Have you visited America's heartland? And if you have...why are you so sure? "The heartland" is not a defined thing, with borders or flags or land made of literal hearts. The term actually comes from a British geographer named Halford Mackinder (a fantastic name), who coined "heartland" in 1904 to describe one central part of pre-WWI Europe. So why do we use "heartland" in the present day, to describe an aspect of the U.S.? Is it to imply ideas about it, without letting you consider those ideas on their merits? And are there other words in our language that get used the same way?

On this week's episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with Jason Pargin (better known as David Wong) to explore the most celebrated words in the English language that also trick us constantly. They'll examine how throwing around the term "real" messes with everything from our gender roles to our dinner plate to our politics. They'll uncover the creepy way certain words throw entire generations under the bus. And they'll explore why philosophies like socialism and fascism are making a comeback in places like America's Heartland (whatever that is).

Footnotes:

How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind (Cracked)

Where Is America's Heartland? (The Upshot)

The Old Stone House in Park Slope, Brooklyn

New York City and the Inauguration of George Washington (Bowery Boys History)

6 Reasons Bananas Are On The Brink Of Extinction (Cracked)

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard

How Your Germs Control Your Politics (with David Wong) (The Cracked Podcast)

Locke's Political Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Logan Trent (@TheLoganTrent) roundup of headlines about what millennials are killing

This Is What Homeownership Looks Like For Millennials (Refinery29)

Don't You Dare Call Me A Hipster! I, Sir, Am A 'Hep Cat' (NPR Code Switch)

chapter on "The Language of Tears" from The Tears Of Achilles by Hélène Monsacré (Harvard University Center for Hellenic Studies)

FDR Grew Up in a Dress: It Wasn't Always Blue for Boys and Pink for Girls (The Atlantic)

Why Hemingway Used to Wear Women's Clothing (Mental Floss)

Fox News Keeps Accidentally Making Really Good Arguments for Socialism (GQ)

Three post-war liberals strove to establish the meaning of freedom (The Economist)

"The person who is brutally honest enjoys the brutality quite as much as the honesty. Possibly more." -- Richard J. Needham

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