Right Now in Stuff You Should Know

Iran-Contra Affair: Shady in the 80s, Part 1

When Ronald Reagan was president, America got involved in some deeply shady stuff, not the least of which was the Iran-Contra scandal – a convoluted operation that managed to combine an illegal covert war in Nicaragua with secretly selling arms to Iran.

SYSK Selects: How the Black Death Worked

The Black Death was gruesome: Symptoms included tumors, purple splotches, fevers and vomiting. But how did this disease manage to spread from the Gobi desert and kill approximately one-third of the population of 14th-century Europe? Find out in this classic episode.

What Were the BONE WARS?

A pair of old timey fossil hunters had a rootin’ tootin’ rivalry that spilled from academic journals into the American Wild West - where fossils were dynamited and employees turned double agent. Learn about the two-fisted origins of American paleontology.

Short Stuff: The Man Who Didn’t Eat for a Year

In 1965, a 456-pound man walked into a hospital in Scotland and asked for help with a fast. That was the last day he ate for more than a year. Learn about the medical marvel that was Angus Barbieri.

Will Deepfakes Ruin the World?

Very recently, thanks to a new type of AI, it’s gotten much easier to create convincingly realistic videos of people saying and doing things they’ve never said or done. Will fake videos undermine our shared sense of reality and lead to the death of truth?

SYSK Selects: How Human Cannonballs Work

There's no question that human cannonballs are daredevils. They pack themselves into the confines of huge cannons, which shoot them into the air. But how does it work? Join Josh and Chuck to learn more about the bizarre performances of human cannonballs.

How Eyewitness Testimony Works(?)

Few things are more compelling than a witness pointing out a defendant in the courtroom as the perpetrator. But few things are also more unreliable than eyewitness testimony. Our memories can be pretty terrible, which matters when you’re facing death row.

Short Stuff: Aristides de Sousa Mendes

This week we highlight another little known historical hero. In this case, a Portuguese diplomat who rescued people from Nazi Germany, at his own peril. Dig in and spread the word of Aristides de Sousa Mendes. 

MOVE: Or When the Philly Police Dropped a Bomb on a Residential Neighborhood

Believe it or not, in 1985 the Philadelphia Police Department dropped a bomb from a helicopter onto a residential building in an African-American neighborhood. The fact that this story isn't more widely known says it all. Listen and learn about MOVE today.

SYSK Selects: How Crack Works

Back in the mid-1980s a new and extremely potent drug hit the scene: crack cocaine. In short order, America was in the grip of both a sweeping addiction and a state of hysteria over use of the drug and the social consequences of crack, like crack babies. Let's take a look back at the receding wave of the crack epidemic and its lasting legacy on America in this classic episode.

Sand Dunes: They Are What You Think They Are

Sand dunes are exactly what you think they are. But still pretty interesting. Learn all about them right now!

Short Stuff: Yellow Rain

After the Vietnam War, the Hmong people told the world a toxic weapon was being used on them. Thus began a mystery that still remains today, which might have been solved when it was chalked up to bee poop.

How Going to the Moon Works

Fifty years ago, the first humans stepped onto the moon. After going back a few more times, humanity lost its taste for moon travel. But it’s being revived again. NASA is planning to send humans back to the moon by 2024 and build a moon base by 2028. 

SYSK Selects: Duels - A Guide to Throwing Down the Gauntlet

Pretty much everything you know about duels is true - it's a challenge to violence to defend honor. But did you know the U.S. Navy used to publish detailed guidelines in its midshipmen's handbook? Learn all there is to know about dueling in this classic episode.

How Sloths Work

Everyone knows sloths are super slow, but do you know they’re slow because their bodies produce an astoundingly small amount of energy? And did you know that might be an adaptation that protects them from predators? Sloths are awesome and we prove it.

Short Stuff: The Coconut Cult

Why we love short stuff - because we can tell stories like this one. A man goes to an island to start a commune of sorts that subsists entirely on coconuts. It didn't go well. 

Cleopatra: Ms. Understood

One of the great misunderstood figures in history was the last pharaoh of Egypt. Cleopatra’s story is almost always told along with the men in her life, and from the view of the Romans who were threatened by her. Unsurprisingly, there was lot more to her.

SYSK Selects: What Makes us Yawn?

What is it that makes us suddenly draw in a deep breath through a wide-open mouth? The beautiful thing about yawning is that researchers really don't know. Whether the answer is physical, mental or even contagious there is pretty much no chance you won't yawn during this classic episode.

How the Fairness Doctrine Worked

Back in the day, broadcasters were bound by law to provide contrasting opinions on political matters. Why? Because of the Fairness Doctrine. What happened to it? Listen in and find out. 

Short Stuff: Mitsuye Endo

In today's short stuff, we look at another amazing woman who has all but been ignored by history. The story of Mitsuye Endo.