Shankar Vedantam Shankar Vedantam is a science correspondent for NPR.
Douglas Sonders/NPR
Shankar Vedantam 2017
Douglas Sonders/NPR

Shankar Vedantam

Correspondent, Science Desk

Shankar Vedantam is NPR's social science correspondent and the host of Hidden Brain. The focus of his reporting is on human behavior and the social sciences, and how research in those fields can get listeners to think about the news in unusual and interesting ways.

Before joining NPR in 2011, Vedantam 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 writes an occasional column for Slate called "Hidden Brain."

Throughout his career, Vedantam has been recognized with many journalism honors including awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors, the South Asian Journalists Association, the Asian American Journalists Association, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, and the American Public Health Association.

In 2009-2010, Vedantam served as a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. He participated in the 2005 Templeton-Cambridge Fellowship on Science and Religion, the 2003-2004 World Health Organization Journalism Fellowship, and the 2002-2003 Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship.

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.

Outside of journalism, Vedantam has written fiction and plays. His short story-collection, The Ghosts of Kashmir, was published in 2005. The previous year, the Brick Playhouse in Philadelphia produced his full-length, comedy play, Tom, Dick and Harriet.

Vedantam has served as a lecturer at many academic institutions including Harvard University and Columbia University. In 2010, he completed a two year-term as a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. Since 2006, he has served on the advisory board of the Templeton-Cambridge Fellowships in Science & Religion.

[+] read more[-] less

Story Archive

Laura Ogden, Jack Hannan, and Dr. Jones the dog. Courtesy of Laura Ogden hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of Laura Ogden

Rewinding & Rewriting: The Alternate Universes in Our Heads

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/612458913/613127761" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Phillip Waterman/Getty Images/Cultura RF

Radio Replay: This Is Your Brain On Ads

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/612037491/612355713" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Fabio Consoli

The Surprising Benefit Of Moving And Grooving With Your Kid

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/610448906/611199757" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Researchers say when a baby is babbling, he's primed to learn. Petri Oeschger/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Petri Oeschger/Getty Images

Baby Talk: Decoding The Secret Language Of Babies

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/610796636/611111874" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Olutosin Oduwole at his home in New Jersey in 2016. Shankar Vedantam /NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Shankar Vedantam /NPR

Rap on Trial: How An Aspiring Musician's Words Led To Prison Time

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/608161616/609255208" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

People stand in line to enter the Supreme Court, Wednesday, March 28, 2018, in Washington, where the court will hear arguments on a gerrymandering case. The Supreme Court is taking up its second big partisan redistricting case of the term amid signs the justices could place limits on drawing maps for political gain. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Jacquelyn Martin/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

In Gerrymandered Districts, Constituents Likely To Lose Economic Security

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/607303602/607303603" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Psychologist Phil Tetlock thinks the parable of the fox and the hedgehog represents two different cognitive styles. "The hedgehogs are more the big idea people, more decisive," while the foxes are more accepting of nuance, more open to using different approaches with different problems. Renee Klahr hide caption

toggle caption
Renee Klahr

The Fox And The Hedgehog: The Triumphs And Perils Of Going Big

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/606024243/606597943" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Phillip Waterman/Getty Images/Cultura RF

This Is Your Brain On Ads: How Media Companies Hijack Your Attention

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/606346395/606353506" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Carrie and Emma Buck in 1924, right before the Buck v. Bell trial, which provided the first court approval of a law allowing forced sterilization in Virginia. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University at Albany, SUNY hide caption

toggle caption
M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University at Albany, SUNY

Emma, Carrie, Vivian: How A Family Became A Test Case For Forced Sterilizations

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/604926914/605121029" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The idea behind "Musekeweya," or "New Dawn," is to do the opposite of what the government's notorious "hate radio" did 20 years earlier. Stephanie Aglietti/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Stephanie Aglietti/AFP/Getty Images

Rwandan Reconciliation Through Radio Soap Opera

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/603844651/603844652" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The idea behind "Musekeweya", or the New Dawn, is to do the opposite of what the government's notorious "hate radio" did 20 years ago as it stoked ethnic hatred during the genocide carried out by Hutu extremists. Stephanie Aglietti/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Stephanie Aglietti/AFP/Getty Images

Romeo & Juliet In Kigali: How A Soap Opera Sought To Change Behavior In Rwanda

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/602872309/603061673" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Sometimes it can feel like there is a terrorist attack on the news every other week. But how much attention an attack receives has a lot to do with one factor: the religion of the perpetrator. David McNew /AFP/Getty Images David McNew/ AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
David McNew/ AFP/Getty Images

Radio Replay: The Weight of Our Words

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/601524253/604443641" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Dan Ariely has found that "what separates honest people from not-honest people is not necessarily character, it's opportunity." Gary Waters /Getty Images/Ikon Images hide caption

toggle caption
Gary Waters /Getty Images/Ikon Images

Everybody Lies, And That's Not Always A Bad Thing

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/599930273/600984796" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Not every great employee is a great manager. Camelia Dobrin/Getty Images/Ikon Images hide caption

toggle caption
Camelia Dobrin/Getty Images/Ikon Images

Why Is Your Boss Bad At His Job? It May Be The 'Peter Principle' At Work

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/599077775/599077776" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Gary Waters /Getty Images/Ikon Images

The Scarcity Trap: Why We Keep Digging When We're Stuck In A Hole

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/598119170/598263200" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript