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Shankar Vedantam 2017

Shankar Vedantam

Shankar Vedantam is the host and creator of Hidden Brain. The Hidden Brain podcast receives more than three million downloads per week. The Hidden Brain radio show is distributed by NPR and featured on nearly 400 public radio stations around the United States.

Vedantam was NPR's social science correspondent between 2011 and 2020, and spent 10 years as a reporter at The Washington Post. From 2007 to 2009, he was also a columnist, and wrote the Department of Human Behavior column for the Post.

Vedantam and Hidden Brain have been recognized with the Edward R Murrow Award, and honors from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the International Society of Political Psychology, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Austen Riggs Center, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the Webby Awards, the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors, the South Asian Journalists Association, the Asian American Journalists Association, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, the American Public Health Association, the Templeton-Cambridge Fellowship on Science and Religion, and the Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship.

In 2009-2010, Vedantam served as a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

Vedantam is the author of the non-fiction book, The Hidden Brain: How our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars and Save Our Lives. The book, published in 2010, described how unconscious biases influence people. He is also co-author, with Bill Mesler, of the 2021 book Useful Delusions: The Power and Paradox of the Self-Deceiving Brain.

  • A type of discrimination is overlooked because it's rooted, not in hate, but in love. Our Hidden Brain team asks why good deeds, those we do for spouses or neighbors, can sometimes lead to injustice.
  • "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.
  • A recent study found students may inadvertently choose their college major, in part, based on how tired they were in the subject's introductory course — especially if it was an early morning class.
  • It's been debated a long time: Does being part of organized religion improve your mental health? A new study finds that religion can buffer adolescents against depression.
  • It can feel impossible to escape outrage nowadays. Anger is present across our screens — from TV news to social media. New social science research asks: What's the effect of all this outrage?
  • Physicians believe placebos work only if patients think they're getting medicine. In other words, doctors have to deceive patients. But there might be a way to get placebos to work without deception.
  • Annie Duke was about to win $2 million. It was 2004, and she was at the final hand of the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions. But as a woman at a table full of men, she wasn't sure she deserved to be there. In this week's Radio Replay, we tell the stories of two people who grappled with gender stereotypes on the job. Annie Duke shares her experiencing at the World Series of Poker, and then we hear the story of Robert Vaughan, a former Navy sailor who decided to pursue a new career as a nurse.
  • This week, we search for the answer to a deceptively simple question: why is the brain divided? Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist explains why popular distinctions between the "left brain" and "right brain" aren't supported by research. He argues that one hemisphere has come to shape Western society — to our detriment. For more information about this episode, please visit https://n.pr/2SxITco
  • Maya Shankar was well on her way to an extraordinary career as a violinist when an injury closed that door. This week, we revisit our December 2015 conversation with Maya, in which she shares how she found a new path forward after losing an identity she loved.
  • To us non-babies, babbles like "ah-gah" and "dadadadada" can sound like cute gobbledygook. But they don't have to be such a mystery. We'll get a primer on how to decipher the dialect of tiny humans.