myth

From the Vault: The Science of Holy Butter

There's more to butter than meets the eye. Each yellow pat of fatty goodness is nothing short of processed solar energy, and its long history entails many a magical and sacred rite. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian consider the curious nature of butter. (Originally published Jan 10, 2017)

The Sacred Mountain, Part 2

Why do sacred mountains exist in so many cultures and myths? To what extent could high altitude conditions contribute to the way our mind processes these breathtaking environments? In this Stuff to Blow Your Mind two-parter, Robert and Joe explore the wonder and science of sacred mountains.

The Sacred Mountain, Part 1

Why do sacred mountains exist in so many cultures and myths? To what extent could high altitude conditions contribute to the way our mind processes these breathtaking environments? In this Stuff to Blow Your Mind two-parter, Robert and Joe explore the wonder and science of sacred mountains. 

Gáe Bulg: The Spear of Death

Irish myth tells of a spear so deadly, that its deployment is certain death. Forged from the bones of sea monsters, the Gáe Bulg would send barbs through its victim’s every vein -- but only if the hero threw it with their foot. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick unravel the myth, history and science of this impractical Irish wonder weapon. 

From the Vault: Tree of Life

Sacred trees. World trees. Holy trees of wisdom, immortality and the soul. They seem to grow from every culture on Earth and their roots dig deep into the soil of prehistory. What do they mean? Why are we so drawn to their symbolic power? Join Robert Lamb and Christian Sager for a stirring exploration. (Originally published Nov. 30, 2017)

Ritual of Oak and Mistletoe

Twas the night before Christmas and deep in the woods, a sacrifice was planned by the Gauls and their Druids… Yes, in this holiday episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the curious biology of everyone’s favorite smooch-inducing tree parasite -- as well as some of its alleged magic powers and scientifically-studied properties. 

From the Vault: The First Monster

Humans love monsters, but when did we first dare to dream up bestial hybrids and chimerical horrors? In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick consider the 35-40 thousand-year-old Löwenmensch statues. Who created these images of lion-headed men? What do they represent and what do they reveal about human cognition? (Originally published October 27, 2017)

Age of the Earth, Part 1

Scientific consensus currently holds that the Earth is a 4.5 billion-year-old planet in a 13.8 billion-year-old universe. But how do we know? Why do religious models of a much younger (or older) Earth fail to pass the baloney test? In this two-part Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the answers.

Divine Weapon: The Trident

What are we to make of the trident? The three-toothed spear has seen service as the divine weapon of mythic deities, the fishing implement of common mortals and a symbolic weapon in gladiatorial combat. What does it mean, and was it ever a practical weapon? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick look for answers in myth, archaeology and military history. 

The Gods Must Be Counterintuitive

What’s the key to a lasting myth, a captivating religion or a sensational film pitch? Some cognitive scientists and anthropologists argue that the key is a minimally counterintuitive narrative: the right balance of the mundane with just a dash of the unreasonable and unexpected. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as they discuss the minimal counterintuitiveness effect.