgotten tablets of the past.
17/07/23·38m 31s

Best of Summer: What makes the world’s first bar joke funny? No one knows.

What makes the world’s first documented bar joke funny? No one knows. In a tweet that garnered thousands of responses in March, the Twitter account @DepthsOfWiki posted about a 4,000-year-old proverb written on a clay tablet. The line, which experts believe is a joke from the ancient civilization of Sumer, starts with the set-up, “A dog walks into a tavern.” But the punchline has left scholars and online commenters scratching their heads. The joke’s meaning has been lost, and finding it could reveal something unique about early human civilization. In this episode, the first of two parts, Endless Thread journeys back in time, attempting to deconstruct the origins of humor and explain an unexplainable joke from the forgotten tablets of the past.
14/07/23·34m 55s

Best of Summer: Swimming Hole - The man, the myth, the leap

In this summer-y episode of Endless Thread, Ben and Amory take a leap of faith (or do they?) to the depths of an upstate New York swimming hole with a legend surrounding it that's almost as shadowy as exact it's location.
07/07/23·44m 37s

Pup Play

“Which one of you freaks hijacked the south Boston green space google maps for your furry photo shoot?” Earlier this year, a Redditor was trying to find the person who uploaded pictures of himself posing in a dog mask and rubber suit to this location in Google Maps. But he's no furry. He's a pup. There's a difference, we learned, after speaking to the subject of these photos. Take a walk on the kinky side in this episode that explores the origins of puppy play and how the internet and the pandemic shaped the pup community.
30/06/23·23m 29s

'Going Dark': Reddit's API Changes

Reddit is restricting the use of third-party apps. More than 8,000 subreddit communities shut down in protest — including r/Blind, which says the change will drastically reduce accessibility. In this special episode, co-host Ben Brock Johnson speaks with two moderators of r/Blind about their concerns. Credits: This episode was produced by Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts. (Image credit: Getty/Johner Images)
28/06/23·30m 18s

Deepfake Law 101

Since the creation of deepfakes in 2017, the AI-powered technology that swaps faces into videos has become commonplace, particularly in pornography. Using someone's image without their consent to create porn can have damaging effects, emotionally and physically. But no federal law criminalizes the creation or sharing of non-consensual deepfake porn in the United States. Endless Thread co-hosts Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson speak with producer Dean Russell about deepfake law and the movement for change. Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts. (Photo Illustration by Adrien Fillon/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
23/06/23·33m 13s

Treasure in the Woods

Since the pandemic, foraging has exploded in popularity. Younger generations are embracing (or romanticizing) the great outdoors with trends like #cottagecore and #vanlife. But our Endless Thread team decided to learn the do's and don'ts of foraging from someone who learned how to forage since childhood — not as a trend, but as a way of life. A special thanks to Soul Fire Farm for letting us visit in Albany, NY.
16/06/23·25m 57s

Encore: Randonauts

r/randonauts is a fast-growing community of Redditors who use random, quantum-generated coordinates to go on real-life adventures. But what happens when those random coordinates lead you straight to a grisly crime scene? We revisit an episode that took Ben and Amory on their own random adventures back in 2020.
09/06/23·35m 47s

OK, Lamp!

This week on Endless Thread, host Ben Brock Johnson and producer Grace Tatter look at a meme inspired by supermodel Bella Hadid's call to compliment each other on attributes other than physical appearance, and ask what really makes for an authentic compliment.
01/06/23·17m 57s

Encore: Angel's Glow

In the aftermath of the Civil War's Battle of Shiloh in 1862, something strange happened. Some soldiers' wounds started to glow.  Stranger still, those with glowing wounds seemed to have better rates of survival. In 2001, a teenage Civil War buff embarked on a science project to explain this so-called "Angel's Glow."
26/05/23·28m 32s

Come to the Orchestra

Can you have an orgasm from listening to music? Can you legally own more than six dildos in Texas? Endless Thread digs into several sexy questions that have taken over the internet. Note: This episode may not be suitable for children. Credits: This episode was produced and hosted by Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson. Additional production by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski.
19/05/23·24m 29s

#BlackFaeDay

Once upon a time, in a magical land of Oklahoma, fairy Jasmine LaFleur wanted to create a hashtag to unite Black fairies all across the land. And she did. Since 2021, on the second Saturday of May, Black fairy enthusiasts have united around #BlackFaeDay to show the world that Black fairies are real, and that there's space for them online and off. In this episode of Endless Thread, we look into #BlackFaeDay, and how important it is to those who celebrate. And what we find isn't a hashtags to riches story, but a fairytale about how the internet can be a place where dreams bigger than your follower count can come true. Producer Quincy Walters also examines what it takes to become a Black fairy.
12/05/23·30m 56s

Oranges and Bucket Lists

This week, we have two stories about etymology. What can words teach us about culture, trade, memory, and the world around us? First up, which “orange” came about first: the fruit or the color? We also discuss the history of the term “bucket list” — a saying that is so embedded in our culture, we forget that it was only formally coined 16 years ago.
05/05/23·27m 50s

The Birds and the Bugs

Do you ever listen to birds singing catchy little melodies and wonder - wait a second, do they know music theory? Can they sing in thirds and fifths? Half steps and whole steps? Do they have perfect pitch? Amory and Ben fly into r/AskScience to explore the question of whether or not our feathered friends are, indeed, musical in the way we human animals think about the term. And Ben turns to the subreddit for theories on why our windshields are no longer splattered with bugs.
28/04/23·24m 54s

Endless Thread presents Outside/In: How to build a solar-powered website

What if the internet was only available most of the time? This week, Endless Thread presents an episode of Outside/In — a podcast from New Hampshire Public Radio — about a man in Barcelona who is trying to make the material infrastructure behind the internet as visible and low tech as possible, by building a solar-powered website.
21/04/23·34m 39s

Help Us Remember Sunil Tripathi

In the days after the 2013 Boston bombing, an online hunt for the perpetrators falsely accused Brown University student Sunil Tripathi. Police later discovered that Tripathi, who had been showing signs of depression, had died by suicide. Endless Thread revisits his story — one of family and mental health — on the 10th anniversary with documentarian Neal Broffman and Tripathi's sister, Sangeeta Tripathi. Editor’s note: This story mentions suicide. You can reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline toll-free by calling or texting 988. ***** Credits: This episode was produced by Dean Russell. Mix and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts.
14/04/23·31m 56s

The Lullaby

Our intrepid sound designer, Matt Reed — musician/composer extraordinaire —recently became a dad. He picked up a Glo Worm for his baby son, Sam. It's a plush musical baby toy made by Hasbro that's been around for decades. It plays standard, well-known lullabies like "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," "Frère Jacques," etc. "Straight hits," as host Ben Brock Johnson says in this episode. "Straight hits." But there's one melody on the toy that was a complete unknown to Matt. It's in a minor key, it's slow. Is it creepy? "Yeah, it's definitely got that vibe," Matt says. "Funeral zone." So, he brought this idea to Endless Thread's pitch meetings where we throw around episode ideas. "I turn to the internet like most weirdos do, I guess, when they're obsessing over their child's toy to figure out what song it is," Matt says. "And there's other people on the Internet who are also... curious? Confused?" There are two Reddit posts about this creepy music, a YouTube video, several unhelpful emails from Hasbro to concerned parents, and numerous guesses and theories. "We were concerned by the addition of an unlisted song too," writes YouTuber deefrontier5798. "It's creepy and sad, and the fact that the creators withheld information puts up a red flag." In this episode, we ask Hasbro directly and try alternate routes. Sometimes Endless Thread doesn't get to the complete bottom of Internet mysteries. But this isn't one of those times. We hope you like nursery rhymes. :)
07/04/23·29m 11s

'Stuff Your 15-Minute Cities!'

What do livable and walkable urban environments have to do with "the real life Hunger Games"? And why are people in Oxford, England and elsewhere coming out in droves to protest seemingly innocuous traffic restrictions? On this episode of Endless Thread, co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson explore one of the strangest conspiracy theories circulating today: the 15-minute city.
31/03/23·24m 21s

Asking Science About Giraffe

On a sunny day in March 2020, researchers in South Africa discovered the bodies of two giraffes. From what they could tell, the giraffes had died a few days earlier. But the cause was a mystery. To understand what happened, producer Dean Russell turned to the subreddit AskScience. He discusses his findings with Endless Thread co-hosts Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson. Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts.
24/03/23·19m 51s

'Violation,' Part 1: Two sons, lost

Why did Jacob Wideman murder Eric Kane? In 1986, the two 16-year-olds were rooming together on a summer camp trip to the Grand Canyon when Jacob fatally — and inexplicably — stabbed Eric. That night, Jacob went on the run, absconding with the camp’s rented Oldsmobile and thousands of dollars in traveler’s checks. Before long, he turned himself in and eventually confessed to the killing — although he couldn’t explain what drove him to do it. It would take years of therapy and medical treatment behind bars before Jacob could begin to understand what was going through his mind that night. It would take even longer to try to explain it to his family, to his victim’s family and to parole board members, who would decide whether he deserved to be free ever again. This debut episode of “Violation,” a podcast from WBUR and The Marshall Project, introduces the story of the crime that has bound two families together for decades. Jacob’s father, John Edgar Wideman, is an acclaimed author of many books on race, violence and criminal justice. He spoke with Violation host Beth Schwartzapfel in a rare, in-depth interview about his son’s case that listeners will hear throughout the series, including this premiere.
23/03/23·34m 49s

Pawn Man

Evan Kail is a wise-cracking antique dealer and TikToker. Last September, his world turned upside down when one of his videos ignited an international media frenzy. In his words, the TikTok created a "perfect storm." The subject of the video? A photo album from WWII which Evan believed contained photographs of the Nanjing Massacre — a horrific episode during Japan's invasion of China in 1937. This episode is about historical memory, why the Nanjing Massacre is still an incredibly sensitive topic in China and Japan, social media virality, and the true contents of that WWII photo album. Credits: This episode was written and produced by Megan Cattel. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts.
17/03/23·39m 56s

Endless Thread introduces Violation, a new podcast about who pulls the levers of power in the justice system

We thought Endless Thread fans would want to hear this trailer for a new podcast from WBUR. Violation tells the story of two families bound together by an unthinkable crime. It explores America's opaque parole system and asks: How much time in prison is enough? Who gets to decide? And, when someone commits a terrible crime, what does redemption look like?  Listen to the trailer and if you like what you hear, head over to the Violation feed wherever you get your podcasts and hit subscribe so you'll get new episodes when they drop, beginning March 22.
15/03/23·3m 36s

Owl pursuits

Last fall, freshmen at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill got a new neighbor: an owl. What wasn't clear was whether the owl was trying to befriend them, or catch them. Endless Thread host Ben Brock Johnson and producer Grace Tatter talk about how the owl gained online campus fame, and get a surprise update from the person who knows the owl best.
10/03/23·24m 1s

Return of the Aunties

It's been eight months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and more people are relying on Reddit for help accessing abortion services than ever. Endless Thread revisits r/auntienetwork and looks at how it and other online communities are trying to fill the widening gaps in abortion access. Credits: This episode was written and produced by Grace Tatter. Mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Ben Brock Johnson and Grace Tatter are the co-hosts.
03/03/23·32m 6s

Aftershocks Online

The people of Turkey, Syria and Lebanon are still recovering from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people and injured thousands more. Two weeks later, another earthquake shook the region. Ben and producer Quincy Walters talk about ways the disaster is being chronicled on social media — from a Twitter user predicting a catastrophic earthquake just days before the actual earthquake happened, to mysterious lights in the sky that can help geologists better forecast earthquakes.
24/02/23·23m 17s

The Journeys of Two Russian Anti-War YouTubers

This week, Endless Thread spends time talking with two young Russian YouTubers who've had to contend with Russia's crackdown on wartime dissent. Natasha and Zack initially gained traction on YouTube for their videos about Russian food, culture, and daily life. Their slice-of-life vlogs were a huge hit, getting millions of views with each upload. But when Russia invaded Ukraine one year ago, both Zack and Natasha had to make tough decisions to stand by their values — which ultimately altered the course of their lives. Credits: This episode was written and produced by Megan Cattel. Mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Megan Cattel and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts.
17/02/23·28m 59s

My Canadian Girlfriend

Did you have a friend who claimed they were in a long distance relationship with someone really awesome and super hot...but darn it, you could never meet their girlfriend, boyfriend, or SO, because he/she/they lived in Canada? And did suspect their SO was imaginary? Of course you did. In this episode, we meet one Redditor who really and truly did have a girlfriend who lived in Canada, whom he fell for when the internet was new.
10/02/23·26m 24s

Him: An AI Love Story

What happens when you date a chatbot? The app Replika lets users design artificially intelligent bots to be their romantic partners. But the real love story may be more about users learning to love themselves. Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts.
03/02/23·26m 58s

Worm Wars

When Endless Thread producer Nora Saks learns that a "toxic, self-cloning worm that poops out of its mouth is invading Maine", she starts sounding the alarm about the impending eco-doom. Until, that is, state experts clue her into the "real threat"; a different creepy crawly wriggling towards The Pine Tree State's gardens and precious forests, and fast.  In an attempt to find out more about this real threat, co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Nora Saks tunnel down a wormhole, encountering a long history of xenophobic rhetoric about so-called invasive species, and some hard truths about the field of invasion biology itself. Eventually, they wind up at a community garden in Bangor, Maine, where the worm wars are playing out in real time.  This Endless Thread episode is about invasive species in our midst, and more importantly, the stories we tell about them.  
27/01/23·34m 15s

'Sinbad Smith' and the troll pole

Amory shares a 10-year-old Reddit post with Ben showing a photo of a college student with an epic-looking wooden staff and a caption that baffled the photo's subject. Ben shares a Trivial Pursuit question that launched a mystery fit for a Redditor.
20/01/23·25m 21s

'You are powerful': Remembering Aaron Swartz

Amory and Ben honor the legacy of internet activist Aaron Swartz with two people familiar with his life and work: documentary filmmaker Brian Knappenberger (The Internet's Own Boy) and Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Swartz died by suicide ten years ago this week, on January 11, 2013, at the age of 26. 
13/01/23·30m 41s

Encore: Llama at a Wedding

“What are the dimensions of an adult llama?” asked a Redditor called Mrs. Sam Handwich in the "No Stupid Questions" community. "I've been hired to make a tuxedo for a llama and I don't have its measurements," she added. In this favorite from the Endless Thread archives, Ben and Amory get to the bottom of this joyful post from 2020.
06/01/23·18m 31s

Encore: Unsent Letters

The unsent letter. We all have one, half-composed in our heads or fully-formed as an email draft. Whatever form these letters take, they go unsent because they might be better left unsent, or because we wouldn’t know how to send them. In this favorite episode from the archives, we discuss a place online where these letters find an audience.
30/12/22·28m 59s

Bonus: The ‘Stinetingler’ himself

Team Endless Thread is here with your holiday bonus — a bonus episode, that is! If you heard our most recent episode on 'Goosebumps The Musical,' you know that Amory got to talk to R.L. Stine, author of the wildly popular 'Goosebumps' book series, which turned 30 this year. But what you didn’t hear was… most of their conversation! It actually had very little to do with the musical (which, Stine confessed, he had never listened to), and much more to do with the origins of 'Goosebumps' and the series’ impact over the last thirty years. Stine tells Amory why he didn’t want to write a series of scary stories for 7-12 year olds initially, but why he now considers them the best audience. Enjoy, happy holidays, and don’t forget to sign our petition to help get 'Goosebumps The Musical' to Broadway: https://www.change.org/p/help-get-goosebumps-the-musical-to-broadway ********* Credits: This episode was written and produced by Amory Sivertson. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
24/12/22·15m 10s

Listener beware...

When producer Quincy Walters came to an Endless Thread episode ideas meeting talking about 'Goosebumps The Musical,' Amory had two questions: 1) “That’s a thing?!” and 2) “Is it… good?” Yep and YEP! So why haven’t more people heard of it? And what might it take to get the show to Broadway? Amory and Quincy set out to learn more and meet some surprising people along the way. Listener beware… you’re in for a scare. Sign the petition to help get 'Goosebumps The Musical' to Broadway: https://www.change.org/p/help-get-goosebumps-the-musical-to-broadway ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Amory Sivertson and Quincy Walters, with help from Megan Cattel. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Ben Brock Johnson, Amory Sivertson, and Quincy Walters are the co-hosts.
23/12/22·38m 29s

Good Bot, Bad Bot | Part VI: Something Like Us

Can a machine think like a human? Can it be conscious? For decades the answer was clear: nope. But artificial intelligence today is challenging that notion. In our last Good Bot, Bad Bot episode, Endless Thread goes to Google, the frontier of AI, to see just how close the field is to creating bots with minds of their own. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski and Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell are the co-hosts.
16/12/22·40m 27s

Good Bot, Bad Bot | Part V: Dating Bots

If you've ever used a dating app, chances are you've encountered a bot, most likely a fake account or a scammer. But this week on Endless Thread, we investigate a new type of bot that is helping users optimize their love lives — a digital dating coach installed in your phone's keyboard that always knows just what to say. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Nora Saks. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski and Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Nora Saks are the co-hosts.
09/12/22·36m 6s

Good Bot, Bad Bot | Part IV: Tay

Next up in our bots series, we bring you a cautionary tale about Tay, a Microsoft chatbot that has lived on in infamy. Tay was originially modeled to be the bot-girl-next-door. But after only sixteen hours on Twitter, Tay was shut down. In this episode of Good Bot, Bad Bot, we uncover who gets a say in what we build, how developers build it, and who is to blame when things take a dark turn.  ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Quincy Walters and Ben Brock Johnson. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Quincy Walters are the co-hosts.
02/12/22·28m 14s

Encore: Shrinkflation

From the supermarket to the housing market, products are getting smaller but prices are not. Why is this happening? And can it be stopped before the toilet paper roll disappears right before our very… reaching hands? In this encore episode, we're talking all things shrinkflation. This episode was originally released on June 26, 2020.
25/11/22·29m 34s

Good Bot, Bad Bot | Part III: Life, death and AI

Next up in our bots series, we explore a growing field of AI: immortalizing the dead through predictive AI text. We talk to two individuals who utilized this tech in different ways, and discuss how these bots can help us improve our understanding of grief.  ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Megan Cattel. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
18/11/22·34m 39s

Good Bot, Bad Bot | Part II: Political Bots

Next in our series Good Bot, Bad Bot: the possibilities of bots being used in governments around the world. How can bots increase transparency and shine a light on corruption, such as insider trading, among our elected officials? Will bots be put on the ballot in the near future? We go into all of this and more in this installment of Good Bot, Bad Bot.  ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Grace Tatter. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
11/11/22·29m 24s

Good Bot, Bad Bot | Part I: Bot Therapy

For the next few weeks, the Endless Thread team will be sharing stories all about the rise of bots. How are these pieces of software influencing our daily lives in sneaky, surprising ways? First up, our co-hosts delve into the history of ELIZA, the world's first chatbot therapist. Why did this computer's creator have a lot of complicated feelings about the development of AI? We also contemplate the bigger question: can AI help us cope with mental health issues?  ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Ben Brock Johnson with help from Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
04/11/22·32m 55s

Encore: Haunted House, Holy Water

When Alex was in high school, he and his best friend used to break into abandoned houses. Alex was a tough guy, giving people hell. Until one night, in one of those abandoned houses... hell gave him something back. This episode was originally released on October 05, 2018. 
31/10/22·26m 37s

Encore: Olga of Kiev

Olga of Kiev executed one of the most bone-chilling revenge tours in history after her husband, Igor, was murdered. Then, with a burning city in her wake, she converted to Christianity and became a saint. This episode was originally released on October 18, 2019.
28/10/22·30m 36s

Encore: Imaginary Friend

When Kellie's 3 year-old daughter told her about her new imaginary friend, Kellum, she didn't think too much of it. But gradually, Kellum started to feel less and less... imaginary. Kellie and her daughter, Madison, tell us everything. This episode was originally released on October 30, 2019. 
27/10/22·27m 52s

Anti-fans, online hate, and Caroline Calloway

This week, we investigate the rise and fall of online influencer Caroline Calloway and the bigger question: Why do some people love to hate? ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Grace Tatter. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
21/10/22·45m 33s

Lazy Geoff

A Twitter thread about a fox named “Lazy Geoff” drew the attention of thousands online. But can a fox really be lazy? Our search for an answer revealed a surprising shift in how humans understand animals and, maybe, the fate of nature. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell and Ben Brock Johnson. Sound design by Emily Jankowski. Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell are the co-hosts.
14/10/22·33m 25s

Tales from the Crypto | Listener Response: Crypto in the Gaming World

An Endless Thread listener sends their response to our Tales from the Crypto series. They make the case that crypto and NFTs could improve the video game industry. Ben and Amory also give their final thoughts and reflections on Tales from the Crypto. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
07/10/22·16m 6s

Tales from the Crypto | Part III: Crypto for Kids

In the final installment of our Tales from the Crypto series, Endless Thread producer Nora Saks and co-host Ben Brock Johnson talk to kids — and parents — who are going cuckoo for cryptocurrency. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Nora Saks. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Nora Saks are the co-hosts.
30/09/22·36m 50s

Tales from the Crypto | Part II: Bitcoin Beach

One year ago, El Salvador made Bitcoin legal tender — the first nation in the world to do so. But how did Bitcoin make its way into this Latin American country? It all started in the coastal town of El Zonte, which earned the nickname 'Bitcoin Beach' after being flushed with the cryptocurrency thanks to a mysterious donor. In the second part of our mini-series, Tales from the Crypto, we take a dive into the key players (and controversies) of El Salvador's Bitcoin journey. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Megan Cattel. Mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
23/09/22·38m 49s

Tales from the Crypto | Part I: The Hype

In this first installment of our cryptocurrency mini-series, co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson dive into a viral tweet about NFTs aiding Ukrainians with the war effort against Russia, as well as plans for a crypto island paradise that was never meant to be. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
16/09/22·32m 39s

Enigma in Sweatpants

Endless Thread producer Quincy Walters profiles IG Bum, a mischeivous online content creator who has achieved viral stardom. But who is IG Bum when the cameras stop rolling? ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Quincy Walters. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
09/09/22·41m 21s

Swimming Hole: The man, the myth, the leap

In this end-of-summer episode of Endless Thread, Ben and Amory take a leap of faith (or do they?) to the depths of an upstate New York swimming hole with a legend surrounding it that's almost as shadowy as exact it's location. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Ben Brock Johnson. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
02/09/22·42m 3s

Encore: Ghost Town

In the summer of 2018, Brent Underwood got a text in the middle of the night from a friend saying, "Look at this ghost town for sale!" Within a month, Brent had purchased Cerro Gordo, California, an abandoned silver mining town, with the help of friends and investors. He wants to revive the town for visitors while preserving its history. He's already faced some major setbacks -- from the lack of running water, to getting snowed in there during a global pandemic. But he calls Cerro Gordo his "life's work."
26/08/22·30m 48s

Don't Do That

You shouldn't do it. But then you do, and it turns out great. Two stories of rule-breaking's good side: A college senior prank emails to his entire school, and wild monkeys take residence in a Florida parking lot. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Ben Brock Johnson, Dean Russell, and Kristin Torres. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell are the co-hosts.
19/08/22·30m 33s

Jokes, Part II: Stand Up

The first documented bar joke was copied onto a clay tablet 4,000 years ago in the ancient language of Sumerian. Scholars have translated it, but the meaning remains lost. After the Twitter account @DepthsOfWiki posted the joke in March, thousands of people attempted to decipher it to no avail. Yet, as cryptic as the bar joke may be, it offers clues into humor’s role in human civilizations and raises questions about when humor — and its sibling laughter — first emerged. In this episode, the second of two parts, Endless Thread continues its journey attempting to deconstruct the beginnings of humor and explain an unexplainable joke from the forgotten tablets of the past. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
12/08/22·37m 50s

Jokes, Part I: Sumer Funny, Sumer Not

What makes the world’s first documented bar joke funny? No one knows. In a tweet that garnered thousands of responses in March, the Twitter account @DepthsOfWiki posted about a 4,000-year-old proverb written on a clay tablet. The line, which experts believe is a joke from the ancient civilization of Sumer, starts with the set-up, “A dog walks into a tavern.” But the punchline has left scholars and online commenters scratching their heads. The joke’s meaning has been lost, and finding it could reveal something unique about early human civilization. In this episode, the first of two parts, Endless Thread journeys back in time, attempting to deconstruct the origins of humor and explain an unexplainable joke from the forgotten tablets of the past. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
05/08/22·33m 38s

Alyssa

When a Reddit post about constant “locker room talk” in a male-dominated office gained traction in the r/TwoXChromosomes subreddit, Ben and Amory invite the OP to talk about the story behind her post. This episode discusses sexual assault from 23:48 to 25:15. Please listen with care. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Megan Cattel. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
29/07/22·37m 29s

Eggs Tyrone and The United States Chemical Safety Board's YouTube Channel

Ben is joined by producer Quincy Walters in this Snacktime episode about little-known government agency with a cult YouTube following and the music mish-mash account that brought Ben back to Instagram after a 3-year hiatus. ****** Credits: This episode was produced by Quincy Walters. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Quincy Walters are the co-hosts.
22/07/22·19m 47s

Swedengate

When a Redditor said that he was expected to stay in his Swedish friend's bedroom while the friend ate dinner with his family, the internet exploded with hot takes. Is Sweden the most inhospitable country in the world? We talk to the individuals at the center of the Swedengate saga, including the OP himself. We also delve into how questioning cultural norms can shed light on Sweden's reckoning with nationalism, racism, and xenophobia. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Amory Siverston. Mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
15/07/22·39m 6s

Encore: Tight Squeeze

You might not think about caves in the same breath as you do the deep ocean or outer space, but you probably should. There are approximately 70,000 caves in the United States alone, but the vast majority are inaccessible to the public. That means rare, delicate ecosystems have developed for tens of thousands of years in complete isolation from human contact. That is, until cavers travel deep underground through impossibly small spaces to find them. Join the Endless Thread team as we dive into the claustrophobia-inducing world of caving. This episode was originally published on September 4, 2020.
08/07/22·35m 34s

Aunties

Reddit's Auntie Network, an online community "dedicated to providing information and resources to those in need of abortion services," has been inundated with new members since the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked in early May. Community members can offer rides, lodging, and emotional support for anyone seeking an abortion — especially when crossing state lines. In today’s episode, we hear from two moderators of Auntie Network, as well as the executive directors of the Blue Ridge Abortion Fund in Virginia and the Kentucky Health Justice Network, about how abortion rights advocates — online and off — can work together in a post-Roe America. ****** Credits: This episode was written by Amory Sivertson and produced by Grace Tatter. Mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
01/07/22·29m 27s

The Loudest Sound

Imagine if an explosion in California was so loud that it could be heard in New York City. This is the story of a real event that was just as loud — the loudest sound ever recorded in human history. This sound ripped across oceans in 1883, reaching people 3,000 miles away. Infrasonic pressure waves circled the globe four times. News of its destruction traveled through the early internet, the telegraph system, and altered the course of scientific history. In this episode of Endless Thread, we recreate this magnum opus — a hotly debated darling of Reddit — with the help of scholars and infrasonic scientists. ****** Credits: This episode was written by Ben Brock Johnson and produced by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell are the co-hosts.
24/06/22·38m 53s

Encore: Giddyup! Riding Groups Tap Into Long History Of Black Cowboys

In the summer of 2020, images of Black men and women riding horses at protests went viral. But the history of Black cowboys goes all the way back to the creation of the American West. In this encore episode, the Endless Thread team digs into this history in honor of Juneteenth. We also hear from Black riders who are carrying on this legacy. This episode was originally published on July 10, 2020. 
17/06/22·29m 15s

Lost in Translation

From a seriously violent tale on Duolingo to a Reddit post about a life-changing mistake, we bring you two stories on the pitfalls of jumping to conclusions. (Grace Tatter, an Endless Thread producer, is filling in for Ben Brock Johnson as co-host for this episode.) ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Amory Sivertson and Grace Tatter with help from Megan Cattel. Mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Amory Sivertson and Grace Tatter are the co-hosts.
10/06/22·19m 36s

TikTok Tics

When Ben hears a rumor about kids "catching" tics from watching too many TikTok videos, we set out to investigate. We hear from neurologists and TikTok influencers to get to the bottom of this so-called "medical mystery". ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Nora Saks with mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Ben Brock Johnson and Nora Saks (who is filling in for Amory Sivertson) are the co-hosts.
03/06/22·38m 50s

'He Died in the Goddamn Waiting Room'

With unprecedented hospital staff shortages, COVID-19 has upended the nursing profession. But the r/nursing subreddit offers an online life raft for many in the industry — a place where nurses can speak freely and anonymously about their experiences and the choices they face. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell with mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts.
27/05/22·30m 49s

When Online Extremism Becomes Offline Violence

On Endless Thread, we talk about the blurring lines between our online and offline worlds. This week, we discuss the role online platforms played in the mass shooting on May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, New York. We also ask experts how content moderation on tech platforms can be managed better in order to prevent violence like this from happening again. (Nora Saks, an Endless Thread producer, is filling in for Amory Sivertson as co-host for this episode.)
20/05/22·25m 13s

Cyberwitches

Since the dawn of the internet, cyberwitches have traded in their broomsticks and cauldrons for floppy disks and smartphones. This week on Endless Thread, we go into the history of cyberwitches, attend a Zoom ritual, and talk to members of a cyber coven.
13/05/22·33m 24s

Us vs. Them vs. Andy

From a young age, "Andy" wanted to be a police officer. But in 2021, after 15 years on the job, he quit. Andy wrote about his decision in the r/OffMyChest community on Reddit — a choice that left him  "half-heartbroken and half-relieved". In this episode, Andy talks about the ethical dilemmas that led him to leave law enforcement for good.
06/05/22·29m 28s

Egg-cellent If True

When a colleague sent us a viral Reddit post from WallStreetBets, we set out to investigate. A redditor who goes by u/throwmetfawaythanks tricked thousands into thinking he cashed in on Fresh Hen Egg Futures, and awaiting delivery on one million eggs. But many failed to notice one small detail: the story was indeed a s**tpost.
29/04/22·26m 9s

The Faker

Sixteen-year-old M.H. was excited for another year on her cheerleading squad in suburban Pennsylvania. But the year was cut short when an anonymous number texted a video of her vaping to her parents and the cheerleading coaches. Vaping was against the squad’s code of conduct. The thing was, when local police investigated, they determined that the video wasn’t of M.H. According to officials, it was a deepfake sent by another cheerleader’s mother. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell with mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts.
22/04/22·37m 15s

There's a r/place for us

After its first successful iteration in 2017, r/place returned on April 1, 2022 for four days of battling fandoms vying for space inside a pixelated canvas. We talk to two Redditors who recount the challenges of claiming their stake in r/place—despite being vastly outnumbered.
15/04/22·23m 8s

The Herman Cain Award

A deep dive into The Herman Cain Award subreddit, which ironically awards those who die from COVID after publicly expressing anti-vaxx sentiments or pandemic-denying memes online. We meet a moderator and a Herman Cain Award nominee, who may have more in common than they realize.
08/04/22·37m 6s

Excrement of the Stars

Thousands of years ago, a massive meteoroid seared through the Earth’s atmosphere and split into fragments over Greenland. Its pieces were later used for toolmaking by the Inughuit that inhabited northwestern Greenland. In other words: Inughuit people used space knives. This fact, featured in a viral Reddit post on r/todayilearned, spurred an Endless Thread deep dive into a forgotten history of American exploration and exploitation abroad.
01/04/22·38m 55s

Political feuds don't take vacations

Ben and Amory are, sadly, not the type of people who truly "unplug" when they go on vacation, but this week's story is proof that those people do, in fact, exist! It comes to us from "Shared State" — a podcast from the Montana Free Press, Montana Public Radio and Yellowstone Public Radio — and it's the story of a couple who returned from a vacation off the grid to discover that they were entangled in a viral political feud with one of Fox News' most controversial commentators.
25/03/22·26m 43s

Goblins, Toenails, and Beach Rap

In times like these, you've got to take joy wherever and however you can get it. Amory and Ben swap unexpected sources of joy they've bumped into recently — from a goblin-themed Reddit post, to the scariest toe talons on the internet, to a funky 1980's little-known bop about going to the beach on Massachusetts' North Shore.
18/03/22·24m 8s

Ballerina in the Sky

This is the story of a shocking event that sent Endless Thread producer Quincy Walters, and countless others, down a disturbing and fascinating rabbit hole about a small, daring group of people called wing walkers and a woman who wanted to live her life "to its optimum."
11/03/22·41m 40s

Eugene from Ukraine

"How to prepare your house for an active wartime?" This was the title of a post on r/NoStupidQuestions about a month ago. The Reddit user, a 32-year old Ukrainian name Eugene, asked other users for advice in case Russia invaded. On Feb. 24, Eugene updated the post: "It happened. Nothing can prepare you to waking up at 5am from explosions, it was the single most scary experience of my life." This week, Ben and Amory hear from Eugene as he navigates life in Kyiv and struggles to assess the reality and unreality of information online. ****** Credits: This episode was produced by Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell with mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts.
04/03/22·30m 35s

Dogs in Elk

"I know how to take meat away from a dog. How do I take a dog away from meat?" This was a real question posed in Salon.com's Table Talk forum in 1999. What ensued from there played out like, well, a play. The Endless Thread team performs the accidental, online, collaborative comedy that came to be known as "Dogs in Elk" by the people who made this strange story an early viral internet sensation.
25/02/22·29m 16s

Space Heist! (Or, How to Steal a Planet)

On December 28, 2004, CalTech astronomer Mike Brown and his colleagues found an unnamed dwarf planet drifting through the far reaches of the solar system. But before they could go public with their finding — as they were dotting their scientific i’s — a little-known team of Spanish astronomers beat them to the punch. José Luis Ortiz Moreno and Pablo Santo-Sanz announced the discovery of what turned out to be the same dwarf planet. Something seemed off, though. Users of an online astronomical message board started to ask: How could two teams on opposite sides of the world simultaneously find the same tiny rock? What they found sparked a philosophical debate that questioned the way science is done and may — or may not — have revealed one of the greatest robberies in modern-day astronomy.
18/02/22·40m 6s

Li Ziqi: China's Quarantine Queen

While you were tending to your quarantine sourdough starter, Chinese YouTube star Li Ziqi was growing mushrooms, making peach blossom crowns and listening to the sound of blooming roses. Join Amory and Ben as they explore Li Ziqi, and why millions of isolated people worldwide have been drawn to the quiet intricacy and beauty of her videos. 
11/02/22·40m 36s

Murph

Jack Murphy, or "Murph the Surf," is best known for pulling off the biggest jewel heist in New York City history. But Amory's here to tell you about his more sinister past, and to question why we allow powerful figures to control their own narratives. This week on Endless Thread, we bring you an episode from the brand new season of "Last Seen," a genre-bending podcast about people, places, and things that have gone missing.
03/02/22·38m 35s

The complicated, chaotic rise of 'antiwork'

"Unemployment for all, not just the rich!" That's the catchphrase of r/antiwork, a Reddit community of more than 1.7 million people who want to end work as we know it and reimagine its role in our lives. In this episode, we hear from members of this fast-growing community about what brought them to this online space, but also about recent turmoil within the subreddit that has left some wondering if it will endure. 
28/01/22·32m 38s

Tales of the Tailed

Heads up: This episode mentions the tragic death of a dog. Take care when listening, and hug your furry loved ones.  Amory, Ben, and producer Quincy explore three stories, in which a man's furry best friend is shot by a police officer, a person accuses Reese Witherspoon of stealing her horse, and cats are... ethnically stereotyped?
20/01/22·26m 24s

The internet's fight over dinosaur emoji

Emoji might not be 66 million years old, but they are pretty much everywhere. Join Ben and Amory as they explore the history of dinosaur emoji in LGBTQ+ communities and their more recent use as an online dog-whistle for anti-trans activists. What happens when one symbol is used for conflicting reasons? And can the dinosaur emoji avoid redefinition — or extinction?
14/01/22·27m 22s

Encore: To the Max (Headroom)

On November 22nd, 1987, two TV stations in Chicago had their broadcast signals hijacked by someone wearing a Max Headroom mask. In the years since, Redditors have played an integral role in getting to the bottom of this case. Who dunnit? Why? How? We dig into the story.
06/01/22·37m 4s

Encore: Today You, Tomorrow Me

10 years ago, Justin found himself on the side of the road with a blown out tire. Hours went by and no one stopped to help. But just as he was about to give up, something happened that changed Justin forever.
21/12/21·23m 39s

Encore: Three Autistic Redditors on Autism

Three autistic Redditors talk to us about their view of the world, their view of autism, and their hopes for greater representation in society.
21/12/21·42m 0s

MEMES, Bonus: The Chorus

Amory and Ben team up with NPR to take on Twitter Spaces. This bonus episode is a recording of ET's 11/30 livestream chat with meme experts Kenyatta Cheese (Know Your Meme), "meme librarian" Amanda Brennan and Garbage Day newsletter author Ryan Broderick.
16/12/21·27m 36s

MEMES, Part 11: I've Heard This Before

In this episode, we cross-examine memes and their relevance, and look at a surprising hypothesis that draws a through-line from TikTok to much farther back in history –- all the way to the very beginning of human culture. Ultimately, we investigate why memes are such an obsession right now, and whether we should think about them in a completely new way.
09/12/21·33m 56s

MEMES, Bonus: Overly Attached Girlfriend

Unlike some of the other everyday-people-turned-memes featured in this series, Laina Morris leaned in big-time when her parody entry in a Justin Bieber fan contest turned into the epic meme Overly Attached Girlfriend in 2012. The screenshot from the video that launched Laina’s face into online ubiquity featured an intentionally off-putting open-mouthed, wide-eyed stare. She continued making YouTube videos until 2019 when she announced that she was ending her online career to address her mental health. We hear more about Laina’s decision to open up publicly about her depression and anxiety and why she’s not tempted to get back in front of a camera.
07/12/21·16m 49s

MEMES, Part 10: Makmende

We know that there have been meme wars in America, and that Donald Trump has been called the “first president meme’d into office.” But in Kenya—a country where one of the only feasible forms of political expression is memes, and meme creators are being jailed for criticizing the government, it is a very different story. Western media told countless stories about the viral music video character known as “Makmende.” They called Makmende “The Kenyan Chuck Norris,” or a sound-alike of the famous Norris line, “Make my day.” But, according to the artists who brought Makmende into being, none of these characterizations are accurate. We explore American myopia, the peril of memes and artistic expression in Kenya, and how we should think of memes as a powerful form of communication.
02/12/21·36m 2s

MEMES, Bonus: The yearbook photo

For being the internet's poster boy for bad luck, Kyle Craven thinks he sure got lucky. In this bonus episode of our meme series, Ben and Amory chat with Craven, better known as the face of the Bad Luck Brian meme that has circulated the web since 2012. Now a 31-year-old husband and father of two, Craven is frozen in time online as a pimply, brace-faced teenager. Despite the unflattering photo, he says meme stardom has brought nothing but good luck.
24/11/21·24m 50s

MEMES, Part 9: I'm Not Done Yet

Anybody old enough to remember life before cutting the cord has probably seen the work of TV pitchman Billy Mays. But people much younger still know his face and squeaky OxiClean personality. While Mays died years ago, he’s lived on in meme form, from the famous product launches of Apple to more obvious image macros with Impact font. Why? We ask his son Billy Mays III, his biggest frenemy, and a host of others to explain why someone who was squarely in the age of television continues to appear online in strange and provocative ways. It’s the story of an American staple whose consumerist existence belies a personality that, in the end, was surprisingly wholesome.
18/11/21·46m 52s

MEMES, Part 8: The Scream

If you typed “inauguration” into your web browser anytime between 2017 and 2020, you likely saw, near the top of your search results, an image of a person in a neon green jacket, black winter hat and glasses screaming “Nooooooooooo!” That person was Jess, who was in Washington D.C. on January 20, 2017 to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump. This “Nooooooooooo!” flew out of Jess after the oath of office, during what seemed to be a deeply painful and private moment. But what Jess didn’t know at the time was that they were being filmed by a UK media outlet. Within hours, this became the scream heard ‘round the world, the meme seen ‘round the world, and a symbol of “liberal fragility” for Trump supporters. Fearing for their safety, Jess went into a sort of hiding – on social media, and in their personal life. Four years later, Jess tells their story for the very first time.
10/11/21·34m 2s

MEMES, Part 7: Dead Giveaway

In 2013, four white musicians turned a local TV news clip featuring a Black man named Charles Ramsey into a song and uploaded it to YouTube. The auto-tuned meme, titled "Dead Giveaway," gained tens of millions of views virtually overnight. But the musicians, known as The Gregory Brothers, had not asked for Ramsey's permission, leaving him to wonder: Is this flattery or mockery — or bigotry?
04/11/21·38m 21s

Hallomeme Bonus: Slender Man

When two 12 year-old girls attacked their friend in the woods of Waukesha, Wisconsin in May of 2014, they claimed to have done it to please Slender Man -- a fictional monster created by Eric Knudsen, A.K.A. "Victor Surge," on an internet forum called "Something Awful." That incident put a mainstream, national news spotlight on the figure, which was already being widely circulated and adapted online as a meme. In this bonus episode of Endless Thread's meme series, we examine Slender Man as monster, meme, and myth.
29/10/21·25m 7s

MEMES, Pt. 6: Call me... The Punisher

The Punisher has always been a complicated Marvel antihero: a man whose creator imagined him as a reaction to the failures of government at home and in the Vietnam War. So why is the Punisher’s trademark dripping skull insignia — a menacing image used throughout history to denote imminent death — being painted on police vehicles, adopted by members of the military, and donned by white supremacists? We tell the story of The Punisher’s symbol as a meme, look at how well we understand its origins, its use today, and whether its creator — or Marvel — can take it back.
28/10/21·40m 32s

MEMES, Pt. 5: The President of Kekistan

He is known by several names, but Gordon Hurd is the one this man-turned-meme adopted when he fled Cameroon for the UK more than two decades ago. Gordon eventually found the app Fiverr and started making videos for anonymous benefactors on the internet. That’s how Gordon adopted another name, Big Man Tyrone, and became a viral video meme who gives scripted testimonials and has been named the leader of a fictional alt-right country called Kekistan. But there’s a lingering question: Is Big Man Tyrone in on the joke? What happens when an African immigrant in the UK becomes the leader of a group of Trump supporters? We explore the complexities of the Big Man Tyrone meme and our own expectations of the responsibilities of Gordon Hurd.
21/10/21·43m 48s

MEMES, Bonus: Zoë Didn't Start the Fire

Most of us hate the photos our parents take of us. But what happens when one goes viral?  Zoë Roth was 4 years old when her dad took a photo of her smiling mischievously in front of a burning house. That photo would later spread like wildfire as the internet meme "Disaster Girl."  In this bonus episode of our meme series, we hear more about how the photo came to be, how it just might help Zoë pay off her student loans, and who really started that fire. 
18/10/21·21m 1s

MEMES, Pt. 4: Woman Yelling at a Cat

Humor is a key ingredient of any unit of culture that morphs and spreads over time. But humor isn’t always there at the beginning. For “Real Housewife” Taylor Armstrong, the meme that made her even more famous on the internet has bitter roots: physical domestic abuse exposed on television. In this episode, we hear the little-known origin story of the "Woman Yelling at a Cat" meme -- straight from the Woman herself -- that might make you think twice about ever using the meme again. We also explore why a loss of context is crucial for the spread of memes, but often problematic.
14/10/21·41m 27s

MEMES, Bonus: A Billion Ricks

Last week, we explored the origin of the “Rick Roll,” a meme that evolved from Rick Astley’s 1987 hit song, “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Since the music video resurfaced as the meme in 2007, the internet has also never given up on Rick – so much so that the video recently hit a billion views on YouTube. This bonus episode dives deeper into Rick’s childhood, how he was discovered, and how he dealt with not only his fame in the late 80s, but with his more complicated identity as a meme. 
12/10/21·19m 6s

MEMES, Pt. 3: Gotta Make You Understand

Who gets credit for starting a meme? Usually... nobody -- they're made too quickly and organically. In the case of one of the most famous bait-and-switch memes of all time, the "Rick Roll," we may be looking at something experts call convergent evolution. Did the Rick Roll originate with a piece of code on the message board 4Chan, or with a prank call to a local sports show in Michigan? And why does the Rick Roll have such staying power? Is it codified in the DNA of the song itself? We explore the meme’s origin, the history of the song, "Never Gonna Give You Up," and its impact on both internet users during COVID-19 and on the performer himself.
08/10/21·42m 6s

MEMES, Pt. 2: Scumbag Steve

If there is an OG meme in which a human is the star, Scumbag Steve is it. He spread across the internet like wildfire in 2011 as a universal representation of dudes who are the worst. And, like any person grappling with immediate internet fame, Blake Boston — the man behind Scumbag Steve — tried to capitalize: merch, rap songs, public appearances. But the full story of what happened to Blake — and his family — has never been told. The Scumbag Steve meme became a bargaining chip in a custody battle, a complicating factor in meeting his birth mother, the cause of fights with extended family members, a source of anxiety attacks, and an echo of trauma. In this episode, we go past the origin story of Scumbag Steve and learn about Blake’s real struggles with PTSD and abuse — and how trauma has brought him and his mother, Susan Boston, even closer. 
30/09/21·40m 12s

Is 'Kilroy Was Here' the original meme?

We often think of memes as living solely online. But the term “meme” was coined in the 1970s -- before the birth of the internet -- by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. And, more surprisingly, the image that's often considered to "the first meme" appeared as early as the 1940s.  A figure with a bulbous head and sausage fingers, peering over a wall, mysteriously popped up all over the globe during World War II, accompanied with three simple words: “Kilroy Was Here.” The phrase’s original meaning may come from the belly of warships, but what it came to represent bears many characteristics of a true-blue internet meme. In the first episode of our meme series, we tell the story of where "Kilroy Was Here" came from, how it spread, and what it tells us about the essence of memes. 
30/09/21·36m 5s

Coming October 1st... MEMES!

On October 1st, Endless Thread is back. We're kicking things off with a deep exploration into something that has changed lives, politics, and the way we interact online and IRL... memes!
23/09/21·2m 34s

Snacktime: Why You Should Care About Other People

Ben tells Amory about a controversial idea for a reality TV show. Amory tells Ben about the thing Dr. Anthony Fauci did NOT say... but everyone thinks he did. 
16/09/21·18m 21s

Snacktime: Mystery Celebs & Fed-Up Mods

Ben tells Amory about a subreddit trying to determine the identity of a mystery celebrity, and Amory tells Ben about an open letter penned by Reddit moderators that's calling on the platform to take stronger action against COVID-19 misinformation and disinformation on the platform.
28/08/21·21m 58s

Suitcases of Cash and Bob Saget's Ghost

Gather round for this week’s Snacktime episode, where Ben tells iLab producer Nora Saks two stories about found money, a gambling ruse in a Belizean casino, and why Bob Saget would block himself on Twitter if he could.
19/08/21·14m 9s

Geedis

What is Geedis? Endless Thread revisits an episode from 2019 in which the team joined the internet's two-year-long quest to answer this question. The strange, furry character and his buddies in The Land of Ta had been a mystery of 80’s fantastical proportions. Follow us down the rabbit hole for an exciting discovery...
05/08/21·44m 18s

Snacktime: Weird Spotify Playlists

Fun fact: Ben wooed his wife with a mix CD, and Amory's husband wooed her with a mix CD. The lesson? Never underestimate the power of a good playlist. But if it's a "Weird Spotify Playlist," the object of your affection better have a sense of humor. In this episode, Amory introduces Ben to the fast-growing "Weird Spotify Playlists" Twitter account and subreddit, where song titles are way more important than the songs themselves.
22/07/21·22m 0s

Encore: The Great Glitter Mystery

Much like rewatching a favorite TV show in its entirety, it can be comforting to listen back to something from "the beforetimes." So this week, we're doing just that. We're revisiting an episode from 2019 that solved one of the internet’s most compelling mysteries. Inspired by a 2018 New York Times feature about glitter, people obsessed over identifying the mysterious industry buying huge amounts of glitter – information which glitter-makers have refused to divulge. No one had been able to find any answers … until the ET team took the case and dropped a glitter bomb on the whole mystery.
08/07/21·40m 19s

Snacktime: To Joust Is No Jest

Ever heard of horse repossession? How about equine semen fraud? On this week’s Snacktime, Ben tells Amory about the still-very-much-alive sport of jousting and how it relates to a pretty wild story about a Redditor’s ex and a snowy white steed.
24/06/21·20m 52s

Endless Thread Presents: Twenty Thousand Hertz

Is your voice your own? Not anymore. This week on Endless Thread, we present "Deepfake Dallas," courtesy of our friends over at Twenty Thousand Hertz, a podcast revealing the stories behind the world’s most recognizable and interesting sounds. Find out how someone, using artificial intelligence, can make an algorithm that sounds just like you.
17/06/21·24m 14s

Snacktime: Long Orders, Secret Menus

One of the things that makes Starbucks so liked by people everywhere is the amount of customization you can do with your drink. But is there such a thing as too much customization? On this week's Snacktime, Amory tells Ben about the viral "Edward" order as well as the recent TikTok trend of ordering a drink from Starbucks' "secret menu."
03/06/21·17m 21s

Snacktime: A Refreshing Trend for Troubled Times

From daily walks to sourdough starters, many of us found new ways to have fun and stay sane during the pandemic. For some, a new trend has plenty of... appeal. In this Snacktime episode, Ben tells Amory about an internet trend mixing personal hygiene and your daily dose of Vitamin C. Then, listen to the story of how one Reddit user's overthinking ended up being just the right amount.
20/05/21·20m 55s

Snacktime: Pizza Is My Life

In 2008, college student Kevin Toomey was cruising around Columbus, Ohio, listening to AM radio, when a jingle for Rotolo's Pizza came on. It was love at first listen, and it set him on a 13-year quest to find out who wrote and performed the jingle. In this Snacktime episode, Amory tells Ben about Kevin and his pizza jingle quest, which -- finally -- has a delicious conclusion.
06/05/21·29m 41s

Endless Thread Presents: Cautionary Tales

Today's episode brings together three of our favorite things: mysteries, cultural deep-dives, and Dungeons & Dragons. It's an episode of Cautionary Tales, a podcast from Pushkin that tells stories of awful human error, tragic catastrophes, daring heists and hilarious fiascos of the past -- pointing out valuable lessons for us from all the dithering, death and destruction.
22/04/21·39m 2s

Snacktime: Passports and Space Trains

In this Snacktime episode, Ben and Amory talk about vaccine passports in Texas and the out-of-this-world contents of a mysterious box.
09/04/21·20m 34s

Snacktime: The Cebu Swiper

In this Snacktime episode, we explore a post made on r/HobbyDrama about how some local plant-trading Facebook groups have had their wholesome hobby corrupted by an alleged scammer.
30/03/21·23m 3s

Snacktime: War and Crows

We're cooking up a new season of Endless Thread as we speak, dear listeners. But in the meantime, we realized we could probably all use a snack to hold us over. In this episode, we hear about a Redditor who created a fake press pass and found himself in a war zone, and another who accidentally assembled an army of crows. 
25/02/21·21m 12s

Stonktime: r/WallStreetBets And GameStop

The subreddit r/WallStreetBets has been at the center of a national story this week involving GameStop and a couple of angry hedge funds. To help us understand what’s happening, we call up Planet Money co-host Robert Smith. Then, we speak to Redditor u/Hungry_Freaks-Daddy who hopped on board the GameStop train earlier this week and says he has nothing to lose.  Support Endless Thread: wbur.org/socks
29/01/21·40m 31s

Endless Thread Presents: Anything For Selena

Today, we present episode one of Anything for Selena, a new podcast from WBUR and Futuro Studios. Growing up along the US-Mexico border, Maria Garcia felt torn between her two identities as Mexican and American. But then, something changed her life. She discovered Selena — the Mexican-American pop icon who proved she didn’t have to choose. In the premiere episode of “Anything for Selena,” host Maria Garcia explores how Selena helped Maria find her own place in the world. About The Show: In "Anything For Selena," Host Maria Garcia takes listeners on a deeply personal journey into the life and legacy of the Mexican-American popstar Selena Quintanilla. She shares how Selena's music and unapologetic sense of identity helped her find her own place in the world. And it explores how Selena's legacy continues to spark important conversations around race, class, and body politics.
19/01/21·32m 14s

Update: Things Are (Still) Bad

In the aftermath of a violent mob storming the U.S. Capitol building, we got back in touch with Indi Samarajiva. Indi's a writer who lived through the end of the Sri Lankan civil war, and he was featured in "Things Are Bad," an episode we released last October in the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election. The team caught up with Indi again to ask him about his thoughts on last week's events. Donate now: wbur.org/socks
12/01/21·21m 37s

A Special Announcement

Endless Thread is currently on break cooking up our next season, but we're getting back in touch with a special announcement. Donate Now: wbur.org/socks
07/01/21·4m 11s

Endless Thread Presents: Decoder Ring

While we're on break working on a new season, we recommend checking out Decoder Ring. In each episode, Decoder Ring explores a cultural question, object, or habit; examines its history; and tries to figure out what it means and why it matters. Today we're presenting one of their recent episodes: "Mystery of the Mullet." The mullet, the love-to-hate-it hairstyle is as associated with the 1980s as Ronald Reagan, junk bonds, and break dancing. But in at least one major way, we are suffering from a collective case of false memory syndrome. In this episode, the Decoder Ring team tracks the rise and fall of the mullet, and also the lexical quandary at its heart: who named the mullet?
17/12/20·45m 56s

Encore: Black Lives Matter IRL And Online

Endless Thread is on break so we're sharing one of our favorite episodes from the past year. We published it back on Juneteenth 2020 after asking for stories that caught our listeners' attention at the height of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor police brutality protests around the country. The episode was recently included in a roundup of “100 Outstanding Podcasts From 2020” from The Bello Collective.
10/12/20·29m 46s

A Trip Down Memory Lane

It's that time of the year again: Endless Thread is going on a winter break. But don't miss us too much. We'll be back in 2021 with a fresh, new, weird, and wonderful version of the show. Before we say goodbye for now, we check in with some of our favorite guests of episodes past. Episodes updated include: Get Motivated: https://www.wbur.org/endlessthread/2019/01/11/get-motivated Infectious, Pt 1: Scabs, Pus, and Puritans: https://www.wbur.org/endlessthread/2019/05/03/scabs-pus-puritans Brain Melt: https://www.wbur.org/endlessthread/2018/11/09/brain-melt Nick, Jess, and David: https://www.wbur.org/endlessthread/2019/12/20/autistic-redditors-explain-autism Shipwrecked: https://www.wbur.org/endlessthread/2019/06/14/shipwrecked Dear Anon: https://www.wbur.org/endlessthread/2018/11/16/dear-anon
04/12/20·36m 23s

Encore: All You Can Eat... And Then Some (Updates!)

Chicken patrol. Tiny plates. Purses lined with plastic bags. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Endless Thread re-releases "All You Can Eat," an episode that peeks behind the curtain of the strange world of all-you-can-eat buffets, from the strategies buffet owners use to protect their profits to the hungry customers who try to game the system. Listen until the end for an update with Jordan, the Redditor and restaurant consultant featured in the original episode, to hear an insider's perspective on how the pandemic is changing the food industry.
27/11/20·42m 3s

Niall Needs A Friend

A month ago, we received an email that really caught our attention. It was from a listener in Ireland named Niall, who has been feeling isolated during the pandemic. He was wondering if we could help him make some new friends. So... the Endless Thread team got to work.
19/11/20·36m 5s

Today You, Tomorrow Me

10 years ago, Justin found himself on the side of the road with a blown out tire. Hours went by and no one stopped to help. But just as he was about to give up, something happened that changed Justin forever.
13/11/20·22m 0s

Low Stakes Hot Takes

We all have that one opinion — that firmly held, low stakes, non-political belief. You know the one. It's usually met with (low stakes) outrage whenever you dare to say it out loud. Well, we asked you, our listeners, to share your low stakes hot takes with us and, oh boy, did you deliver.
06/11/20·25m 26s

Endless Dread: An Uninvited House Guest And A Fake Doctor

Ben and Amory swap terrifying tales from Reddit, featuring an uninvited house guest and a doctor with an unusual fetish. Happy Halloween!
29/10/20·18m 55s

Bonus: 'Brainwashed'

This past Spring, Endless Thread released a series called “Madness: The Secret Mission for Mind Control and the People Who Paid the Price.” If you missed it, you should go back and listen! A new series from CBC Podcasts, "Brainwashed," offers fresh perspective on the same topic: a powerful doctor who conducted disturbing, CIA-funded mind-control experiments on patients at a prestigious psychiatric hospital in Montreal. We recently talked to the host of "Brainwashed," Michelle Shepherd, for this bonus episode. We wanted to compare notes with another reporter who has gone deep on this story and swap takeaways.
28/10/20·25m 39s

Things Are Bad

With increasing political divide and heightened civil unrest in the United States, many fear that it will culminate in a second civil war. We explore the likelihood of that scenario and hear from someone who thinks America is already in the midst of collapse.
22/10/20·30m 8s

Endless Dread: Backrooms And Ghostly Photos

In the spirit of Halloween, the Endless Thread team shares spooky stories from Reddit, including the origins of a classic horror movie SFX, the creepy world of r/backrooms, and the mystery surrounding three photos found on someone’s phone.
15/10/20·21m 15s

Girls Trip

Randi-Lynn thought she was going on a relaxing family vacation to the mountains. Just a few days later, she was hiding in a bathroom and frantically posting on Reddit, asking for help. The headline of her post? "I think I was brought on a girls trip to be brainwashed." 
09/10/20·24m 10s

QAnon Casualties

For nearly two years, a Redditor named Jitarth Jadeja got deep into QAnon, the Far Right conspiracy theory founded on the idea that President Trump is secretly waging war against a satanic cabal of pedophiles who control the world. “I was kind of an addict… All I could talk about was Q,” Jitarth says. But then, all of a sudden he had a (re)awakening: “That was the moment that I realized it was all garbage.” In this episode, we trace Jitarth’s journey into and, ultimately, out of, QAnon.  Background: QAnon originated as a fringe online conspiracy theory born in the aftermath of the 2016 election. Since then, it has grown in influence and keeps creeping further into mainstream consciousness. It’s come up in recent White House press briefings and there are current congressional candidates promoting QAnon messages. Q followers have also been linked to murders, armed stand-offs, and kidnappings.
02/10/20·28m 40s

Snacktime: Spiders Are Bros

Spiders... even the word is unsettling for some of us. But the r/spiderbro community on Reddit is a place where you just might gain a new appreciation for arachnids -- from the petite and unassuming, to the big and hairy.
24/09/20·14m 0s

Unsent Letters

The unsent letter. We all have one, half-composed in our heads or fully-formed as an email draft. If you’re really poetic, it might be on a piece of paper, yellowing in a drawer. Whatever form these letters take, they go unsent because they might be better left unsent... or because we wouldn’t know how to send them even if we wanted to.  But there's a place online where these letters find an audience -- a big one. The "Unsent Letters" community on Reddit has over 350,000 members. In this episode, you'll hear from people who wrote letters addressing pet owners, COVID+ patients, bakery workers, bugs killed in the shower, and so much more. 
17/09/20·29m 24s

Snacktime: Odd Jobs

Do people say, "That's a thing??," when you tell them what you do for a living? Then you probably have an odd job. This week, Endless Thread tips its hat to you as we discuss the odd jobs of Redditors. 
10/09/20·15m 3s

Tight Squeeze

You might not think about caves in the same breath as you do the deep ocean or outer space, but you probably should. There are approximately 70,000 caves in the United States alone, but the vast majority are inaccessible to the public. That means rare, delicate ecosystems have developed for tens of thousands of years in complete isolation from human contact. That is, until cavers travel deep underground through impossibly small spaces to find them. Join the Endless Thread team as we dive into the claustrophobia-inducing world of caving.
03/09/20·32m 28s

Snacktime: Dad Jokes

The spotlight is on r/DadJokes, which -- you guessed it -- is home to the most pun-derful, cheesy-but-lovable comedic material the internet has to offer. Starring the experts: Ben & Amory's DADS!
28/08/20·22m 58s

Angel's Glow

In the aftermath of the Civil War's Battle of Shiloh in 1862, something strange happened. Some soldiers' wounds started to glow.  Stranger still, those with glowing wounds seemed to have better rates of survival. In 2001, a teenage Civil War buff embarked on a science project to explain this so-called "Angel's Glow."
21/08/20·28m 3s

Snacktime: Zelda And Zebra Plants

Author John Boyne and Jeff the zebra plant take center stage in this edition of snacktime. Also, Ben and Amory realize they share an affinity for... melon ballers?
13/08/20·14m 23s

Ghost Town

In the summer of 2018, Brent Underwood got a text in the middle of the night from a friend saying, "Look at this ghost town for sale!" Within a month, Brent had purchased Cerro Gordo, California, an abandoned silver mining town, with the help of friends and investors. He wants to revive the town for visitors while preserving its history. He's already faced some major setbacks -- from the lack of running water, to getting snowed in there during a global pandemic. But he calls Cerro Gordo his "life's work."
06/08/20·29m 55s

Snacktime: Harry Potter, Billie Eilish, And 'Soup Tubes'

Ben, Amory, and Josh share some of the most memorable Reddit posts of late, from a "magical" parenting decision to a very bizarre business idea.
30/07/20·15m 25s

Randonauts

r/randonauts is a fast-growing community of Redditors who use random, quantum-generated coordinates to go on real-life adventures. But what happens when those random coordinates lead you straight to a grisly crime scene?
23/07/20·34m 58s

Snacktime: Llama At A Wedding

“What are the dimensions of an adult llama?” asked a Redditor called Mrs. Sam Handwich in the "No Stupid Questions" community. "I've been hired to make a tuxedo for a llama and I don't have its measurements," she added. We get to the bottom of this now-famous Reddit post. 
17/07/20·17m 32s

Giddyup

Images of Black men and women riding horses at protests around the country have been going viral. But the history of Black cowboys goes all the way back to the creation of the American West. The Endless Thread team digs into this history, and looks at how Black riding groups are carrying this legacy forward today.
09/07/20·27m 58s

Encore: We Want Plates + Pile Of Crockery

Endless Thread is re-releasing a crown jewel from the archives. It's the team's epic adventure to locate a mountain of dishware in the middle of the woods and, truly, it's even more ridiculous than it sounds. Originally released as a two-part story almost exactly one year ago, we've re-edited it into one jumbo "combination platter" for your listening pleasure.  So sit back, relax, and dig in!
02/07/20·1h 9m

Shrinkflation

From the supermarket to the housing market, products are getting smaller but prices are not. Why is this happening? And can it be stopped before the toilet paper roll disappears right before our very… reaching hands?
25/06/20·28m 55s

Black Lives Matter IRL And Online

Over the last few weeks, Endless Thread has been asking for stories that have caught your attention as millions of people around the country and around the world have come together to protest systemic racism and police brutality. Today, Juneteenth 2020, we present some of those stories.
18/06/20·28m 31s

Bonus: Making 'Madness'

"Madness," our 5-part series about the history of CIA-funded mind-control experiments, involved a lot of research and a lot of interviews -- most of which you heard excerpts from in the series, but some of which… you didn’t. Or, at least, not everything we wanted to share. In this bonus episode, we play highlights from the cutting room floor, answer listener questions, and share more about the making of this series. If you haven't heard Parts 1 through 5 of "Madness" you should listen to those episodes first. *** You can make a donation to Endless Thread and WBUR at the link below. All monthly contributors will continue receiving special Endless Thread bonus material: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/trustees-of-boston-university/endless-thread-madness-fundraiser
11/06/20·24m 44s

Endless Thread Presents: Truth Be Told

The Endless Thread team has been watching as protests and police brutality have broken out in cities around the country, and around the world. We are working on covering these events thoughtfully and carefully. If you have a story or perspective you want to share, reach out to us at endlessthread@wbur.org.  In the meantime, instead of our regular programming, we’d like to play you an episode of the KQED podcast, Truth Be Told. It’s hosted by one of our colleagues, Tonya Mosley, the co-host of WBUR and NPR’s Here and Now, and their episode from this week is called “Protesting for the Soul of America: The New Civil Rights Movement.” Take a listen. 
04/06/20·36m 31s

Endless Thread Happy Hour

Join the Endless Thread team on Friday, June 5th, at 5pm ET for a happy-hour Zoom discussion of our 5-part, in-depth series "Madness: The Secret Mission for Mind Control and the People Who Paid the Price." We'll answer your questions about the making of the series, the story itself, and about what's coming up for Endless Thread.  Register here: http://www.wbur.org/endlessthread/2020/05/29/endless-thread-happy-hour-rsvp
28/05/20·2m 15s

Madness, Pt. 5: The Unreachable Summit

Dr. Ewen Cameron wanted to win a Nobel Prize for his work in psychiatry. He never got one. He died of a heart attack while climbing a mountain in the Adirondacks in 1967. So, we don’t have access to Cameron's thoughts on his own legacy. But we do have his son, Duncan Cameron. In the final installment of “Madness," we sit down with Duncan, and we explore the shocking ways his father's methods are still being used today. *** "Madness" unravels the shocking history of CIA-funded mind-control experiments. Co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson, along with producer Josh Swartz, investigate how the stigma around mental illness, combined with government secrecy, can silence the truth. *** You can make a donation to Endless Thread and WBUR here: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/trustees-of-boston-university/endless-thread-madness-fundraiser
21/05/20·35m 3s

Madness, Pt. 4: Pursuit Of Justice

In the early 1980s, victims of Dr. Ewen Cameron’s mind-altering experiments at the Allan Memorial Institute began a slow process of finding each other and building a case against the CIA for funding Cameron's work. The legacy of that case has played a key role in two separate lawsuits in progress today. These new lawsuits represent the interests of hundreds of families still seeking justice for the brutal “treatments” their loved ones were subjected to decades ago. *** "Madness" unravels the shocking history of CIA-funded mind-control experiments. Co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson, along with producer Josh Swartz, investigate how the stigma around mental illness, combined with government secrecy, can silence the truth. *** You can make a donation to Endless Thread and WBUR here: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/trustees-of-boston-university/endless-thread-madness-fundraiser
14/05/20·36m 2s

Madness, Pt. 3: Subproject 68

As the fear of communism was rising in the U.S. after World War II, government officials set their sights on developing a weapon that sounds straight out of science fiction: mind control. This effort was led by the CIA in a program called MK-ULTRA, which was made up of 149 "subprojects" involving more than 80 academic institutions, prisons, and organizations. In this episode, we learn the dark history of MK-ULTRA and examine the origins of Subproject 68: Dr. Ewen Cameron's experimentation on patients at the Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal. *** "Madness" unravels the shocking history of CIA-funded mind-control experiments. Co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson, along with producer Josh Swartz, investigate how the stigma around mental illness, combined with government secrecy, can silence the truth. *** You can make a donation to Endless Thread and WBUR here: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/trustees-of-boston-university/endless-thread-madness-fundraiser
07/05/20·35m 38s

Madness, Pt. 2: Brave New World

Hundreds of people who were experimented on at the Allan Memorial Institute over the course of two decades are all connected to one man: Dr. Ewen Cameron. In this episode, we look at how Cameron rose to prominence in his field and investigate the surprising origins of his treatment program. *** "Madness" unravels the shocking history of CIA-funded mind-control experiments. Co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson, along with producer Josh Swartz, investigate how the stigma around mental illness, combined with government secrecy, can silence the truth. *** You can make a donation to Endless Thread and WBUR here: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/trustees-of-boston-university/endless-thread-madness-fundraiser
30/04/20·34m 13s

Madness, Pt. 1: The Sleep Room

In our first episode, we share powerful accounts of abuse at a psychiatric hospital in Montreal, and we introduce the renowned doctor who conducted these disturbing experiments on his unwitting patients. *** "Madness" unravels the shocking history of CIA-funded mind-control experiments. Co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson, along with producer Josh Swartz, investigate how the stigma around mental illness, combined with government secrecy, can silence the truth. *** Join us for an episode discussion via Zoom on Thursday 4/30 at 7pm ET. RSVP here: http://www.wbur.org/endlessthread/2020/04/24/madness-part-one-the-sleep-room
23/04/20·28m 12s

Zoom Party This Friday!

This Friday, April 17th, at 7pm EST, Endless Thread is hosting a Zoom party! Join co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson and producer Josh Swartz for a little trivia, an exclusive sneak preview of their upcoming series, "Madness," and of course... some surprises. RSVP HERE: https://www.wbur.org/endlessthread
15/04/20·1m 52s

A Parent, A Nurse, And A Patient

Another look at the far-reaching impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In this episode, we hear from a parent who recently had an infant in the NICU, a nurse who fears for his safety, and someone who recently recovered from COVID-19.
10/04/20·20m 15s

Zombies And Preppers

We speak with Max Brooks about the viral PSA he made with his dad, Mel Brooks, and how his zombie apocalypse novel, World War Z, has become eerily relevant during the coronavirus pandemic. Then, we chat with FrugalChef13, a "prepper," to get her advice about how we can each better prepare for crisis situations.
02/04/20·26m 35s

How Reddit's Coronavirus Community Became A Global Lifeline

Redditors share how they're coping with the coronavirus pandemic. We also take an in-depth look at r/coronavirus, which has fast become one of the most comprehensive, up-to-date, and reliable sources of information for this constantly developing global story.
27/03/20·24m 30s

Endless Thread Presents: 'Madness'

Endless Thread presents a special series called "Madness: The secret mission for mind control and the people who paid the price." Get a sneak peek of the series by listening to the trailer now. New episodes coming soon. "Madness" unravels the shocking story of forced brainwashing and the murky history of CIA-funded mind-control experiments. Co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson, along with producer Josh Swartz, investigate how the stigma around mental illness combined with government secrecy can silence the truth and, ultimately, accountability for disturbing outcomes.
12/03/20·2m 29s

Encore: Call of the Void

When you’re in a high place, peering over a ledge, do you ever get that super weird feeling that you should just... jump? This is a real scientific phenomenon that a lot of people experience, and it has a name: the call of the void. This week, we're listening back to an episode that made a lot of people feel less alone.
28/02/20·26m 49s

Snacktime: A Fairy Tale Proposal

In honor of Valentine's Day, Amory tells Ben a snack-size story about a feast-size grand gesture that has left millions of people all over the world wishing they could re-do their marriage proposals.
13/02/20·19m 24s

Double Life

92-year-old Robert Middelmann uncovered a secret about himself when he was very young. Keeping it was a matter of life and death. But, after many years, Robert decided to share that secret, along with the rest of his extraordinary life story, online. It all started in Nazi Germany…
30/01/20·37m 38s

Snacktime: Snektime

Ben and Amory dissscusss sssome facsssinating ssstories about sssnakes.
23/01/20·9m 17s

'I Was Abducted'

Monique has always known she was abducted as a child, but specific details about what happened, and why, have been elusive. It wasn’t until she posted to Reddit that she found real leads and painful memories started flooding back.
16/01/20·31m 53s

Snacktime: Bushfires and Books

Ben and Amory discuss a Reddit deep-dive about the Australian wildfires and one man's very, very long reading list.
09/01/20·12m 21s

Where Are They Now (Updates!)

Ben and Amory get updates from a few previous guests. Then, they invite the hosts of the podcast "Food, We Need To Talk" into the studio for a final debrief on their 2019 New Year's resolutions.
02/01/20·17m 13s

Encore: Dear Anon

What do Bill Gates, finding your soul mate, and charting a new life path have in common? Reddit Gifts! The world's largest anonymous gift exchange has led to some unexpected outcomes.
26/12/19·31m 38s

Nick, Jess, and David

Three autistic Redditors talk to us about their view of the world, their view of autism, and their hopes for greater representation in society.
20/12/19·42m 6s

Snacktime: Feeling Adrift

Ben shares a story about a real-life grand theft auto adventure and Amory tells the story of a dad whose new hobby may only be scratching the surface of something deeper.
12/12/19·18m 4s

Free To Be Childfree

r/childfree is one of the fastest growing communities on Reddit and it's for people who do NOT want children. They don't want to be told why they should have them, how much they'll regret it if they don't, and how "selfish" they are for not "contributing to society." This choice is becoming more common, yet it's still questioned ferociously. We hear from some of these people and explore how this Reddit community offers support when friends and family don't.
05/12/19·41m 59s

Underunderstood: The 9/11 Hoax That Wasn't

While we’re busy stuffing our faces over Thanksgiving, we thought we’d share a story you’ll love from another great podcast: Underunderstood. They look into a photo that frequently goes viral on Reddit to figure out, once and for all, whether or not it’s a hoax. Their conclusion is satisfying and weirdly touching.
27/11/19·35m 42s

To the Max (Headroom)

On November 22nd, 1987, two TV stations in Chicago had their broadcast signals hijacked by someone wearing a Max Headroom mask. In the years since, Redditors have played an integral role in getting to the bottom of this case. Who dunnit? Why? How? We dig into the story.
21/11/19·35m 40s

Bonus: Glitter's Connection To Forensic Science

Get ready for some extra sparkle on the heels of last week’s deep dive into “The Great Glitter Mystery.” Retired Forensic Scientist Ed Jones has one of the world’s largest glitter collections. And his side hobby has served him well over the years – glitter helped him solve a murder case back in 2001.
14/11/19·7m 34s

The Great Glitter Mystery

Endless Thread solves one of the internet’s most compelling unresolved mysteries. Inspired by a New York Times feature about glitter last year, Redditors have obsessed over identifying the mysterious industry buying huge amounts of glitter – information which glitter-makers have now famously refused to divulge. No one has been able to find any answers…until now!
07/11/19·39m 32s

Endless Dread: Imaginary Friend

When Kellie's 3 year-old daughter told her about her new imaginary friend, Kellum, she didn't think too much of it. But gradually, Kellum started to feel less and less... imaginary. Kellie and her daughter, Madison, tell us everything.
29/10/19·25m 18s

Snacktime: Even More Dread

Endless Dread continues with two more spooky stories, one about “The Smiling Man” and one about an unsettling recording from a sleep app.
24/10/19·13m 19s

Endless Dread: Olga of Kiev

Olga of Kiev executed one of the most bone-chilling revenge tours in history after her husband, Igor, was murdered. Then, with a burning city in her wake, she converted to Christianity and became a saint.
17/10/19·28m 48s

Snacktime: Endless Dread

We kick off this year’s series of spooky stories in the lead-up to Halloween with tales about a frightening curse and a memorable first date.
10/10/19·14m 32s

Loot Crates

Loot crates are virtual prize boxes available for purchase in video games, containing mystery items like customizations, powerful weapons, or rare gear. They are also the subject of the most downvoted Reddit comment of all-time, the crux of a debate about the definition of gambling, and a window into the history of human evolution.
03/10/19·27m 11s

Snacktime: Restoration

Alex found an old and very rare family photo. The only problem? It was damaged to the point that the faces were completely unrecognizable. So...he turned to Reddit.
26/09/19·10m 13s

Speak Memory

Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri know a lot about us – maybe TOO much about us. But when we’re gone, they also leave our loved ones with something to hold on to. In this episode, we explore how technology is helping preserve memories and changing our relationship to the past.
20/09/19·26m 4s

Snacktime: Who Is 'Batbrat?'

A Redditor named ‘batbrat’ has been quietly solving mysteries for years – identifying everything from a Victorian mourning ring from the 1800s to a single bone of a deer – and others have started to take notice. "Who are you?," one Redditor asked. In today's Snacktime, we find out...
12/09/19·12m 27s

God Is A Capitalist

Hillsong is an Australian megachurch famous for its hipster vibe, multi-platinum house band, and connections to celebrities like Justin Bieber, Chris Pratt, and Kevin Durant. But behind the flashing lights and thick-rimmed glasses is an ultra-conservative church with a dark past.
05/09/19·34m 23s

Snacktime: Diablo and Classic Culkin

Ben and Amory swap recent Reddit gems about an obscure heavy metal band and a surprising Macaulay Culkin appearance at a comedy show.
29/08/19·18m 24s

Geedis

What is Geedis? This is the question that thousands of internet sleuths have been trying to answer for more than two years. The strange, furry character and his buddies in The Land of Ta have remained a mystery of 80’s fantastical proportions. We go down the rabbit hole...and make an exciting discovery.
22/08/19·43m 7s

Snacktime: Into The Woods

This Snacktime episode takes us to the woods, with revenge-filled confessions and mysterious sounds...
16/08/19·13m 33s

Gone Wild Audio

Audio erotica is blowing up right now, from Silicon Valley-backed startups to the rise of ASMR -- not to mention a huge growth in podcasts. But the hub for audio erotica can be found on Reddit in a community of more than 300,000 devoted fans and amateur performers. We dive into this world to understand audio erotica’s surprising moment in the cultural spotlight and the unexpected ways it’s transforming people’s lives.
08/08/19·41m 48s

Snacktime: LSD And Hot Sauce

Ben and Josh trade favorite Reddit stories about an Englishman whose bad LSD trip leads to a months-long French charade and a job seeker whose interview tactics leave him spitting fire...but not in a good way.
01/08/19·13m 23s

The Amber Room

Once considered “the eighth wonder of the world,” the Amber Room was a treasure of kings and architectural marvel before being stolen by Nazis and lost to history. So…what happened? It all depends on who you ask.
25/07/19·30m 44s

Bonus: Dad Bods And Guppies

Remember in January when we talked about New Year's resolutions in our 'Get Motivated' episode? Well, 2019 is half over, so Ben and Amory give an update on their progress.
22/07/19·12m 10s

Snacktime: Sharks And Aliens

SNACK ATTACK! I mean... SHARK ATTACK! I mean, BOTH. Another snack-sized episode for you, complete with shark attacks, the story of a chilling shipwreck, and whatever the heck is happening in Area 51. Boston-area listeners, join the Endless Thread team on July 25 at WBUR's CitySpace for a behind-the-scenes look at our five-part series, "Infectious: The Strange Past and Surprising Present of Vaccines – And Anti-Vaxxers." Event info: https://wbur.fm/2XXJIts
18/07/19·16m 2s

Pile Of Crockery

The thrilling conclusion to an internet mystery surrounding a massive pile of dishware in the middle of the woods.
11/07/19·32m 30s

We Want Plates!

A Redditor stumbles upon a huge pile of plates in the backwoods of Pennsylvania. Reddit sleuths across the globe try to figure out where the plates are located and how they got there. Endless Thread embarks on an epic journey to Pennsylvania to get to the bottom of this mystery, once and for all. See the plates here: http://www.wbur.org/endlessthread/2019/06/28/we-want-plates
27/06/19·41m 10s

Endless Thread Presents: Pride Stories From 'Kind World'

In honor of Pride month, the Endless Thread team shares a pair of stories from another WBUR podcast -- Kind World. Co-hosts Yasmin Amer and Andrea Asuaje tell stories about the profound impact an act of kindness can have on us. Enjoy, and happy Pride to all!
24/06/19·14m 4s

Snacktime: In A Pickle

Snacktime returns with the story of a Redditor who got into quite the sticky situation. All he needed to get unstuck was a captive Reddit audience…and a jar of pickles.
20/06/19·7m 56s

Shipwrecked

When someone close to you dies, it can be a struggle to feel normal again – and to have people TREAT you normally again. When T.J.’s long-time partner died suddenly in 2017, she found a sense of normalcy and healing from strangers in the r/Widowers community on Reddit. Full transcript and more information about this episode at: http://www.wbur.org/endlessthread/2019/06/14/shipwrecked
13/06/19·36m 17s

Infectious, Pt. 5: Talk To Me

At the end of the day, our species only survives if we can communicate. In our fifth and final episode of "Infectious," we hear from those whose lives have been irrevocably altered by vaccines and learn about a radically simple solution to the current controversy – one which has already started to pay dividends.
30/05/19·42m 55s

Infectious, Pt. 4: Anatomy Of An Outbreak

Even considering the winding road of scientific advancement and the new expressway that is the internet, what the heck happened in Clark County? With reporting from the ground in Washington and Oregon, we take the fourth episode of our vaccine series to trace the societal pathogens, identify the symptoms, and try to prescribe a solution to what some are calling a “canary in the coal mine” for a near future of eroding herd immunity and increasing threats of outbreak for all kinds of diseases in the U.S.
23/05/19·44m 31s

Infectious, Pt. 3: Going Viral

You can’t tell the story of today’s anti-vaccine — or “vaccine hesitant”— movement without telling a story of technology and social media. Part 3 of our "Infectious" series looks at the spread of anti-vaccine messaging online and how the Internet and social media have made it possible for vaccine-related misinformation and hoaxes to reach further and faster than ever before.
16/05/19·46m 40s

Infectious, Pt. 2: The Flintstone Dilemma

There was a time when the measles were common enough to be a source of comedy on TV shows like "The Flintstones." So how did we go from joking about the measles to reports on the news about a growing international measles emergency? In the second episode of our "Infectious" series, we embark on a search for truth, aided by a renowned pediatrician and several prominent anti-vaccine activists. Along the way, we look at how vaccines actually work, fallout from the swine flu pandemic, and the highly controversial -- but unproven -- link between vaccines and autism.
03/05/19·38m 42s

Infectious, Pt. 1: Scabs, Pus, And Puritans

The problem with being healthy is that you completely forget what it feels like to be sick. In 2019, many people assume that the history of vaccination is recent history -- maybe a few centuries of innovation starting in the late 1700s. The truth is much more convoluted: centuries of ancient customs developing slowly into a cycle of extremes -- scientific innovation followed by fear, rejection, and sometimes, violence. In the first episode of our special series, 'Infectious,' we explore this recurring cycle and how it echoes still in 2019.
03/05/19·37m 7s

'Endless Thread' Presents: 'Infectious'

"Endless Thread" presents "Infectious: The Strange Past and Surprising Present of Vaccines – and Anti-Vaxxers."
26/04/19·2m 38s

Bonus: Jon Favreau, Live At CitySpace

T-minus one week until Endless Thread returns with new episodes! In the meantime, let's talk politics -- because Ben recently interviewed Jon Favreau, co-host of "Pod Save America" and former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, live onstage at WBUR's CitySpace. In this bonus episode, we all have a front-row seat...
26/04/19·42m 54s

Bonus: Endless Thrones

In advance of the season 8 premiere of HBO's "Game of Thrones," we talk to one of the head moderators of r/gameofthrones and to a couple of in-house GOT nerds to hear some of their fan theories and predictions for the show's final season.
12/04/19·21m 47s

Encore: Pitch Perfect

In celebration of the start of the MLB season, we revisit our baseball-themed episode from last year, featuring everything from Snoop Dogg... to a very unlucky mourning dove.
29/03/19·20m 32s

Remix: Four Love Stories From The Wild World Of Reddit

In honor of Valentine's Day, we took our favorite love stories from previous episodes and created one epic love-centric monster mix. xoxo
13/02/19·58m 23s

Encore: And... It's Good!

Hey football fans, ever heard of the Chicago Bears Principle? How about Winter Magic? Or the UFL? In this Super Bowl-themed episode, Redditors educate us on the stats, the halftime history books, and tackle football on wheels.
01/02/19·36m 34s

Bonus: Harvard Astronomer On Why Aliens Aren't Just Science Fiction

Superstar astronomer Avi Loeb discusses mysteries surrounding the interstellar space object known as 'Oumuamua, why it could be a probe sent by an alien civilization, and how the scientific community should be more willing to acknowledge and embrace uncertainty.
29/01/19·23m 34s

Stuck Between The Rock and Deep Space

News of a mysterious interstellar object flying through our solar system inspired Redditors to collaboratively pen a perfectly cheesy sci-fi action movie. And now, we bring that movie to life as an audio drama. Presenting... "Stuck Between The Rock and Deep Space."
24/01/19·38m 55s

Coming Soon... Our Sci-Fi Radio Drama

This Friday, Endless Thread releases one of its wackiest, most ambitious episodes yet: a sci-fi radio drama based on a movie script, based on a Reddit thread about a mysterious interstellar object. Hold on to your butts...
22/01/19·2m 25s

Cupcake

Chris and Kim have been married for 13 years and things have been going really, really well. So well, in fact, that they wondered... what's next? Their answer: consensual non-monogamy. They think of their additional sexual partners as "cupcakes," sweet additions to the healthy, hearty "meal" that is their marriage.
17/01/19·31m 54s

Bonus: R. Kelly Vs. The Savages

The release of Lifetime's 6-part documentary series "Surviving R. Kelly" has sparked new conversations about the R&B singer -- at the water cooler, on social media, and of course, on Reddit. This episode comes to us from WBUR's "Edge of Fame" podcast, who spoke to a family that claims R. Kelly is holding their daughter hostage. It includes some upsetting details, so discretion is advised.
16/01/19·31m 2s

Get Motivated

Jared Wells was ready to accept death just one year ago. But a year in the gym with a bodybuilding legend has totally changed his perspective on life... and his body, of course. Plus, Ben and Amory share their 2019 resolutions and recruit Redditors to help them accomplish their goals. Read more about Jared here: https://www.reddit.com/r/GetMotivated/comments/85xfn6/image_thank_you_getmotivated/?st=JQEH8X32&sh=a8a167b6
10/01/19·31m 26s

Encore: Something Wicked

"Our landlord isn't letting me talk to you, but it's important we do." This text was written on one of several creepy post-it notes that mysteriously appeared in Redditor u/RBradbury1920's apartment. Who wrote them? Why? And how were they getting there? We get to the bottom of this famous Reddit mystery...
03/01/19·27m 52s

Encore: That Old Chestnut

One of the nuttiest stories of near extinction and resurrection ever seen in the United States. It involves genetic engineering, warring factions of tree enthusiasts, and a mysterious, destructive power that started at the Bronx Zoo.
28/12/18·32m 36s

Humans Being Bros

A Santa who went above and beyond. Emotionally-exhausted parents who received a well-timed helping hand. A surprising invention that warms the heart... and body. We celebrate the season of giving by highlighting some of the kindness shared on Reddit -- including, the story that actually inspired the creation of Endless Thread!
20/12/18·24m 30s

All You Can Eat

Chicken patrol. Tiny plates. Purses lined with plastic bags. We peek behind the curtain of the strange world of all-you-can-eat buffets, from the strategies buffet owners use to protect their profits, to the hungry customers who try to game the system.
13/12/18·27m 47s

The Deadly Double

A Redditor finds a mysterious dice game in his grandparents’ basement. It reads “The Deadly Double: A Game to Play at Your Own Risk.” The Endless Thread team helps him investigate the game and finds surprising connections to Pearl Harbor, the FBI and The New Yorker.
07/12/18·35m 35s

Grateful Doe

An unidentified man died in a car crash in 1995 with Grateful Dead ticket stubs in his pocket. Twenty years later, Reddit sleuths helped solve the case of the “Grateful Doe.”
30/11/18·26m 18s

Encore: The GOAT

The Italian cyclist Gino Bartali could rightfully be called "the GOAT" -- the Greatest of All Time -- for his athletic achievements alone. But in this episode, we tip our hats to him as a humanitarian. During World War II, Bartali was living a double life. It involved the Catholic church, secret missions, Jewish refugees, and what may be the most honorable fake ID operation of all time.
21/11/18·29m 52s

Dear Anon

What do Bill Gates, finding your soul mate, and charting a new life path have in common? Reddit Gifts! The world's largest anonymous gift exchange has led to some unexpected outcomes.
16/11/18·30m 53s

Brain Melt

Redditor Stephanie Graham started feeling a bit off in the third trimester of her pregnancy. Then, things got weird. Really weird.
09/11/18·25m 43s

The Greatest Squirt Gun Ever Built

One of the bestselling toys of all-time, the Super Soaker, was invented by a rocket scientist nicknamed "The Professor." This is the story of the man, the legend: Lonnie Johnson.
01/11/18·27m 51s

Bonus: Magic Mushrooms With Michael Pollan

Author Michael Pollan talks about all things magic mushrooms, including their potential for upending the brain's hierarchy and helping people cope with death.
29/10/18·12m 53s

Screamtime: Zombie Fungus

Imagine a fungus that could infiltrate your whole body, turn you into a puppet, and grow right out of the top of your head. Actually, you don't have to imagine it -- IT'S REAL. It's called Cordyceps, and fortunately, it only has this effect on insects... for now.
25/10/18·29m 36s

Screamtime: Roof Man

Paranormal activity has haunted Darcy throughout her life. But it wasn’t until a nighttime ritual with her daughter turned spooky that she wondered what else might be at play.
18/10/18·20m 49s

Bonus: Australian Scientist Offers First-Hand Account Of Steve Irwin's Tragic Death

Australian scientist Jamie Seymour was friends with the famous "Crocodile Hunter," Steve Irwin. He was even there when Irwin was fatally stung by a stingray in 2006. Jamie sat down with Ben to reflect on that experience and Irwin's legacy.
16/10/18·6m 24s

Screamtime: Doom Jelly

Imagine sitting in a hospital room for 24 consecutive hours in the most agonizing pain you can possibly imagine. You feel a sense of impending doom. You have a feeling this won’t end well. Then, the pain subsides and you walk away. Jamie Seymour has had that experience eleven different times. He’s a leading expert on one of the world’s most frightening creatures and he’s paid the price.
11/10/18·35m 49s

Screamtime: Haunted House, Holy Water

When Alex was in high school, he and his best friend used to break into abandoned houses. Alex was a tough guy, giving people hell. Until one night, in one of those abandoned houses... hell gave him something back.
05/10/18·24m 38s

Turning Hate Into Humor

An elite unit of trolls is engaged in an existential battle against hate speech on the internet. This is their story.
28/09/18·35m 30s

Snacktime: 'Last Seen' Edition

We’re popping into your feed to share a project we think you’ll love. It’s a new podcast called “Last Seen,” about the largest unsolved art heist in history -- the theft of 13 irreplaceable pieces of art from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
24/09/18·14m 21s

The Great Mattress Conspiracy

Why are there so many Mattress Firm stores? How did they end up catty-corner across intersections and in the same shopping centers? Are the mattresses full of money? Reddit users start to dig deeper into these Mattress Firm conspiracy theories, and we team up with Business Insider's "Household Name" to conduct an investigation of our own.
20/09/18·36m 17s

Rome, Sweet Rome

Could a unit of Marines destroy the entire Roman Empire if they traveled back in time? That is the question that inspired the now-legendary Reddit thread that turned James Erwin from an anonymous commenter into a Hollywood screenwriter. His once-in-a-lifetime opportunity did not go exactly as planned.
14/09/18·27m 41s

Tim From Texas

Tim Rose was driving home in February 2015 when he got into a car accident. He was mostly fine, though he went to the hospital just to be safe. That's where things took a turn. He turned to Reddit for help and his life hasn't been the same since.
06/09/18·29m 6s

The Cursed Manuscript

A 17th century monk using a nom de plume pens what could have been the blockbuster of its time: a teenage boy embarking on an epic voyage to the Americas. But, due to a series of bizarre circumstances, it was never published... until now.
30/08/18·32m 6s

Buck It

A Reddit comment about a chance encounter on a train inspires Ben to get hypnotized and Amory to face her fears in front of an audience at an open mic.
23/08/18·28m 3s

Test Of Time

Did you ever receive a love note in elementary school? What happened to the person who wrote it to you? Or what about that person you went to a music festival with in your early 20s? In this episode, we feature two extraordinary stories about relationships that have withstood the test of time.
16/08/18·29m 8s

The Original Most Interesting Man In The World

King David Kalākaua was the last king of Hawaii. But he was much more than that -- he was a traveler, a dreamer, a tech nerd. Or maybe he was fond of drinking, reveling and gambling. It depends on who you ask. But one thing he was not: Boring.
09/08/18·28m 2s

Season 2: First Listen

The Endless Thread team has been hard at work on a new season of episodes. Don't believe us? We have proof! Take a listen to our trailer for Season 2. 
06/08/18·1m 48s

Snacktime: Cake, Camels, and Catfish

It's snacktime! Some more of our favorite quick-hits from Reddit.
02/08/18·21m 39s

Snacktime: A Trade Of Their Own

In this "Snacktime" episode, we chow down on two stories that were sent to us by listeners. The first, a look at how baseball fans on Reddit mark Major League Baseball's annual July trade deadline -- with a trade of their own. Then, a story involving a husband and wife, dinner at the boss' house, and a steak getting thrown out the window... almost.
27/07/18·22m 49s

Snacktime: Steak And Potatoes

Two of Amory and Ben's favorite Reddit posts, both of which have to do with food.
19/07/18·24m 43s

Snacktime

This week's episode is pretty short and sweet -- Amory and producer Josh Swartz talk about their favorite Reddit posts.
12/07/18·18m 48s

Getting Home: Update

We listen back to the story of Shane Correia and get an update from him. Shane's life has been mostly chaos -- from domestic violence, to a murder conviction in his family, to homelessness. But he's had two constants: a folder and a turtle.
05/07/18·45m 41s

Call of the Void

When you’re in a high place, peering over a ledge or a drop off, do you ever get that super weird feeling that you should just...jump? This is a real scientific phenomenon. It has a name: The call of the void.
28/06/18·26m 21s

Axeman's Jazz

A serial killer dubbed "The Axeman" terrorized New Orleans in 1918-1919. One day, the local paper published a letter he'd written saying that he would strike again on a particular night. The only thing that would spare you... was listening to jazz. We dive into this popular TIL story from Reddit.
22/06/18·30m 3s

Still Breaking

Redditors discover a massive online conspiracy. A man risks life, limb and the ire of morning motorists to protect the ideal of a free and open internet.
15/06/18·35m 55s

The Rest... Is History

Every relationship has a story. Samantha and Laura's is extraordinary. In recognition of Pride month, we bring you a story of love in transition.
07/06/18·31m 14s

I, Ken Bone

We talk to the man, the meme, the legend: Ken Bone. What happens to a meme deterred? We find out.
01/06/18·24m 39s

In Memoriam

Death: It comes for all of us, eventually. This week we bring you two tales from Reddit about the Grim Reaper himself. One involves gravestones; the other, a "natural" way to think about burial.
24/05/18·26m 31s

Rice Bunny

How Chinese #MeToo activists are keeping the movement alive, despite government censorship.
17/05/18·25m 28s

Bonus: Yanny Vs. Laurel... Vs. Yaley?

We bring you a bonus episode that takes on the "Yanny vs. Laurel" debate that's dividing the Internet.
16/05/18·16m 53s

Schooled

It's May, which means most of the kids in school right now are thinking about the summer. And to celebrate, we've got two stories about some rather unfortunate school mishaps.
10/05/18·23m 19s
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