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In which Hank and John moooostly talk about the Project for Awesome, but we also find out what the palm of your foot is called, how Hank is so good at Scandinavian pronunciation, and how far your obligation to correct fake facts you accidentally spread goes.


[Dear Hank and John intro music begins]

Hank: [immediately speaking as soon as intro starts] Hello, and welcome to Dear Hank and John!
John: Or as I prefer to think of it, Dear John and Hank

Hank: [speeding up as he speaks] It's a comedy podcast where two brothers answer your questions give you dubious advice and bring you all the weeks news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon but we've only got 25 minutes so we've got to get through this thing! John, it's a special edition of Dear Hank and John

John: Oh, it's a very special bonus episode of Dear Hank and John in celebration of the 2017 Project for Awesome. Every year Hank and I and the Nerdfighter community and lots of online creators get together for a sort of 48 hour telathon except instead of occurring inside of your television it occurs inside of your internet, and it's called the Project for Awesome. You can watch live actually, there's a 48 hour livestream. You can watch it live at but we're here today to answer your questions, to provide you dubious advice, but most importantly to tell you that the Project for Awesome is happening right now, and so if you have any time this weekend, please check out the Project for Awesome, especially the donation opportunities. You can get lots of great perks if you go to We're going to be talking about some of those perks, from exclusive episodes of Dear Hank and John -

Hank: Mmmm!

John: - to many other things a little bit later, but we do want to answer some questions today, Hank. We don't want to just -

Hank: Right.

John: - be flogging charity. It doesn't come across right.

Hank: Right, because it is Dear Hank and John after all. But I will also say that there are several different components to the Project for Awesome and you can go to to learn all about all of those things, or at there's a video that I made that'll explain all of that. John -

John: That was a good video. I like that you're standing in it. It gives me a sense that you're a person on the move. You're an important, powerful person who can't be bothered with seatedness. 

Hank: [laughing] That's right. That's right, I just walked in, walked out. And I wrote that script and I was like, "I'm going to make a good video." And then I said it and other people helped me make it and I didn't have to do it all by myself and it was great. 

 Question 1 (1:55)

Hank: This first question comes from Doug, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I'm 22 years old and I have a really important question about the way of life before my conscious awareness of it, and I need to know the answer to it ASAP. How were music videos watched before YouTube? I'm running late for work -"

John: Oh my god. 

Hank: "- and I don't have a good name specific sign-off."

John: Oh my god. 

Hank: "Doug."

John: I mean, how is someone who's old enough to work able to ask that question unironically?

Hank: Well, I mean, I guess, but at the same time, I look back at the era before YouTube music videos and it seems nuts! It seems ridiculous to me that you would just sit there and watch whatever music video someone decided to show you! 

John: Yeah, Doug, there was this whole period of human history that ended about 10 years ago and started 250,000 years ago in which you did not choose your entertainments in quite the same way that you choose them today. Yeah, so what happened is that - and also, it should be noted, part of the problem here is that there was a period before the rise of the YouTube music video and after the end of MTV -

Hank: Mmhmm. 

John: - playing a lot of music videos -

Hank: Yeah.

John: - which is probably when Doug first became a conscious person, and to be honest, I don't know how people watched music videos during that period. But when we were kids - when Hank and I were kids - you watched music videos on either MTV or VH1 and they played almost all day and you did not get to choose what music video you watched. 

Hank: Mmhmm. 

John: If you liked heavy metal you would have to stay up for the heavy metal show. If you liked rap you would have to watch the Yo MTV rap show. If you liked being rickrolled you had to watch VH1. Because that video was played unironically for much of Hank and I's childhood. Yeah! It was a weird thing, but it was like radio only with music videos. 

Hank: The other thing to note is that there were music videos before MTV. Before they were shown on television, music videos were a thing. Like, even all the way back to the Beatles made music videos, right? And I honestly don't know what people did with those. So I'm in Doug's boat there, where I'm like, did people, like, pass around reels of film so that they could play them at home? What happened? Did you have to go to a movie theater? I'm confused!

John: Well I think you did go - you did go to a movie theater to watch like, A Hard Day's Night or whatever.

Hank: Right. Yeah, that's different from a music video. And also I think that like -

John: I don't - were there really Beatles music videos as such? 

Hank: I don't - I don't know. Now that I say it out loud I have no idea. But I know that there were some bands that were doing music videos before MTV happened. 

John: Alright, while Hank preps the next question, I'm going to tell you some of the perks available at right now. The first and most important thing is that there's an exclusive episode of Dear Hank and John that will be comprised entirely of questions asked by people who donate at that level, so you have a really good chance of getting your question answered. Not 100% chance, sorry. And also you can get the digital bundle, which includes that exclusive episode of Dear Hank and John but also lots of other digital perks, including - Hank, I like this one, it's Sarah and I doing DVD commentary of the movie Rushmore. That will be useful to you because you've still never seen the movie Rushmore despite the fact that it's the best movie in the world. Also one of the digital perks is an audio recording of me reading two deleted scenes of my book Turtles All the Way Down including - well, there's no delicate way to put it. The shootout at the Chuck-E-Cheese -

Hank: Oh, my god.

John: - that I ended up cutting -

Hank: It's real. 

John: - that I cut from the book.

Hank: It's real. I thought that it wasn't real.

John: Oh no. For the first three drafts I kept the shootout at the Chuck-E-Cheese in the book, and each draft Sarah would be - and also my publisher Julie and also Rosianna, would be like, "yeah, I mean I, uh, this is not good." But I kept it because, I don't know. I just really liked the idea of it. But it was never good. So you can get that scene as well as a scene that's a little bit better. And me talking about why I wrote those terrible scenes and what ended up replacing them and how I kind of got there in my mind. But there's also lots of other digital perks. You can get all of them by getting the digital perk bundle at

 Question 2 (6:31)

Hank: Alright. This next question comes from Gunvor, who asks, "Dear Hank and also John, I was an exchange student in the US with a friend of mine who is also Norwegian and we found it incredibly hard to tell people how to pronounce our names. My friend's name ends with an 'e' pronounced like 'hygge' which you, Hank, pronounced perfectly. How did you learn this? Do you have any tips on how I can teach my American friends Scandinavian pronunciation? If you can pronounce my name correctly you are officially an honorary Norwegian. Gunvor." 

John: It seems like Gunvor is actually a pretty easy name to pronounce, which makes me think -

Hank: Probably -

John: - I'm pronouncing it wrong.

Hank: Yeah, correct. I'd say it, - yeah. 

John: But Hank, -

Hank: It seems likely. 

John: How bad do you want to be an official honorary Norwegian? I would like to be an official honorary Norwegian because I feel like a Norwegian passport might be the single most valuable item in like, the year 2050. 

Hank: [laughs] Yeah, I don't think that the "honorary" works that way.

John: Like if you're American, having a Norwegian passport might be the equivalent of having a billion dollars. Hey, also at, one of the things you can get is a signed copy of my book Turtles All the Way Down with either a hand-drawn spiral drawn by me or a yeti drawn by my wife. You won't know which you're going to get, which I apologize for, but that makes it more exciting. That's for a 60 dollar donation. And Hank, we should say where this money is going to while you're looking up the pronunciation of Gunvor. During the first half of the Project for Awesome, that is until Saturday at noon, we're raising money for two pre-selected organizations, Save the Children and Last Mile Health, both of which work to improve healthcare outcomes with among the most vulnerable populations in the world, working with - Last Mile Health works with children and families in Liberia, employing and training community health workers so that the 1.2 million people in Liberia who don't have access to primary healthcare will by the year 2020 have access to a community health worker who can provide a lot of the basic life-saving interventions from vaccines to treatments for diarrheal illnesses, which unfortunately are still a leading cause of death for kids under five in Liberia, and Save the Children works on a really huge global scale with vulnerable populations from refugee camps to remote villages around the world. And they're both really wonderful organizations and because the Foundation to Decrease World Suck, our charity, has no overhead, every dollar that you donate, aside from the cost of shipping and making any physical perk that you get, will go to those charities. And then during the second half of the Project for Awesome, we raise money for charities chosen by the Nerdfighter community. So if you're donating during the second half, your money is going into a pot that will then be distributed out to charities chosen by Nerdfighteria at, where you can go and vote for your favorite charities. So that's where your money is going and I should also say that donations are tax deductible in the US. We're a real charity and everything so please head over to, that's the last time I'm going to shill for this, Hank. From now on you have to do the shilling. 

Hank: Oh, I don't know John. You seem to be doing a really good job of it and then I ask the questions and I get the easy job. 

 Question 3 (9:43)

Hank: This question comes from Askley - Ashley! Who asks - Askley!

John: Askley!

Hank: "The middle of the hand is called the palm. What is the middle of the foot?"

John: Oh, it's the palm of the foot. 

Hank: Dang it, John, you just jumped right in with the actual answer. We've got to have a little fun on this podcast.

John: I know, I'm sorry, I knew the answer! It's so rare that I know the answer! 

Hank: It's called the palm of the foot. 

John: It is!

Hank: But what I want to know is like, does that have to do with palm trees? Or - no, that's why palm trees are called palm trees! It's not from - it's because their fronds look like big hands! 

John: Yeah. 

Hank: I never knew that before just now!

John: Oh, yeah! Palm trees, are - yeah! They've got hand leaves.

Hank: They got hand leaves! 

John: Yeah! In a way, if you look at a palm tree long enough and really intensely, it does start to look like a human with a lot of hands. 

Hank: Sticking right out of the top of its head. 

 Question 4 (10:38)

John: This next question comes from Kate, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, someone at my workplace told me a fun science fact, and I thought the fact was so cool I told it to my boyfriend, who told it to his little sister. I then went to fact check the information because I like to do that before I spread things as truth, but I didn't check it before I told my boyfriend, because I was just so darn excited about the fact. Well lo and behold, that science fun fact was false."

Hank: Oh no!

John: "I told my boyfriend that to my disappointment the fact was false, but by then his sister had told a whole bunch of her friends this fact. How much obligation do I have to seek out everyone who heard this fake fact indirectly because of me and -"

Hank: Oh no!

John: " - tell them that it is not true so they don't lead a life of lies and deception. Kate." Oh, Hank -

Hank: Oh no. Oh no.

John: Kate is living -

Hank: Oh my gosh.

John: - the 2017 internet inside of her real life. 

Hank: I mean, I've got to tell you, Kate, I've done this worse than you in the moments when I have tweeted fake facts and then I'm like, "whoa! I take it back!" They never - the take-backs never go as far as the fake facts, is a rhyme that I feel like now I have to incorporate into a rap music song that I produce. 

John: I can't wait for your rap song about fake news. Yeah, that is the whole problem, that the fake fact that outrages us and makes us want to share it or that astonishes us and makes us want to share it or that makes us feel whatever it is intensely that gives us that little dopamine rush that says "share this" that then the social internet says "this information must be valuable whether it's true or not because it's being shared which is our measure of value because we don't actually care about truth, we care about maximizing ad impressions" and then you come back and you're like, "wait, hold on a second, it turns out that that fact was incorrect and I apologize and here is a more nuanced and complicated - "

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: " - picture." And then everybody's like, "no, no, no, we don't want to share that because it's true and complicated and difficult, and our algorithms do not value that because they do not maximize ad impressions." 

Hank: But, to answer your actual question, Kate, you told the one person that this fact was fake. But then that person told somebody else. Was it their obligation to check the fact before they told someone and now thus their obligation to correct the person they told it to?

John: Exactly. Hank's hit the nail on the head. Your job is only to correct it to the people who ingested it because of you. Somewhere along the line there has to be a circuit breaker where somebody before they share the fact says, "hold on a second, let's make sure that's true." Now Kate, in a perfect world, that would've been you. But it wasn't! So in a less perfect world, it would be your boyfriend! And he didn't do it either. So your boyfriend's responsibility is to tell his little sister, and then the little sister's responsibility is to tell all the people that she told, et cetera, and that's how the world goes back to being reasonably well informed. But of course that will never happen, because the fake fact that's compelling will always spread in a way that the complicated and nuanced truth cannot.

Hank: But John, John, what about - do you have an obligation to tell the source of the fact? So it was like this workplace associate told the fake fact in the first place.

John: Oh! 

Hank: Do you have to go both ways? Do you have to go both to the person you told and the person who told you, to be like, "okay, now it is your responsibility -" 

John: Right.

Hank: "- to hold the fake fact back."

John: Right. It's almost like what you need to do is you need to build a binder - because you know, it's awkward to go to someone and say "hey listen, remember when you told me that humans need to drink 8 glasses of water a day? That's completely made up." But if you just build a binder of all the well sourced information about why humans need to drink mostly however much water they feel like they need to drink, um, that's probably also wrong, and I'm going to get a lot of - I know there's a lot of professional hydration experts out there who are going to be all over me. But yeah. The point being -

Hank: You need to deliver a binder. 

John: Deliver the binder. Hank.

Hank: This doesn't sound like extra work at all. Yeah John? 

John: We need to get to one incredibly important update that's of absolutely vital importance. But before we do that I just want you to name a couple of your favorite perks at to get people excited to visit which they can only do for the next few days.

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: So please go quickly. And a lot of these perks go fast. Personalized self care bunny? That's going to go very fast. 

Hank: I think those are already gone, John. 

John: I think Rosianna's going to do more of them. 

Hank: Okay, well maybe they'll show back up. So every year we have a commemorative coin for the Project for Awesome. I have of course got all of them. They're over on my little shelf behind my other computer. And - I have more than one computer because that's my life. And this year the Project for Awesome commemorative coin, a really beautiful design by Duncan, who designs a lot of the stuff for VidCon and for DFTBA, and it's the first time we've incorporated color into these coins and I think that they look really nice and I'm really excited to get mine, and it's 20 dollars! We've got a number of 20 dollar perks including a Project for Awesome 11th annual P4A bandana and also we've got a 40 dollar beanie hat. We also have volunteers squish pennies, because as you know, pennies are terrible and useless, so Sarah -

John: They're worse than useless. 

Hank: Yeah, they're worse -

John: Things that are useless have no use. They're worse that useless. Go on. 

Hank: So we actually have a penny smashing machine and every year we get a new die for that penny smashing machine - the die is the thing that actually presses a design into the pennies and Sarah Gullixson made these designs. There's a Dave the Fish design, there's a tuatara design, there's a DFTBA design and a Turtles All the Way Down spiral design that - this Dave the Fish, I'm so excited to get this Dave the Fish. If you don't know who Dave the Fish is that's okay, that was a last year Project for Awesome thing. There's also a patch, or a lapel pin I mean to say, and the lapel pin is very nice, it says "Decrease World Suck" on it, and so those are sort of a bunch of our regular kind of merchandise type things that I really like, that we will actually ship you these things in exchange for you giving us a donation so you give a 20 dollar donation and you get this really great tuatara Project for Awesome 2017 coin. And I like those things and I'm going to get all of them. Katherine and I are also going to do - we have in the past played a lot of Super Mario Brothers and I am excited to play Super Mario Brothers with my wife and send that along to donors. That'll be like an hour long of us playing Super Mario edited to maximum enjoyment for you, and we're actually pretty far into the current game that we're playing and if you've been following along, you know, we're adults and we've got a baby, so it takes a little while for us to play a video game, you may have actually caught a fair amount of us playing this game, and progressing towards the final level in which we will take on Bowser and I don't know, something great will happen. But probably we will just yell a lot and there may be a slight amount of profanity. So, that will happen. I'm also probably going to add a perk where I play a game on my own and I'm excited to do that because I get to do that and last year I played - for the Project for Awesome I played Undertale and this year I'm going to take some suggestions from the audience out there on Twitter and Facebook before I decide. But I've got a couple of top candidates that I'm excited to play. 

John: And one last perk that I want to mention. If, like me, you are an AFC Wimbledon fan, there are a couple of AFC Wimbledon specific perks. One you can pick the topic, or actually you can pick the problem I'm going to talk about in a Wimbly Womblys video if you like to watch me play as AFC Wimbledon on FIFA. And then, if you want to make a very large donation to the Project for Awesome, you can go to an AFC Wimbledon game with me. 

Hank: Woah! 

John: Not only can you go to the game with me, but also we'll have dinner before the game. A group of Nerdfighters and I will have dinner before the game, enjoy meeting some of the people who run the club, and then enjoy an AFC Wimbledon game. Don't know exactly which game it'll be. We'll kind of have to decide that together as a group, but that's going to be for a very large donation. But anyway, you can go to, find all those perks, and also many more perks, and lots of perks kind of appearing and disappearing throughout the P4A this year. 

 Update 1 (19:20)

John: But Hank, I want to get to one very, very important update from Jessica. "Hey Green Brothers, sorry this update has taken so long, though I think you both probably know what life is like during the first several weeks after your first child. If you happen to forget, I'm the Nerdfighter who was in the hospital during the October livestream ready to have a baby."

Hank: Ah! Yeah! 

John: Remember, Hank?

Hank: Uh-huh!

John: She was in labor but she still went to the Patreon livestream and she was like, "How's it going?" And we were like, "good, how are you Jessica?" And she was like, "well, I'm in labor." And we were like, "What?" Alright. Long story short, it ended up taking longer than planned and she was born days later! 

Hank: [gasps] Whoah nooo! 

John: That being said, Emma Sylvia, with two M's Emma, not three M's, she checked the paperwork 10 times before submitting it, did eventually make her way out. "I've attached a photo for your "aww-ing pleasure where she just happened to be hanging out with some of her favorite books. Fun fact, my pregnancy with her actually made miss volunteering at NerdCon in Boston this year because I was so ill." Oh, I'm so sorry about that Jessica.

Hank: Oh no! 

John: But I an very glad that Emma is here. "I'm a long time viewer from back when I graduated my first year of high school in 2007."

Hank: Whoa!

John: "I've seen you guys go from everyday videos. John crossed out Maureen's name in my copy of Let It Snow during a stop in Connecticut on the Tour d' Nerdfighting. I've seen the implementation of so many of your projects. So many. Seriously Hank, are your days longer than the rest of ours? I remember listening to Hank sing about Harry Potter in anticipation of that last book. My favorite video every year is his analysis of the Nerdfighter census. I remember when John stood on a patio table to conquer what was his worst fear at the time but then watched this year as he spent 100 days conquering so much more including a significant -" I'm going to start crying, Jessica. Jesus. "You guys really do decrease world suck and never forget to be awesome. Thanks so much for that. Not bad, just drawn that way, Jessica." And then there's an adorable picture of the baby Emma with every copy of my book.

Hank: Oh god, that is a baby! That is a-

John: All of my books. Anyway -

Hank: Very cute baby. 

John: Congratulations Jessica and thank you for spending part of your days-long labor with us at the Patreon livestream. Everybody head over to over the next few days to keep track of what's going on with the P4A. Thanks to everybody for donating, for making videos, for sharing your time with us, and also for listening to this podcast. It is one of the great joys of our lives, and we are so, so excited for this year's P4A. The 11th annual Project for Awesome, Hank -

Hank: It's amazing! 

John: Isn't that amazing?

Hank: I'm really excited! It's going really well so far. We've raised tens of thousands of dollars and I'm excited to raise tens of thousands of more dollars and if you want to check it out there's so many great things available and new things will continue being added as the stream progresses. There'll be things that we have planned and also things that we don't, because you never know what's going to happen with the Project for Awesome. There might be a whole fish thing and then we send out a bunch of fish balloons.

[outro music plays] 

Hank: Which was really fun. 

John: [laughs] Thanks to everybody for listening. Again, check out and as they say in our hometown, - 

John and Hank together: Don't forget to be awesome.

[outro music ends]