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Parth Shah


  • caption: In the mid-1940s, Riley Shepard was a rising talent as a singer. But he bounced from one music label to another, and never achieved stardom.
    Hidden Brain

    The Cowboy Philosopher: A Tale Of Obsession, Scams, And Family

    In 2009, an old man died in a California nursing home. His obituary included not just his given name, but a long list of the pseudonyms he'd been known to use. In this episode, which we originally released in 2019, we trace the life of Riley Shepard, a hillbilly musician, writer, small-time con man and, perhaps, a genius.

  • A donkey and an elephant stare at each other across a chasm.
    Hidden Brain

    Passion Isn't Enough: The Rise Of 'Political Hobbyism' in the United States

    Many Americans feel an obligation to keep up with political news. But maybe we should be focusing our energies elsewhere. Political scientist Eitan Hersh says there's been a rise in "political hobbyism" in the United States. We treat politics like entertainment, following the latest updates like we follow our favorite sports teams. Instead, he says, we should think of politics as a way to acquire power and persuade our neighbors to back the issues we support.

  • A child's hand extends out to a chalk lining of a hand drawn on a wall.
    Hidden Brain

    Secret Friends: Tapping Into The Power Of Imagination

    Where is the line between what is real and what is imaginary? It seems like an easy question to answer: if you can see it, hear it, or touch it, then it's real, right? But what if this way of thinking is limiting one of the greatest gifts of the mind? This week, we meet people who experience the invisible as real, and learn how they hone their imaginations to see the world with new eyes.

  • caption: Why are some warnings heard, while others are ignored?

    How To See The Future (No Crystal Ball Needed)

    When disaster strikes, we want to know, who screwed up? This week we explore the psychology of warnings: Why some warnings get heard, and why some of us are better at seeing what lies ahead.

  • Anthropologist Bill Maurer says the dollar bill remains one of the most ubiquitous forms of mass media in the United States.
    Hidden Brain

    Emotional Currency: How Money Shapes Human Relationships

    What's the point of money? The answer might seem obvious: we need it to get paid for our work, and to buy the things we need. But there's also a deeper way to look at the role of money in our lives. This week we explore an anthropologist's take on the origin story of money. What if the cash and coins we carry are not just tools for transactions, but manifestations of human relationships?

  • Colourful abstract graphic illustration of brain
    Hidden Brain

    Did That Really Happen? How Our Memories Betray Us

    Our memories are easily contaminated. We can be made to believe we rode in a hot air balloon or spilled punch on people at a wedding—even if those things never happened. So how do we know which of our memories are most accurate? This week, psychologist Ayanna Thomas explains how memory works, how it fails, and ways to make it better.

  • caption: Envy is a useful tool for social comparison. But sometimes, it can lead us to wicked places.
    Hidden Brain

    Feeding the Green-Eyed Monster: What Happens When Envy Turns Ugly

    Envy is one of the most unpleasant of all human emotions. It also turns out to be one of the most difficult for researchers to study. And yet, there's mounting evidence that envy is a powerful motivator. This week, we explore an emotion that can inspire us to become better people — or to commit unspeakable acts.

  • caption: Stephanie Rinka in her beach wheelchair at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, North Carolina.
    Hidden Brain

    The Ventilator: Life, Death And The Choices We Make At The End

    Many of us believe we know how we'd choose to die. We have a sense of how we'd respond to a diagnosis of an incurable illness. This week, we have the story of one family's decades-long conversation about dying. What they found is that the people we are when death is far in the distance may not be the people we become when death is near.

  • caption: Anthropologist David Graeber says there's a perverse logic that has allowed pointless jobs to proliferate in many workplaces.
    Hidden Brain

    BS Jobs: How Meaningless Work Wears Us Down

    Have you ever had a job where you had to stop and ask yourself: what am I doing here? If I quit tomorrow, would anyone even notice? This week on Hidden Brain, we revisit our 2018 conversation with anthropologist David Graeber about the rise of what he calls "bullsh*t jobs," and how these positions affect the people who hold them.