If you’ve ever found yourself just nodding along and smiling blankly as the people around you discuss thought-provoking issues and news, it might be time to dust off that computer mouse and seek out some smarter content. With children and adults alike heading back to school this month, now is the perfect time to build your body of knowledge and increase your overall intelligence. However, with an overwhelming amount of information and resources available online, it can be difficult to know where to start. It’s also hard to discern credible sources from not-so-legit content or even a well-done parody account.
Smart is subjective, but a general sense of intelligence is gained through having a grasp on a vast body of knowledge. Especially helpful with this, Twitter allows for a large amount of information on a wide variety of topics, and insights into the brightest organizations and individuals on the web. To help you stay sharp through 140 characters or less, we’ve narrowed down some of the best Twitter accounts for boosting your brainpower.
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Electric Literature’s Twitter account has the same goal as the magazine’s website: “Saving literature one reader at a time.” @ElectricLit tweets news about literature and writing, offers reading recommendations, and provides free fiction every Wednesday, along with many other goodies. Your love for the written word will flourish with every 140 characters @ElectricLit shares.
While his Twitter bio states “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t”, Bill Nye knows more than most. Best known for his children’s TV series, “Bill Nye the Science Guy” has a way of crafting every piece of knowledge he shares through Twitter in an exceptionally fascinating way. Alongside his Tweets sharing scientific facts and oddities that are always solid conversation starters, Nye participates in Q&A’s with his followers and retweets content from other educational sources.
Maria Popova is the curious mind behind Brainpickings, what has become a top source for creative knowledge. Referring to Brainpickings as a “subjective lens of what matters in the world and why,” Popova tweets about “pieces that enrich our mental pool of resources and empower combinatorial ideas that are stronger, smarter, richer, deeper and more impactful.” Every link she tweets is worth reading, and is guaranteed to enhance some portion of your understanding of the world around us.
The world of 2015 requires that we are aware, to some degree, of what is happening with our home planet. One of the best Twitter accounts to keep you informed, PlanetGreen shares not only environmental news, but practical tips and guidance for leading a greener lifestyle. In accordance with Mother Nature Network, PlanetGreen is not written for scientists or experts, but rather “everyday people who simply want to make our world better.”
While facts and figures are fun to ramble off at parties, truly knowing how things work is another level altogether. This account provides that, in an easy to read, highly accessible format. With a team of writers using science, data, research, peer-reviewed studies, and experts as their sources, you can rest assured that HowStuffWorks is not just answering questions for the sake of clicks or followers, but truly to expand the realm of knowledge online.
BBC Breaking News
If you want to feel more knowledgeable, it’s important that you stay up to date on current events. While there are countless sources for breaking news online, BBC Breaking News’ Twitter account has proven to be a reliable and timely source. In 140 characters or less, @BBCBreaking can tell you the key point of any breaking news story so that even if you’re pressed for time and don’t click the link to read the entire report, you will have a general notion of what is happening in the world of news simply from a quick scan of their feed.
Museum of Modern Art
Too many people forget the important role art plays in overall intelligence. For a unique, unpretentious look into the often intimidating New York art scene, the Museum of Modern Art has an expertly curated Twitter account. Providing peeks into everyday life at MoMA, as well as news about the contemporary art world in general, their Twitter is a must-have on your feed.
Doing exactly what it advertises, @HistoryInPics tweets photos from historical events in global affairs and pop culture. While the account also shares links to historical stories and news, the fascinating photos are the real reason to stop scrolling. While you probably wouldn’t normally search for a photo of New York during rush hour in 1909, @HistoryInPics makes you realize that you definitely were interested in seeing just that. With our brains able to process images much more quickly than text, our ability to recall information when it’s accompanied by an image is also enhanced, making @HistoryInPics a choice account to follow if looking to boost that brain power.
With The Verge covering the future of technology, science, art, and culture, their @VergeScience account is especially thought-provoking. The account provides links to articles with easily accessible answers to the most fascinating questions in the world of science. They also use their casual and slightly cheeky tone to offer commentary and live-tweets of news events in the world of science.
A list of this nature would not be complete without including @mental_floss. Offering amazing facts, answers to big questions, and many, many lists, the @mental_floss Twitter account provides snippets of the magazine’s comprehensive content. When explaining the way their content works, the mental_floss website shares, “you only realize how much you learned from us after a little while. Like a couple days later when you’re impressing your friends with all these intriguing facts and things you picked up from us, and they ask you how you know so much, and you think back on that great afternoon you spent with us and you smile.”
As an author, activist, and academic, Michael Pollan is considered an authority on food, how it relates to politics, and the current state of the global food industry. A topic that seems impossible to wrap your head around, Pollan uses Twitter to break down the issues that matter in easy to digest facts, questions, and links to key articles. If looking to update your knowledge on what we eat, and why, Pollan’s Twitter account is a great place to start.
If you’re someone who is driven crazy by the misuse of their/there/they’re, the Grammar Police Twitter account is for you. The account is a coded bot which detects grammar mistakes and issues in tweets, and then tweets out the corrections. Nothing teaches you the proper way to do something better than seeing somebody else publicly corrected, so the Grammar Police account is ensuring its followers’ grammar improves Tweet by Tweet.
The LiveScience Twitter account provides news and information about the “top stories of the day in health, environment, animals, technology, and space.” Their mission is to “leave their fans five minutes smarter than when they arrived,” and their Tweets definitely achieve this. Tweeting either links to their own credibly-sourced stories, or those of other authorities in the science world, all of the content they share is extremely interesting and answers questions that you didn’t even know you had.
Open Culture is one of the most valuable educational resources on the Internet. Their Twitter account provides links to their site, which centralizes the highest quality free courses (from the world’s leading universities), ebooks, textbooks, films, and audiobooks available on the web, and organizes these resources into easily searchable collections. They also use Twitter to ask thought-provoking questions, and share the most fascinating pieces from their resource library. If there is a topic you are interested in learning more about, there’s a good chance that Open Culture will have some type of means available for you to do just that.
Neuroscientist turned writer Mo Costandi is the editor of The Guardian’s Neurophilosophy department and a must-follow for all things psychology. Costandi shares links to interesting articles alongside answering questions and providing insight into psychology issues and news. If neuroscience is your jam, Costandi’s account is one you will want to have on your feed.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson
When someone like Neil DeGrasse Tyson tweets, everybody pays attention. As an astrophysicist, DeGrasse Tyson shares highly amusing reflections on science and astronomy, as well as observations on space and the role it plays in our lives. He also shares engaging answers to questions asked by his fans, something that has probably helped account for his over 4.2 million followers.