Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.
Starving the Watchdog
When a newspaper shuts down, jobs are lost and local stories go untold. There's also a consequence that's harder to spot, and it has a hefty price tag for residents.
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.
A 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. 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.
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