277 episodes

Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.

Hidden Brain NPR

    • Social Sciences
    • 4.8, 65 Ratings

Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.

    The Founding Contradiction

    The Founding Contradiction

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." These words, penned by Thomas Jefferson more than 240 years ago, continue to inspire many Americans. And yet they were written by a man who owned hundreds of slaves, and fathered six children by an enslaved woman. As we mark Independence Day this week, we return to a 2018 episode with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed. We explore the contradictions in Jefferson's life — and how those contradictions might resonate in our own lives.

    • 47 min
    Buy, Borrow, Steal

    Buy, Borrow, Steal

    Policymakers have a tried-and-true game plan for jump-starting the economy in times of severe recession: Push stimulus packages and lower interest rates so Americans will borrow and spend. But economist Amir Sufi says the way we traditionally address a recession is deeply flawed. He argues that by encouraging "sugar-rush" solutions, the nation is putting poor and middle-class Americans and the entire economy at even greater risk. This week we look at the role of debt as a hidden driver of recessions, and how we might create a more stable system.

    • 50 min
    A Rap on Trial

    A Rap on Trial

    In the past few weeks, the nation has been gripped by protests against police brutality toward black and brown Americans. The enormous number of demonstrators may be new, but the biases they're protesting are not. In 2017, we looked at research on an alleged form of bias in the justice system. This week, we revisit that story, and explore how public perceptions of rap music may have played a role in the prosecution of a man named Olutosin Oduwole.

    • 56 min
    The Air We Breathe

    The Air We Breathe

    President Trump said this week that a few "bad apples" were to blame for police killings of black people. But research suggests that something more complicated is at play — a force that affects everyone in the culture, not just police officers. In this bonus episode, we revisit our 2017 look at implicit bias and how a culture of racism can infect us all.

    • 36 min
    Playing Favorites

    Playing Favorites

    If we do a favor for someone we know, we think we've done a good deed. What we don't tend to ask is: Who have we harmed by treating this person with more kindness than we show toward others? This week, in the second of our two-part series on moral decision-making, we consider how actions that come from a place of love can lead to a more unjust world.

    • 54 min
    Justifying The Means

    Justifying The Means

    When we are asked to make a moral choice, many of us imagine it involves listening to our hearts. To that, philosopher Peter Singer says, "nonsense." Singer believes there are no moral absolutes, and that logic and calculation are better guides to moral behavior than feelings and intuitions. This week, we talk with Singer about why this approach is so hard to put into practice, and look at the hard moral choices presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    • 54 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
65 Ratings

65 Ratings

Zzoto ,

As good as it gets

Always thoughtful and thought provoking. I also really appreciate that the host made special efforts to thank all his invisible heros that made his podcast possible.

PC Sing ,

Awesome job

Excellent podcast. Thanks Shankar!

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