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Verge ESP: Guts and glory

Microbiomes, Biggest Losers, and other gut-related tragedies

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Hi, we're back! The month-long hiatus was mostly an accident, and also (as usual) mostly Liz's fault. But here we are!

First: a speed round of the news, of which there has been a lot. Rocket landings! Lemonade! Robot surgeons! Drake!

Rocket landings! Lemonade! Robot surgeons! Drake!But really we're going to focus on one thing: the gut. Liz discusses The Biggest Loser, what we know about weight loss, and the actual experience of watching reality TV. Extreme weight loss is difficult, but even regular dieters know how hard it is to keep pounds off. While it's possible that some of the extreme effects — the slowed metabolisms, for instance — seen by the contestants are due in part to the drastic way they lost weight, most dieters do experience metabolic dips as they lose weight. (Though how long those dips last is up for debate.) Anyway, this is another reason why we shouldn't dismiss fat people. (Oh, and all those skinny people on TV and in movies? Being attractive is their job.)

Emily, meanwhile, has been digesting the reaction to Scarlett Johansson's casting in Ghost in the Shell. After re-watching the anime, she wonders if we should have called foul way earlier: like, when a non-Japanese production company and non-Japanese director took on the project. And also: why did everyone wait for a photo to get mad, when the casting itself was announced a year ago?

And finally, Arielle Duhaime-Ross joins us to talk about her piece "Bitter Pill" — which features a man, Josiah Zayner, who attempted to replace his own microbiome from a hotel room.

Subscribe to Verge ESP on iTunes, listen on SoundCloud, or subscribe on RSS. And be sure to let us know what you think of the show on Twitter — @mslopatto and @emilyyoshida.