The Hidden Brain is a Hidden Gem 


The Hidden Brain is owned by National Public Radio, a non-profit media organization based in Washington, D.C. It can be found on NPR’s website, Apple Podcasts and Spotify. 

Have you ever wondered why we make the decisions we do? How to decipher the secret language of babies? How venting on social media affects our culture? 

Whether or not you’ve asked these questions, the National Podcast Radio’s podcast, “The Hidden Brain,” does an amazing job of giving you a deep look into topics like these through interviews with professionals in the field and people from various walks of life. 

I first listened to the episode “The Lonely American Man,” which piqued my interest because it was an unconventional topic. After the episode ended, I didn’t even realize that I had been listening for 45 minutes! 

The thought-provoking, personal interviews were explained by research and experts, which allowed me not only to connect to the story but also to learn the science behind it. I also loved how the episode addressed such a taboo problem; I hadn’t even realized that the culture around masculinity in the United States affected men on such a profound level. 

The next episode was “Can’t Hit Unsend,” a dire warning of what could happen to any average teen on social media. The podcast’s host, Shankar Vedantam, built an intriguing and comprehensive narrative around William, and I was able to sympathize with him. The episode also built suspense up to William’s faux pas, keeping me hooked on the story. 

I particularly enjoyed this episode because it was about something so close to my everyday life. We often talk about the dangers of social media, but they usually remain a distant reality, something we think could never happen to us. “Can’t Hit Unsend” reminds us that anything can happen, even to the most ordinary people. It was enthralling, raw and enlightening all in one.

Next, I listened to “Screaming Into the Void,” which grabbed my attention by leading with a controversial topic the tweets of President Donald Trump. The podcast then transitioned to focus on the viral, politically-charged video of teens wearing “Make America Great Again” hats surrounding a Native American man at the National Mall. 

Although this episode had the potential to show political bias, I didn’t hear anything that revealed overt partisanship. Even though reviews complained of a left bias, I felt the podcast tried to be politically balanced. Each episode also contained research and stories from real people, so it would be difficult to be overly left-leaning.

I did, however, notice that many episodes were reposts from 2018 or 2017; in fact, almost half of the newest 20 episodes were originally posted in previous years. If I had been a subscriber since then, I would be tired of listening to the same podcasts. Even if they aren’t releasing completely new podcasts, NPR could cover the same topic with different interviews or stories. 

Overall, I enjoyed how the podcast relied on both science and real stories, and how NPR wasn’t afraid to confront controversial issues. After each episode, I learned something and walked away with a new perspective. If you’re looking for an intriguing podcast about the world around us, I would strongly recommend “The Hidden Brain.”

Story by Kelsey Chen

Image provided by Wikimedia Commons