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Endless Thread

Author: WBUR

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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.
325 Episodes
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RIP Lil Miquela

RIP Lil Miquela

2024-04-1231:021

In 2016, followers flocked to an Instagram user purporting to be Miquela Sousa, a 19-year-old Brazilian-American model, singer, and sometimes activist. For years, no one was quite sure if Miquela was made-up, or to what degree. Was she a model rendered doll-like by filters? An actress? A totally fictional character? Her ambiguous humanity helped Miquela land lucrative brand partnerships with the likes of BMW and Calvin Klein. But in recent years, interest in her has been slipping. Writer Mercedes Gonzales-Bazan joins Endless Thread to talk about Miquela's mysterious origin story, and what her declining relevance reveals about our current relationship with AI. You can read Mercedes Gonzales-Bazan's essay, Death of the Artificial Influencer, here. Credits: This episode was produced by Grace Tatter. Mix and sound design by Emily Jankowski. The host is Ben Brock Johnson.
Nerd Fight

Nerd Fight

2024-04-0524:241

The halls of science, known for prim propriety and careful debate, are feuding. A new theory of gravity challenges Einstein's general relativity, our current understanding of that thing that keeps our feet on the ground. Physicists are upset. "Cotton gravity"—named in honor of mathematician Émile Cotton, not fluffy flora—was first posited by Japanese researcher Junpei Harada in 2021. The idea, which modifies general relativity and discounts the theory of dark matter, spurred a surprisingly catty argument on arXiv.org, an open-access website for scientific preprints. Things got nerdy. And hilarious. Endless Thread explains. ===== Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mix and sound design by Emily Jankowski. The hosts are Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell.
Shaq Time: Is Shaq OK?

Shaq Time: Is Shaq OK?

2024-03-2929:22

Shaquille O'Neal has some advice: "If you are going to retire, accept it. Enjoy your family," he recently said on The Big Podcast With Shaq. "I made a lot of dumb mistakes to where I lost my family. I don't have anybody." His statement, directed at retiring NFL star Jason Kelce, raised concern online. "What happened with Shaq?" asked one Reddit user in a popular thread. "I thought he was [a] super nice guy. Why is he all alone?" The former four-time NBA champion has developed several personas since the Orlando Magic drafted him in 1992. On the court, he was a giant. Online, he became something different. Endless Thread breaks down the many sides of Shaq to answer the question, Is he OK? ===== Credits: This episode was written and produced by Ben Brock Johnson with help from Dean Russell. Mix and sound design by Emily Jankowski. The hosts are Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson.
The Music Man, Part 2

The Music Man, Part 2

2024-03-2242:361

In the second part of Endless Thread's investigation into a ubiquitous online piano academy, we dig into why some people think it's a front to recruit students to the Church of Scientology and track down the man behind the piano himself. Credits: This episode was written and produced by Grace Tatter with mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts.
The Music Man, Part 1

The Music Man, Part 1

2024-03-1531:162

You may have seen this ad: A frenetic, wild-haired concert pianist says he can make any newbie a virtuoso in months. Just take his online course for $3,000. Too good to be true? Redditors thought so. Posts dating back years cried scam. Some went further and claimed his virtual piano academy is a cover to recruit Scientologists. In Part 1 of "The Music Man," Endless Thread investigates. Credits: This episode was written and produced by Grace Tatter with mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts.
Last week, you heard Endless Thread co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson re-introduce you to how Amory's new podcast, Beyond All Repair, began. This week, they introduce you to the first chapter of Beyond All Repair. Amory has reopened a box that some members of the Correia family were hoping would stay shut forever. Amory first met the youngest Correia, Shane, in 2017 while interviewing him about his experience with homelessness for Endless Thread. But there is another dark chapter of Shane's life: his older sister being accused of murdering her mother-in-law in 2002, when he was 13 years old. Now Shane wants to know, did his sister commit this brutal crime? Note: Episode 2 of Beyond All Repair is out now. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
Encore: Getting home

Encore: Getting home

2024-03-0139:321

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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Encore: The Faker

Encore: The Faker

2024-01-2441:013

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.
Where's the Beef?

Where's the Beef?

2024-01-1954:473

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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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."
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Comments (78)

Foxy

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Apr 11th
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Kevin Schlueter

Too much vocal fry.

Feb 5th
Reply

threeoten

Nice work, dudes! Time for a salad!

Jan 28th
Reply

Paja Storec

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Jan 15th
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Cindy R

Amory (sp?) did NOT vibe with this episode at all 😂

Dec 11th
Reply

Alex McNaughton

this is exactly the kind of episode endless thread does best.

Sep 4th
Reply

Ruth Hayden

I love the melody!

May 26th
Reply

John L. Edwards

the rhyming kinda sucks in this episode.

Apr 12th
Reply

TH3N0RTHSID3

yes! great episode!

Oct 29th
Reply

Ruth Gordon

Please stop this BS 😖😖😖

Oct 27th
Reply

Cindy R

This episode made me feel sad or maybe disappointed. This is the uglier side of the internet that unfortunately is very popular.

Oct 21st
Reply

TH3N0RTHSID3

time to switch up this pair of hosts. the passive aggressive tension makes listening to this podcast painful. shame, I used to love this podcast, always had interesting stories. just need new co-host dynamics.

Sep 2nd
Reply (1)

Brooke Venning

😂😂😂

Sep 1st
Reply

James Reel

ACAB

May 7th
Reply

Alex McNaughton

loved this episode! great story!

Feb 27th
Reply

Glenn Wray

well this was bad. don't do that again, please.

Feb 25th
Reply

Athena K.

Cookie Monster hahaha

Aug 10th
Reply

Athena K.

This was a great episode. So funny!

Aug 10th
Reply

Nic Holmes

Did anyone else hear “Eat a shower in the orange” a couple of times?

May 21st
Reply

Ryan Schaub

I want to do this so bad!

May 12th
Reply
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