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Shankar Vedantam

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It is the season for college admissions letters to go out, which means students from across the country are frantically checking their mailboxes or inboxes in their email. If this year, though, is anything like years past, we'll continue to see a dearth of low-income students admitted to the most selective colleges. New social science research suggests a possible solution, and to explain, we're joined by NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam. Hi, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.

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If you ever tell a lie, it would be normal for your conscience to bother you. But here's a question. If you tell many lies, does that voice inside go quiet? Neuroscientists recently explored this idea. And our colleague Rachel Martin sat down to talk about it with NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam.

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Hi, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel.

MARTIN: So we're talking about neuroscientists. They were studying the brain, as they are known to do.

VEDANTAM: (Laughter).

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And, you know, all over the world people say they make friends by breaking bread together. There's this assumption that when you sit down to eat with one another, you become closer. Well, let's talk about that with NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, who is going to break bread with me. Hey, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: (Laughter) Hi, David. How are you?

GREENE: We've broken bread. We're already friends.

VEDANTAM: Indeed.

GREENE: Well, so what's this research you're looking at?

If you've ever visited the palm-lined neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, you've probably noticed that the rich and famous aren't the only ones drawn there.

Stargazers also flock to this exclusive enclave, seeking a chance to peer into — and fantasize about — the lives of movie stars and film directors.

Call it adulation, adoration, idolization: we humans are fascinated by glamour and power.

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So we know that a picture speaks a thousand words, but NPR's Shankar Vedantam is here to tell us how it also gives us really strong impressions of people that we can't seem to shake. Hi, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.

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Let's say you're at a party or walking down the street and suddenly out of a sea of passing faces one of them lights up. Someone is looking right at you, waving, saying hello, they're happy to see you and you have no idea who this person is. Some of us are really good at recognizing faces. Others of us are not. To explain why, here's our social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam from NPR's Hidden Brain podcast.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Marty Doerschlag has a super power that I would love to have. He can remember a face forever.

As the mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani was a proponent of a controversial policing philosophy known as "broken windows." It calls for police to go after small crimes, in hopes of preventing bigger problems.

At first, it appeared as if violent crime dropped in the neighborhoods where "broken windows" policing was in force. The statistics, however, told a different story.

But the idea remains popular, despite evidence it likely had only modest effects.

The election of Donald Trump came as a shock to many Americans, but perhaps most of all to those in the business of calling elections. The pollsters on both the left and the right had confidently predicted Hillary Clinton would walk away with the race. They got it wrong. But one man did not: Allan Lichtman.

On Sept. 23, Lichtman, a historian at American University, declared that Trump would win, and he stuck by that call through the tumultuous final weeks of the campaign.

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It's no secret that this presidential campaign season has been tense, with disagreement and rancor even louder than usual.

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Fewer than 1 in 5 members of Congress are women. At Fortune 500 companies, fewer than 1 in 20 CEOs are women. And if you look at all the presidents of the United States through Barack Obama, what are the odds of having 44 presidents who are all men?

If men and women had an equal shot at the White House, the odds of this happening just by chance are about 1 in 18 trillion.

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You know, when we think about disparities in American education, we think about things like race, gender. There is also income, which is one of the most persistent disparities. Children from more affluent families do better in school on average than children from poor families. And there's new social science research exploring why this is the case. To talk about it, I'm joined by NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam. Hey, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, David.

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There's an old saying that if you want to get something done, always ask a busy person. Researchers have scientifically tested that theory. And NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam joins us now to explain what they found. Hey ya.

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You know, from Wall Street to Las Vegas, a lot of people take chances. And there's now some new social science research looking at how the mood of a gambler can change the way he thinks about the risk. NPR's Shankar Vedantam is here to explain this. Hey, Shankar.

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