Hidden Brain

The "about" page for The Hidden Brain claims that the NPR podcast "helps curious people understand the world - and themselves." This would also be a pretty apt mission statement for the SLPL Social Sciences room, which is why we decided to feature the podcast in a book display as a great way to explore our collection. (We also had fun creating episode-specific bookmarks!)

Looking (or rather listening) back over the last 20 or so podcasts and/or radio broadcasts, we pulled together books that were discussed and authors who joined the podcast's host, Shankar Vedandtam, to explore topics including implicit bias (364.34), Envy (179.8), wealth (332.6), Marriage (306.810207), the #metoo movement (344.7301413), communication (153.6), immigration (325.2109728), chaos (003.857), celebrity (306.4), personality types (155.264), Slavery (306.3620973), democracy (320.473), and so much more (call numbers included both to facilitate finding these & related books and to demonstrate the dizzying range of subject areas covered by the podcast as well as the Social Sciences room). 

We have periodically updated the display as new episodes of the podcast have aired, including earlier this week after hearing "Emma, Carrie, Vivian" about Eugenics and forced sterilization - since the book featured on the podcast, Three Generations, No Imbeciles, was checked out (we like to think because someone heard the podcast and jumped on the SLPL catalog or app & placed a hold), we added instead one of our "Very Short Introduction" books. 

While we may prefer, individually and/or institutionally, to focus on the good in the world and the wisdom and joy to be found in libraries and books (and there is plenty), we are ill-served when we forget the uglier aspects of humanity - thanks to Hidden Brain for veering periodically from the bemusing foibles of human nature to those things from which we would rather avert our gaze. The Library is also useful in this regard: we have in our collection books written around the time Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, in his opinion in Buck v. Bell (274 U.S. 200 (1927), upholding a Virginia law authorizing involuntary sterilization), "Three generations of imbeciles are enough" (a search of the SLPL catalog for "eugenics" yields some terrifyingly tantalizing early 20th century titles), as well as more recent reflections on such practices which to our modern sensibilities seem so horrific.

The book display will soon be dispersed back to our shelves, where they will await our curious patrons who seek to better understand the world - and themselves. 

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