Damn Interesting is a small, independent, award-winning, and award-losing project dedicated to the dissemination of fascinating-yet-obscure true stories from science, history, and psychology. We reject the fashionable trends of quantity over quality and hyperbole over accuracy; we simply tell intriguing narrative non-fiction as often as we can. Our content is offered in website, e-book, audiobook, and podcast formats. The project was established in 2005 by Alan Bellows, and he is the ongoing designer, developer, head writer, and managing editor.

Frequently Asked Questions

How small, really, is your small, independent project?

Our numbers vary, but at any given moment we have about eight active authors and one dedicated editor. We have no offices, we each work from our homes, coffee shops, libraries, trains, and wherever else we can find a temporary portal to the fourth dimension. This is how we keep our operating costs so low despite our considerable traffic.

Why don’t you post more often and/or on a regular schedule?

Four reasons: Reason #1: This project is a spare-time-and-weekends project for us, it doesn’t (yet?) earn enough to make a living. Reason #2: Due to reason #1, our writing time shares schedules with day-jobs, eating, sleeping, personal hygiene, and other “necessities”. Reason #3: We strive for maximum accuracy and interestingness, so each article is a product of lengthy research, lovingly hand-crafted paragraphs, strict editing, and fact-checking. For us, this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Reason #4: This reason intentionally left blank.

Don’t you know that a rigid, regular posting schedule is the only path to success?

Objection, leading the witness. Studies have shown that humans actually respond more to random rewards than regular ones, as evidenced by countless rat-and-pellet studies, and by the fact that slot machines exist. We’re not intentionally being irregular—but even if we had more time to dedicate to our writing, a rigid schedule means that one must sometimes sacrifice quality for deadlines, and/or deliberately delay the release of ready content. Those are silly circumstances.

It also depends upon how one defines ‘success’. We don’t measure success by the number of pageviews we receive, or by our number of social media followers. We consider ourselves successful because we preserve our integrity, maintain a high standard of quality, and enjoy what we do.

Okay, I am now quite satisfied with your infrequent and irregular posting habits.

That is comforting, but it wasn’t a question.

How can I be notified when you do post something?

When we post a shiny new article/episode we always announce it on our Twitter and Facebook feeds. You can also subscribe to get an email whenever we post a new article. Or add our RSS feed to your reader. Links to all of those things can be found here. If you are a recurring donor in our Intimate Circle category, your rewards page will have a form to sign up for the “early access” notification list.

If you’re a podcast listener rather than a reader, there are multiple ways to subscribe.

If you want to quit your day jobs why don’t you just put advertisements on your site?

We here at Damn Interesting feel that online advertisements are the information equivalent of sand in your swimsuit—an incessant irritant eroding an otherwise pleasant experience. Therefore we cannot put ads on our own site without feeling deeply uncomfortable.

Furthermore, a creative project’s income source can be an insidious influence. Advertisers can affect topic selection, and corporate interests can slant the facts. We aim to serve our readers and listeners, not some marketing department that buys attention rather than earning it. Additionally, ad-supported sites seem to inevitably regress to the saccharin safety of listicles, hyperbole, memes, and similar “clickbait” pap. In contrast, reader- and listener-supported sites like ours must work hard to maintain high standards of quality and accuracy, otherwise donations will dry up.

Do you have any highfalutin’ Banksy quotes that sum up your thoughts on advertising?

Funny you should ask:

“People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.”

Oh yeah, that’s the stuff. Wait, stop putting words in my mouth!

This is typed text, so we’re putting words in your fingers. Think about it.

If you don’t earn advertising dollars with this endeavor, why do you do it?

Well, most months we earn a little money from donations after we pay all the bills and expenses, but it’s not very much. Our primary motivation is the gratification that comes from researching, writing, and publishing for a diverse, intelligent audience.

I’m part of that audience, are you trying to flatter me?

Yes. You’re also very good looking.

I have written an advertisement as a poorly disguised essay, or our marketing people have made this branded infographic. Will you post a copy?

Please go away forever.

Is the “damn” really necessary?

No, but neither is any other word, really. Words are just vehicles for ideas, and “damn” is the idea we wanted to drive around. If you don’t like it you are cordially invited to go to H-E-double-hockey-sticks.

Shouldn’t it be Damned Interesting?

You might think so, but folks don’t often say “that’s damned interesting,” they say “that’s damn interesting.” Slang adheres to its own carefree, loosey-goosey syntax—we just adopted the common colloquialism.

Why don’t more people know about this site?

Our objection to advertising goes both ways—we don’t host advertisements, nor do we run them. Consequently our entire audience is organic, and slow to grow. But that’s okay, there are benefits to being a boutique sort of project. We can write about whatever we want to, and we can be ourselves rather than erecting some stale corporate façade.

How did you make that fancy “c” character in “façade”?

It’s called a cédille. It’s French! On Mac, hold down the “c” key until a little dialog pops up, then press the number 1. On Windows, hold the Alt key and type 0231. On pen and paper, write a normal c then put a little boopy thing on the bottom.

How can I help keep this brilliant project from being crushed to death by the harsh, harsh universe?

We accept donations to help us keep our figurative head above metaphorical water. In return we provide access to our eBooks, audio books, and other nifty stuff. Apart from that, you can review our podcast on Apple Podcasts to help us gain exposure, or just tell people about us in general. We rely on word-of-mouth and text-of-finger for people to discover that we exist.

Can I use your material for my own project?

Maybe. See here for more details. If your intended usage is non-commercial and educational your chances are good. But if you expect to make money based on our work, you should be willing to compensate us fairly.

Have you ever published a paper book?

In 2009 we published a collection of some of our best articles (and a few new, exclusive ones) through Workman Publishing. It’s titled Alien Hand Syndrome, and we feel that everyone should own a copy. Because money. The cover is disappointing—the publisher made us look like a cheap tabloid outfit—but it’s what’s on the inside that counts or something.

There may be another, internally-designed book on the horizon, but don’t tell anybody, it’s still a secret. But we do also offer our catalog in e-book and audio book form. That’s not a secret. In fact, please tell everyone.

Why was there a period of like 2 years with no new articles?

There was a big spike on the stress-graph of life. Writing is difficult under those circumstances. Things are better now.

Where can I find a list of all articles?

We do offer an archive of current content, and a separate archive of our “retired” articles that are no longer deemed worthy of inclusion in the main catalog. To peruse our short-form “nuggets,” see here. If you just want the favorites, see our Greatest Hits.

Can I write for you guys?

We do occasionally add new authors if they are talented, self-motivated, and willing to help in our collaborative editing process (emphasis on self-motivated). If you think that sounds like you, feel free to send us a writing sample. We’ll scrutinize your jib and appraise the quality of its cut. Did I mention you should be self-motivated?

I feel like these questions are not really asked frequently; Are you only addressing the questions you want people to know the answers to?

If that were true would we have included that question? It really makes you think.

No further questions.

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Alan Bellows, Founder

Joined 30 August 2005

Oh, hello. I’m Alan Bellows. I founded DamnInteresting.com in 2005 as an outlet for my fondness for writing and my fascination with obscure history. If you’re looking for the individual responsible for most of the writing, editing, fact-checking, artwork, site design, coding, podcast, and music around here, you’ve arrived at the proper person.

As of 2019 I live in Salt Lake City, Utah with my meteorologist/musician wife, our newborn daughter, and a trio duo of felines. My primary profession is web development, and Damn Interesting occupies my after-work-and-weekend time. One fine future day we may have sufficient supporters to make this my full-time job, but in the meantime I am a bit of a bottleneck.

If you have any questions about Damn Interesting that are not addressed on our About Us page, or if you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to drop me a line.

C.H. Hung, Lead Editor

Joined 09 December 2016

C.H. Hung scored highest in Input on the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, which finally gives her pseudo-scientific justification for her penchant to hoard away all sorts of interesting information for (possible) use later. She writes and edits full-time in Salt Lake City, UT, with her husband and six paw kids.

Marisa Brook

Joined 06 May 2006

I’m a linguistics professor, meaning that there are about three things I do: think about how languages work, write about how languages work, and talk excitedly about how languages work. My contributions to DI tend to be attempts at squeezing in some time with a few of my other interests (psychology, genetics, geography, etc.). I’ve been contributing to the site since mid-2006, though I generally recommend ignoring that big gap in the middle.

Since joining DI, I’ve had 14 addresses across three countries. I’m currently doing dialectology research in a sequence of interesting towns along Canada’s west coast.

Matt Castle

Joined 11 June 2007

I’m a 30-something year old living in London- apparently that makes me the first non-North American DI writer. So feel free to point out any spelling mistakes.

Interests include reading, writing, photography, film, history, aviation, space, nearly all branches of science– life sciences and geosciences in particular– technology and erm, almost everything else really.

One of these days I’ll get round to creating a website all of my very own. When that happens, you’ll find out about it here.

Christine Ro

Joined 09 November 2015

Christine Ro is nervous about having an online presence, which she realizes makes her a dinosaur. If she were a dinosaur, she’d be a sauropod, as she’s also a herbivore with strong hind legs. If you speak a different dialect, that’s “AN herbivore with strong hind legs”.

Jennifer Noonan

Joined 12 October 2016

Jennifer Noonan never met a job she didn’t want to try at least once. She has at various times worked as a video game sound designer, pizza chef, stand up comedian, computer support technician, construction assistant, cooking instructor, and most recently as a voiceactor and writer. She holds two Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Texas, because as usual she couldn’t commit to just one thing at a time, and her first book, “No Map to This Country,” was published by Da Capo Press in 2016.

Erika Nesvold

Joined 22 January 2014

Erika Nesvold has not yet written a bio.

Michael Durbin

Joined 02 June 2016

I like to write all sorts of things. Especially words. I’m a big fan of non-fiction, both as a reader and writer, and in addition to my Damn Interesting work have written a couple of books on finance for McGraw-Hill and articles appearing in places such as Narrative.ly and the New York Times op-ed page.

My day job is in the financial industry where I manage software development and teach from time to time. I live in Carrboro, North Carolina, a state known the world over for its mountainous mountains, sandy beaches, and legislators keenly interested in which bathroom people choose to use.

Jennifer Colton-Jones

Joined 21 January 2014

Jennifer Colton-Jones is always searching for something interesting, in between writing, studying and living in the Pacific Northwest.

Gustaf Hildebrand

Joined 15 August 2012

Gustaf Hildebrand resides, for reasons unknown, in Sweden. He writes for Damn Interesting, has studied Information Design and likes to maintain the illusion that someday he’ll be a successful science fiction author.