5 Email Newsletters To Make You Smarter

1. Atlas Obscura

The site describes itself as the “definitive guidebook and friendly tour-guide to the world’s most wondrous places” and promises travel tips, but the newsletter skews more towards “articles, strange facts and unique events.”
The last edition I received from them (they’re daily) included posts such as ‘The Old Man Who Claimed To Be Billy The Kid’, ‘The Victorian Teenage Girl Who Entertained Crowds By Overpowering Men’ and ‘Why Japan’s Rail Workers Can’t Stop Pointing At Things’, which still has me thinking.

The newsletter is the perfect length — not too many links — and packed full of curios and trivia, as well as serious history along with the weirdness. Perfect for the inquisitive.

2. The Conversation

The Conversation is written and curated by professionals and academics from institutions in the UK (although its scope is very broad). The purpose of the site is to offer balanced op-eds on everything from climate change to politics and arts and culture. They even have a special ‘Brexit’ section (well, they are mainly Brits).

In an article entitled ‘10 Ways We Are Different’, The Conversation is resolute in its aim to “source…[all content] from university scholars and researchers who have deep expertise in their subject.” These scholars write engagingly and absorbingly on their areas of expertise, making for bite-sized in-depth reads on a variety of topical issues in the daily mailout.

3. The Last Word on Nothing

“Science says the first word on everything, and the last word on nothing”

The Last Word on Nothing (or LWON, as it’s known to devotees), delivers blogposts on science and discovery to your inbox. “Curiosity and humility: the human condition,” they announce in the bio, by way of a manifesto. These guys delight in not knowing. Contributors write on everything from biology to social sciences, and always in an empathetic way that makes the subject real. “One of LWON’s preoccupations is with the prevention, detection, and abolition of bullshit,” raged a recent article. I couldn’t agree more!

Especially notable for a series called TGIPF, or Thank God It’s Penis Friday — stories about the medical marvel that is the penis. But with, ahem, a science focus.

More about its history here.

4. Headstuff

Irish website Headstuff is “all about the quality”. It describes itself as a “collaborative hub for the creative and the curious” — framing its commissioning, curating and editing of content as a cure-all for the always-on, content-saturated web. Their idea is, they sift through it all to bring you only the choicest, most interesting nuggests.

A success story in the local media landscape, Headstuff has its fingers in many pies — from podcasting to frequent events, Dublin and nationwide— and features a regular cast of lovable contributors. The tone is matey without being wearing, and ultimately extremely endearing. Shareable.

5. Harper’s Weekly Review

While this one might not exactly make you smarter, it certainly will give you something to make small talk about. Even the ones that sound too outrageous to be true are fully referenced (this doesn’t show up on the email, but links can be followed on the web version to sources). That fact about a 17-year-old student in the UK alerting NASA to false data being recorded on the radiation sensors on the International Space Station could be a godsend on your next lacklustre Tinder date.

The Senate held confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, during which Senator Jeff Flake asked him whether he would prefer to fight a hundred duck-size horses or a single horse-size duck, Senator Ben Sasse praised the strength of Gorsuch’s bladder, Senator Ted Cruz quoted from Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Senator Chuck Grassley announced he would leave early so he could be in bed by 9pm.

That, or it might just make you laugh out loud at horror of it all.


This post was also published on Medium, under the Succeed Together publication header.