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Endless Thread

Endless Thread

The front page of the Internet--also known as Reddit--is making noise. Hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson dig into the site's vast and curious ecosystem of online communities, collaborating with Reddit's 330 million users and over 140 thousand communities to find all kinds of jaw-dropping narratives. A collaboration between WBUR and Reddit.


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Snacktime: War and Crows

We're cooking up a new season of Endless Thread as we speak, dear listeners. But in the meantime, we realized we could probably all use a snack to hold us over. In this episode, we hear about a Redditor who created a fake press pass and found himself in a war zone, and another who accidentally assembled an army of crows. 

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Stonktime: r/WallStreetBets And GameStop

The subreddit r/WallStreetBets has been at the center of a national story this week involving GameStop and a couple of angry hedge funds. To help us understand what?s happening, we call up Planet Money co-host Robert Smith. Then, we speak to Redditor u/Hungry_Freaks-Daddy who hopped on board the GameStop train earlier this week and says he has nothing to lose. 

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Endless Thread Presents: Anything For Selena

Today, we present episode one of Anything for Selena, a new podcast from WBUR and Futuro Studios.

Growing up along the US-Mexico border, Maria Garcia felt torn between her two identities as Mexican and American. But then, something changed her life. She discovered Selena ? the Mexican-American pop icon who proved she didn?t have to choose. In the premiere episode of ?Anything for Selena,? host Maria Garcia explores how Selena helped Maria find her own place in the world.

About The Show:

In "Anything For Selena," Host Maria Garcia takes listeners on a deeply personal journey into the life and legacy of the Mexican-American popstar Selena Quintanilla. She shares how Selena's music and unapologetic sense of identity helped her find her own place in the world. And it explores how Selena's legacy continues to spark important conversations around race, class, and body politics.

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Update: Things Are (Still) Bad

In the aftermath of a violent mob storming the U.S. Capitol building, we got back in touch with Indi Samarajiva. Indi's a writer who lived through the end of the Sri Lankan civil war, and he was featured in "Things Are Bad," an episode we released last October in the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election.

The team caught up with Indi again to ask him about his thoughts on last week's events.

Donate now:

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A Special Announcement

Endless Thread is currently on break cooking up our next season, but we're getting back in touch with a special announcement.

Donate Now:

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Endless Thread Presents: Mystery of the Mullet

While we're on break working on a new season, we recommend checking out Decoder Ring. In each episode, Decoder Ring explores a cultural question, object, or habit; examines its history; and tries to figure out what it means and why it matters. Today we're presenting one of their recent episodes: "Mystery of the Mullet."

The mullet, the love-to-hate-it hairstyle is as associated with the 1980s as Ronald Reagan, junk bonds, and break dancing. But in at least one major way, we are suffering from a collective case of false memory syndrome. In this episode, the Decoder Ring team tracks the rise and fall of the mullet, and also the lexical quandary at its heart: who named the mullet?

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Encore: Black Lives Matter IRL And Online

Endless Thread is on break so we're sharing one of our favorite episodes from the past year. We published it back on Juneteenth 2020 after asking for stories that caught our listeners' attention at the height of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor police brutality protests around the country. The episode was recently included in a roundup of ?100 Outstanding Podcasts From 2020? from The Bello Collective.

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

It's that time of the year again: Endless Thread is going on a winter break. But don't miss us too much. We'll be back in 2021 with a fresh, new, weird, and wonderful version of the show. Before we say goodbye for now, we check in with some of our favorite guests of episodes past.

Episodes updated include:

Get Motivated:

Infectious, Pt 1: Scabs, Pus, and Puritans:

Brain Melt:

Nick, Jess, and David:


Dear Anon:

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Encore: All You Can Eat... And Then Some (Updates!)

Chicken patrol. Tiny plates. Purses lined with plastic bags. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Endless Thread re-releases "All You Can Eat," an episode that peeks behind the curtain of the strange world of all-you-can-eat buffets, from the strategies buffet owners use to protect their profits to the hungry customers who try to game the system. Listen until the end for an update with Jordan, the Redditor and restaurant consultant featured in the original episode, to hear an insider's perspective on how the pandemic is changing the food industry.

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Niall Needs A Friend

A month ago, we received an email that really caught our attention. It was from a listener in Ireland named Niall, who has been feeling isolated during the pandemic. He was wondering if we could help him make some new friends. So... the Endless Thread team got to work.

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Today You, Tomorrow Me

10 years ago, Justin found himself on the side of the road with a blown out tire. Hours went by and no one stopped to help. But just as he was about to give up, something happened that changed Justin forever.

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Low Stakes Hot Takes

We all have that one opinion ? that firmly held, low stakes, non-political belief. You know the one. It's usually met with (low stakes) outrage whenever you dare to say it out loud. Well, we asked you, our listeners, to share your low stakes hot takes with us and, oh boy, did you deliver.

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Endless Dread: An Uninvited House Guest And A Fake Doctor

Ben and Amory swap terrifying tales from Reddit, featuring an uninvited house guest and a doctor with an unusual fetish. Happy Halloween!

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Bonus: 'Brainwashed'

This past Spring, Endless Thread released a series called ?Madness: The Secret Mission for Mind Control and the People Who Paid the Price.? If you missed it, you should go back and listen!

A new series from CBC Podcasts, "Brainwashed," offers fresh perspective on the same topic: a powerful doctor who conducted disturbing, CIA-funded mind-control experiments on patients at a prestigious psychiatric hospital in Montreal.

We recently talked to the host of "Brainwashed," Michelle Shepherd, for this bonus episode. We wanted to compare notes with another reporter who has gone deep on this story and swap takeaways.

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Things Are Bad

With increasing political divide and heightened civil unrest in the United States, many fear that it will culminate in a second civil war. We explore the likelihood of that scenario and hear from someone who thinks America is already in the midst of collapse.

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Endless Dread: Backrooms And Ghostly Photos

In the spirit of Halloween, the Endless Thread team shares spooky stories from Reddit, including the origins of a classic horror movie SFX, the creepy world of r/backrooms, and the mystery surrounding three photos found on someone?s phone.

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Girls Trip

Randi-Lynn thought she was going on a relaxing family vacation to the mountains. Just a few days later, she was hiding in a bathroom and frantically posting on Reddit, asking for help. The headline of her post? "I think I was brought on a girls trip to be brainwashed." 

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QAnon Casualties

For nearly two years, a Redditor named Jitarth Jadeja got deep into QAnon, the Far Right conspiracy theory founded on the idea that President Trump is secretly waging war against a satanic cabal of pedophiles who control the world. ?I was kind of an addict? All I could talk about was Q,? Jitarth says. But then, all of a sudden he had a (re)awakening: ?That was the moment that I realized it was all garbage.?

In this episode, we trace Jitarth?s journey into and, ultimately, out of, QAnon. 


QAnon originated as a fringe online conspiracy theory born in the aftermath of the 2016 election. Since then, it has grown in influence and keeps creeping further into mainstream consciousness. It?s come up in recent White House press briefings and there are current congressional candidates promoting QAnon messages. Q followers have also been linked to murders, armed stand-offs, and kidnappings.

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Snacktime: Spiders Are Bros

Spiders... even the word is unsettling for some of us. But the r/spiderbro community on Reddit is a place where you just might gain a new appreciation for arachnids -- from the petite and unassuming, to the big and hairy.

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Unsent Letters

The unsent letter. We all have one, half-composed in our heads or fully-formed as an email draft. If you?re really poetic, it might be on a piece of paper, yellowing in a drawer. Whatever form these letters take, they go unsent because they might be better left unsent... or because we wouldn?t know how to send them even if we wanted to. 

But there's a place online where these letters find an audience -- a big one. The "Unsent Letters" community on Reddit has over 350,000 members. In this episode, you'll hear from people who wrote letters addressing pet owners, COVID+ patients, bakery workers, bugs killed in the shower, and so much more. 

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Snacktime: Odd Jobs

Do people say, "That's a thing??," when you tell them what you do for a living? Then you probably have an odd job. This week, Endless Thread tips its hat to you as we discuss the odd jobs of Redditors. 

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Tight Squeeze

You might not think about caves in the same breath as you do the deep ocean or outer space, but you probably should. There are approximately 70,000 caves in the United States alone, but the vast majority are inaccessible to the public. That means rare, delicate ecosystems have developed for tens of thousands of years in complete isolation from human contact. That is, until cavers travel deep underground through impossibly small spaces to find them. Join the Endless Thread team as we dive into the claustrophobia-inducing world of caving.

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Snacktime: Dad Jokes

The spotlight is on r/DadJokes, which -- you guessed it -- is home to the most pun-derful, cheesy-but-lovable comedic material the internet has to offer. Starring the experts: Ben & Amory's DADS!

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Angel's Glow

There's a Civil War legend that dates back to April of 1862, in the aftermath of the Battle of Shiloh. Supposedly, when night fell on thousands of wounded soldiers stranded on the battlefield, something strange happened. Some of their wounds started to glow.  Stranger still, those with glowing wounds seemed to have better rates of survival. Stories of this so-called "Angel's Glow" have echoed through history. But it wasn't until 2001, when a teenage Civil War buff embarked on a science project, that anyone found any answers.

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Snacktime: Zelda And Zebra Plants

Author John Boyne and Jeff the zebra plant take center stage in this edition of snacktime. Also, Ben and Amory realize they share an affinity for... melon ballers?

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Ghost Town

In the summer of 2018, Brent Underwood got a text in the middle of the night from a friend saying, "Look at this ghost town for sale!" Within a month, Brent had purchased Cerro Gordo, California, an abandoned silver mining town, with the help of friends and investors. He wants to revive the town for visitors while preserving its history. He's already faced some major setbacks -- from the lack of running water, to getting snowed in there during a global pandemic. But he calls Cerro Gordo his "life's work."

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Snacktime: Harry Potter, Billie Eilish, And 'Soup Tubes'

Ben, Amory, and Josh share some of the most memorable Reddit posts of late, from a "magical" parenting decision to a very bizarre business idea.

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r/randonauts is a fast-growing community of Redditors who use random, quantum-generated coordinates to go on real-life adventures. But what happens when those random coordinates lead you straight to a grisly crime scene?

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Snacktime: Llama At A Wedding

?What are the dimensions of an adult llama?? asked a Redditor called Mrs. Sam Handwich in the "No Stupid Questions" community. "I've been hired to make a tuxedo for a llama and I don't have its measurements," she added. We get to the bottom of this now-famous Reddit post. 

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Images of Black men and women riding horses at protests around the country have been going viral. But the history of Black cowboys goes all the way back to the creation of the American West. The Endless Thread team digs into this history, and looks at how Black riding groups are carrying this legacy forward today.

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Encore: We Want Plates + Pile Of Crockery

Endless Thread is re-releasing a crown jewel from the archives. It's the team's epic adventure to locate a mountain of dishware in the middle of the woods and, truly, it's even more ridiculous than it sounds. Originally released as a two-part story almost exactly one year ago, we've re-edited it into one jumbo "combination platter" for your listening pleasure.  So sit back, relax, and dig in!

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From the supermarket to the housing market, products are getting smaller but prices are not. Why is this happening? And can it be stopped before the toilet paper roll disappears right before our very? reaching hands?

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Black Lives Matter IRL And Online

Over the last few weeks, Endless Thread has been asking for stories that have caught your attention as millions of people around the country and around the world have come together to protest systemic racism and police brutality. Today, Juneteenth 2020, we present some of those stories.

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Bonus: Making 'Madness'

"Madness," our 5-part series about the history of CIA-funded mind-control experiments, involved a lot of research and a lot of interviews -- most of which you heard excerpts from in the series, but some of which? you didn?t. Or, at least, not everything we wanted to share. In this bonus episode, we play highlights from the cutting room floor, answer listener questions, and share more about the making of this series.

If you haven't heard Parts 1 through 5 of "Madness" you should listen to those episodes first.


You can make a donation to Endless Thread and WBUR at the link below. All monthly contributors will continue receiving special Endless Thread bonus material:

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Endless Thread Presents: Truth Be Told

The Endless Thread team has been watching as protests and police brutality have broken out in cities around the country, and around the world. We are working on covering these events thoughtfully and carefully. If you have a story or perspective you want to share, reach out to us at [email protected] 

In the meantime, instead of our regular programming, we?d like to play you an episode of the KQED podcast, Truth Be Told. It?s hosted by one of our colleagues, Tonya Mosley, the co-host of WBUR and NPR?s Here and Now, and their episode from this week is called ?Protesting for the Soul of America: The New Civil Rights Movement.?

Take a listen. 

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Endless Thread Happy Hour

Join the Endless Thread team on Friday, June 5th, at 5pm ET for a happy-hour Zoom discussion of our 5-part, in-depth series "Madness: The Secret Mission for Mind Control and the People Who Paid the Price." We'll answer your questions about the making of the series, the story itself, and about what's coming up for Endless Thread. 

Register here:

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Madness, Pt. 5: The Unreachable Summit

Dr. Ewen Cameron wanted to win a Nobel Prize for his work in psychiatry. He never got one. He died of a heart attack while climbing a mountain in the Adirondacks in 1967. So, we don?t have access to Cameron's thoughts on his own legacy. But we do have his son, Duncan Cameron. In the final installment of ?Madness," we sit down with Duncan, and we explore the shocking ways his father's methods are still being used today.


"Madness" unravels the shocking history of CIA-funded mind-control experiments. Co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson, along with producer Josh Swartz, investigate how the stigma around mental illness, combined with government secrecy, can silence the truth.


You can make a donation to Endless Thread and WBUR here:

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Madness, Pt. 4: Pursuit Of Justice

In the early 1980s, victims of Dr. Ewen Cameron?s mind-altering experiments at the Allan Memorial Institute began a slow process of finding each other and building a case against the CIA for funding Cameron's work. The legacy of that case has played a key role in two separate lawsuits in progress today. These new lawsuits represent the interests of hundreds of families still seeking justice for the brutal ?treatments? their loved ones were subjected to decades ago.


"Madness" unravels the shocking history of CIA-funded mind-control experiments. Co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson, along with producer Josh Swartz, investigate how the stigma around mental illness, combined with government secrecy, can silence the truth.


You can make a donation to Endless Thread and WBUR here:

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Madness, Pt. 3: Subproject 68

As the fear of communism was rising in the U.S. after World War II, government officials set their sights on developing a weapon that sounds straight out of science fiction: mind control. This effort was led by the CIA in a program called MK-ULTRA, which was made up of 149 "subprojects" involving more than 80 academic institutions, prisons, and organizations. In this episode, we learn the dark history of MK-ULTRA and examine the origins of Subproject 68: Dr. Ewen Cameron's experimentation on patients at the Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal.


"Madness" unravels the shocking history of CIA-funded mind-control experiments. Co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson, along with producer Josh Swartz, investigate how the stigma around mental illness, combined with government secrecy, can silence the truth.


You can make a donation to Endless Thread and WBUR here:

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Madness, Pt. 2: Brave New World

Hundreds of people who were experimented on at the Allan Memorial Institute over the course of two decades are all connected to one man: Dr. Ewen Cameron. In this episode, we look at how Cameron rose to prominence in his field and investigate the surprising origins of his treatment program.


"Madness" unravels the shocking history of CIA-funded mind-control experiments. Co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson, along with producer Josh Swartz, investigate how the stigma around mental illness, combined with government secrecy, can silence the truth.


You can make a donation to Endless Thread and WBUR here:

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Madness, Pt. 1: The Sleep Room

In our first episode, we share powerful accounts of abuse at a psychiatric hospital in Montreal, and we introduce the renowned doctor who conducted these disturbing experiments on his unwitting patients.


"Madness" unravels the shocking history of CIA-funded mind-control experiments. Co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson, along with producer Josh Swartz, investigate how the stigma around mental illness, combined with government secrecy, can silence the truth.


Join us for an episode discussion via Zoom on Thursday 4/30 at 7pm ET.

RSVP here:

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Zoom Party This Friday!

This Friday, April 17th, at 7pm EST, Endless Thread is hosting a Zoom party! Join co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson and producer Josh Swartz for a little trivia, an exclusive sneak preview of their upcoming series, "Madness," and of course... some surprises.


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A Parent, A Nurse, And A Patient

Another look at the far-reaching impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In this episode, we hear from a parent who recently had an infant in the NICU, a nurse who fears for his safety, and someone who recently recovered from COVID-19.

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Zombies And Preppers

We speak with Max Brooks about the viral PSA he made with his dad, Mel Brooks, and how his zombie apocalypse novel, World War Z, has become eerily relevant during the coronavirus pandemic. Then, we chat with FrugalChef13, a "prepper," to get her advice about how we can each better prepare for crisis situations.

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How Reddit's Coronavirus Community Became A Global Lifeline

Redditors share how they're coping with the coronavirus pandemic. We also take an in-depth look at r/coronavirus, which has fast become one of the most comprehensive, up-to-date, and reliable sources of information for this constantly developing global story.

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Endless Thread Presents: 'Madness'

Endless Thread presents a special series called "Madness: The secret mission for mind control and the people who paid the price." Get a sneak peek of the series by listening to the trailer now. New episodes coming soon.

"Madness" unravels the shocking story of forced brainwashing and the murky history of CIA-funded mind-control experiments. Co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson, along with producer Josh Swartz, investigate how the stigma around mental illness combined with government secrecy can silence the truth and, ultimately, accountability for disturbing outcomes.

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Encore: Call of the Void

When you?re in a high place, peering over a ledge, do you ever get that super weird feeling that you should just... jump? This is a real scientific phenomenon that a lot of people experience, and it has a name: the call of the void. This week, we're listening back to an episode that made a lot of people feel less alone.

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Snacktime: A Fairy Tale Proposal

In honor of Valentine's Day, Amory tells Ben a snack-size story about a feast-size grand gesture that has left millions of people all over the world wishing they could re-do their marriage proposals.

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Double Life

92-year-old Robert Middelmann uncovered a secret about himself when he was very young. Keeping it was a matter of life and death. But, after many years, Robert decided to share that secret, along with the rest of his extraordinary life story, online. It all started in Nazi Germany?

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Snacktime: Snektime

Ben and Amory dissscusss sssome facsssinating ssstories about sssnakes.

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