When a newspaper shuts down, there are obvious costs to the community it serves: job losses, fewer local stories. But new research suggests there's another consequence that's harder to spot—one that comes with a hefty price tag for residents. This week on Hidden Brain we ask, who bears the cost when nobody wants to pay? For more information about the research in this episode, visit https://n.pr/2zSPraS.
Starving The Watchdog: Who Foots The Bill When Newspapers Disappear?
Why do we always fall for surprise endings? It turns out that our capacity to be easily fooled in books and movies is made possible by a handful of predictable mental shortcuts. We talk this week with Vera Tobin, one of the world's first cognitive scientists to study plot twists. She says storytellers have been exploiting narrative twists and turns for millennia — and that studying these sleights of hand can give us a better understanding of the contours of the mind.
Thomas Jefferson owned hundreds of slaves, yet he also wrote that "all men are created equal." How did he square the contradictions between his values and his everyday life?
"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. This week, we talk with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed about the contradictions in Jefferson's life — and how those contradictions might resonate in our own lives.
A Founding Contradiction: Thomas Jefferson's Stance On Slavery
This week we focus on the behavior of the youngest members of the human race. We try to translate the mysterious language of babies. And we ask, when should we step back and just let our children be? For more information about the research in this episode, visit https://n.pr/2TuxEz3.
Gender is one of the first things we notice about the people around us. But where do our ideas about gender come from? Can gender differences be explained by genes and chromosomes, or are they the result of upbringing, culture and the environment? In this encore episode from October 2017, we delve into debates over nature vs. nurture, and meet the first person in the United States to officially reject the labels of both male and female, and be recognized as "non-binary."
Nature, Nurture, And Our Evolving Debates About Gender
There's a core belief embedded in the story of the United States: the American Dream. The possibility of climbing the economic ladder is central to that dream. This week we speak with Raj Chetty, one of the most influential economists alive today, about the state of economic mobility in the U.S. and whether the notion of the American Dream is still useful. For more information about the research in this episode, visit https://n.pr/2z8cvSs.
Zipcode Destiny: The Persistent Power Of Place And Education
We're used to the idea that rhetoric sways voters. But what about another element of language: a candidate's voice? This week on Hidden Brain, what happens when our political system and ancient biological rules meet. For more information about the research in this episode, visit https://n.pr/2Pe1Fog.
Sounds Like A Winner: What Voices Have To Do With Politics
More than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses last year — many of them from heroin and other opioids. One of the most widely-used tools to confront this crisis is a drug called naloxone. It can reverse an opioid overdose within seconds, and has been hailed by first responders and public health researchers. But earlier this year, two economists released a study that suggested naloxone might be leading some users to engage in riskier behavior — and causing more deaths than it saves. This week, we talk with researchers, drug users, and families about the mental calculus of opioid use, and why there's still so much we're struggling to understand about addiction. For more information about the research in this episode, visit https://n.pr/2OZfuGQ.
Life, Death And The Lazarus Drug: Confronting America's Opioid Crisis
Have you ever noticed that when something important is missing in your life, your brain can only seem to focus on that missing thing? On this week's Radio Replay, we bring you a March 2017 story about the phenomenon of scarcity, and how it can blind us to the big picture. Then, we go to the opposite end of the spectrum to look at the perils of excess. We'll bring you an October 2016 conversation with Brooke Harrington, a sociologist who wanted to know what it's like to be one of the richest people on the planet. For more on these topics, visit us at https://n.pr/2O8DkdV.
"Be the change you wish to see in the world." It's a popular quote that's made its way onto coffee mugs and bumper stickers — but it's not the easiest principle to live. On this week's Hidden Brain, we meet Royce and Jessica James, a couple who decided to raise their daughter in a gender-neutral way. It was far harder than they ever could have imagined. For further reading on children and gender norms, visit us at https://n.pr/2AmmiW1.
Can A Child Be Raised Free Of Gender Stereotypes? This Family Tried
There is one truth that has endured through the first two years of Donald Trump's presidency: he has kept the support of the core voters who propelled him to the White House. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore two competing perspectives on the motivations of Trump supporters, and what they can tell us about the state of our union.
Voting With A Middle Finger: Two Views On The White Working Class
When most of us think about how we came to our political views, we often give a straightforward answer. We believe our stances on taxes, immigration or national security are shaped by those around us — our friends, parents, teachers. We assume our life experiences are the root of our political ideologies. But what if there is something deeper in us that drives the music we listen to, the food we eat — even the politicians that we elect? This week, we explore the role of biology in shaping our political identities.
You've certainly heard some variation of the phrase "be a man." But what does that even mean? This week, we question our existing definitions of masculinity. We'll meet a man who works in a field traditionally considered "women's work." And we'll hear from a researcher who says manhood is "hard to earn and easy to lose."
'Man Up': How A Fear Of Appearing Feminine Restricts Men, And Affects Us All
Jana Mestecky (left) poses for a cast photo during production of the play Des rats et des hommes, directed by Israel Horovitz (front, third from left). The photo appeared in the French magazine, L'Avant-Scène,
Courtesy of Jana Mestecky
Nearly a quarter century ago, a group of women accused a prominent playwright of sexual misconduct. For the most part, the allegations went nowhere. In 2017, in the midst of the #MeToo movement, more women came forward to accuse the same playwright of misconduct. This time, everyone listened. On this episode — originally broadcast in February 2018 — we explore the story through the lens of social science research and ask, "Why Now?" What has changed in our minds and in our culture so that allegations of sexual harassment and assault are being taken more seriously than they were in the past? A note: This story includes descriptions of sexual harassment and assault. It may not be suitable for all listeners.
The Psychological Forces Behind A Cultural Reckoning: Understanding #MeToo
When Randy Gardner was 17, he won a world record for going eleven days without sleeping. On this Radio Replay, Randy shares insights from that experience and warns others against copying his stunt. Later in the program, we speak with neuroscientist Matthew Walker about the mind and body benefits of eight full hours of sleep.
After a disaster happens, we want to know whether something could have been done to avoid it. Did anyone see this coming? Many times, the answer is yes. So why didn't the warnings lead to action? This week, we explore the psychology of warnings with a visit to a smelly Alaskan tunnel, a gory (and fictional) murder plot, and even some ABBA.
The Cassandra Curse: Why We Heed Some Warnings, And Ignore Others
If you live in a big city, you may have noticed new buildings popping up — a high-rise here, a skyscraper there. The concrete jungles that we've built over the past century have allowed millions of us to live in close proximity, and modern economies to flourish. But what have we given up by moving away from the forest environments in which humans first evolved? This week, we discuss this topic with psychologist Ming Kuo, who has studied the effects of nature for more than 30 years.
Our Better Nature: How The Great Outdoors Can Improve Your Life
Have you ever had a job where you had to stop and ask yourself: what am I doing here? If I quit tomorrow, would anyone even notice? This week on Hidden Brain, we talk with anthropologist David Graeber about the rise of what he calls "bullshit jobs," and how these positions affect the people who hold them.
On October 30, 1935, a Boeing plane known as the "flying fortress" crashed during a military demonstration in Ohio — shocking the aviation industry and prompting questions about the future of flight.
The simple "to-do" list may be one of humanity's oldest tools for getting organized. But checklists are also proving essential in many modern-day workplaces, from operating rooms to the cockpits of jumbo jets. As part of our summer You 2.0 series, we explore the power of the humble checklist to help us stay on track and focus on what's important, particularly when pressure is intense and the stakes are high.
Even Thomas Edison got it wrong sometimes. In 1890, he marketed this creepy talking doll that was taken off the shelves after just a few weeks. Listen to its horrifying rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."
Collection of Robin and Joan Rolfs/Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park
Collection of Robin and Joan Rolfs/Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park
What does it mean to be an original? As part of our summer series, You 2.0, we talk with psychology professor Adam Grant about innovators and the challenges they face. Adam gives his take on what makes an original, how parents can nurture originality in their children, and the potential downsides of non-conformity.
Finding a new job may be the solution to your woes at work. But there may also be other ways to get more out of your daily grind. This week, we talk with psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski of Yale University about how we can find meaning and purpose in our jobs.
Francesca Gino studies rebels — people who practice "positive deviance" and achieve incredible feats of imagination. They know how, and when, to break the rules that should be broken. So how can you activate your own inner non-conformist? We kick off this year's You 2.0 series by pondering this question.