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How do I stop projecting onto people? What do you do when you get pigeonholed as "the smart kid"? Is English class valuable? And of you have any advice for new drivers...of course we very careful and do not kill us.

NOTE: This was recorded before the big Mars news that was released today but, oddly enough, I talk about the thing that the news is about which is a bit confusing. Sorry about that.

 Intro (0:00

Hank: Hello, and welcome to Dear Hank and John.

John: Or as I prefer to think of it, Dear John and Hank.

Hank: It's a Podcast where me and my brother, John, give you dubious advice, answer your questions, and bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. But first, we talk about...

John: What a week it has been for AFC Wimbledon.

Hank: Oh, well, we'll get to that. But first, let's just talk about how our weeks are going, not yours. And I think that you promised us last time an update on your interactions with Miss T. Swift.

John: Hank, I did meet Taylor Swift. She was incredibly nice. It was such a pleasure. She also said really nice things about me and my books, from atop the spinning stage where she performed. It was a pretty magical evening.

Hank: Oh, like, in front of the people?

John: In front of the 14,000 people at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Yes, it was a pretty magical evening, and I felt so grateful to be there. I do have to say as much... I spent very little time with Miss Swift herself, but I did spend a ton of time with her parents, who were just lovely. 

Hank: Oh!

John: Such, such lovely people. And I realized that, you know, probably to Taylor Swift, it's appropriate for me to hang out with her parents, because in her mind we are all about the same age.

Hank: (Laughs) Well, aren't you actually about the same age as Taylor Swift's parents?

John: I mean, I am younger than Taylor Swift's parents, but I realize that to Taylor Swift, and also just to chronological fact, I am closer in age to them than I am to Taylor herself which was a real awakening for me. But, no. It was so much fun. She puts on such a great show. As you know, I am a huge fan of hers, but I thought that she just did a wonderful job. It was just an amazing night. It was really wonderful. Vance Joy, who's on the Paper Towns soundtrack, opened up for her, and he was great as well. And so it was a great week for me. And then on Monday I had this horrific oral surgery. So if my voice sounds a little weird, it's because there's all of this, like, cotton and stitches in my mouth, and stuff. So that was a bit of a, that was a bit of a bummer. But other than that, things are great. How are you?

Hank: I'm good. We had our company retreat this weekend, so I was very, very tired after that, and I maybe, I maybe drank a little much, but it was great to hang out with all the people who help us produce SciShow and Crash Course and VidCon and send some stuff for DFTBA Records. And some of the people came up from Indianapolis and they were great, and we just had a great time. So that's, that feels good, to be part of a good team, and then in addition to that I did 21 interviews for a press junket for SciShow and our work with Emerson, an engineering company that we, that supports SciShow's content. And that started at 5:00 in the morning, and was really hard! And it's the second one I've done, and I know you've done a thousand of them, but boy is that exhausting.

John: Yeah, I find that I cannot blame anyone for anything they say in a press junket interview. Robert De Niro got a bunch of flack last week for walking out of an interview after saying that the interviewer was condescending, and I was really moved by the fact that the interviewer was empathetic toward Robert De Niro and was like "I don't think that I was being condescending, but to be fair, those things are horrible", (Hank laughs) and I don't really blame anyone for anything that they say in them. And that's kind of how I feel. Now when I see that, you know, somebody said something, you know, problematic or off-color, or whatever, in an interview that's in a press junket, I'm just, you know, I want to, I go to see if they apologize, because if they apolog... I don't even feel like you have a brain when you're doing those things. It's just absolutely, I feel like my soul is leaving my body.

Hank: Mhmm. Yep.

John: But we're complaining about the first worldiest of first world problems. Can I read, can I read a poem to you?

Hank: Read me a poem John!

John; Hank, today's poem comes to you from George Bilgere. You liked the funny poem last week so much that I thought I would read you this one. You've heard it before, but boy do I like it. It's called The Return Of Odysseus. You're familiar with The Odyssey, right Hank?

Hank: Mmm yeah, I've heard of it. Did they make it into a movie? Was it a movie?

John: The Too Long; Didn't Read version of The Odyssey is that after a number of years at war, Odysseus goes home, but it takes him, like, 20 years to go home, hence it being an Odyssey. Alright Hank so here is The Return Of Odysseus by George Bilgere.

"When Odysseus finally does get home
he is understandably upset about the suitors,
who have been mooching off his wife for twenty years,
drinking his wine, eating his mutton, etc.

In a similar situation today he would seek legal counsel.
But those were different times. With the help
of his son Telemachus he slaughters roughly
one hundred and ten suitors
and quite a number of young ladies,
although in view of their behavior
I use the term loosely. Rivers of blood
course across the palace floor.

I too have come home in a bad mood.
Yesterday, for instance, after the department meeting,
when I ended up losing my choice parking spot
behind the library to the new provost.

I slammed the door. I threw down my book bag
in this particular way I have perfected over the years
that lets my wife understand
the contempt I have for my enemies,
which is prodigious. And then with great skill
she built a gin and tonic
that would have pleased the very gods,
and with epic patience she listened
as I told her of my wrath, and of what I intended to do
to so-and-so, and also to what's-his-name.

And then there was another gin and tonic
and presently my wrath abated and was forgotten,
and peace came to reign once more
in the great halls and courtyards of my house."

The Return Of Odysseus by George Bilgere. One of my favorite poems largely because of it's last word, "In the great halls and courtyards of my house." Not my home, not my palace, my house. The least pretentious word he could have chosen in that moment. Beautifully, beautifully written poem. Just couldn't be better start to finish, and I thought that you'd like it Hank, because you like a good funny.

Hank: I do! I find that maybe funny poetry is the right entrance for most people. It seems to be for me.

John: Alright well don't worry, I'm gonna get very sad and serious next week.

Hank: OK. Make me feel things, John!

  Question 1 (6:42

John: Hank, would you like to begin by answering a question from one of our beloved listeners?

Hank: I think that it wouldn't be quite correct to call it beginning, but I will continue with a question from one of our beloved listeners. This one is from Anna, who asks "Dear Hank and John. Sometimes I will notice that my idea of a person isn't who they actually are, but rather who I want them to be. For me it can be really hard to stop thinking about them that way, and see them for who they actually are. How would you suggest I do that?"

John: Well Anna you've asked the big question of being a person, maybe the biggest one. Um, yeah, I mean inevitably we're gonna project our own ideas of other people onto those people, because we're stuck inside of our own consciousness and we can never quite imagine what it's like to be someone else. We can never quite, you know, do a perfect job of listening, and stop projecting. I've been thinking about that a lot this week, because my religion professor from college and my great mentor from college Professor Donald Rogan, died this week. He was 85 and lived 15 years longer than I expected him to. I figured that the old man would die within a year or two of my graduation because of course, in my mind, my presence in his life was the center of his life (Hank laughs). But, you know, but in reality, you know, he had a wonderful family, a loving wife of to whom he was married to for more than 50 years. Beautiful children and then grandchildren and great grandchildren. And so Don had this, you know, rich and wonderful life that I could only glimpse because I was stuck looking at his life from my own eyes, and kind of seeing myself in the center of it. That challenge I think of, like, doing a better job of listening to other people so that we can empathize with them better is, like, the biggest challenge of adulthood. We've talked about it before on the Podcast, but like, I... Yeah. I mean, that's something that I still struggle with all the time. Am I doing a good job of listening to this person, or am I projecting my own feelings and ideas onto them?

Hank: Yeah, and I'll say, Anna, that the number one, the number one first step is to realize you're doing it, which I don't think most people even do, and often times you, I forget that I'm doing it. And so the real strategy is to just know you're doing it and, you know, you can try to project, you can try to form a more accurate picture of a person, but you can never really form an accurate picture of them, so just know that you aren't. And that's so powerful, and even people who have known each other for very long times, I will still after 12, 13 years of being with my wife I will, she will do something that I find totally unexpected and very unlike her, and I will say "What? Why would you have chosen to do that thing?" and she's like "What do you mean? This is totally a thing that I would do." and I'm like "I guess, I guess I just have to work harder at understanding who you are still."

John: Yeah, I think... In fact I just did this to you maybe, Hank, right before we started recording the Podcast, we were talking and I accused you of pontificating from a place of knowledge when in fact it's possible that you were just being yourself and I was feeling defensive about my lack of knowledge about something. And in general, like, it's just so, so hard to listen to even the people you're closest to. It's so hard to sort of put yourself out of it because of course like everything that you hear is filtered through yourself and through your consciousness.

Hank: Mhmm.

John: And it's almost impossible to know when you're doing it. But just being aware of how much that's inevitably going to shape your world view, your own experience, your own, you know, your sense of self, I think sets you on the right path, hopefully.

Hank: Yes, it is a tremendous first step and I am proud of you for making it.

  Question 2 (10:44

John: Alright Hank our second question comes from Emily, who's 15, and who writes "Dear John and Hank. Do you have any advice for someone who just got their driving learner's permit?" I have a piece of advice, Emily. Don't drive too much.

Hank: Oh?

John: Don't drive too much. Just drive a little bit, because you, and I say this with great affection, are a danger (Hank laughs) on the roads. You are a threat to me, and to my family.

Hank: Uh, kay. Yes, and in addition to that, just know, and this is very important, that you are not a good driver. (John laughs) This is, this is fine.

John: Emily I don't know if Hank and I are doing a good job of emphasizing this to you enough so let me just underscore one other thing. You don't drive well. (Hank laughs)

Hank: But what I mean when I say that you are not a good driver isn't that... You might be a good driver, but the number one thing is to never think that you are a good driver, because it's people who think that they are good drivers that are the most dangerous.

John: That's so true.

Hank: Because they have never been in an accident, because they've been driving for six months. And they are like "Well, I have clearly an amazing track record. I have never got a ticket, I've never been in an accident, I've never made a single mistake." And it's when you are in that space between knowing you're bad and being good that you are the most dangerous person. That's when a, that's a very dangerous place if you're learning how to fly. That space between knowing that you suck and then actually being good. When you've stopped remembering that you're not very good, but you aren't actually very good, that's when you die. So, you're not a very good driver, and that's OK, because you're gonna get better. But carefully.

John: And not just that, I never wanna think that I'm a good driver.

Hank: Yeah.

John: I'm always suspicious of people who are like "I'm a very good driver." The only person I've ever driven in a car with who said "I'm a good driver." and I believed them, was a professional racecar driver.

Hank: They are good drivers.

John: He was fundamentally different as a driver from everyone else I've ever driven with.

Hank: Well I'll also say that I've driven with professional drivers who are pretty amazing. Taxi cab drivers in London I felt are just amazing drivers. And we also were driven on John's Fault In Our Stars tour by-

Both: Julie.

Hank: Who is an amazing driver.

John: Julie. Amazing!

Hank: She was for years a truck driver.

John: And when you're with an amazing driver like Julie, one of the things that you recognize immediately is that you are not very good at this (Hank laughs). Like, it's not until you're with a driver like Julie that you realize that there's a whole world to driving that you just don't understand. You know, there's a whole world to being ready for any emergency that, you know, most of us just haven't reached yet.

Hank: Yeah.

John: And so I think the number one thing that most of us who are bad drivers like Hank and Emily and myself, the number one thing that we can do is remember that we are bad and try to drive defensively and carefully. Now obviously you don't want to drive in fear, but you should drive defensively and carefully, and you should remember: never drive drunk, never drive when you are in any way impaired, and assume that everyone else on the road is a terrible, distracted driver.

Hank: Mhmm, mhmm, mhmm.

John: Emily I'm sorry if it sounds like our advice is a little firm on this one (Hank laughs), but I just...

Hank: Yeah, what it comes down to is that driving is the most dangerous thing that we do, and we should be careful.

John: Driving is not the most dangerous thing that I do, Hank, but you're not a risk taker like I am. (Hank laughs)

  Question 3 (14:35

Hank: Alright we got another question from another Emily. Is that OK? Can we do two Emilys in a row?

John: Yeah, absolutely. Is either of them, do you think, my most important ex-girlfriend, or not?

Hank: Well, is your most important ex-girlfriend currently a sophomore in high school and also the smartest kid in school?

John: No and no!

Hank: Alright, well Emily is, and if you go off grade point averages and test scores at least, but she has this problem that she has become labelled as, and people don't notice her personality, or frankly anything other than her test scores. How does she avoid and/or deal with being objectified for her intelligence? Thank you!

John: Well, I mean the first thing that I would say Emily, maybe this is the same Emily who's a driver. Because they're both 15.

Hank: Maybe!

John: Well...

Hank: They do seem to be roughly the same age.

John: On the other hand, my understanding is that of that generation of young Americans, about 75% of the women are named Emily.

Hank: (Laughs) I think there may be a lot of Emliys, yes.

John: So Emily the first thing that I would say is that you have to remember that, like, intelligence is separate from test scores and really any other metric, right? Like to me, test scores reflect not intelligence, but hopefully, if the tests are good, mastery of material. So, it's not about potential, it's about achievement, although I don't think that, like, you know, what's easily quantified is often a particularly good measure of achievement or understanding. So, assuming that we're talking about achievement and understanding and being able to contextualize your life better in the universe than most people, there's nothing to resent about that.

Hank: Well, I don't think that, I think that what Emily is saying isn't necessarily that she is the smartest, like, she started out by saying she's the smartest kid in school, but what she's saying is she has this problem that maybe she doesn't even think that about herself, but that's what everybody thinks. Like that's the niche she has taken in school.

John: Oh right, OK. So everyone thinks, like they look at Emily and they think "That's the smart girl".

Hank: She's the smartest kid, yeah.

John: And they make all of these broad conclusions about Emily based on this idea that she's the smart girl.

Hank: Right, right, and so she's being stereotyped and of course it's not... Of the things to be stereotyped for, being a smart girl is certainly not the worst one, and like, and you actually also probably get a number of advantages because people assume that you are smart, and they're probably not social advantages, but there are, you know, you probably get extra attention from teachers, and maybe even the administration and your parents, and probably a lot of support. But breaking out of that and, like, being a little sick of just being this one thing to everybody in their mind, it can be very frustrating, I would imagine.

John: No, you're right Hank. I think that any time the world sees you as just one thing, it's exhausting, because you aren't just one thing, and it's very difficult to have to constantly meet someone's expectations for what they think the smart kid is, or what they think the, you know, any simplistic, less than complexly human definition of personhood is exhausting to have to live inside. So I think the thing that I would recommend to Emily is just to remember that, that you aren't merely the smart kid, but also to remember that, like, the people around you aren't merely the boxes that you would put them in. That in fact, likem, you're all extremely complex and, like, these weird, huge webs of personhood. You know what I was thinking about yesterday Hank?

Hank: What?

John: How many organisms are there inside of my body?

Hank: There's a lot.

John: I mean, are there over a billion?

Hank: Living organisms? Yeah, probably.

John: There's over a billion living organisms inside of my physical corpus right now?

Hank: I would guess yes. 

John: But, like, given that, given that there are over a billion things that are not me currently inside of me, like, how, how, what can we... What does that even, what does me mean? (Hank laughs) Me is really, like this gigantic petri dish hosting parasites.

Hank: Yeah, I mean, you're also, there's also a lot of you in you as well.

John: Sure there's... I'm sure there's a billion cells that are me, but there's a billion cells that aren't. There's something profoundly disturbing about that to me. Anyway my point, Emily, is that you are not one thing. You are also, like, a bunch of amoebas living inside of your gut or whatever, but if you know that at your core, then you will chafe against other people putting you in the box, but you will also make it ultimately, I think, make it harder for people to put you in that box.

Hank: Yes, but I would also say that the probably most common thing that people do when they find themselves in this place is that they rebel against that image of themselves, but I would say do your best not to do that because rebelling against being a smart person means making yourself dumb. So don't make yourself dumb, make yourself more complicated and that's really a lot of the story of being a human, is increasing abilities in different ways, and becoming more unique than you already were. But don't rebel against it and lose interest in school, because that could have actual life long badness associated with it. Because you're smart, and you should be smart, and there's nothing wrong with that.

John: I totally agree Hank.

  Question 4 (20:22

John: Can I ask you another question?

Hank: Do it!

John: Alright Hank, this question comes from Walker, who asks "Dear John and Hank. I've been having a problem lately where I feel annoyed at myself for watching and enjoying other people's creations without myself creating something worth sharing. I feel kind of like a short sell, I guess. What should I do to start creating and to live with my human need for affirmation?" First off, Walker, great question, and I like the fact that you acknowledged your human need for affirmation. I think a lot of times when I think about that question I don't think about the affirmation side of things because, you know, in the last several years I've been very blessed to have lots of outside affirmation for my work. I think it's really important to watch and enjoy other people's creations. I think it's really important to be an audience, and I think that enthusiastic members of an audience are also creators. I don't think that creative work can exist independent of an audience, so don't sell yourself too short being a passionate member of an audience, because that is a kind of creation. You are making up the things that you watch and read and enjoy with the people who made them, and they wouldn't exist without you. In the sense that, like, you sort of, like, make it real in a different way when you read a novel than when anyone else reads the novel because you are translating the words into ideas in your head. But I totally understand, like, that urge to make things as well, and I think, like, Hank and I started out making online video in large part because we enjoyed being part of online video audiences so much that we were like "Oh we should be on the other side of the camera."

Hank: Yeah. Indeed that is, that is how that started. I, yeah. I think that the hard part of creation is getting past the part where you're doing it and no one's paying attention because you're not that good at it. The great thing about, like the wonderful thing that happened to me and John is that online video was so new, that even if we were pretty bad, we were better than the rest of what was happening, which was nothing. And so there just wasn't a lot going on, and so it was easier to stand out. And then as online video grew, we got to get better at making videos along with the growth of online video and now we are fairly good at it. But, people have been paying attention to us the whole time, which is great! And we got so lucky, and nobody gets that lucky. And, and yeah. Nobody gets that lucky, and so you have to push yourself to make things because... And knowing that some of the things you're going to make aren't going to be appreciated because maybe they just aren't gonna be that good, or maybe because it's very difficult to find an audience for creations, whether or not they are good, sometimes in this world. 

John: Yeah, I mean, you gotta take a certain amount of pleasure and joy in the act of making something, and something that I have realized now that I have an audience is that, you know, at least for me when it comes to writing, having an audience doesn't help me write, it doesn't help... It ultimately, I think, doesn't motivate me. I have to find pleasure and joy in the act of making the gift regardless of whether I think that anyone will enjoy or appreciate the gift. I have to find a way to love making the thing or else ultimately, I will never make it. So you've gotta find some, at least to me, you have to find some pleasure in the process and some joy in the process. And honestly it's only been in the last couple of months when I really started loving writing again, and loving being inside of a story, that I've been able to make, well what I hope anyway, is real progress, despite, you know, spending the last three years trying to work on a novel, and, like, being very conscious of an audience, which I'm very grateful for, but I think ultimately you've got to find pleasure in the making of something.

Hank: John, I have been thinking a thing, and I haven't run it by anyone yet, so would you mind if I run it by you now?

John: Yeah, sure, no, it's not like anyone's listening.

Hank: I think that there's only two things. There's how you feel, and there's how effective you are. And those are the two things that we're trying to, that we're all trying to craft for ourselves. So, like, the direction the effectiveness goes in, whether that's to make your family happy and healthy and stable, or whether it's to, you know, take over a company and become powerful and control other people's lives, or if it's to cure malaria. That's trying to make this irrelevant to morality, but just say like, there's two things. There's your mood, and there's your effectiveness, and the goal is to have, like... maximize the number of days when you feel happy and pleasant, and then, at the same time, maximize your ability to have effects on the world. And ideally, I hope, that those effects are positive, because that's the kind of effect people want to have. Do you think that there are more than those two things?

John: Yes. I think that that is a radical over simplification of human life. I also think that, like, a lot of your proposals for world views, it excludes the absolute obsolescence that everything that humans do and make and are, will fall into... Like, everything that we think and do and make, and all of the love that we feel for each other, and everything, everything about people, every human creation and every human being will fall into an absolute black hole and there will be no legacy from anything.

Hank: Okay, I get that, I got it, yes. We're all gonna die.

John: No, not just that we're all going to die but that, like...

Hank: Everything's going to stop exist... I, right. Like, I'm not forgetting the entire theme of our podcast, John.

John: (Laughs) It's a comedy podcast!

Hank: About death.

John: Not just death.

Hank But...

John: But the absolute universal obsolescence of all things. Including the universe itself.

Hank: Right. But I think that when we talk about effectiveness, like we talk about effecting the things that we care about.

John: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But I think, like, so my argument, my counter argument, is that you're over simplifying because people don't want to be, like, capital-E Effective. They wanna be effective in certain ways, and the reasons they want to be effective in various ways is about more than mood and urge toward effectiveness. Like, I think that, I think that culture and the social order shape, shape lots of that stuff. But I also think that individual people within social orders also, you know, also make changes for reasons other than wanting to be happy or wanting to be effective. I think that altruism plays a role, I think that narcissism plays a role. I think that... I always feel like it's a little bit more of a complicated stew than you can fit onto a bumper sticker. 

Hank: Well, what's the fun in that, though? Maybe we should just put that on a bumper sticker. "This is a more complicated stew than you can fit on a bumper sticker" on a bumper sticker.

John: Right, "My consciousness is a more complicated stew than you can fit on a bumper sticker." A bumper sticker available now at Today's podcast is brought to you by; your friendly internet E-tailer for Dear Hank and John merchandise that does not exist yet.

Hank: This podcast is brought to you by the smartest kid in school. The smartest kid in school turns out to be a lot more complicated than you think, and you should give them a little more credit for their, for the variousness of their consciousness.

John: This podcast is brought to you today by fifteen year old drivers. Fifteen year old drivers, please, please God, please God, just be careful. 

Hank: (Laughs) That's good.

  Question 5 (28:42

John: Hank, I think we have time for one more question before we get to the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon. This question is from Alex. He writes "Dear John and Hank. What do you think of English class? I can wholeheartedly say that the only thing I've gotten out of all the classes I've taken is an increased vocabulary. I don't think that reading anything that's been assigned to me has helped me with anything else in life. For some perspective; I just graduated high school and will be majoring in computer science at university. Maybe it just hasn't helped me yet, but I can't help but feel like I've wasted a lot of time reading these books, and I just see English class as someone telling me how to have fun."

Hank: How interesting.

John: Well Alex, you're not going to like my answer. You might like Hank's answer. Everybody wants me to say that English classes are useless, and that they like, kill books by dissecting them, and they take the soul out of reading, and yada yada yada, and I just don't agree with that at all. I feel like if you haven't gotten anything out of English class, that might be the fault of your English teachers, but it's most likely your fault. Because, you know, we have this glorious record of human storytelling that stretches back more than a thousand years, where we can understand, like, what mattered to people and why. What mattered to Nathaniel Hawthorne, what mattered to Shakespeare, what mattered to Chaucer, and then, you know, what matter to Homer when he was writing The Odyssey. But even putting that aside, to me the most important thing that we get from English class is an understanding of non literal communication. And I would argue that, like, essentially all of the most important communication is non literal. That like, symbolism and metaphor are the main ways that we approach one another as human beings, and the main ways that we seek to understand each other. Like, I cannot really talk to you about my soul. About the experiences and pain and joy that's inside of me without using symbolic language. I mean, some would argue that, like, language is inherently symbolic and that when you, for instance, are engaging in computer science, like, you are essentially trying to use the symbolic language to translate ideas that exist in your mind into programs that can be useful to people, which is what literature is trying to teach. But putting that aside, because I know Hank will disagree with me there, I think that, like, trying to understand how we use language symbolically to communicate ideas to each other is absolutely essential. Like that is something that's really, really important, and the truth is that the books that you read in high school are very useful for that. Now Hank is going to disagree with me because I know he didn't read any of the books in his high school English class, and now he has this incredibly sophisticated symbolic imagination, which he absolutely does, but that's my own experience of the benefit of high school English class, is that for me, it was a way in to reading about the ways that people who live lives very distant from mine approach the big questions of being a person, and then secondarily, learning about symbolism and metaphor as a way of communicating my internal experience to other people, and appreciating their internal experiences when they describe them to me.

Hank: Alright. Alex, I hope that I have a satisfactory answer for you as well as John's very satisfactory answer, but maybe one that will hit a little closer to home for your clearly analytical mind. We're really bad at knowing what affects us. We're really bad at knowing what builds us and what makes us who we are. I felt the same way as you when I graduated from school, that I had gone through a lot of classes that didn't have a serious impact on me. And yet, when I looked back at how I felt and saw the world when I was a freshman in high school versus how I saw and felt about the world when I was a senior in high school, those things changed dramatically. And it was a combination of all of the classes that I took, a combination of all of the things that I learned, and also things that I learned out side of classrooms of course, but I don't know that we know how deeply we have been built by the things that we are asked to read or engage with in school, or in life. But I, in my... Like I truly feel that I am constructed out of the conversations I've had, and the stories that I've had, and the thoughts that I've had, and the things that have been shared with me, and hopefully, in your English class as well as in other things, like, you have been constructed into a more full and interesting person. And that might not help you with your computer science degree, but it might very well help you with asking interesting questions about your past, and your future, and engaging with other people in the world that you are going to inhabit for the next, hopefully, 60 or 70 years of your life. So...

John: I was going to say at least 200!

Hank: Well, you never know.

John: Let's give the man some credit. He lives in a glorious future that you and I will never glimpse because we are so much older than he is. I suspect, I'm gonna take the over under on his remaining years at 100.

Hank: You think so? That's great news for Alex!

John: No, congratulations Alex, on what will no doubt, now that I have gambled on you, be an incredibly long lifetime.

Hank: Alright. Well maybe Alex will be the one who codes his consciousness into a computer for the very first time, and then Alex's consciousness will become the sort of over arching morality of the entire world, and will control all of our actions, but in a way that makes us live happy and fulfilled lives.

John: No pressure Alex.

  News from Mars (34:26

John: Let's get to the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon. Hank, what's the news from Mars so that I can get to the amazing news from Wimbledon?

Hank: Well John, as you know, on the surface of Mars are...

John: Boring! Sorry, what?

Hank: (Laughs) The news from Mars is that, as you know, John, there are these features called recurring slope lineae, which have been showing up in areas of Mars that are deep depressions. They show up in the summer months, so when it's warmer, and there's much debate about what these things are made of, and they look for all the world, like water seeping into the sand of Mars. They come in the summer, they flow down the slopes, and then in the winter they seem to just sort of evaporate slowly. But they show up pretty fast, and these are an area of tremendous interest and study. There's no super consensus, but most people think that they are probably, it's probably super salty water. Super salty liquid water pouring down the slopes of Martian craters and valleys, and that is very cool. But now there is a huge amount of discussion going on, not just about what these things are made of and their properties and where they're coming from and how the water might be being recharged, but how we might actually explore them, and the potential problems that might show up when exploring them, because it may be that these areas are very muddy, and so a rover would just sink right in. It's also, if there's going to be an existing ecology on Mars, then it's very likely that this is a place where that ecology would be thriving because there's liquid water. And if there is liquid water and there is an ecology, then we have to be very careful about exploring that area, because if there's any Earth born bacteria that is introduced to this environment that could potentially survive, they could totally wreck the existing ecology and ruin our one chance, possibly our only chance, to ever observe non-terrestrial life, and how it might have evolved on another planet. So there is a very heated discussion going on in the Mars community right now, particularly regarding the Mars 2020 rover, that will hopefully land on Mars in the 2020s, and whether that rover should investigate these things particularly because they might be an ecological place, or whether these RSLs, as they're called, should be preserved as a kind of, like, an area of Mars that should not be ventured into until we know more about it, and until we have a better ability to explore without the possibility of bacterial contamination. So that's what's going on in the news from Mars today, which I just think is fascinating.

John: Well let me just tell you that the possibility of bacterial contamination is 100%. If I have learned anything today, it's that my body is crawling with trillions of bacteria, that I have more cells that are not me inside of me than I have of cells that are me, so I cannot go to Mars and touch anything, or I will smear it in bacteria that is from Earth.

Hank: That is correct, John!

  News from AFC Wimbledon (37:47

John: Well Hank, that put me in the darkness, but I'll tell you what put me in the light. Last weekend, AFC Wimbledon were playing Notts County, League 2 rivals Notts County, Hank I know you're familiar with Notts County. It's where the Sheriff of Nottingham, Robin Hood, etc. lived.

Hank: Of course.

John: So Notts County Football Club is a well established club in the Football League. AFC Wimbledon, of course, has only been in the league since 2011, and they were down one-nil to Notts County in the 85th minute. You can just imagine the darkness, Hank, as we were looking down the table thinking "Are we going to be in those relegation spots? Are we going to be leaving the Football League? Are we going to be relegated to the Conference, so that we're not even a full time professional team anymore, and you won't see us in FIFA 17? Or, instead, are we gonna go from one-nil down to two-one up?" That's what happened, Hank. In the 85th minute, we were down one-nil, but then a miracle happened, and we scored two goals in the final five minutes of the game to come from behind before 4000 people, 2000 of whom were in the John Green stand, and win 2-1 against Notts County. You'll never guess who scored the second goal, Hank. Just kidding, you will. It was The Beast, Adebayo Akinfenwa! Our greatest player! The largest man in professional football! The strongest player in FIFA 16. The Beast! Adebayo Akinfenwa scores in the 90th minute. AFC Wimbledon come from behind to win against Notts County. Suddenly we are 12th in League 2. We have a zero goal differential, which means we've scored as many goals over the course of the season as we've given up. I am full of hope. I am beginning to dream. Oh, it was beautiful.

Hank: That sounds really exciting, John.

John: Oh my God, you can't even. It was just, it was incredible. Two goals in five minutes to secure the victory, and everything is better and different, and hope springs eternal. Hope, that thing with feathers. Ah, the irrepressible, audacious thing at the heart of all human experience, hope, emerged that morning in South London. I would also like to say that AFC Wimbledon, the club, this week welcomed aid workers from around the world, who have been working especially on the refugee crisis, that Wimbledon welcomed a bunch of aid workers from around the world to South London, and gave them a great experience over the weekend. So that speaks, I think, to the kind of club that it is, owned by its fans. Hank, now one 5600th owned by you, because I just made you a member of the Dons Trust. I just bought you a membership. You can Google AFC Wimbledon Trust if you want to become a member of the, of the Trust, but Hank, you can't do that because I already made you one.

Hank: Well, thank you very much. I'm honored.

  Conclusion (40:58

Hank: What did we learn today, John?

John: Well, we learned that it's just incredibly, incredibly important for 15 year olds to drive carefully. (Hank laughs) And if at all possible, with an adult at all times.

Hank: We learned that both Hank and John actually think that English class is important, even if John thinks that it's important in different ways than Hank does.

John: And of course we learned that the human body is not really a human body at all. Instead it's a large container of bacteria. It is essentially just a sausage casing in which the sausage is not a person, but is a teaming mass of parasites.

Hank: I also wanna say that last time we talked about how NerdCon: Stories, our event in Minneapolis, which is going to be amazing, was going to be on October 10th and 11th, which was a lie! It's going be on October 9th and 10th, so those are the actual dates of NerdCon: Stories. Don't show up on the 10th, because it starts on the 9th, just like it says on your ticket, if you got one. If you don't got one, we've still a few left and you are welcome to purchase them.

John: Hank, do you remember when you tried to comfort me by telling me that there was only like, eight to ten pounds of bacteria inside of my body at any given moment?

Hank: I said three to eight!

John: Three to eight, oh sure!

Hank: Yeah, three to eight.

John: There's only three to eight. First off, that's an incredibly wide range. How do I get one of the bodies that has, how do I get one of the bodies that has three pounds of bacteria? I don't want one of the bodies that has eight pounds.

Hank: Well, people are very different sizes. I don't know if you've noticed that.

John: That probably means that I'm on the bigger side. So great. I probably have six pounds of bacteria inside of me right now.

Hank: It does, yeah.

John: Six pounds of not me inside of me. Now whenever anyone asks for my weight I'm going to give my weight minus six pounds because that isn't my weight, it's the bacteria inside of me.

Hank: Oh man, I hope that I'm right about this six pounds of bacteria thing.

John: Whatever, if we're not, we'll correct it in next week's podcast. Our podcast is edited by our good friend Nick Jenkins.

Hank: And the theme music is from Gunnarolla.

John: And if you wanna email us you can do so at We'll try to answer as many of your questions as possible. You can also follow us on the Twitter @HankGreen and @JohnGreen or on Instagram where Hank is HankGreen and I am JohnGreenWritesBooks, the worst Instagram username ever. Sorry!

Hank: Ah, well, I haven't been using Instagram at all lately, so you can follow me on Snapchat, it's hankgre.

John: God I wish you would get over Snapchat.

Hank: I love Snapchat so much.

John: Thank you so much for listening, and as we say in our home town.

Both: Don't Forget To Be Awesome.