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Jennifer Schmidt

Stories

  • caption: Economist Amir Sufi says debt plays a bigger role in recessions than we typically recognize.
    Hidden Brain

    Buy, Borrow, Steal: How Debt Became The 'Sugar-Rush' Solution To Our Economic Woes

    Policymakers have a tried-and-true game plan for jump-starting the economy in times of severe recession: Push stimulus packages and lower interest rates so Americans will borrow and spend. But economist Amir Sufi says the way we traditionally address a recession is deeply flawed. He argues that by encouraging "sugar-rush" solutions, the nation is putting poor and middle-class Americans and the entire economy at even greater risk. This week we look at the role of debt as a hidden driver of recessions, and how we might create a more stable system.

  • caption: Olutosin Oduwole at his home in New Jersey in 2016.
    Hidden Brain

    Rap on Trial: How An Aspiring Musician's Words Led To Prison Time

    In the past few weeks, the nation has been gripped by protests against police brutality toward black and brown Americans. The enormous number of demonstrators may be new, but the biases they're protesting are not. In 2017, we looked at research on an alleged form of bias in the justice system. This week, we revisit that story, and explore how public perceptions of rap music may have played a role in the prosecution of a man named Olutosin Oduwole.

  • Hundreds of protesters rally outside City Hall on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in San Francisco, California. Protestors are seen holding signs and kneeling. (Santiago Mejia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)
    Hidden Brain

    The Air We Breathe: Implicit Bias And Police Shootings

    President Trump said this week that a few "bad apples" were to blame for police killings of black people. But research suggests that something more complicated is at play — a force that affects everyone in the culture, not just police officers. In this bonus episode, we revisit our 2017 look at implicit bias and how a culture of racism can infect us all.

  • A compass occupies the space over the man's head, conveying the concept of morality and the choices we make.
    Hidden Brain

    Justifying The Means: What It Means To Treat All Suffering Equally

    When we are asked to make a moral choice, many of us imagine it involves listening to our hearts. To that, philosopher Peter Singer says, "nonsense." Singer believes there are no moral absolutes, and that logic and calculation are better guides to moral behavior than feelings and intuitions. This week, we talk with Singer about why this approach is so hard to put into practice, and look at the hard moral choices presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • caption: A recent study found that black doctors were more effective than non-black doctors at convincing black men to use preventative health services.
    Hidden Brain

    People Like Us: How Our Identities Shape Health And Educational Success

    Far from being "the great equalizer," COVID-19 has disproportionately sickened and killed African Americans and Latinos in the U.S. Many of the reasons for these inequalities reach back to before the pandemic began. This week, we return to a 2019 episode that investigates a specific source of racial disparities in medicine and beyond—and considers an uncomfortable solution.

  • caption: Kate Devlin, who studies human-computer interactions, says we're on the cusp of a sexual revolution driven by robotics and artificial intelligence.
    Hidden Brain

    Sex Machines: Love In The Age Of Robots

    From stone statues to silicone works of art, we have long sought solace and sex from inanimate objects. Time and technology have perfected the artificial lover: today we have life-size silicone love dolls so finely crafted they feel like works of art. Now, with the help of robotics and artificial intelligence, these dolls are becoming even more like humans. This week, we revisit our 2019 story about the history of the artificial lover, and consider what love and sex look like in the age of robots.

  • caption: Red S-shaped rope being tugged by three different knots. Each knot is a different color — blue, orange, and green. Yellow background.
    Hidden Brain

    Playing Tight And Loose: How Rules Shape Our Lives

    We all know people who prefer to follow the rules, and others who prefer to flout them. Psychologist Michele Gelfand defines these two ways of being as "tight" and "loose." She says the tight/loose framework can help us to better understand individuals, businesses, and even nations. This week, we look at the core traits of tight and loose worldviews, and how they may shape our lives — from interactions with our spouses to global efforts to fight the coronavirus.

  • Woman using a laptop computer in darkness with her hands illuminated by the computer screen isolated on black background
    Hidden Brain

    Close Enough: The Lure of Living Through Others

    A silver lining of social distancing: you may have more time and space to pursue the projects you've bookmarked on your web browser. Whether your goal is to build a barn door or to update your makeup routine, online tutorials have made it easier than ever to bring the world into your living room or kitchen or bedroom. But a curious thing can happen when we watch experts doing expert things. This week, we explore the dangers and the delights of vicarious living, with a favorite episode from 2019.

  • John Moore/Getty Images
    Hidden Brain

    Panic In The Street: How Psychology Shaped The Response To An Epidemic

    It sounds like a movie plot: police discover the body of a young man who's been murdered. The body tests positive for a deadly infectious disease. Authorities trace the killing to a gang. They race to find the gang members, who may also be incubating the virus. This week on Hidden Brain, we revisit our 2016 story about disease, panic, and how a public health team used psychology to confront an epidemic.