About Shankar Vedantam
Shankar Vedantam applies insights from psychology and the social sciences to the whole range of human behavior in the widely praised The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives. The book was called “[an] entertaining romp through covert influences on human behavior” by The New York Times Book Review, and “compulsively readable” by The Boston Globe. Vedantam is a Washington Post reporter, a 2009-2010 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, and a columnist for Slate. From 2007 to 2009, he wrote the popular Washington Post column “Department of Human Behavior.”
The idea for The Hidden Brain grew out of a Sunday magazine cover story Vedantam wrote for the Washington Post called See No Bias. That story focused on the effects of unconscious prejudice. Over time, he came to see that this “blind spot” was part of a larger phenomenon that affected everything from how people fall in love to why they get divorced, from how nations go to war to why they sit on their hands as genocides unfold. “Thinking about life through the lens of the hidden brain can be an addictive parlor game,” he says. “It also happens to be one of the most important things we can do as human beings.”
Vedantam was born in India and has a graduate degree in journalism from Stanford University. He gravitated toward science writing, specifically neuroscience, and has worked at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Knight-Ridder, Newsday, and The Times of India. His work has earned prizes and fellowships from many organizations, among them the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Public Health Association, the Carter Center, and The Poynter Institute. He has lectured at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and has been a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Shankar Vedantam has discussed The Hidden Brain on such programs as The Tavis Smiley Show and NPR’s Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, The Diane Rehm Show, and Talk of the Nation. He has been a popular speaker at libraries, conventions, and universities, and has addressed both lay and professional audiences in the areas of health care, business, politics, and other specific subjects. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife and daughter.