This Saturday at 10 a.m., WFPL listeners will hear a new show from NPR: Hidden Brain, hosted by science reporter Shankar Vedantam. I spoke with Vedantam recently, and he described the show this way:
“Hidden Brain is a project that tries to do a very simple thing: to try and connect the world around us — the events that we see, the news we see — with the body of research from psychology and sociology and economics, the social sciences, to help people better understand the world around them. In other words, it has equal components of real life and rigorous research that can help people see their lives through fresh eyes.”
The show has evolved from a weekly segment, also called Hidden Brain, that Vedantam produced for NPR’s Morning Edition. It became a podcast in 2015, and is now an hour-long radio show. Specific topics explored on the show range from social media marketing to college hookup culture to personal development, always with real-life examples and storytelling.
Vedantam gives an example of an upcoming story that examines how our concept of gender is both socially and biologically constructed.
“We’re going to tell the story by following a single family that attempted to do something really unusual: when their daughter was born, about 16 years ago, the parents decided to raise the child in a gender-neutral fashion,” he says.
As the host and lead reporter of the show, Vedantam says he’s always learning new things that he tries to put into practice, including with the story of the gender-neutral family.
“I have a daughter, and I have to admit as I was putting the story together, it constantly made me think about what I was doing as a parent myself,” he says.
You can hear our conversation in the player above.