The Wholesome Show

A podcast

The Moral Entrepreneurs of The Momo Hoax!

Earlier this year teenagers around the world began* to receive* sinister text messages... from a half bird half woman half ghoul thing from the depths of despair. The messages instructed* these teenagers to do bad things - to hurt themselves - or the creepy ghoul known as Momo would get them!

But - you know the story listener - it was all bullshit. Just a scary image and a made up moral panic, whipped into shape for clicks by moral entrepreneurs. But there is something interesting here - who falls for these things, and why do they fall for them when they do? We explore!


Human brains are, quite simply, one of the most astounding things in the cosmos. They've written the works of Shakespeare, composed the lyrics to most Tool songs, and put people on the moon!

But they've also got... some terrible loopholes. In particular, there's a bizarre loophole in our brains where we can decide if someone we don't like ... isn't really human. And then, we can do awful things to them (sad face emoji).

Dehumanisation is a terrible process that has lead to many terrible things - the perfect thing for a Wholesome Explore!

Wherefore Art Thou Dinosaur Erotica?

Warning - this episode somewhat less safe for work than normal!

Azog is an underappreciated cavewoman in her tribe. The cavemen treat her like a piece a meat, and disrespect her at every turn. Azog cannot change this unless she proves herself as a hunter.

But when she discovers a clutch of baby velociraptors and decides to kill them and triumphantly bring them back to her tribe, things start to get a little weird...

This episode, we explore the weird world of dinosaur erotica, and the weird world on our side that brought it into being!

(Wherefore means why)

The Paradox of Meritocracy

On first glance, the idea of meritocracy sounds like a pretty sensible way of organising society. Put simply, all the good things - rewards and privileges and crowns and jobs and things - go to the people who work the hardest and are the best at things.

Sound pretty fair?

Well it probably wouldn't surprise you, intelligent listener, if we told you that the world today isn't 100% meritocratic. We still have monarchs after all...

But here's the thing. Not only do we not live in a meritocratic world, the idea of meritocracy itself is bad: the more people believe in it, the worse they become as humans. Ugh!

We explore!

Wandering Teeth!

An adult - if they've been good and brushed their teeth properly and haven't had any removed - can have 32 teeth in their mouth.

That's right, 32 teeth in their mouth...

We say 'in their mouth', because if they've been good and brushed their teeth *and they're lucky* they can have a fair few more in other parts of their body! We explore!

Phantom Itches!

What do you do if you have an itch? You scratch it! Of course you do, you're only human. But what if the itch is on a limb YOU NO LONGER HAVE? How do you scratch that, smarty pants?

We explore the weird (horrible) world of intense, intense itchiness!

Getting to Graham's Number

Numbers, by definition, go on forever. Whatever number you think of, you can always find one bigger - all the way out to infinity.

But have you ever stopped to think about what a really big number is actually like? That there are numbers you can't even write out long form inside this universe?

This episode we explore the march of big numbers, all the way up to Graham's Number!

Check out the Wait But Why post here.

People Who... Drink Their Own Urine!

Ok... to people who don't do it, it's weird and gross and wrong. But to people who do do it, it's basically the golden fountain of youth.

That's right, it's Urophagia, or the weird gross quack medicine that is drinking your own urine!

You may not have ever wanted to know about this practice, but your intrepid explorers at The Wholesome Show have done the hard yards for you today - so sit back, pour yourself a glass of something delicious, and enjoy!

Animals on Trial!

Bartholomew Chassenée, a distinguished French jurist of the sixteenth century, made his reputation at the bar as counsel for some... rats. That's right, he successfully defended some rats in court.

How did he get the rats off? What loophole did he find? These are interesting questions...

But perhaps the more interesting question is why were the rats on trial in the first place?

We explore the weird habit of the Middle Ages of putting animals in court room trials!

The Wholesome Show is Dr Rod Lamberts and Dr Will Grant, proudly brought to you by The Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science!

The 1947 Children's New Illustrated Encyclopedia!

The past - they say - is a different country. They do things differently there...

And the best way to see those differences (and laugh and cry at them) is to flick through old time encyclopaedias. So we sat down with the 1947 Children's New Illustrated Encyclopedia, and explored how the world was explained to children in 1947. Join us to find out!

The Indiana Pi Bill!

The number pi (π) is... rather unwieldy. It starts with a fairly simple '3', but then continues past the decimal place with a collection of basically random digits... Here's the first one hundred or so digits: 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067

Edward J Goodwin didn't like this messiness, so he had an idea: legislate a much simpler definition of pi! Instead of that long collection of numbers, just use 3! (Or 3.2, or 4...)

Well, that was a dumb idea. But we love dumb ideas at The Wholesome Show, so we explored!

Searching For A Truth Serum!

It's been the stock of movies for decades - and dreams for centuries - but do truth serums exist?

Spoiler alert (you already knew this): they don't. But that's not for the lack of trying! We explore the heroes (or villains) of science trying to bring this mythical chemical into being!

The Pseudo Science of Generations

What 'generation' are you, listener? Too cool Gen X? Permanently bottom of the economic hierarchy Millenial? Or plutocrat Baby Boomer?

You may have been born during one of these time periods, but it turns out when you look at any actual science, the idea of 'generations' is pretty damn flimsy. So we explored!

The Wholesome Show is normally Dr Rod Lamberts and Dr Will Grant, but in this episode we're led by substitute teacher Sam Vilkins!

Tumblr For Old People!

In recent weeks the popular website Tumblr made radical changes to it's terms of use - basically, banning rude and naughty content!

To celebrate / explore / commiserate this milestone, we old science communicators brought in our Senior Generation Z correspondent Sam Vilkins to explain to us what this crazy website is (was) all about...

The Trial Of The L'Aquila Seven

In April 2009, the Italian city of L'Aquila was hit by a devastating earthquake. 309 people were killed. More than 1,500 were injured, some 20,000 buildings were destroyed and 65,000 were temporarily displaced. Some estimates put the damage at $16 Billion.

Less than a year later, six leading Italian scientists and one government official were charged with manslaughter in connection with the case.

Did they fail to predict the unpredictable? Were they scapegoats blamed by an angry public? Or were they foolhardy in the face of fear?

We explore the trial of the L'Aquila Seven, joined today by Sam Vilkins!

Open Plan Offices!

Listener, how do you feel about your co-workers? Do you love them deeply, or would you describe them like this?

"I have inevitably come to despise my co-workers with every molecule of my stressed and wretched being."

Well... I hope not the latter.

But someone out there does feel this way, and they feel this way because of OPEN PLAN OFFICES.

This episode we explore the nightmarish hellscape of our 9 to 5. Enjoy!

Tabby's Star!

Every now and then scientists hit on something weird - something in the wide world out there behaving not quite as you'd expect. Astronomer Dr Tabetha S. Boyajian discovered one of these weird things: a star with something strange orbiting it. Could it, just possible, be home to super advanced aliens???

We explore the potential (but, in all fairness, not super likely) alien megastructures surrounding KIC 8462852, or Tabby's Star!

The Murderous Doctrine of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko

Between the 1930s and the 1960s, Trofim Denisovich Lysenko was heralded as a hero of the Soviet Union - a champion of science, a legend of agriculture, a feeder of the nation.

But it was all bullshit: Lysenko was a charlatan, a fraud whose pseudoscience saw millions starve to death and legitimate scientists executed. It was a dark time indeed.

So we explore!

The Magical (Scientific) World of Ants!

Temnothorax albipennis - or rock ant - has a unique ability in the tiny animal world: to act like a SUPERORGANISM!

Here's a description from our friends O'shea-Wheller, Sendova-Franks and Franks:

"...removing [Temnothorax albipennis] individuals from directly within the nest causes an evacuation response, while removing ants at the periphery of scouting activity causes the colony to withdraw back into the nest. This suggests that colonies react differentially, but in a coordinated fashion, to these differing types of predation. Our findings lend support to the SUPERORGANISM concept, as the whole society reacts much like a single organism would in response to attacks on different parts of its body." (Emphasis added to cool word).

This episode we explore the magical (scientific) world of ants!

***Please note we made no jokes about the name of the Temnothorax albipennis, we apologise for this astonishing lapse in judgement.