the brain scoop

Hi Emily, my question to you is looking into the future, how do you think a Trump Administration will handle environmental issues, such as climate change and the rapid loss of biodiversity? I am a huge fan of your program, keep up the amazing work. We need people like you more then ever right now. -Olivia


Hi Olivia, thank you for your question.

Today, I have no solid answers – I have a lot of feelings, only some of which I can process right now. My initial thoughts are that it’s likely federal science programs and institutions will see a decrease in funding and support as that money will be reallocated/redistributed. If that happens, then universities that depend on federal grant support could suffer… smaller, more competitive grants, fewer positions supported, fewer students incentivized to pursue these programs… But I don’t know. I’m conjecturing. 

When I made our ‘Go Vote For Science!’ video, I meant every word. I mean it when I want our viewers to understand that politics isn’t just about people arguing in D.C., it’s about policies made in D.C. that are carried out and enforced throughout the country and our world. But we elect the policymakers. We elect who we think will best represent our interests. 

I fear that supporting science in a meaningful way is not a true interest for the majority of people, and in a way, that fear was realized last night.

Science needs champions to speak up for its processes, which aren’t perfect, but the field is held up to its own accountability. It’s a field that is meant to be deeply examined and its work replicated, even encourages replication, testing, and a perpetuation of question-asking and answer-seeking. But often, that process comes off as unduly rigorous, pedantic, in some ways ‘old-fashioned,’ and the questions being asked are often seen as trivial, or inconsequential by those unfamiliar with science research practices. I fear the perception that science has outside of its own community is that it only serves itself, which is not true. And I spend every fiber of my being attempting to open up those misconceptions and share how brilliant, guided, resourceful and imaginative scientific inquiry truly is, and how – thanks to the field and its scientists – we have a more coherent, better illuminated understanding for how our planet works, what it needs, and what brings it harm.

I do not know how Trump and his administration will handle environmental issues. I do know he does not have a strong history of even believing that such current issues and events – climate change being a major one – are… real. Or that they are really caused by human actions, which are really having truly negative impacts on our planet and its inhabitants. Frankly, I don’t even know if he cares. 

But here is what I do know: I will not give up my goal of helping people better understand and appreciate our terrifically wonderful planet. I will not begin to entertain the idea that the work of scientists and those communicators dedicated to sharing their research is somehow unimportant or lacking in meaning. I will be vocal about issues which will negatively impact the support and funding for science, especially when it comes to topics dealing with biodiversity. I will continue to create well-researched content about these topics in a way that is easy to understand and share. I will continue striving to keep you involved, in whatever way I can. 

Knowledge empowers people, and it can mobilize them in a way to take action for those causes they believe in. It’s my hope that we don’t forget the power that such knowledge and information contain, and that we don’t allow for that to be taken from us because suddenly we have a person in one of the most powerful leaderships positions on the planet who perhaps will not use that same knowledge or information to make changes for the better. We have to keep working. We have to keep seeking that knowledge, even when it’s hard, and even when it’s getting harder. 

In whatever small way I can help, I will. For whatever small, positive impact I can make, I’ll make it. These are the core values I hold now, and will always hold. That is the most I can do, and even so, it’s a lot. I hope you will do the same. And we’ll take this a day at a time. 


There are corals and at least six different kinds of shells glued to the exoskeleton of this marine animal. 🐚🐚🐚

It’s a carrier shell (Xenophora pallidula), a marine snail that scoots around picking up empty shells, broken corals, rocks, and even trash like bottle caps, which it glues to the outside of its shell. It’s unsure the exact reason for this strange behavior – maybe the snail uses its collection for camouflage, or to increase its surface area quickly in order to create more stability in fast currents. Whatever the reason, it’s amazing, and we talk about this species and more in our latest video all about marine snails!


educational youtube channels:



for when the burnout is real and all you really wanna do is lie in bed and watch things but you gotta at least try to study. these are mostly channels i’ve watched and subscribed to!


literature / art

history / geography / government



misc / no particular subject

We get the struggle. Thanks for including some of our shows on your list! 

Yay educational video! There’s a lot of great content on that list I can’t wait to discover. May I add some of my favourites:

And no list of my favourite YouTube educational channels would be complete without some shameless self-promotion:


Vidcon Day 1


So our director Adele and I are at Vidcon this year! We got here yesterday, and we were super excited.

It’s been super interesting here so far! There’ve been a lot of interesting panels, and we’ve gotten to meet a bunch of people. Just a quick highlight post from day 1:

Keep reading

Yarrr VidCon! 


VidCon was awesome and you’re awesome! also thank you I’m crying 

I’ve got a lot of thoughts and feels about this year’s VidCon, and the future, and how this YouTube and online video thing is all uncertain and exciting and great. And that’ll come soon enough. Also click the photos for more info/sources.

For now I just wanted to share a moment that happened at the end of the Ask Emily Q&A where Joe asked for his final question: 20 years from now – or in any number of years – when you look back on The Brain Scoop so far, what moment will stick out in your memory? 

It’s an incredibly broad question since there hasn’t been a single dull moment in the last 2.5 years, but as I was thinking of an answer I just became really overwhelmed, sitting there in front of this audience of passionate learners and curious answer-seekers. And I said, in the end there is no specific moment. This program and my life has been on a rocket ship blasting a million miles an hour ever since we launched. The last few years have shaped into the most rewarding, enlightening, full and enriching moments anyone could ever hope to experience during their lifetime. In the end if this is all I ever do, if I move on and it turns out my fun run with online video and natural history museums ends as quickly as it began, it won’t matter. I’m one very lucky and fortunate person, and it is all because of you – the followers of this blog, the viewers of our show, the people I high-fived and embraced at VidCon, the fans all over the world who believe in what I’ve been trying to do for years and are helping to make it happen. This is for you, and it’s because of you.  

I want to give you all one massive hug. Thank you for giving me the best years.

Meeting Emily Graslie at VidCon was without question one of the highlights of my time there (and working on that colourful rug up there – I’m in the group photo! – was another). As someone who is passionate about language and linguistics, and wants to share that passion with the world via online video, Emily is a huge inspiration: I feel like the guiding thread of her work is sparking curiosity in people about the natural world, and doing the same about how people-brains do the language thing is what the Ling Space is all about for me. 

Thanks for being awesome, Emily Graslie, and thanks to everyone who creates and engages with educational video! I’m thrilled to be part of this blossoming community of curiosity, and I don’t ever want to stop learning.   


This ^^^^ is my 8th grade school picture.

I’ve never been so nervous to give an interview.

I’ve never told an interviewer that “I’ll think about it…” for months. Clammy-hands at opening her emails. Immediately start sweating thinking about what my answers would be. 

Everyone would like to forget who they were at some point – there are periods of our lives we look back to and cringe, become nauseated, bury our heads in our hands.

I moved across the country, to Montana, in an effort to escape the person I used to be in a desperate attempt to pretend ‘it’ never happened. 

I bring to you: my interview with Lea Shell, Before They Were Scientists.

Amazing, amazing interview with The Brain Scoop’s Emily Graslie, about middle school and science education and mental health and personal journeys. Just go read it. It’s all great, but the passage that really resonated with me the most is when she’s asked to sum up her personal philosophy: 

I find it so unfathomably unlikely that anything at all exists. The cause and effect and the chain of events that had to go in place for the world to be here, for anything to have evolved, for human life to exist, for technology to advance as quickly as it has. That unlikelihood is why I have so much energy. Why I have so much enthusiasm for my life. It’s an unlikely existence and we ought to be taking advantage of it at every opportunity (…)

Sing it, Emily. 


Filmed an episode of Mental Floss today! 15 innovations making the world better for women, because everyone deserves access to safe and clean toilets, sanitary pads, and educational resources. Stay tuned for the video.

Sweet! Emily Graslie plus Mental Floss sounds like a winning combination, and it’s a really interesting topic. Looking forward to the video!

…though for about a quarter second there as I was scrolling down I honestly thought it was another Hank Green / Taylor Swift mashup