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Conversations with Tyler

English, Interview, 1 seasons, 215 episodes, 2 days 3 hours 15 minutes
Tyler Cowen engages today’s deepest thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between. New conversations every other Wednesday. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
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Masaaki Suzuki on Interpreting Bach

A conductor, harpsichordist, and organist, Masaaki Suzuki stands as a towering figure in Baroque music, renowned for his comprehensive and top-tier recordings of Bach's works, including all of Bach's sacred and secular cantatas. Suzuki's unparalleled dedication extends beyond Bach, with significant contributions to the works of Mozart, Handel, and other 18th-century composers. He is the founder of the Bach Collegium Japan, an artist in residence at Yale, and conducts orchestras and choruses around the world.  <span style= "font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-font-
21/02/202456 minutes 38 seconds
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Ami Vitale on Photojournalism and Wildlife Conservation

Ami Vitale is a renowned National Geographic photographer and documentarian with a deep commitment to wildlife conservation and environmental education. Her work, spanning over a hundred countries, includes spending a decade as a conflict photographer in places like Kosovo, Gaza, and Kashmir. She joined to Tyler to discuss why we should stay scary to pandas, whether we should bring back extinct species, the success of Kenyan wildlife management, the mental cost of a decade photographing war, what she thinks of the transition from film to digital, the ethical issues raised by Afghan Girl, the future of National Geographic, the heuristic guiding of where she'll travel next, what she looks for in a young photographer,  her next project, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or wat
07/02/202454 minutes 28 seconds
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Rebecca F. Kuang on National Literatures, Book Publishing, and History in Fiction

Rebecca F. Kuang just might change the way you think about fantasy and science fiction. Known for her best-selling books Babel and The Poppy War trilogy, Kuang combines a unique blend of historical richness and imaginative storytelling. At just 27, she’s already published five novels, and her compulsion to write has not abated even as she's pursued advanced degrees at Oxford, Cambridge, and now Yale. Her latest book, Yellowface, was one of Tyler’s favorites in 2023. She sat down with Tyler to discuss Chinese science-fiction, which work of fantasy she hopes will still be read in fifty years,
24/01/20241 hour 3 minutes 53 seconds
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Patrick McKenzie on Navigating Complex Systems

Few can measure the impact of a blog post they wrote, in the millions of dollars a year, but Patrick McKenzie has the receipts. His 2012 post on salary negotiation is read hundreds of thousands of times each year, and he has a Gmail folder brimming with success stories. This achievement is just of his many contributions, which include starting several businesses, advising Stripe and other software companies, and spearheading the launch of <a hr
10/01/202454 minutes 18 seconds
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Conversations with Tyler 2023 Retrospective

On this special year-in-review episode, Tyler and producer Jeff Holmes look back on the past year in the show and more, including the most popular and underrated episodes, the origins of the show as an occasional event series, the most difficult guests to prep for, the story behind EconGOAT.AI, Tyler's favorite podcast appearance of the year, and his evolving LLM-powered production function. They also answer listener questions and conclude with an assessment of Tyler's top pop culture recommendations from 2013 across movies, music, and books. Donate to Conversations with Tyler and help us keep the conversations going. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the <a
27/12/20231 hour 7 minutes 52 seconds
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Fuchsia Dunlop on the Story of Chinese Food

In her third appearance on the show, Chinese food expert Fuchsia Dunlop joins Tyler and a group of special guests to celebrate the release of Invitation to a Banquet, her new book exploring the history, philosophy, and techniques of Chinese culinary culture. As with her previous appearance, this conversation was held over a banquet meal at Mama Chang and was hosted by Lydia Chang. As they dined, the group discussed why the diversity in Chinese cuisine is still only just being appreciated in the West, how far back our understanding of it goes, how it’s represented in the Caribbean and Ireland, whether technique trumps quality of
13/12/20231 hour 42 minutes 22 seconds
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John Gray on Pessimism, Liberalism, and Theism

John Gray is a philosopher and writer renowned for his critical examination of liberalism, atheism, and the human condition. His unique perspective is shaped over a decades-long career, during which he has authored influential books on topics ranging from political theory to what we can learn from cats about on how to live a good life. His latest book, The New Leviathans: Thoughts After Liberalism, delivers a provocative examination of the 2020s' political landscape, challenges liberal triumphalism with a realistic critique of ongoing global crises and the persistent allure of human delusions. Tyler and John sat down to discuss his latest book, including who he thinks will carry on his work, what young people should learn if liberalism is dead, whether modern physics allows for true atheism, what in Eastern Orthodoxy attracts him, the benefits of pessimism, what philanthropic cause he’d invest a billion dollars in, under what circu
29/11/20231 hour 1 minute 54 seconds
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Jennifer Burns on Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand

Jennifer Burns is a professor of history at Stanford who works at the intersection of intellectual, political, and cultural history. She’s written two biographies Tyler highly recommends: her 2009 book, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right and her latest, Milton Friedman: The Last Conservative, provides a nuanced look into the influential economist and public intellectual. Tyler and Jennifer start by discussing how her new portrait of Friedman caused her to reassess him, his lasting impact in statistics, whether he was too dogmatic, his shift from academic to public intellectual, the problem with Two Lucky People, what Friedman’s courtship of Rose Friedman was like, how Milton’s family influenced him, why Friedman opposed Hayek’
15/11/202359 minutes 44 seconds
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Brian Koppelman on TV, Movies, and Appreciating Art

Brian Koppelman is a writer, director, and producer known for his work on films like Rounders and Solitary Man, the hit TV show Billions, and his podcast The Moment, which explores pivotal moments in creative careers. Tyler and Brian sat down to discuss why TV wasn’t good for so long, whether he wants viewers to binge his shows, how he’d redesign movie theaters, why some smart people appreciate film and others don’t, which Spielberg movie and Murakami book is under appreciated, a surprising fact about poker, whether Jalen Brunson is overrated or underrated, Manhattan food tips, who he’d want to go on a three-day retreat with, whether movies are too long, how happy people are in show business, his unmade dream projects, the next thing he’ll learn about, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful
08/11/20231 hour 1 minute 18 seconds
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Githae Githinji on Life in Kenya

As a follow-up to the episode featuring Stephen Jennings, we’re releasing two bonus conversations showing the daily life, culture, and politics of Nairobi and Kenya at large. This second installment features Githae Githinji, a Kikuyu elder and businessman working in Tatu City, a massive mixed-used development spearheaded by Jennings. Born in 1958 and raised in a rural village, he relocated to seek opportunities in the Nairobi area where he built up a successful transportation company over deca
02/11/202345 minutes 25 seconds
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Harriet Karimi Muriithi on Life in Kenya

As a follow-up to the episode featuring Stephen Jennings, we’re releasing two bonus conversations showing the daily life, culture, and politics of Nairobi and Kenya at large. This first installment features Harriet Muriithi. Harriet is a 22-year-old hospitality professional living and working in Tatu City, a massive mixed-used development spearheaded by Jennings. Harriet grew up in the picturesque foothills of Mount Kenya before moving to the capital city as a child to pursue better schooling. She has witnessed Nairobi's remarkable growth firsthand over the last decade. An ambitious go-getter, Harriet studied supply chain management and wishes to open her own high-end restaurant. In her conversation with Tyler, Harriet opens up about her TikTok hobby, love of fantasy novels, thoughts on improving Kenya's education system, and how she leverages AI tools like ChatGPT
02/11/202342 minutes 37 seconds
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Stephen Jennings on Building New Cities

Stephen and Tyler first met over thirty years ago while working on economic reforms in New Zealand. With a distinguished career that transitioned from the New Zealand Treasury to significant ventures in emerging economies, Stephen now focuses on developing new urban landscapes across Africa as the founder and CEO of Rendeavour. Tyler sat down with Stephen in Tatu City, one of his multi-use developments just north of Nairobi, where they discussed why he’s optimistic about Kenya in particular, why so many African cities appear to have low agglomeration externalities, how Tatu City regulates cars and designs for transportation, how his experience as reformer and privatizer informed the way utilities are provided, what will set the city apart aesthetically, why talent is the biggest constraint he faces, how Nairobi should fix its traffic problems, what variable best tracks Kenyan unity, what the country should do to boost agricultural productiv
01/11/202353 minutes 42 seconds
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Jacob Mikanowski on Eastern Europe

Jacob Mikanowski is the author of one of Tyler’s favorite books this year called Goodbye, Eastern Europe: An Intimate History of a Divided Land. Tyler and Jacob sat down to discuss all things Eastern Europe, including the differences between Eastern and Western European humor, whether Poles are smiling more nowadays, why the best Polish folk art is from the south, the equilibrium for Kaliningrad and the Suwałki Gap, how Romania and Bulgaria will handle depopulation, whether Moldova has an independent future, the best city to party in, why there are so few Christian-Muslim issues in Albania, a nuanced take on Orbán and Hungarian politics, why food in Poland is so good now, why Stanisław Lem hasn’t gotten more attention in the West, how Eastern Europe has changed his view of humanity, his ideal two week itinerary in the re
18/10/20231 hour 12 seconds
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Re-release: Claudia Goldin on the Economics of Inequality

Harvard professor Claudia Goldin has made a name for herself tackling difficult questions. What was the full economic cost of the American Civil War? Does education increase or lessen income inequality? What causes the gender pay gap—and how do you even measure it? Her approach, which often involves the unearthing of new historical data, has yielded lasting insights in several distinct areas of economics. Claudia joined Tyler to discuss the rise of female billionaires in China, why the US gender earnings gap expanded in recent years, what’s behind falling marriage rates for those without a college degree, why the wage gap flips for Black women versus Black men, theoretical approaches for modeling intersectionality, gender ratios in economics, why she’s skeptical about happiness research, how the New York Times wedding announcement page has evolved, the problems with for-profit education, the value of an Ivy League degree, whether a Coasian solution existed to prevent
09/10/202350 minutes
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Ada Palmer on Viking Metaphysics, Contingent Moments, and Censorship

Ada Palmer is a Renaissance historian at the University of Chicago who studies radical free thought and censorship, composes music, consults on anime and manga, and is the author of the acclaimed Terra Ignota sci-fi series, among many other things. Tyler sat down with Ada to discuss why living in the Renaissance was worse than living during the Middle Ages, how art protected Florence, why she’s reluctant to travel back in time, which method of doing history is currently the most underrated, whose biography she’ll write, how we know what old Norse music was like, why women scholars helped us understand Viking metaphysics, why Diderot's Jacques the Fatalist is an interesting work, what people misunderstand about the inquisition(s), why science fiction doesn’t have higher social and literary status, which hive she would belong to in Terra Ignota, what the new novel she’s writing is about, and more. <p class="MsoN
04/10/20231 hour 4 minutes 46 seconds
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Lazarus Lake on Endurance, Uncertainty, and Reaching One’s Potential

Lazarus Lake is a renowned ultramarathon runner and designer. His most famous creation (along with his friend Raw Dog) is the Barkley Marathons, an absurdly difficult 100-mile race through the Tennessee wilderness that only 17 people have ever finished in its nearly 30-year existence. Tyler and Laz discuss what running 100 miles tells you about yourself that running 26 miles does not, why so many STEM professionals do ultramarathons, which skill holds people back the most, why his entrance fee is no more or less than $1.60, the importance of the Barkley’s opaque a
20/09/202351 minutes 44 seconds
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Jerusalem Demsas on The Dispossessed, Gulliver's Travels, and Of Boys and Men

In this special episode, Tyler sat down with Jerusalem Demsas, staff writer at The Atlantic, to discuss three books: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin, Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, and Of Boys and Men by Richard V. Reeves. Spanning centuries and genres and yet provoking similar questions, these books prompted Tyler and Jerusalem to wrestle with enduring questions about human nature, gender dynamics, the purpose of travel, and moral progress, including debating whether Le Guin prefers the anarchist utopia she depicts, dissecting Swift's stance on science and slavery, questioning if travel makes us happier or helps us understand ourselves, comparing Gulliver and Shevek's alienation and restlessness, considering Swift’s views on the difficulty of moral progress, reflecting on how feminism links to moral progress and gender equality, contemplating whether im
06/09/20231 hour 3 minutes 8 seconds
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Vishy Anand on Staying in the Game

A five-time World Chess Champion, Vishy became India's first grandmaster at age 18, spurring a chess revolution in the country. Now 53, he is still a world top ten player and has been India's number one ranked player for 37 years. As newer talents emerge and old ones retire, Anand's continued excellence showcases an endurance seldom seen. Tyler and Vishy sat down in Chennai to discuss his breakthrough 1991 tournament win in Reggio Emilia, his technique for defeating Kasparov in rapid play, how he approached playing the volatile but brilliant Vassily Ivanchuk at his peak, a detailed breakdown of his brilliant 2013 game against Levon Aronian, dealing with distraction during a match, how he got out of a multi-year slump, Monty Python vs. Fawlty Towers, the most underrated Queen song, how far to take chess opening preparation, which style of chess
30/08/202354 minutes 36 seconds
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Celebrating Marginal Revolution's 20th Anniversary

When Alex Tabarrok and Tyler Cowen launched Marginal Revolution in August of 2003, they saw attracting a few thousand academic-minded readers as a runaway success. To their astonishment, the blog soon eclipsed that goal, and within a decade had become one of the most widely read economics blogs in the world. Just as remarkably, the blog maintained its relevance in its second decade, bringing in a new generation of readers without a dip in the pace or quality of the posts. As Alex and Tyler jest, only the onset of senility could possibly rein them in. To mark MR's entrance into its third decade, long-time readers Ben Casnocha, Vitalik Buterin, and Jeff Holmes joined Alex and Tyler to talk about MR's legacy, including the golden age of blogging in the mid-2000s, the decline of independent blogs and the rise of social media, why Tyler usually has a post at 1 AM, the consi
23/08/202358 minutes 56 seconds
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Paul Graham on Ambition, Art, and Evaluating Talent

Tyler and Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham sat down at his home in the English countryside to discuss what areas of talent judgment his co-founder and wife Jessica Livingston is better at, whether young founders have gotten rarer, whether he still takes a dim view of solo founders, how to 2x ambition in the developed world, on the minute past which a Y Combinator interviewer is unlikely to change their mind, what YC learned after rejecting companies, how he got over his fear of flying, Florentine history, why almost all good artists are underrated, what's gone wrong in art, why new homes and neighborhoods are ugly, why he wants to visit the Dark Ages, why he's optimistic about Britain and San Fransisco, the challenges of regulating AI, whether we're underinvesting in high-cost interruption activities, walking, soundproofing, fame, and more. Read a full t
09/08/202355 minutes 11 seconds
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Noam Dworman on Stand-Up Comedy and Staying Open-Minded

Tyler sat down at Comedy Cellar with owner Noam Dworman to talk about the ever-changing stand-up comedy scene, including the perfect room temperature for stand-up, whether comedy can still shock us, the effect on YouTube and TikTok, the transformation of jokes into bits, the importance of tight seating, why he doesn’t charge higher prices for his shows, the differences between the LA and NYC scenes, whether good looks are an obstacle to success, the oldest comic act he still finds funny, how comedians have changed since he started running the Comedy Cellar in 2003, and what government regulations drive him crazy. They also talk about how 9/11 got Noam into trouble, his early career in music, the most underrated guitarist, why live music is dead in NYC, and what his plans are for expansion. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the <a href= "https
26/07/202359 minutes 27 seconds
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David Bentley Hart on Reason, Faith, and Diversity in Religious Thought

David Bentley Hart is an American writer, philosopher, religious scholar, critic, and theologian who has authored over 1,000 essays and 19 books, including a very well-known translation of the New Testament and several volumes of fiction. In this conversation, Tyler and David discuss ways in which Orthodox Christianity is not so millenarian, how theological patience shapes the polities of Orthodox Christian nations, how Heidegger deepened his understanding of Christian Orthodoxy, who played left field for the Baltimore Orioles in 1970, the simplest way to explain how Orthodoxy diverges from Catholicism, the future of the American Orthodox Church, what he thinks of the Book of Mormon, whether theological ar
12/07/202355 minutes 58 seconds
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Reid Hoffman on the Possibilities of AI

In his second appearance, Reid Hoffman joined Tyler to talk everything AI: the optimal liability regime for LLMs, whether there’ll be autonomous money-making bots, which agency should regulate AI, how AI will affect the media ecosystem and the communication of ideas, what percentage of the American population will eschew it, how gaming will evolve, whether AI’s future will be open-source or proprietary, the binding constraint preventing the next big step in AI, which philosopher has risen in importance thanks to AI, what he’d ask a dolphin, what LLMs have taught him about friendship, how higher education will change, and more. They also discuss Sam Altman’s overlooked skill, the biggest cultural problem in America, the most underrated tech scene, and what he’ll do next. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the <a href= "
28/06/20231 hour 1 minute 57 seconds
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Noam Chomsky on Language, Left Libertarianism, and Progress

Noam Chomsky joins Tyler to discuss why Noam and Wilhelm von Humboldt have similar views on language and liberty, good and bad evolutionary approaches to language, what he thinks Stephen Wolfram gets wrong about LLMs, whether he’s optimistic about the future, what he thinks of Thomas Schelling, the legacy of the 1960s-era left libertarians, the development trajectories of Nicaragua and Cuba, why he still answers every email, what he’s been most wrong about, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  Recorded February 27th, 2023 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram <li clas
14/06/202350 minutes 38 seconds
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Peter Singer on Utilitarianism, Influence, and Controversial Ideas

Peter Singer is one of the world’s most influential living philosophers, whose ideas have motivated millions of people to change how they eat, how they give, and how they interact with each other and the natural world. Peter joined Tyler to discuss whether utilitarianism is only tractable at the margin, how Peter thinks about the meat-eater problem, why he might side with aliens over humans, at what margins he would police nature, the utilitarian approach to secularism and abortion, what he’s learned producing the Journal of Controversial Ideas, what he’d change about the current Effective Altruism movement, where Derek Parfit went wrong, to what extent we should respect the wishes of the dead, why professional philosophy is so boring, his advice on how to enjoy our lives, what he’ll be doing after retiring from teaching, and more. Read a full transcript</a
07/06/202352 minutes 24 seconds
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Seth Godin on Marketing, Meaning, and the Bibs We Wear

On good days, Seth Godin thinks about all the progress we’re making on climate change. On bad days, he thinks about the problem of racing bibs. Though pieces of paper safety-pinned to runners’ chests seem obviously outdated, the bibs persist, highlighting how difficult it can be to change a culture for the better. And yet Seth also persists to improve the culture around marketing and work, giving hundreds of talks, writing daily blog posts, and publishing 21 best-sellers. His latest, The Song of Significance, <span style= "mso-ascii-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-hansi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-font-fami
31/05/202354 minutes 36 seconds
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Simon Johnson on Banking, Technology, and Prosperity

What’s more intense than leading the IMF during a financial crisis? For Simon Johnson, it was co-authoring a book with fellow economist (and past guest) Daron Acemoglu. Written in six months, their book Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity, argues that widespread prosperity is not the natural consequence of technological progress, but instead only happens when there is a conscious effort to bend the direction and gains from technological advances away from the elite.  Tyler and Simon discuss the ideas in the book and on Simon’s earlier work on finance and banking, including at what size a US bank is small enough to fail, the future of deposit insurance, when we’ll see a central bank digital currency, his top proposal for reforming the IMF, how quickly the Industrial Revolution led to widespread prosperity, whether AI will boost wages, how he changed his mind on the Middle Ages, the
17/05/202352 minutes 56 seconds
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Kevin Kelly on Advice, Travel, and Tech

As the founding executive editor of Wired magazine and the author of several acclaimed books on technology and culture, Kevin Kelly has long been known for his visionary ideas and insights. But his latest work, Excellent Advice for Living takes a different approach, drawing on his own experience and wisdom to offer practical tips and advice for navigating life's challenges. Naturally then, Kevin and Tyler start this conversation on advice: what kinds of advice Kevin was afraid to give, his worst advice, how to get better at following advice, and whether people who ask for advice really want it in the first place. Then they move on to the best places to see traditional cultures in Asia, the one thing in Kevin’s travel kit he can’t be without, his favorite part of India, why he’s so excited about brain-computer interfa
03/05/202351 minutes 30 seconds
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Anna Keay on Historic Architecture, Monarchy, and 17th Century Britain

Anna Keay is a historian who specializes in the cultural heritage of Great Britain. As the director of the Landmark Trust, she has overseen the restoration of numerous historical buildings and monuments, while also serving as a prolific author and commentator on the country's architectural and artistic traditions. Her book, The Restless Republic: Britain Without a Crown, was one of Tyler’s top pi
19/04/202349 minutes 56 seconds
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Jessica Wade on Chiral Materials, Open Knowledge, and Representation in STEM

Jessica Wade is a physicist at Imperial College London who, while spending her day working on special carbon-based materials that can be used as semiconductors, has spent her nights writing nearly 2,000 Wikipedia entries about underrepresented figures in science. That, along with numerous other forms of public engagement—including writing a children’s book about nanotechnology—is all in an effort to actually do something productive to correct gender and racial biases in STEM. She joined Tyler to discuss if there are any useful gender stereotypes in science, distinguishing between productive and unproductive ways to encourage women in science, whether science Twitter is biased toward men, how AI will affect gender participation gaps, how Wikipedia should be improved, how she judges the effectiveness of her Wikipedia articles, how she’d improve science funding, her work on chiral materials and its near-term applications, whether writing a kid
05/04/202356 minutes 2 seconds
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Jonathan GPT Swift on Jonathan Swift

In this conversation, Tyler uses ChatGPT to interview Jonathan Swift about his views on religion, politics, economics, and literature. GPT Swift discusses his support for the Church of Ireland, his shift from the Whigs to the Tories, and his opposition to William Wood's copper coinage in Ireland. He also talks about his works, including Gulliver's Travels and A Modest Proposal, and his skepticism of moral and intellectual progress. Swift addresses rumors about his relationship with Esther Johnson and his fascination with scatological themes in his works. He also discusses his early life in England, his intellectual mentor Sir William Temple, and his jovial attitude towards death. Special thanks to our Mercatus Center colleague Robin Currie for giving voice to Jonathan GPT Swift. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links.
29/03/202341 minutes 36 seconds
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Tom Holland on History, Christianity, and the Value of the Countryside

Historian Tom Holland joined Tyler to discuss in what ways his Christianity is influenced by Lord Byron, how the Book of Revelation precipitated a revolutionary tradition, which book of the Bible is most foundational for Western liberalism, the political differences between Paul and Jesus, why America is more pro-technology than Europe, why Herodotus is his favorite writer, why the Greeks and Persians didn’t industrialize despite having advanced technology, how he feels about devolution in the United Kingdom and the potential of Irish unification, what existential problem the Church of England faces, how the music of Ennio Morricone helps him write for a popular audience, why Jurassic Park is his favorite movie, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. 
22/03/202353 minutes 7 seconds
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Yasheng Huang on the Development of the Chinese State

Yasheng Huang has written two of Tyler’s favorite books on China: Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics, which contrasts an entrepreneurial rural China and a state-controlled urban China, and The Rise and Fall of the EAST, which argues that Keju—China’s civil service exam system—played a key role in the growth and expanding power of the Chinese state. Yasheng joined Tyler to discuss China’s lackluster technological innovation, why declining foreign investment is more of a concern than a declining population, why Chinese literacy stagnated in the 19th century, how he believes the imperial exam system deprived China of a thriving civil society, why Chinese succession has been so stable, why the
08/03/202354 minutes 22 seconds
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Brad DeLong on Intellectual and Technical Progress

Brad DeLong, professor of economics at UC Berkley, OG econ blogger, and Tyler’s Harvard classmate, joins the show to discuss Slouching Towards Utopia, an economic history of the 20th century that’s been nearly thirty years in the making. Tyler and Brad discuss what can really be gleaned from the fragmentary economics statistics of the late 19th century, the remarkable changes that occurred from 1870-1920, the astonishing flourishing of German universities in the 19th century, why investment banking allowed America and Germany to pull ahead of Britain economically, what enabled the Royal Society to become a force for progress, what Keynes got wrong, what Hayek got right, whether the middle-income trap persists, his favorite movie and novel, blogging vs. Substack, the Slo
22/02/202347 minutes 26 seconds
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Glenn Loury on the Cover Story and the Real Story

Economist and public intellectual Glenn Loury joined Tyler to discuss the soundtrack of Glenn’s life, Glenn's early career in theoretical economics, his favorite Thomas Schelling story, the best place to raise a family in the US, the seeming worsening mental health issues among undergraduates, what he learned about himself while writing his memoir, what his right-wing fans most misunderstand about race, the key difference he has with John McWhorter, his evolving relationship with Christianity, the lasting influence of his late wife, his favorite novels and movies, how well he thinks he will face death, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded January 11th, 2023 Other ways to connect Follow us on <a
08/02/202348 minutes 18 seconds
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Paul Salopek on Walking the World

Paul Salopek is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and National Geographic fellow who, at the age of 50, set out on foot to retrace the steps of the first human migrations out of Africa. The project, dubbed the “Out of Eden Walk,” began in Ethiopia in 2012 and will eventually take him to Tierra Del Fuego, a distance of some 24,000 miles. Calling in just as he was about to arrive in Xi’an, he and Tyler discussed his very localized supply chain, why women make for better walking partners, the key to crossing deserts, the most difficult terrain to traverse, what he does for exercise, his information prep for each new region, how he’s kept the project funded, which cuisines he’s found most and least palatable, what he learned working the crime beat in Roswell, New Mexico, how this project challenges conventional journalism, his thoughts on the changing understanding of early human migration, and more. Read a <a href= "
25/01/202345 minutes 41 seconds
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Rick Rubin on Listening, Taste, and the Act of Noticing

Rick Rubin has been behind some of the most iconic and successful albums in music history, and his unique approach to production and artist development has made him one of the most respected figures in the industry. He joined Tyler to discuss how to listen (to music and people), which artistic movement has influenced him most, what Sherlock Holmes taught him about creativity, how streaming is affecting music, whether AI will write good songs, what he likes about satellite radio, why pro wrestling is the most accurate representation of life, why growing up in Long Island was a “miracle,” his ‘do no harm’ approach to working with artist, what makes for a great live album,  why Jimi Hendrix owed his success to embracing technology, what made Brian Eno and Brian Wilson great producers, what albums he's currently producing, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. <
18/01/202355 minutes 16 seconds
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Katherine Rundell on the Art of Words

Katherine Rundell is, in a word, enthusiastic. She’s enthusiastic about John Donne. She’s enthusiastic about walking along rooftops. She’s enthusiastic about words, and stories, and food. She has often started her morning with a cartwheel and is currently learning to fly a small plane. A prolific writer, her many children’s books aim to instill the sense of discovery she still remembers from her own unruly childhood adventures—and remind adults of the astonishment that still awaits them.  She joined Tyler to discuss how she became obsessed with John Donne, the power of memorizing poetry, the political implications of suicide in the 17th century, the new evidence of Donne’s faith, the contagious intensity of thought in 17th century British life, the effect of the plague on national consciousness, the brutality of boys’ schooling, the thrills and dangers of rooftop walking, why children should be more mischievous, why she’d like to lower the voting age to 16, her favorite UK bo
11/01/202353 minutes 42 seconds
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Conversations with Tyler 2022 Retrospective

On this special year-in-review episode, Tyler and producer Jeff Holmes talk about the past year on the show, including which guests he’d like to have on in 2023, what stands out to him now about his conversation with Sam Bankman-Fried in light of the collapse of FTX, the most popular and most underrated episodes of the year, what makes a guest authentic, why he hasn’t asked the “production function” question much this year, his essay on Marginal Revolution on the New Right, and what he’s working on next. They also evaluate Tyler’s pop culture picks from 2012 and answer listener questions from Twitter. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Support Conversations with Tyler
28/12/202252 minutes 56 seconds
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John Adams on Composing and Creative Freedom

Is classical music dying? For John Adams the answer is an emphatic no. Considered by Tyler to be America’s greatest living composer, he may well be one of the people responsible for keeping it alive. John’s contemporary classical music is some of the most regularly performed and he is well-known for his historically themed operas such as Nixon in China, Doctor Atomic, and most recently Antony and Cleopatra. He is also a conductor and author of, in Tyler’s words, a “thoughtful and substantive” autobiography. He joined Tyler to discuss why architects have it easier than opera composers, what drew him to the story of Antony and Cleopatra, why he prefers great popular music to the classical tradition,
14/12/202245 minutes 59 seconds
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Jeremy Grantham on Investing in Green Tech

When it comes to fighting climate change Jeremy Grantham is optimistic about technology – but worried about timing. Known widely for his acuity in identifying bubbles, the British investor contends that the one created by our dependence on fossil fuels is about to pop. He’s on a mission to make green energy cheaper, faster and is well on his way. After a lifetime spent thinking about resources, he’s using his to power the development of green technology. The Grantham Foundation has invested into 45 early-stage green projects, such as improving the efficiency of lithium extraction. He joined Tyler to discuss the most binding constraint on the green transition, why we need an alternative to lithium, the important message sent by Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the marginal cost basis of green energy, the topsoil crisis in the Midwest, why estimates of the cost of global warming vastly underestimate its effects, why he distrusts economists, the overpricing concentrated in the U
30/11/202240 minutes 1 second
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Ken Burns on the Complications of History

When it comes to history—particularly American history—nothing is ever definitive, says documentarian Ken Burns. Much of his work has focused on capturing that history in film, but in his new book, Our America: A Photographic History, his goal is to share the complexity of his country as well as honor those roots in still images. From the very first photograph, a self-portrait, to our modern inundation with selfies, he tells “the story of us” – a story of darkness and light, just as in the photographic process itself. Ken joined Tyler to discuss how facial expressions in photos have changed over time, where in the American past he’d like to visit most, the courage of staying in place, how he feels about intellectual property law, the ethical considerations of displaying violent imagery, why women were so prominent in the early history of American photography, the mysteries in his quilt collection, the most underrated American painter, why crossword puzzles are akin t
16/11/202252 minutes 57 seconds
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Mary Gaitskill on Subjects That Are Vexing Everybody

Mary Gaitskill’s knack for writing about the social and physical world with unapologetic clarity has led to her style being described both as "cold and brutal” and “tender and compassionate.” Tyler considers her works The Mare, Veronica, and Lost Cat to be some of the best and most insightful American fiction in recent times. A
02/11/202245 minutes 32 seconds
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Reza Aslan on Martyrdom, Islam, and Revolution

Reza Aslan doesn’t mind being called a pantheist. In his own “roundabout spiritual journey” and study of the world’s religions, which has led him to write books on Islam, the life of Jesus Christ, God, and most recently <a hre
19/10/202253 minutes 13 seconds
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Walter Russell Mead on the Past and Future of American Foreign Policy

A leading expert in foreign policy, Walter Russell Mead believes his lack of a PhD—and interest in actually going places—has helped him avoid academic silos and institutional groupthink that’s rendered the field ineffective for decades. Mead’s latest book, which explores the American-Israeli relationship, is characteristically wide-ranging and multidisciplinary, resulting in “less a history of U.S.-Israel policy than a sweeping and masterfully told history of U.S. foreign policy in general”, according to a New York Times review. He joined Tyler to discuss how the decline of American religiosity has influenced US foreign policy, which American presidents best and least understood the Middle East, the shrewd reasons Stalin supported Israel, the Saudi s
05/10/202251 minutes 59 seconds
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Byron Auguste On Rewiring the U.S. Labor Market

When looking at the U.S. labor market, Byron Auguste sees too many job seekers screened out based on shallow signals like a bachelor’s degree, and too few ‘screened in’ by directly demonstrating the skills needed for the job at hand. To close those opportunity gaps in the American workforce, Byron co-founded and runs Opportunity@Work, which played a key role in Maryland’s decision in early 2022 to drop four-year degree requirements for thousands of state jobs in favor of recruiting from those identified as being Skilled Through Alternate Routes, or STARs. He joined Tyler to discuss workforce training in the digital economy, re-evaluating college degree requirements in recruitment, why IQ is overrated and conscientiousness is underrated, the major opportunity gap in on-the-job training, what people miss about the German apprenticeship model, the best novel about finding a job, what’s gone wrong with American men, why we need signal pluralism for higher education admission, why
21/09/202254 minutes 12 seconds
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Vaughn Smith on Life as a Hyperpolyglot

Vaughn Smith is fluent in eight languages but with a beginner’s grasp of at least thirty-six (and counting). His talents are so remarkable that the Washington Post did a feature story on him and neuroscientists at MIT requested he do a brain scan for them. But for Vaughn his language skills aren’t about attracting attention or monetary gain. “Language is a key to someone's culture, to someone's world,” he explains. Whether it’s watching a client’s face light up when he speaks to them in their native tongue or showing Indigenous children in rural Mexico that their language is valuable and worth preserving, Vaughn views his gifts as a way of connecting with other people. He joined Tyler to discuss how he began learning languages, the best languages for expressing humor, why he curses in Slovak, why he considers Finnish more romantic than Portugese, what
07/09/202249 minutes 54 seconds
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Shruti Rajagopalan talks to Daniel Gross and Tyler about Identifying and Predicting Talent

How can one identify and predict talent? On a search to answer this question and others like it, Tyler Cowen joined venture capitalist and entrepreneur Daniel Gross to explore the art and science of finding talent in their new book Talent: How to Identify Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Around the World. In a panel discussion hosted by Shruti Rajagopalan, Cowen and Gross discuss the applications of their new book, particularly how lifestyle characteristics can indicate an individual is capable of great creativity and talent. Daniel and Tyler also discuss undervalued talents and skills, what talents they look for in the start-up and investment world, why there is no good chocolate ice cream to be found in San Francisco, what their exercise preferences indicate about their personalities, how they approach identifying talent in different countries and industries, how imm
01/09/20221 hour 7 minutes 45 seconds
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Cynthia L. Haven on René Girard, Czeslaw Milosz, and Joseph Brodsky

As a little girl, Cynthia Haven loved reading classic works of literature. At sixteen, she began her career as a reporter. And years later, those two interests converged as they led her to interview and write books about three writers and thinkers whom she also came to call mentors: René Girard, Czeslaw Milosz, and Joseph Brodsky.  Cynthia joined Tyler to discuss what she’s gleaned from each of the three, including what traits they have in common, why her biography of Girard had to come from outside academia, Milosz’s reaction to the Berkley Free Speech Movement, Girard’s greatest talent—and flaw—as a thinker, whether Brodsky will fall down the memory hole, why he was so terrible on Ukraine, why Cynthia’s early career was much like The Devil Wears Prada, the failings of Twitter, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded May 18th, 2022<br
24/08/202244 minutes 58 seconds
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William MacAskill on Effective Altruism, Moral Progress, and Cultural Innovation

When Tyler is reviewing grants for Emergent Ventures, he is struck by how the ideas of effective altruism have so clearly influenced many of the smartest applicants, particularly the younger ones. And William MacAskill, whom Tyler considers one of the world’s most influential philosophers, is a leading light of the community. William joined Tyler to discuss why the movement has gained so much traction and more, including his favorite inefficient charity, what form of utilitarianism should apply to the care of animals, the limits of expected value, whether effective altruists should be anti-abortion, whether he would side with aliens over humans, whether he should give up having kids, why donating to a university isn’t so bad, whether we are living in “hingey” times, why buildering is overrated, the sociology of the effective altruism
10/08/202250 minutes 44 seconds
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Leopoldo López on Activism Under Autocratic Regimes

As an inquisitive reader, books were a cherished commodity for Leopoldo López when he was a political prisoner in his home country of Venezuela. His prison guards eventually observed the strength and focus López gained from reading. In an attempt to stifle his spirit, the guards confiscated his books and locked them in a neighboring cell where he could see but not access them. But López didn’t let this stop him from writing or discourage his resolve to fight for freedom. A Venezuelan opposition leader and freedom activist, today López works to research and resist oppressive autocratic regimes globally. López joined Tyler to discuss Venezuela’s recent political and economic history, the effectiveness of sanctions, his experiences in politics and activism, how happiness is about finding purpose, how he organized a protest from prison, the ideal daily routine of a political prisoner, how extreme sports prepared him for prison, his work to improve the lives of the Venezuelan peop
27/07/202249 minutes 2 seconds
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Matthew Ball on the Metaverse and Gaming

Fighting fires meant a lot of downtime for Matthew Ball. Stationed at a forward operating base in the woods for two weeks at a time, he spent long hours amongst fellow firefighters with whom he shared little in common except for their love of the outdoors. The skills he gained working towards mutual goals with those he had little else in common with has translated well to his career as a strategist and venture capitalist in the digital media and gaming industries. Ball is a managing partner of EpyllionCo, venture partner at Makers Fund, and author of the anticipated The Metaverse: And How it Will Revolutionize Everything. Ball joined Tyler to discuss the eventual widespan transition of the population to the metaverse, the exciting implications of this interc
13/07/202255 minutes 34 seconds
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Barkha Dutt on the Nuances of Indian Life

Growing up, Barkha Dutt was totally rootless. She spoke English, not her parent’s Punjabi. She devoured Enid Blyton and studied English literature during college, but read few Indian novelists. She didn’t even know her caste. This has opened her up to criticism as being a progressive elite who is out of touch with her heritage, and challenged her to be especially thoughtful in the way she examines the many overlapping values in Indian society. A successful broadcast journalist and columnist, she currently runs the YouTube-based news channel MoJo Story and recently published a new book, ​​Humans of COVID: To Hell and Back. Barkha joined Tyler to discuss how Westerners can gain a more complete picture of India, the misogyny still embedded in Indian society, why family law should be agnostic of religious belief, the causes of declining fer
29/06/202251 minutes 36 seconds
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Marc Andreessen on Learning to Love the Humanities

Like the frontier characters from Deadwood, his favorite TV show, Marc Andreessen has discovered that the real challenge to building in new territory is not in the practicalities of learning a trade, but in developing a savviness for what makes people tick. Without understanding the deep patterns of human behavior, how can you know what to build, or who should build it, or how? For Marc, that means reading deeply in the humanities: “I spent the first 25 years of my life trying to understand how machines work,” Marc says. “Then I spent the second 25 years, so far, trying to figure out how people work. It turns out people are a lot more complicated.” Marc joined Tyler to discuss his ever-growing appreciation for the humanities and more, including why he didn’t go to a better school, his contrarian take on Robert Heinlein, how Tom Wolfe helped Marc understand his own archetype, who he’d choose to be in Renaissance Florence, which books he’s reread the most, Twitter as a
15/06/202251 minutes 29 seconds
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Jamal Greene on Reconceiving Rights

What does it mean to uphold disability rights, or the right to economic liberty? What framework should be used when rights appear to conflict? Constitutional law expert Jamal Greene contends that the way Americans view rights—as fundamental, inflexible, and universal—is at odds with how the rest of the world conceives of them, and even with how our own founders envisaged them. In his new book, How Rights Went Wrong, he lays out his vision for reimagining rights as the products of political negotiation. The goal of judges, he says, should be to manage disagreement in a way that leads to social harmony and social cohesion—and by doing so, foster the ultimate goal of peaceful pluralism. Jamal and Tyler discuss what he’d change about America’s legal education system, the utility of having non-judges or even non-lawyers on the Supreme Court, how America’s racial history influence
01/06/202248 minutes 7 seconds
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Tyler and Daniel Gross Talk Talent

If Tyler and Daniel's latest book can be boiled down into a single message, it would be that the world is currently failing at identifying talent, and that getting better at it would have enormous benefits for organizations, individuals, and the world at large. In this special episode of Conversations with Tyler, Daniel joined Tyler to discuss the ideas in their book on how to spot talent better, including the best questions to ask in interviews, predicting creativity and ambition, and the differences between competitiveness and obsessiveness. They also explore the question of why so many high achievers love Diet Coke, why you should ask candidates if they have any good conspiracy theories, how to spot effective dark horses early, the hiring strategy that set SpaceX apart, what to look for in a talent identifier, what you can learn from discussing drama, the underrated genius of game designers, why Tyler
18/05/202248 minutes 31 seconds
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Chris Blattman on War and Centralized Power

What causes war? Many scholars have spent their careers attempting to study the psychology of leaders to understand what incentivizes them to undertake the human and financial costs of conflict, but economist and political scientist Chris Blattman takes a different approach to understanding interstate violence. He returns for his second appearance on Conversations with Tyler to discuss his research into the political and institutional causes of conflict, the topic of his new book ​​Why We Fight: The Roots of War and The Path to Peace. Chris and Tyler also cover why he doesn’t think demographics are a good predictor of a country’s willingness to go to war, the informal norms that restrain nations, the dangers of responding to cyberattacks, the breakdown of elite bargains in Ethiopia, the relationship between high state capacity and war, the greatest threats to peace in Ireland, why p
04/05/202248 minutes 5 seconds
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Thomas Piketty on the Politics of Equality

When it comes to the enormous reduction of income inequality during the 20th century, Thomas Piketty sees politics everywhere. In his new book, A Brief History of Equality, he argues the rising equality during the 19th and 20th centuries has its roots not in deterministic economic forces but in the movements to end aristocratic and colonial societies starting at the end of the 18th century. Drawing this line forward, Piketty also contends we must rectify past injustices before attempting to create new institutions. He joined Tyler to discuss just how egalitarian France actually is, the beginning of the end of aristocratic society, where he places himself within French intellectual history, why he’s skeptical of data from before the late 18th century, how public education drives economic development, why Georgism isn’t sufficient to address wealth inequality, the relationship be
20/04/202253 minutes 25 seconds
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Roy Foster on Ireland’s Many Unmade Futures

“The best history,” says Roy Foster, “is written when we realize that people acted in expectation of a future that was never going to happen.” While this is the case for many countries, it’s especially true of Ireland—the land of The Troubles, of colonization, of revolution and reforms. This sympathy within his scholarship sets Foster’s work apart. Not content to simply document the facts of what did happen, he’s undertaken the role of reconstructing the motivations that animated the Irish people throughout its storied history--without which we cannot truly understand the Ireland of today. Roy joined Tyler to discuss why the Scots got off easier than the Irish under English rule, the truths and misconceptions about Ireland as a policy laboratory for the British government, why spoken Irish faded more rapidly than Welsh, the single question that drove a great flowering of Irish economic thought, how Foster’s Quaker education shaped his view of Irish history, how the Battle of
06/04/202259 minutes 22 seconds
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Lydia Davis on Language and Literature

A prolific translator, author, and former professor of creative writing, Lydia Davis’s motivation for her life’s work is jarringly simple: she just loves language. She loves short, sparkling sentences. She loves that in English we have Anglo-Saxon words like “underground” or Latinate alternatives like “subterranean.” She loves reading books in foreign languages, discovering not only their content but a different culture and a different history at the same time. Despite describing her creative process as “chaotic” and herself as “not ambitious,” she is among America’s best-known short story writers and a celebrated essayist. Lydia joined Tyler to discuss how the form of short stories shapes their content, how to persuade an ant to leave your house, the difference between po
23/03/202240 minutes 45 seconds
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Sam Bankman-Fried on Arbitrage and Altruism

Whether it’s scaling an arbitrage opportunity or launching an ambitious philanthropic project, Sam Bankman-Fried has set himself apart. In just a few years, he’s not only made billions trading crypto, but also become a leading practitioner of effective altruism, with the specific aim of making lots of money in order to donate most of it to high-impact causes. He joined Tyler to discuss the Sam Bankman-Fried production function, the secret to his trading success, how games like Magic: The Gathering have shaped his approach to business, why a legal mind is crucial when thinking about cryptocurrencies, the most important thing he’s learned about managing, what Bill Belichick can teach us about being a good leader, the real constraints in the effective altruism space, why he’s not very compelled by life extension research, challenges to his Benthamite utilitarianism, whether it’s possible to coherently regulate stablecoins, the implicit leverage in DeFi, Elon Musk’s grea
09/03/202250 minutes 2 seconds
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Chuck Klosterman on Writing the Past and Relishing the Present

How do you go about writing a book on an era that is, for many, recent history? When Chuck Klosterman set out to write his new book, The Nineties, he wasn’t interested in representing it as a misremembered era or forcing a retrospective view into modern ideology. Rather than finding overlooked signposts that signaled events to come, he says, he wanted to capture what it actually felt like to experience that time – the anxiety and excitement around scientific and technological progress, what it was like to be limited to a few cassette tapes or CDs at a time, the physical media and musical subcultures that would later evaporate with the advent of the internet. Though easier to research than more ancient history, complications arose when he pondered the bifurcation of his audience between those for whom the release of Nevermind is a personal memory and those for whom it’s as distant as
23/02/20221 hour 15 minutes 12 seconds
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Sebastian Mallaby on Venture Capital

Venture capital powered the tech revolution, but what powers venture capital? With his in-depth knowledge and coverage of the sector you’d be forgiven for thinking Sebastian Mallaby is a veteran of the Silicon Valley scene. The author of several books on finance and economics, Sebastian takes pride in understanding his subjects intimately (perhaps too intimately, if you ask his critics). His latest book, Power Law: Venture Capital and the Making of the New Future, sheds light on the small but mighty industry. Sebastian joined Tyler to discuss why venture capital skills aren’t more replicable, the promise of biotech despite increased regulations, why venture capital remains concentrated in the Bay area even after the pandemic, the differences in risk-taking between East and West coast finance, the secret to Mike Moritz’s success as an investor, how Peter Thiel’s understanding of the
09/02/202256 minutes 10 seconds
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Stewart Brand on Starting Things and Staying Curious

From psychedelics to cyberculture, hippie communes to commercial startups, and the Whole Earth Catalog to the Long Now Foundation, Stewart Brand has not only been a part of many movements—he was there at the start. Now 83, he says he doesn’t understand why older people let their curiosity fade, when in many ways it’s the best time to set off on new intellectual pursuits. Tyler and Stewart discuss what drives his curiosity, including the ways in which he’s a product of the Cold War, how he became a Darwinian decentralist, the effects of pre-industrial America on his thought, the subcultural convergences between hippies and younger American Indians, why he doesn’t think humans will be going to the stars, his two-minded approach to unexplained phenomena, how L.L. Bean inspired the Whole Earth Catalog, why Silicon Valley entrepreneurs don’t seem interested in the visual arts, why L.A. could not have been the home of hippie culture and digital innovation, what li
26/01/202257 minutes 17 seconds
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Russ Roberts on Israel and Life as an Immigrant

In this special crossover special with EconTalk, Tyler interviews Russ Roberts about his new life in Israel as president of Shalem College. They discuss why there are so few new universities, managing teams in the face of linguistic and cultural barriers, how Israeli society could adapt to the loss of universal military service, why Israeli TV is so good, what American Jews don’t understand about life in Israel, what his next leadership challenge will be, and much more. Check out Macro Musings. Follow Macro Musings on Twitter. Subscribe to Macro Musings on your favorite podcast app. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the <a href="
19/01/202259 minutes 12 seconds
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Ana Vidović on Prodigies, Performance, and Perseverance

Is genius born or made? For Croatian-born classical guitarist Ana Vidović the answer is both. Born into a musical family, she began playing guitar at five and was quickly considered a prodigy. But she’s seen first-hand how that label can trap young talents into complacency, stifling their full development. She’s also had to navigate changing business models and new technologies, learning for instance how to balance an online presence with her love of performing for live audiences. She joined Tyler to discuss that transition from prodigy to touring musician and more, including how Bach challenges her to become a better musician, the most difficult piece in guitar repertoire, the composers she wish had written for classical guitar, the Beatles songs she’d most like to transcribe, why it’s important to study a score before touching the guitar, the reason she won’t practice more than seven hours per day, how she prevents mistakes during performances, what she looks for in young c
12/01/202244 minutes 52 seconds
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Conversations with Tyler 2021 Retrospective

Want to support the show? Visit On this special year-in-review episode, Tyler and producer Jeff Holmes talk about the past year on the show, including one episode’s appearance on Ancient Aliens, Tyler’s picks for most underrated guests, how his 2021 predictions fared from last year’s retrospective, further reflections on the most downloaded—and most polarizing—episode of the year, how David Deutsch influenced Tyler’s opinions of Karl Popper, why he thinks his interviews with women tend to be better, and more. They also evaluate Tyler’s pop culture picks from 2011, play “Name that Production Function,” and answer listener questions from Twitter. Read a full transcript
29/12/202155 minutes 52 seconds
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Ray Dalio on Investing, Management, and the Changing World Order

Want to support the show? Visit When Ray Dalio was 23, President Nixon announced that the United States would no longer be adhering to the gold standard for American currency. Clerking on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Dalio expected to see chaos—but instead stocks soared. Curious to understand this phenomenon, he began to read about similar events in 1933, and it opened his eyes to the lessons that could be drawn from history. His latest book draws on the patterns he’s gleaned from studying dynasties and empires throughout time, as well as his own experiences as a hedge fund manager and founder of Bridgewater Associates. Ray joined Tyler to discuss the forces that will affect American life in the coming decades, why we shoul
15/12/202158 minutes 59 seconds
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Ruth Scurr on the Art of Biography

The most challenging part of being a biographer for Ruth Scurr is finding the best form to tell a life. “You can't go in there with a workmanlike attitude saying, ‘I'm going to do cradle to grave.’ You’ve got to somehow connect and resonate with the life, and then things will develop from that.” Known for her innovative literary portraits of Robespierre and John Aubrey, Scurr’s latest book follows Napoleon’s life through his engagement with the natural world. This approach broadens the usual cast of characters included in Napoleon’s life story, providing new perspectives with which to understand him. Ruth joined Tyler to discuss why she considers Danton the hero of the French Revolution, why the Jacobins were so male-obsessed, the wit behind Condorcet's idea of a mechanical king, the influence of Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments during and after the Reign of Terror, why 18th-century French thinkers were obsessed with finding forms of government that would fit
01/12/202151 minutes 1 second
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David Rubenstein on Private Equity, Public Art, and Philanthropy

Baltimore native David Rubenstein is a founding figure in private equity, a prolific philanthropist, and author. From leveraged buyouts to his patriotic philanthropy to his leadership roles within institutions like the Smithsonian, Kennedy Center, and the National Gallery of Art, David has spent much of his life evaluating what makes institutions—and people—succeed. He joined Tyler to discuss what makes someone good at private equity, why 20 percent performance fees have withstood the test of time, why he passed on a young Mark Zuckerberg, why SPACs probably won’t transform the IPO process, gambling on cryptocurrency, whether the Brooklyn Nets are overrated, what Wall Street and Washington get wrong about each other, why he wasn’t a good lawyer, why the rise of China is the greatest threat to American prosperity, how he would invest in Baltimore, his advice to aging philanthropists, the four standards he uses to evaluate requests for money, why we still need art museums, the
17/11/202156 minutes 25 seconds
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David Salle on the Experience of Art

When the audience for visual art expanded from small circles of artists and collectors into broader culture, the way art was experienced shifted from aesthetics to explanation. Art, it became thought, should be about something. But David Salle rebukes this literal-mindedness: according to him, what we think and feel when reacting to a piece of art is more authoritative than what’s written on the label next to it. A painter, sculptor, and filmmaker, David is also the author of How to See: Looking, Talking, and Thinking about Art, a highly regarded book on artistic criticism. David joined Tyler to discuss the fifteen (or so) functions of good art, why it’s easier to write about money than art, what’s gone wrong with art criticism today, how to cultivate good taste, the reasons museum curators tend to be risk-averse, the effect of modern artistic training on contemporary art,
03/11/202146 minutes 34 seconds
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Stanley McChrystal on the Military, Leadership, and Risk

Stan McChrystal has spent a long career considering questions of risk, leadership, and the role of America’s military, having risen through the Army’s ranks ultimately to take command of all US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, a force representing 150,000 troops from 45 countries. Retiring as a four-star general in 2010, he has gone on to lecture at Yale and launched the McChrystal Group, where he taps that experience to help organizations build stronger teams and devise winning strategies. His latest book, which he tells Tyler will be his last, is called Risk: A User’s Guide. He joined Tyler to discuss whether we’ve gotten better or worse at analyzing risk, the dangerous urge among policymakers to oversimplify the past, why being a good military commander is about more than winning battlefield victories, why we’re underestimating the risk that China will invade Taiwan, how to maintain a l
20/10/202153 minutes 57 seconds
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Claudia Goldin on the Economics of Inequality

Harvard professor Claudia Goldin has made a name for herself tackling difficult questions. What was the full economic cost of the American Civil War? Does education increase or lessen income inequality? What causes the gender pay gap—and how do you even measure it? Her approach, which often involves the unearthing of new historical data, has yielded lasting insights in several distinct areas of economics. Claudia joined Tyler to discuss the rise of female billionaires in China, why the US gender earnings gap expanded in recent years, what’s behind falling marriage rates for those without a college degree, why the wage gap flips for Black women versus Black men, theoretical approaches for modeling intersectionality, gender ratios in economics, why she’s skeptical about happiness research, how the New York Times wedding announcement page has evolved, the problems with for-profit education, the value of an Ivy League degree, whether a Coasian solution existed to prevent
06/10/202149 minutes 6 seconds
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Amia Srinivasan on Utopian Feminism

What is our right to be desired? How are our sexual desires shaped by the society around us? Is consent sufficient for a sexual relationship? In the wake of the #MeToo movement, public debates about sex work, and the rise in popularity of “incel culture”, philosopher Amia Srinivasan explores these questions and more in her new book of essays, The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century. Amia’s interests lay in how our internal perspectives and desires are shaped by external forces, and the question of how we might alter those forces to achieve a more just, equitable society. Amia joined Tyler to discuss the importance of context in her vision of feminism, what social conservatives are right about, why she’s skeptical about extrapolating from the experience of women in Nordic countries, the feminist critique of the role of consent in sex, whether disabled individuals should be given sex vouchers, h
22/09/20211 hour 5 minutes 2 seconds
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David Cutler and Ed Glaeser on the Health and Wealth of Cities

With remote work becoming more common and cities competing for businesses it’s become easier than ever before for educated Americans to relocate, leaving cities more vulnerable than they’ve ever been. In their new book, Survival of the City: Living and Thriving in an Age of Isolation, economists David Cutler and Ed Glaeser examine the factors that will allow some cities to succeed despite these challenges, while others fail.  They joined Tyler for a special joint episode to discuss why healthcare outcomes are so correlated with education, whether the health value of Google is positive or negative, why hospital price transparency is
08/09/20211 hour 19 minutes 5 seconds
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Zeynep Tufekci on the Sociology of The Moment (Live)

When Zeynep Tufekci penned a New York Times op-ed at the onset of the pandemic challenging the prevailing public health guidance that ordinary people should not wear masks, she thought it was the end of her public writing career. Instead, it helped provoke the CDC to reverse its guidance a few weeks later, and medical professionals privately thanked her for writing it. While relieved by the reception, she also saw it as a sign of a deeper dysfunction in the scientific establishment: why should she, a programmer and sociologist by training, have been the one to speak out rather than a credentialed expert? And yet realizing her outsider status and academic tenure allowed her to speak more freely than others, she continued writing and has become one of the leading publ
25/08/20211 hour 5 minutes 57 seconds
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Andrew Sullivan on Braving New Intellectual Journeys

Upon learning he was HIV positive in 1993, Andrew Sullivan began writing more than he ever had before. Believing that he didn’t have long to live, he wanted to leave behind a book detailing his best argument for refocusing the gay rights movement on marriage equality and military service. Three decades later and Sullivan has not only lived to see the book published, but also seen the ideas in it gain legal and cultural acceptance. This, along with the fact that the pace and influence of his writing has continued apace, qualifies him in Tyler’s estimation as the most influential public intellectual of his generation. Andrew joined Tyler to discuss the role of the AIDs epidemic in achieving marriage equality, the difficulty of devoutness in everyday life, why public intellectuals often lack courag
11/08/202155 minutes 17 seconds
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Niall Ferguson on Why We Study History

While the modern historical ethos can be obsessed with condescending to the past based on our current value system, Scottish-born historian Niall Ferguson has aimed to set himself apart with his willingness to examine the past in its own context. The result is some wildly unpopular opinions such as “The British Empire was good, actually” and several wildly popular books, such as his latest Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe. Niall joined Tyler to discuss the difference between English and Scottish pessimism, his surprise encounter with Sean Connery, what James Bond and Doctor Who have in common, how religion fosters the cultural imagination to produce doomsday scenarios, which side of the Glorious Revolution he would have been on, the extraordinary historical trajectory of Scotland from the 17th century through the 18th century, why historians seem to have an excessive occupa
28/07/202154 minutes 7 seconds
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Alexander the Grate on Life as an NFA

Alexander the Grate has spent 40 years – more than half of his life – living on the streets (and heating grates) of Washington, DC. He prefers the label NFA (No Fixed Address) rather than “homeless,” since in his view we’re all a little bit homeless: even millionaires are just one catastrophe away from losing their mansions. It’s a life that certainly comes with many challenges, but that hasn’t stopped him from enjoying the immense cultural riches of the capital: he and his friends have probably attended more lectures, foreign films, concerts, talks, and tours at local museums than many of its wealthiest denizens. The result is a perspective as unique as the city itself. Alexander joined Tyler to discuss the little-recognized issue of “toilet insecurity,” how COVID-19 affected his lifestyle, the hierarchy of local shelters, the origins of the cootie game, the difference between being NFA in DC versus other cities, how networking helped him navigate life as a new NFA, how the
14/07/202144 minutes 47 seconds
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Richard Prum on Birds, Beauty, and Finding Your Own Way

Richard Prum really cares about birds. Growing up in rural Vermont, he didn’t know anyone else interested in birding his own age. The experience taught him to rely on his own sense of curiosity and importance when deciding what questions and interests are worth studying. As a result, he has pursued many different paths of research in avian biology — such as behavioral evolution, where feathers come from, sexual selection and mate choice — many of which have led to deep implications in the field. In 2017, Tyler agreed with several prominent outlets that Prum’s book <a class="markup--anchor markup--p-anchor" href= "
30/06/202150 minutes 1 second
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Elijah Millgram on the Philosophical Life

What can studying the lives of philosophers tell us about how to organize and interpret our own lives? Elijah Millgram is a professor of philosophy at the University of Utah whose research focuses on the theory of rationality. His latest book, John Stuart Mill and The Meaning of Life, analyzes the relationship between the ideas of the famous theorist and their impacts on Mill’s life. His forthcoming book examines the life and work of Frederich Nietzsche through a similar lens, combining philosophical analysis and biography. Elijah joined Tyler to discuss Newcomb’s paradox, the reason he doesn’t have an opinion about everything, the philosophy of Dave Barry, style and simulation theory, why philosophers aren’t often consulted about current events, his best stories from TA-ing for Robert Nozick, the sociological correlates of knowing formal logic, the question of whether people
16/06/20211 hour 8 minutes 10 seconds
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David Deutsch on Multiple Worlds and Our Place in Them

Tyler describes Oxford professor and theoretical physicist David Deutsch as a “maximum philosopher of freedom” with no rival. A pioneer in the field of quantum computing, Deutsch subscribes to the multiple-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. He is also adamant that the universe (or multiverse) is not incomprehensible – believing that the multiverse and human beings within it have maximum freedom. He joined Tyler to discuss the importance of these principles for understanding the nature of reality and our place in it. They discuss the metaphysics of Star Trek transporters, how we can know the laws of physics for the multiverse, what geological strata can illustrate to us about the nature of “splitting” universes, why the “Everett universe” is a misnomer, the factors that differentiate humans from all other species, why he believes the universe is comprehensible – but can never be understood fully, the paradoxes of self-reference, the importance of interference experime
02/06/20211 hour 1 minute 24 seconds
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Mark Carney on Central Banking and Shared Values

As a Canadian economist who once served as the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney has had many occasions to reflect on the importance of values. Whether it’s ingratiating himself as a public servant in a foreign country, managing a central bank, or addressing climate change, he’s seen the power of shared objectives and the importance of value alignment in addressing critical and complex problems. As the global economy attempts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Carney has published these lessons in a new book, Values: Building a Better World for All. In this special bonus episode, Mark joined Tyler to discuss why he went into economics instead of marine biology, the temperamental differences between ice hockey goalies and central bankers, why it’s important that central bankers plan for failure, what he learned from his father’s work with indigenous Canadians, how growi
26/05/202154 minutes 57 seconds
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Pierpaolo Barbieri on Latin American FinTech

Gifted young Argentines tend to leave home to “make it in America” and never look back, but after earning a degree from Harvard, writing a book about the Spanish Civil War, and living in the United States for 12 years, Pierpaolo Barbieri has returned to Argentina. And he’s bringing foreign capital and talented expats with him. Pierpaolo’s FinTech startup Ualá works to bring universal banking to a Latin American market in which huge swaths of the population are still stuck using cash for everything. By giving the working classes power over their own money, he hopes to produce greater prosperity and social mobility in his home country and beyond. Pierpaolo joined Tyler to discuss why the Mexican banking system only serves 30 percent of Mexicans, which country will be the first to go cashless, the implications of a digital yu
19/05/202156 minutes 16 seconds
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Daniel Carpenter on Smart Regulation

Daniel Carpenter is one of the world’s leading experts on regulation and the foremost expert on the US Food and Drug Administration. A professor of Government at Harvard University, he’s conducted extensive research on regulation and government organizations, as well as on the development of political institutions in the United States. His latest book Democracy by Petition: Popular Politics in Transformation, details the crucial role petitions played in expanding the franchise and shaping modern America. Daniel joined Tyler to discuss how to reform the hiring and firing practices for public employees, what the history of the postal service can teach us about internet regulation, the problem with the term “institutional capture”, what the FDA got right and wrong regarding COVID-19 vaccines, how nationalism is affecting vaccine rollout, why vaccinating the young is
05/05/20211 hour 8 minutes 28 seconds
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Shadi Bartsch on the Classics and China

A self-professed nerd, the young Shadi Bartsch could be found awake late at night, reading Latin under the covers of her bed by flashlight. Now a professor of Classics at the University of Chicago, Dr. Bartsch is one of the best-known classicists in America and recently published her own translation of Virgil’s Aeneid. Widely regarded for her writing on Seneca, Lucan, and Persius, her next book focuses on Chinese interpretations of classic literature and their influence on political thought in China. Shadi joined Tyler to discuss reading the classics as someone who is half-Persian, the difference between Homer and Virgil’s underworlds, the reasons so many women are redefining Virgil’s Aeneid, the best way to learn Latin, why
21/04/20211 hour 27 seconds
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Dana Gioia on Becoming an Information Billionaire

Before he was California Poet Laureate or leading the National Endowment for the Arts, Dana Gioia marketed Jell-O. Possessing both a Stanford MBA and a Harvard MA, he combined his creativity and facility with numbers to climb the corporate ladder at General Foods to the second highest rung before abruptly quitting to become a poet and writer. That unique professional experience and a lifelong “hunger for beauty” have made him into what Tyler calls an “information billionaire,” or someone who can answer all of Tyler’s questions. In his new memoir, Dana describes the six people who sent him on this unlikely journey. In this conversation, Dana and Tyler discuss his latest book and more, including how he transformed several businesses as a corporate executive, why going to business school made him a better poet, the only two obscene topics left in American poetry, why narrative is n
07/04/20211 hour 18 minutes 29 seconds
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Sarah Parcak on Archaeology from Space

What can new technology tell us about our ancient past? Archaeologist and remote sensing expert Sarah Parcak has used satellite imagery to discover over a dozen potential pyramids and thousands of tombs from ancient Egypt. A professor of anthropology and founding director of the Laboratory for Global Observation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Sarah’s work combines technology, historical study, and cultural anthropology to advance discoveries about the past while navigating the political and ethical dilemmas that plague excavation work today. She joined Tyler to discuss what caused the Bronze Age Collapse, how well we understand the level of ancient technologies, what archaeologists may learn from the discovery of more than a hundred coffins at the site of Saqqara, how far the Vikings really traveled, why conservation should be as much of a priority as excavation, the economics of looting networks, the inherently political nature of archaeology, Indiana Jones<
24/03/20211 hour 4 minutes 12 seconds
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John Cochrane on Economic Puzzles and Habits of Mind

What unites John Cochrane the finance economist and “grumpy” policy blogger with John Cochrane the accomplished glider pilot? For John, the answer is that each derives from the same habit of mind which seeks to reduce things down to a few fundamental principles and a simple logical structure. And thus, piloting a glider can be understood as an application of optimal portfolio theory, and all of monetary policy can be made to fit within the structure of a single equation. John joined Tyler to apply that habit of mind to a number of puzzles, including why real interest rates don’t equalize across countries, what explains why high trading volumes and active management persist in finance, how the pandemic has affected his opinion of habit formation theories, his fiscal theory of price level and inflation, the danger of a US sovereign debt crisis, why he thinks Bitcoin will eventually die, his idea for health-status insurance, becoming a national gliding champion, how a Renaissanc
10/03/202158 minutes 32 seconds
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Patricia Fara on Newton, Scientific Progress, and the Benefits of Unhistoric Acts

Patricia Fara is a historian of science at Cambridge University and well-known for her writings on women in science. Her forthcoming book, Life After Gravity: Isaac Newton's London Career, details the life of the titan of the so-called Scientific Revolution after his famous (though perhaps mythological) discovery under the apple tree. Her work emphasizes science as a long, continuous process composed of incremental contributions–in which women throughout history have taken a crucial part–rather than the sole province of a few monolithic innovators. Patricia joined Tyler to discuss why Newton left Cambridge to run The Royal Mint, why he was so productive during the Great Plague,  why the “Scientific Revolution” should instead be understood as a gradual process, what the Antikythera device tells us about science in the ancient world, the influence of Erasmus Darwin on his grandson, why more p
24/02/202157 minutes 58 seconds
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Brian Armstrong on the Crypto Economy

Brian Armstrong first recognized the potential of cryptocurrencies after witnessing firsthand the tragic consequences of hyperinflation in Argentina. Coinbase, the company he co-founded, aims to provide the primary financial accounts for the crypto economy. Their success in accomplishing this, he says, is due as much to their innovative approach to regulation as it is anything technological. Brian joined Tyler to discuss how he prevents Coinbase from being run by its lawyers, the value of having a mission statement, what a world with many more crypto billionaires would look like, why the volatility of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is more feature than bug, the potential for scalability in Ethereum 2.0, his best guess on the real identity of Satoshi, the biggest obstacle facing new charter cities, the meta rules he’d institute for new Martian colony, the importance of bridging the gap between academics and entrepreneurs, the future of crypto regulation, the benefits of stablec
10/02/202154 minutes 55 seconds
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Benjamin Friedman on the Origins of Economic Belief

Benjamin Friedman has been a leading macroeconomist since the 1970s, whose accomplishments include writing 150 papers, producing more than dozen books, and teaching Tyler Cowen graduate macroeconomics at Harvard in 1985. In his latest book, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, Ben argues that contrary to the popular belief that Western economic ideas are a secular product of the Enlightenment, instead they are the result of hotly debated theological questions within the English-speaking Protestant world of thinkers like Adam Smith and David Hume. Ben joined Tyler to discuss the connection between religious belief and support for markets, what drives varying cultural commitments to capitalism, why the rate of growth is key to sustaining liberal values, why Paul Volcker is underrated, how coming from Kentucky influences his thinking, why annuities do
27/01/20211 hour 7 minutes 15 seconds
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Noubar Afeyan on the Permission to Leap

“The world of innovation is very much one of toggling between survival and then thriving,” says Noubar Afeyan. Co-founder of Moderna and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, the biomedical innovator, philanthropist, and entrepreneur credits his successes to his “paranoid optimism” shaped by his experiences as an Armenian-American. Exceptional achievements like the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine, he believes, aren’t usually unpredictable but rather the result of systematic processes that include embracing unreasonable propositions and even unreasonable people. He joined Tyler to discuss which aspect of entrepreneurship is hardest to teach, his predictions on the future of gene editing and CRISPR technology, why the pharmaceutical field can’t be winner takes all, why “basic research” is a poor term, the secret to Boston’s culture of innovation, the potential of plant biotech, why Montreal is (still) a special place to him, how his classical pianist mother influenced his music
13/01/202155 minutes 56 seconds
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Conversations with Tyler 2020 Retrospective

Want to support the show? Visit On this special year-in-review episode, producer Jeff Holmes sat down with Tyler to talk about the most popular—and most underrated—episodes, Tyler's personal highlight of the year, how well state capacity libertarianism has fared, a new food rule for ordering well during the pandemic, how his production function changed this year, why he got sick of pickles, when he thinks the next face-to-face recording will be, the first thing he’ll do post vaccine, an update on his next book, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.
30/12/202053 minutes 59 seconds
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John O. Brennan on Life in the CIA

Want to support the show? Visit Growing up in a working-class city in New Jersey, John Brennan’s father was an Irish immigrant who always impressed upon his children how grateful they should be to be American citizens. That deeply-instilled patriotism and the sense of right and wrong emphasized by his Catholic upbringing would lead John first to become an intelligence officer and then eventually Director of the CIA. His new memoir, which Tyler found substantive on every page, recounts that career journey. John joined Tyler to discuss what working in intelligence taught him about people’s motivations, how his Catholic upbringing prepared him for working in intelligence, the similarities between working at the
16/12/202058 minutes 8 seconds
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Zach Carter on the Life and Legacy of John Maynard Keynes

After reading Zach Carter’s intellectual biography of Keynes earlier this year, Tyler declared that the book would qualify “without reservation” as one of the best of the year. Tyler’s assessment proved common, as the book would soon become a New York Times bestseller and later be declared one of the ten best books of the year by Publishers Weekly. In the book, Carter not only traces Keynes’ intellectual achievements throughout his lifetime, but also shows how those ideas have lasted long after him, making him one of the most influential economists who’s ever lived. Zach joined Tyler to discuss what Keynes got right – and wrong – about the Treaty of Versailles, how working in the India Office influen
02/12/202054 minutes 58 seconds
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Jimmy Wales on Systems and Incentives

Jimmy Wales used to joke that choosing to build Wikipedia on a non-profit, non-advertising model was either the best or worst decision he ever made—but he doesn’t joke about that anymore. “If you think about advertising-driven social media…it's driven them in many cases to prioritize agitation and argumentation in a negative sense over education and learning and thoughtfulness.” In his now ceremonial role, Jimmy spends a lot of time thinking about how to structure incentives so that the Wikipedia community stays aligned on values and focused on building an ever-improving encyclopedia. Jimmy joined Tyler to discuss what happens when content moderation goes wrong, why certain articles are inherently biased, the threat that repealing section 230 poses to Wikipedia, whether he believes in Conquest’s Law, the difference between “paid editing” and “paid advocacy editing,” how Wikipedia handles alternative accounts, the right to be forgotten, his unusual education in Huntsville, Ala
18/11/202057 minutes 7 seconds
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Edwidge Danticat on Haitian Art and Literature

Edwidge Danticat left Haiti when she was 12, she says, but Haiti never left her. At 14 she began writing stories about the people and culture she loved, and now is an internationally acclaimed novelist and short story writer as well a MacArthur Genius Fellow. Rather than holding herself out as an expert or sociologist on Haiti, she seeks to treat her characters and culture with nuance and show the beauty and complexity of the place she calls home. She joined Tyler to discuss the reasons Haitian identity and culture will likely persist in America, the vibrant Haitian art scenes, why Haiti has the best food in the Caribbean, how radio is remaining central to Haitian politics, why teaching in Creole would improve Haitian schools, what’s special about the painted tap-taps, how tourism influenced Haitian art, working with Jonathan Demme, how the CDC destroyed the Haitian tourism industry, her perspective on the Black Lives Matter movement, why she writes better at night, the hard
04/11/202051 minutes 40 seconds
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Michael Kremer on Economists as Founders

Michael Kremer is best known for his academic work researching global poverty, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2019 along with Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee. Less known is that he is also the founder of five non-profits and in the process of creating a sixth. And Kremer doesn’t see anything unusual about embodying the dual archetypes of economist and founder. “I think there's a lot of relationship between the experimental method and the things that are needed to help found organizations,” he explains. Michael joined Tyler to discuss the intellectual challenge of founding organizations, applying methods from behavioral economics to design better programs, how advanced market commitments could lower pharmaceutical costs for consumers while still incentivizing R&D, the ongoing cycle of experimentation every innovato
21/10/202049 minutes 38 seconds
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Audrey Tang on the Technology of Democracy

Audrey Tang began reading classical works like the Shūjīng and Tao Te Ching at the age of 5 and learned the programming language Perl at the age of 12. Now, the autodidact and self-described “conservative anarchist” is a software engineer and the first non-binary digital minister of Taiwan. Their work focuses on how social and digital technologies can foster empathy, democracy, and human progress. Audrey joined Tyler to discuss how Taiwan approached regulating Chinese tech companies, the inherent extraterritoriality of data norms, how Finnegans Wake has influenced their approach to technology, the benefits of radical transparency in communication, why they appreciate the laziness of Perl, using “humor over rumor” to combat online disinformation, why Taiwan views democracy as a set of social technologies, how their politics have been influenced by Taiwan’s indigenous communities and their oral culture, what Chinese literature teaches about change, ho
07/10/202053 minutes 26 seconds
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Alex Ross on Music, Culture, and Criticism

To Alex Ross, good music critics must be well-rounded and have command of neighboring cultural areas. “When you're writing about opera, you're writing about literature as well as music, you're writing about staging, theater ideas, as well as music,” says the veteran music journalist and staff writer for The New Yorker. His most recent book, Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music, explores the complicated legacy of Wagner, as well as how music shapes and is shaped by its cultural context. Alex joined Tyler to discuss the book, what gets lost in the training of modern opera singers, the effect of recording technology on orchestras, why he doesn’t have “guilty pleasures,” how we should approach Wagner today, the irony behind most uses of “Ride of the Valkyries” in cinema, his favorite Orson Welles film, his predictions for concert a
22/09/20201 hour 1 minute 20 seconds
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Matt Yglesias on Why the Population is Too Damn Low

Matt Yglesias joined Tyler for a wide-ranging conversation on his vision for a bigger, less politically polarized America outlined in his new book One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger. They discussed why it’s easier to grow Tokyo than New York City, the governance issues of increasing urban populations, what Tyler got right about pro-immigration arguments, how to respond to declining fertility rates, why he’d be happy to see more people going to church (even though he’s not religious), why liberals and conservatives should take marriage incentive programs more seriously, what larger families would mean for feminism, why people should read Robert Nozick, whether the YIMBY movement will be weakened by COVID-19, how New York City will bounce back, why he’s long on Minneapolis, how to address constitutional ruptures, how to attract more competent peop
09/09/20201 hour 6 minutes 3 seconds
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Jason Furman on Productivity, Competition, and Growth

Note: This conversation was recorded in January 2020. Tyler credits Jason Furman’s intellectual breadth, real-world experience, and emphasis on policy for making him the best economist in the world. Furman, despite not initially being interested in public policy, ultimately served as the chair of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Obama thanks to a call from Joe Stiglitz while still in grad school. His perspective is as idiosyncratic as his career trajectory, seeing the world of economic policy as a series of complex tradeoffs rather than something reducible to oversimplified political slogans. Jason joined Tyler for a wide-ranging conversation on how monopolies affect investment patterns, his top three recommendations to improve American productivity, why he’s skeptical of place-based development policies, what some pro-immigration arguments get wrong, why he’s more concerned about companies like Facebook and Google than he is Walmart and Amazon
26/08/20201 hour 1 minute 11 seconds
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Nicholas Bloom on Management, Productivity, and Scientific Progress

What might the electrification of factories teach us about how quickly we’ll adapt to remote work? What gives American companies an edge over their competitors on the international stage? What value do management consultants really provide? Stanford professor Nick Bloom’s research studies how management practices, productivity techniques, and uncertainty shape outcomes across companies and countries. He joined Tyler for a conversation about which areas of science are making progress, the factors that have made research more expensive, why government should invest more in R&D, how lean management transformed manufacturing, how India’s congested legal system inhibits economic development, the effects of technology on Scottish football hooliganism, why firms thrive in China, how weak legal systems incentivize nepotism, why he’s not worried about the effects of remote work on American productivity (in the short-term), the drawbacks of elite graduate programs, how his first “acade
12/08/20201 hour 3 minutes 37 seconds
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Nathan Nunn on the Paths to Development

Nathan Nunn’s work history includes automotive stores, a freight company, a paint factory, a ski hill, photography, book publishing, private tutoring, and more. Having grown up in a lower-income Canadian family, he recognizes the importance of having multiple pathways to climb the socioeconomic ladder. Now, as a development economist at Harvard, his research investigates how things like history, culture and contract enforcement shape the development paths of nations. Nathan joined Tyler for a conversation about which African countries a theory of persistence would lead him to bet on, why so many Africans live in harder to settle areas, his predictions for the effects of Chinese development on East Africa, why genetic distance is a strong predictor of bilateral income differences and trade, the pleasant surprises of visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo, the role of the Catholic Church in the development of the West, why Canadian football is underrated, the unique commutes
29/07/20201 hour 1 minute 47 seconds
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Melissa Dell on the Significance of Persistence

Explaining 10 percent of something is not usually cause for celebration. And yet when it comes to economic development, where so many factors are in play—institutions, culture, geography, to name a few—it’s impressive indeed. And that’s just what Melissa Dell has accomplished in her pathbreaking work. From the impact of the Mexican Revolution to the different development paths of northern and southern Vietnam, her work exploits what are often accidents of history—whether a Peruvian village was just inside or outside a mine’s catchment area, for example—to explain persistent differences in outcomes. Her work has earned numerous plaudits, including the John Bates Clark Medal earlier this year. On the 100th episode of Conversations with Tyler, Melissa joined Tyler to discuss what’s behind Vietnam’s economic performance, why persistence isn’t predictive, the benefits and drawbacks of state capacity, the differing economic legacies of forced labor in
15/07/20201 hour 3 minutes 27 seconds
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Annie Duke on Poker, Probabilities, and How We Make Decisions

For Annie Duke, the poker table is a perfect laboratory to study human decision-making — including her own. “It really exposes you to the way that you’re thinking,” she says, “how hard it is to avoid decision traps, even when you’re perfectly well aware that those decision traps exist. And how easy it is for like your mind to slip into those traps.” She’s spent a lot of time studying human cognition at the poker table and off it — her best-known academic article is about psycholinguistics and her forthcoming book is titled How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices. Annie joined Tyler to explore how payoffs aren’t always monetary, the benefits and costs of probabilistic thinking, the “magical thinking” behind why people buy fire insurance but usually don’t get prenups, the psychology behind betting
01/07/202054 minutes 38 seconds
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Rachel Harmon on Policing

Long before becoming a legal scholar focused on police reform, Rachel Harmon studied engineering at MIT and graduate philosophy at LSE. “You could call it a random walk,” she says, “or you could say that I’m really interested in the structure of things.” But despite her experience and training, even she can’t identify a single point of leverage that can radically reform the complicated system of policing in America. “We have been struggling with balancing the harms and benefits of policing since we started contemporary departments, so I don’t think that we’re going to suddenly fix this by flipping one lever.” She joined Tyler to discuss the best ideas for improving policing, including why good data on policing is so hard to come by, why body cams are not a panacea, the benefits and costs of consolidating police departments, why more female cops won’t necessarily reduce the use of force, how federal programs can sometimes misfire, where changing police se
17/06/202057 minutes 42 seconds
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Ashley Mears on Status and Beauty

Ashley Mears is a former fashion model turned academic sociologist, and her book Very Important People: Status and Beauty in the Global Party Circuit  is one of Tyler’s favorites of the year. The book, the result of eighteen months of field research, describes how young women exchange “bodily capital” for free drinks and access to glamorous events, boosting the status of the big-spending men they accompany. Ashley joined Tyler to discuss her book and experience as a model, including the economics of bottle service, which kinds of men seek the club experience (and which can’t get in), why Tyler is right to be suspicious of restaurants filled with beautiful women, why club m
03/06/20201 hour 1 minute 55 seconds
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Paul Romer on a Culture of Science and Working Hard

Paul Romer makes his second appearance to discuss the failings of economics, how his mass testing plan for COVID-19 would work, what aspects of epidemiology concern him, how the FDA is slowing a better response, his ideas for reopening schools and Major League Baseball, where he agrees with Weyl’s test plan, why charter cities need a new name, what went wrong with Honduras, the development trajectory for sub-Saharan Africa, how he’d reform the World Bank, the underrated benefits of a culture of science, his heartening takeaway about human nature from his experience at Burning Man, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded May 13th, 2020 Other ways to connect <li class="p
20/05/202059 minutes 59 seconds
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Adam Tooze on our Financial Past and Future

Adam Tooze is best known for his highly-regarded books on the economic history of Nazi Germany, the remaking of the global economic and political order starting in World War I, and his account of how the economic effects of the 2008 financial crisis rippled across the globe for a decade to follow. Recently, he’s become an influential voice on Twitter documenting the pandemic-induced strain on the world’s financial systems. Adam joined Tyler to discuss the historically unusual decision to have a high-cost lockdown during a pandemic, why he believes in a swoosh-shaped recovery, portents of financial crises in China and the West, which emerging economies are currently most at risk, what Keynes got wrong about the Treaty of Versailles, why the Weimar Republic failed, whether Hitler was a Keynesian, the political and economic prospects of various EU members, his trick to writing a lot, how Twitter encourages him to read more, what he taught executives at BP,
06/05/20201 hour 5 minutes 39 seconds
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Glen Weyl on Fighting COVID-19 and the Role of the Academic Expert

Glen Weyl is an economist, researcher, and founder of RadicalXChange. He recently co-authored a paper that sets forth an ambitious strategy to respond to the crisis and mitigate long-term damage to the economy through a regime of testing, tracing, and supported isolation. In his estimation the benefit-cost ratio is ten to one, with costs equal to about one month of continued freeze in place. Tyler invited Glen to discuss the plan, including how it’d overcome obstacles to scaling up testing and tracing, what other countries got right and wrong in their responses, the unusual reason why he’s bothered by price gouging on PPE supplies, where his plan differs with Paul Romer’s, and more. They also discuss academia’s responsibility to inform public discourse, how he’d apply his ideas on mechanism design to reform tenure and admissions, his unique intellectual journey from socialism
29/04/202055 minutes 50 seconds
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Philip E. Tetlock on Forecasting and Foraging as a Fox

Accuracy is only one of the things we want from forecasters, says Philip Tetlock, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction. People also look to forecasters for ideological assurance, entertainment, and to minimize regret–such as that caused by not taking a global pandemic seriously enough. The best forecasters aren’t just intelligent, but fox-like integrative thinkers capable of navigating values that are conflicting or in tension. He joined Tyler to discuss whether the world as a whole is becoming harder to predict, whether Goldman Sachs traders can beat forecasters, what inferences we can draw from analyzing the speech of politicians, the importance of interdisciplinary teams, the qualities he looks for in leaders, the reasons he’s ske
22/04/202054 minutes 19 seconds
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Emily St. John Mandel on Fact, Fiction, and the Familiar

When Tyler requested an interview with novelist Emily St. John Mandel, he didn’t expect that reality would have in some ways become an eerie mirror of her latest books. And Emily didn’t expect that it’d be boosting sales: “Why would anybody in their right mind want to read Station Eleven during a pandemic?” she wondered to Tyler. Her reaction was pure bafflement until she found herself renting Contagion and thought about why. “There’s just such a longing in times of uncertainty to see how it ends.” Narratives, especially familiar ones, soothe us. It’s fitting then that her latest book has been suggested as “the perfect novel for your survival bunker.” She joined Tyler to discuss The Glass Hotel, including why more white-collar crimin
08/04/202055 minutes 41 seconds
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Ross Douthat on Decadence and Dynamism

For Ross Douthat, decadence isn’t necessarily a moral judgement, but a technical label for a state that societies tend to enter—and one that is perhaps much more normal than the dynamism Americans have come to take for granted. In his new book, he outlines the cultural, economic, political, and demographic trends that threaten to leave us to wallow in a state of civilizational stagnation for years to come, and fuel further discontent and derangement with it. On his second appearance on Conversations with Tyler, Ross joined Tyler to discuss why he sees Kanye as a force for anti-decadence, the innovative antiquarianism of the late Sir Roger Scruton, the mediocrity of modern architecture, why it’s no coincidence that Michel Houellebecq comes from France, his predictions for the future trajectory of American decadence – and what could throw us off of it, the question of men’s rol
25/03/20201 hour 7 minutes 16 seconds
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Russ Roberts and Tyler on COVID-19

Tyler and Russ Roberts joined forces for a special livestreamed conversation on COVID-19, including how both are adjusting to social isolation, private versus public responses to the pandemic, the challenge of reforming scrambled organization capital, the implications for Trump’s reelection, appropriate fiscal and monetary responses, bailouts, innovation prizes, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded March 18th, 2020 Other ways to connect Foll
19/03/20201 hour 19 minutes 15 seconds
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John McWhorter on Linguistics, Music, and Race (Live at Mason)

Who can you ask about the Great American Songbook, the finer Jell-O flavors, and peculiar languages like Saramaccan all while expecting the same kind of fast, thoughtful, and energetic response? Listeners of Lexicon Valley might hazard a guess: John McWhorter. A prominent academic linguist, he’s also highly regarded for his podcast and popular writings across countless books and articles where often displays a deep knowledge in topics beyond his academic training. John joined Tyler to discuss why he thinks that colloquial Indonesian should be the world's universal language, the barbaric circumstances that gave rise to Creole languages, the reason Mandarin won't overtake English as the lingua franca, how the Vikings shaped modern English, the racial politics of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, the decline of American regional accents, why Shakespeare needs an English translation, Harold Arlen vs. Andrew Lloyd Webber,
11/03/20201 hour 18 minutes 52 seconds
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Garett Jones on Democracy (More or Less)

Why is Garett Jones willing to write books about risky topics like the case for reducing democratic accountability? Is it the iconoclastic Mason econ culture? Supportive colleagues like Tyler? Those help, but what ultimately gives Garett peace of mind is that he’ll never have to go hungry because he has a broad and deep knowledge of econometric tools. It’s a skillset he recommends to all research economists precisely so they can take bigger risks in their careers—or at least be well-prepared to shape policy in an unelected position at a central bank.  Garett joined Tyler to discuss his book 10% Less Democracy, including why America shouldn’t be run by bondholders, what single ref
26/02/202056 minutes 26 seconds
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Tim Harford on Persuasion and Popular Economics

To Tim Harford, mistakes are fascinating. “We often only understand how something works when it breaks,” he says, explaining why there’s such an emphasis on errors throughout his work. They also tend to make great stories, which can stoke the curiosity necessary to change minds. A former persuasive speaking champion, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire “for services to improving economic understanding,” which he’s achieved through appearances on the BBC, columns for the Financial Times, <span data-contrast="auto
12/02/202059 minutes 15 seconds
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Ezra Klein on Why We’re Polarized

In his new book, Ezra Klein argues that polarization in America has become centered on partisan political identities, which has subsumed virtually every form of identity, be it where we live, what team we root for, the church we attend, or any other. This stacked form of polarization thus carries much more weight and is activated by a wider range of conflicts than before. But is polarization really such a pressing concern? If it’s all <span data-contra
29/01/20201 hour 10 minutes 1 second
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Reid Hoffman on Systems, Levers, and Quixotic Quests

When Reid Hoffman creates a handle for some new network or system, his usual choice is “Quixotic.” At an early age, his love of tabletop games inspired him to think of life as a heroic journey, where people come together in order to accomplish lofty things. This framing also prompted him to consider the rules and systems that guide society—and how you might improve th
15/01/20201 hour 56 seconds
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Slavoj Žižek on His Stubborn Attachment to Communism

This bonus episode features audio from the Holberg Debate in Bergen, Norway between Tyler and Slavoj Žižek held on December 7, 2019. They discuss the reasons Slavoj (still) considers himself a Communist, why he calls The Handmaid’s Tale “nostalgia for the present,” what he likes about Greta Thunberg, what Marx got right about the commodification of beliefs, his concerns about ecology and surveillance in communist states like China today, the reasons academia should maintain its ‘useless character,’ his beginnings as a Heideggerian, why he is distrustfu
08/01/20201 hour 26 minutes 49 seconds
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Abhijit Banerjee on Theory, Practice, and India

Want to support future conversations? Visit Long before Abhijit Banerjee won the 2019 economics Nobel with Michael Kremer and Esther Duflo, he was a fellow graduate student at Harvard with Tyler. For Tyler, Abhijit is one of the brightest economic minds
30/12/20191 hour 2 minutes 6 seconds
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Tyler Looks Back on 2019 (BONUS)

Want to support future conversations? Visit For this special retrospective episode, producer Jeff Holmes sat down with Tyler to discuss the past year in conversations and more, including who was most challenging guest to prep for, the most popular—and the most underrated—conversation, a test of Tyler’s knowledge called “Name That Production F
23/12/201952 minutes 48 seconds
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Esther Duflo on Management, Growth, and Research in Action

Want to support future conversations? Visit Esther Duflo’s advice to students? Spend time in the field. “It's only through this exposure that you can learn how wrong most of your intuitions are and preconceptions are,” she explains. For Duflo, it was time spent in the Soviet Union on the brink of collapse. While there she saw how Jeff Sachs used the tools of economics to advise policymakers on matters of crucial importance. To her it seemed like the best job in the world—and</
18/12/20191 hour 1 minute 39 seconds
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Daron Acemoglu on the Struggle Between State and Society

What determines the economic, social, and political trajectories of nations? Why were settlers in colonies like Jamestown and Australia able to escape the extractive systems desired by their British masters, while colonial subjects in Barbados and Jamaica were not? In his latest book, Daron Acemoglu elevates the power of institutions over theories centering on human capital, culture, or geography. Institutions help strike the balance of power in the constant struggle between state and society, creating a ‘narrow corridor’ through which liberty and prosperity is achieved. Daron joined Tyler for a conversation about drivers of economic growth, the economic causes and effects of democratization, how Germanic tribes introduced “bottom-up politics” to the Roman empire, the institutional reasons that China’s state capacity and control has increased with its wealth, his predictions fo
04/12/201955 minutes 19 seconds
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Mark Zuckerberg Interviews Patrick Collison and Tyler Cowen on the Nature and Causes of Progress (Bonus)

Over the past year Mark Zuckerberg has held a series of interviews themed around technology and society. This conversation with Tyler and Patrick is the last in that series, and covers why they think the study of progress is so important, including how it could affect biomedical research, the founding of new universities and foundations, building things fast, housing and healthcare affordability, the next four years of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Recorded November 22nd, 2019 Other ways to connect Follow us
27/11/20191 hour 8 minutes 5 seconds
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Shaka Senghor on Incarceration, Identity, and the Gift of Literacy

How do you survive seven years in solitary confinement? The gift of literacy is what saved Shaka Senghor. Reading, journaling, academic study, and writing books was a way to structure and survive an inhumane, mentally toxic environment. And after 19 years in total behind bars, he was finally able to apply that gift and create employment for himself as a writer and organizational leader upon rejoining society. Shaka joined Tyler to discuss his book Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison, what it was like to return to society not knowing the difference between the internet and a Word document, entrepreneurialism and humor in prison, the unexpected challenges formerly incarcerated people face upon releas
20/11/20191 hour 24 seconds
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Lunch with Fuchsia Dunlop at Mama Chang (Bonus)

Three years after her first appearance, Chinese food expert Fuchsia Dunlop joins Tyler to celebrate the release of her latest cookbook and talk all things food and China. This time the conversation was held over a special homestyle meal at Mama Chang, the newest restaurant from Chef Peter and Lisa Chang. Together with their daughter Lydia Chang, Fuchsia selected a menu to share with Tyler and a group of friends from the DC food scene. Each dish inspired new avenues for discussion, including the trendiness of ‘Chinese’ cauliflower, why hot pot is overrated, what Western food China has recently perfected, first experiences with Sichuan peppercorns, whether ma la will take over the world, why Michelin inspectors underrate Chinese cuisine, what to serve a Westerner for a Chinese dessert, and much more. Joining Tyler, Fuchsia, and Lydia around the table were
13/11/20191 hour 16 minutes 48 seconds
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Ted Gioia on Music as Cultural Cloud Storage

To Ted Gioia, music is a form of cloud storage for preserving human culture. And the real cultural conflict, he insists, is not between “high brow” and “low brow” music, but between the innovative and the formulaic. Imitation and repetition deaden musical culture—and he should know, since he listens to 3 hours of new music per day and over 1,000 newly released recordings in a year. His latest book covers the evolution of music from its origins in hunter-gatherer societies, to ancient Greece, to jazz, to its role in modern-day political protests such as those in Hong Kong. He joined Tyler to discuss the history and industry of music, including the reasons AI will never create the perfect songs, the strange relationship between outbreaks of disease and innovation, how the shift from record companies to Silicon Valley transformed incentive structures within the industry–and why that’s cause for concern, the vocal polyphony of Pygmy music, Bob Dylan’s Nobel prize, why input is un
06/11/20191 hour 3 minutes 19 seconds
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Henry Farrell on Weaponized Interdependence, Big Tech, and Playing with Ideas

The one concept most valuable for understanding the news today might be Henry Farrell’s theory of weaponized interdependence. Whether it’s China’s influence over the NBA, the US ban of Huawei, or whether social media should be regulated on a global scale, Henry Farrell has played a key role articulating how global economic networks can enable state coercion. Tyler and Henry discuss these issues and more, including what a big tech breakup would mean for security and privacy, why political economics suggests Facebook’s Oversight Board won’t work, what Italy might reveal about China’s future, his family connection to Joyce, his undying affection for My Bloody Valentine, why Philip K. Dick would have reveled in QAnon, why Twitter seems left-wing, and being a first generation academic blogger. Read a full transcript en
23/10/20191 hour 11 minutes 6 seconds
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Ben Westhoff on Synthetic Drugs, Dive Bars, and the Evolution of Rap

Ben Westhoff has written some of Tyler’s favorite books on everything from dive bars to the evolution of American rap music to how fentanyl is driving the opioid epidemic. So how does he get it done? Not from the outside in, by finding exotic experiences as he originally thought. Instead he found that it comes from the inside out: eating right, exercising, getting sleep, and journaling. Do those things, Ben says, and you’ll be in a much better position to notice the good stories happening all around you. He joined Tyler to discuss those many stories, including the proliferation of synthetic drugs, China’s role in the crisis, the merits of legalization versus decriminalization, why St. Louis is underrated, New Jersey hip-hop, how CDs changed rap, what’s different about Dr. Dre, whether the entourage is efficient, the social utility of dive bars, and more. Read a <a href= "
09/10/20191 hour 44 seconds
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Alain Bertaud on Cities, Markets, and People

Markets, Alain Bertaud likes to say, are like gravity: they exist everywhere. But while urban planners are quite good at taking gravity into account, they tend to ignore market forces entirely in their designs, resulting in city development that too often fails to address the needs of their residents. Following the release of his recent book, Order Without Design: How Markets Shape Cities, Alain joined Tyler in New York City for a discussion of the politics affecting urban centers, his advice to Robert Moses, whether the YIMBY movement can win, why he loves messy cities, what he got wrong about Shenzhen, why the Moscow subway is so wonderful, whether ci
25/09/20191 hour 20 minutes 26 seconds
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Samantha Power on Learning How to Make a Difference

A former war correspondent and UN ambassador, Samantha Power has had her share of tough assignments. But writing a memoir about it all is also a daunting prospect. The format itself is a challenge: how do you convince the reader you’re worth spending time with? How do you paint a relatable portrait without oversharing and losing your dignity? For Samantha the answer was settling upon a purpose for her memoir and ruthlessly cutting out everything not in service of that. Tyler and Samantha discuss that purpose and more, including what she learned as an Irish immigrant, the personality traits of good diplomats (and war correspondents), relations with China, why democracy is so rare in the Middle East, the truth about Richard Holbrooke, what factors mitigate against humanitarian intervention, her favorite memoir, how to get NATO members to spend more on defense, and whether baseball games are too long. Read a <a href= "https://conv
11/09/20191 hour 6 minutes 34 seconds
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Hollis Robbins on 19th Century Life and Literature

As a graduate student, Hollis Robbins helped Henry Louis Gates, Jr. unravel a mystery about the provenance of a mid-19th century book. Robbins helped date the book by discovering allusions to popular literature of that period — her focus at the time. The realization that this perspective would bring valuable insight to other 19th century African American literature prompted her to make that her specialty. Now a dean at Sonoma Sate University, Robbins joined Tyler to discuss 19th-century life and literature and more, including why the 1840s were a turning point in US history, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Calvinism, whether 12 Years a Slave and Django Unchained are appropriate portraits of slavery, the best argument for reparations, how prepaid postage changed America, the second best Herman Melville book, why Ayn Rand and Margaret Mitchell are ignored by Eng
28/08/201950 minutes 23 seconds
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Masha Gessen on the Ins and Outs of Russia

What sort of country would compel you to flee it, draw you back ten years later, then force you away yet again after two decades? Masha Gessen knows the answer all too well, having dedicated her career to writing and reporting about Russian society from both within and outside her native country. A true polymath, Gessen’s wide-ranging books and articles cover mathematics, history, human rights, counterterrorism, and much more. Masha joined Tyler in New York City to answer his many questions about Russia: why was Soviet mathematics so good? What was it like meeting with Putin? Why is Russian friendship so intense? Are Russian women as strong as the stereotype suggests — and why do they all have the same few names? Is Russia more hostile to LGBT rights than other autocracies? Why did Garry Kasparov fail to make a dent in Russian politics? What did The Americans get right that <em class="markup--e
14/08/20191 hour 8 minutes 25 seconds
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Kwame Anthony Appiah on Pictures of the World

Born to a Ghanaian father and British mother, Kwame Anthony Appiah grew up splitting time between both countries — and lecturing in many more — before eventually settling in America, where he now teaches philosophy at New York University. This, along with a family scattered across half-a-dozen countries, establishes him as a true cosmopolitan, a label Appiah readily accepts. Yet he insists it is nonetheless possible to be a cosmopolitan patriot, rooted in a place, while having obligations and interests that transcend one’s national identity. He joins Tyler to discuss this worldly perspective and more, including whether Africa will secularize, Ghanian fallibilism, teaching Jodie Foster, whether museums should repatriate collections, Karl Popper, Lee Kuan Yew, which country has the best jollof rice, the value of writing an ethical advice column, E.T. Mensah, Paul Simon, the experience of reading 173 novels to judge the Man Booker prize,
31/07/20191 hour 1 minute 51 seconds
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Neal Stephenson on Depictions of Reality

If you want to speculate on the development of tech, no one has a better brain to pick than Neal Stephenson. Across more than a dozen books, he’s created vast story worlds driven by futuristic technologies that have both prophesied and even provoked real-world progress in crypto, social networks, and the creation of the web itself. Though Stephenson insists he’s more often wrong than right, his technical sharpness has even led to a half-joking suggestion that he might be Satoshi Nakamoto, the shadowy creator of bitcoin. His latest novel, <a class= "markup--anchor markup--p-anchor" href= "" target=
17/07/201954 minutes 55 seconds
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Eric Kaufmann on Immigration, Identity, and the Limits of Individualism

Going back and forth between Canada and Japan during his childhood sparked Eric Kaufmann’s interest in the question of identity. As a foreigner in an international school, he encountered young individuals from at least 60 other countries, and this made him think more about national identity and how people affiliate and interact with one another. Now as an academic, he explores how demographic changes — most notably caused by ethnic migration and assimilation — are the key to understanding Brexit, Trump, and pretty much every major issue du jour. Kauffman’s latest book Whiteshift, which examines how declining white ethnic majorities will respond to these changes, is on Tyler’s list as one of the best books of the year. The two discuss the book and more, including Orangeism in Northern Ireland, Switzerland’s secret for stability, what Tocqueville got most wrong about America, predictions on Brex
03/07/201956 minutes 27 seconds
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Hal Varian on Taking the Academic Approach to Business

Before he became the Adam Smith of Googlenomics, Hal Varian spent decades as an academic economist, writing influential papers, a popular book about the information economy, and several textbooks that are still taught today. So how has his nearly twenty years in the business world affected what he’d write and teach now? Is learning Shephard’s lemma really that important anymore? Tyler asks Hal these questions and more: why aren’t there more second-priced auctions — or prediction markets? How have the economics of sales changed with the internet? In what ways did his hiring criteria change between academia and business? What could we learn from the s
19/06/201956 minutes 33 seconds
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Russ Roberts on Life as an Economics Educator

What are the virtues of forgiveness? Are we subject to being manipulated by data? Why do people struggle with prayer? What really motivates us? How has the volunteer army system changed the incentives for war? These are just some of the questions that keep Russ Roberts going as he constantly analyzes the world and revisits his own biases through thirteen years of conversations on EconTalk. Russ made his way to the Mercatus studio to talk with Tyler about these ideas and more. The pair examines where classical liberalism has gone wrong, if dropping out of college is overrated, and what people are missing from the Bible. Tyler questions Russ on Hayek, behavioral economics, and his favorite EconTalk conversation. Ever the host, Russ also throws in a couple questions to Tyler. Read a <a href= "
05/06/20191 hour 1 minute 23 seconds
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Ezekiel Emanuel on the Practice of Medicine, Policy, and Life

Ezekiel Emanuel is a reflection of his upbringing: a doctor for a father who loved to travel, a mother interested in policy and community activism, and all the competition and friendship that comes with growing up closely with two brothers. Put those together and you wouldn’t be surprised that the result is someone who has worked at both the highest levels of, medicine, policy and academia — though the intense interest in jam might surprise you. Do we overrate the importance of doctors? What’s the importance of IQ versus EQ in the practice of medicine? What is the prospect for venture capital in biotech? How should medical training be changed? Why does he think the conventional wisdom about a problem tends to be wrong? Would immortality be boring? What would happen if we let parents genetically engineer their kids? Tyler questions Emanuel on the
22/05/20191 hour 2 minutes 12 seconds
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Karl Ove Knausgård on Literary Freedom

What is Karl Ove Knausgård’s struggle, exactly? The answer is simple: achieving total freedom in his writing. “It’s a space where I can be free in every sense, where I can say whatever, go wherever I want to. And for me, literature is almost the only place you could think that that is a possibility.” Knausgård’s literary freedom paves the way for this conversation with Tyler, which starts with a discussion of mimesis and ends with an explanation of why we live in the world of Munch’s The Scream. Along the way there is much more, including what he learned from reading Ingmar Bergman’s workbooks, the worst thing about living in London, how having children increased his productivity, whether he sees himself in a pietistic tradition, thoughts on Bible stories, angels, Knut Hamsun, Elena Ferrante, the best short story (“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”), the best
08/05/20191 hour 5 seconds
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Margaret Atwood on Canada, Writing, and Invention (Live at Mason)

Margaret Atwood defines the Canadian sense of humor as “a bit Scottish,” and in this live conversation with Tyler, she loves to let her own comedic sensibilities shine. In addition to many other thoughts about Canada — it’s big after all — she and Tyler discuss Twitter, biotechnology, Biblical history, her families of patents, poetry, literature, movies, and feminism. Is it coincidence that Atwood started The Handmaid’s Tale in West Berlin during 1984? Does she believe in ghosts? Is the Western commitment to free speech waning? How does she stay so productive? Why is she against picking favorites? Atwood provides insight to these questions and much more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded April 9th, 2019 Other ways to connect <u
24/04/20191 hour 14 minutes 39 seconds
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Ed Boyden on Minding your Brain

Ed Boyden builds the tools and technologies that help researchers think about and treat the brain, an organ we still know surprisingly little about. When it comes to how our brains make decisions, form emotions, and exhibit consciousness, there is still a lot we can learn. But just as fascinating as the tools Boyden and his team build is the way in which they build them. Boyden employs a number of methods to design more useful tools, such as thinking backwards from the problem, hiring eclectic talent, practicing a particular type of meditation, waking long before dawn, or just trying the opposite of what’s already been attempted. Would emulating the brain require emulating the entire body? Is consciousness fundamental to the universe, or is it actually just an illusion? Does a certain disharmony in thought lead to creativity? Why don’t people feel comfortable talking about their brains? And why is it so har
10/04/20191 hour 1 minute 35 seconds
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Emily Wilson on Translations and Language

In a recent Twitter thread, Emily Wilson listed some of the difficulties of translating Homer into English. Among them: “There aren’t enough onomatopoeic words for very loud chaotic noises” (#2 on the list), “It’s very hard to come up with enough ways to describe intense desire to act that don’t connote modern psychology” (#5), and “There is no common English word of four syllables or fewer connoting ‘person particularly favored by Zeus due to high social status, and by the way this is a very normal ordinary word which is not drawing any special attention to itself whatsoever, beyond generic heroizing.’” (#7). <a class="markup--anchor markup--p-anchor" href="" target
27/03/201956 minutes 22 seconds
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Raghuram Rajan on Understanding Community

Raghuram Rajan thinks a lot about how to empower individuals, both at the community and international level. In his new book, Rajan draws upon experience both as an academic and policymaker to break down how the three pillars of society — the state, markets, and communities — interact with each other, and argues that we’re currently balancing this complex relationship wrong.  How much has the U.S. actually fixed the financial system? Does India have the best food in the world? Why does China struggle to maintain a strong relationship with allies? Why are people trading close-knit communities for isolating cities? And what types of institutions are we missing in our social structure? Listen to Rajan’s thorough conversation with Tyler to dive into these questions and much more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recor
13/03/201956 minutes 17 seconds
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Sam Altman on Loving Community, Hating Coworking, and the Hunt for Talent

Founders aren’t superheroes, says Sam Altman.They may play extreme sports, respond to emails within seconds, and start billion-dollar companies, but they are rarely the product of extraordinary circumstance. In fact, they tend to be solidly upper-middle class, reasonably smart, and with loving parents.  So would Sam fund Peter Parker? What about Bruce Wayne? Tyler and Sam discuss these burning questions and more, including what’s wrong with San Francisco, Napoleon’s underrated skill, nuclear energy, the greatest invention of the Industrial Revolution, his rant against coworking spaces, UBI and AGI, risk and regret, optimism and beauty, and why venture capitalists don’t have superpowers either. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded January 28th, 2019 Other ways t
27/02/20191 hour 8 minutes 12 seconds
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Jordan Peterson on Mythology, Fame, and Reading People

Jordan Peterson joins Tyler to discuss collecting Soviet propaganda, why he’s so drawn to Jung, what the Exodus story can teach us about current events, his marriage and fame, what the Intellectual Dark Web gets wrong, immigration in America and Canada, his tendency towards depression, Tinder’s revolutionary nature, the lessons from The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, fixing universities, the skills needed to become a good educator, and much more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded January 27th, 2019 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyl
13/02/201953 minutes 6 seconds
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Noel Johnson and Mark Koyama on *Persecution and Toleration*

How did religious freedom emerge — and why did it arrive so late? In their forthcoming book, fellow Mason economists Noel Johnson and Mark Koyama argue that while most focus on the role of liberal ideas in establishing religious freedom, it was instead institutional changes — and the growth of state capacity in particular — that played the decisive role. In their conversation with Tyler, Johnson and Koyama discuss the ‘long road to religious freedom’ and more, including the link between bad weather and Jewish persecution, why China evolved into such a large political unit, whether the Black Death proves Paul Romer wrong, scapegoating, usury prohibitions in history, and the economic impact of volcanic eruptions. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded January 17th, 2019 Othe
30/01/20191 hour 16 minutes 11 seconds
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Larissa MacFarquhar on Getting Inside Someone's Head

As a writer of profiles, Larissa MacFarquhar is granted the privilege of listening to, learning from, and sharing the stories of extraordinary thinkers like Derik Parfit, Noam Chomsky, Hilary Mantel, and Paul Krugman. And she’s often drawn to write about the individual thinking behind extreme altruism, dementia care, and whether to stay in a small town. Motivating her is a desire to place readers inside someone’s head: to see what they see and to think how they think. In their dialogue, Larissa and Tyler discuss the thinking and thinkers behind her profiles, essays, and books, including notions of moral luck, exit vs voice, the prose of Kenneth Tynan, why altruistic heroes are mainly found in genre fiction, why she avoids describing physical appearances in her writing, the circumstances that push humans to live more extraordinary lives, what today has in common with the 1890s, and more. Read a <a href= "https://conversationswit
16/01/20191 hour 5 seconds
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Rebecca Kukla on Moving through and Responding to the World

Before she ever studied them as an academic, Rebecca Kukla was fascinated by cities. Growing up in the middle of Toronto, she spent her days walking the city and noticing the way people and place interact. That fascination stayed with her, and motion, embodiment, and place has become a subtle through line in both her professional philosophy and personal interests. In her conversation with Tyler, Kukla speaks about the impossibility of speaking as a woman, curse words, gender representation and “guru culture” in philosophy departments, what she learned while living in Bogota and Johannesburg, what’s interesting in the works of Hegel, Foucault, and Rousseau, why boxing is good for the mind, how she finds good food, whether polyamory can scale, and much more. We're coming to San Francisco! Join us for a live podcast recording with Sam Altman on January 28th. To learn more and register for the event, click <a h
02/01/20191 hour 57 seconds
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Daniel Kahneman on Cutting Through the Noise

If you enjoy Conversation with Tyler, consider making a year-end donation at All gifts will support the show’s production, including future live podcast recordings like this one. You might be surprised by what occupies Daniel Kahneman’s thoughts. “You seem to think that I think of bias all the time,” he tells Tyler. “I really don’t think of bias that much.” These days, noise might be the concept most on Kahneman’s mind. A forthcomi
19/12/20181 hour 9 minutes 17 seconds
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Paul Romer on the Unrivaled Joy of Scholarship

Throughout his career, Paul Romer has enjoyed sampling and sifting through an ever-growing body of knowledge. He sometimes jokingly refers to himself as a random idea generator, relying on others to filter out the bad ones so his contributions are good. Not a bad strategy, as it turns out, for starting a successful business and winning a Nobel Prize. Just before accepting that Prize, he joined Tyler for a conversation spanning one filtered set of those ideas, including the best policies for growth and innovation, his new thinking on the trilemma facing migration, how to rework higher education, general-purpose technologies, unlocking the power of reading for all kids, fixes for the English language, what economics misses about the ‘inside of the head,’ whether he’s a Jane Jacobs or Gouverneur Morris type, what Kanban taught him about management, his recent sampling of Pierce’s semiotics, Clarence White vs. Gram Parsons, his favorite H
05/12/201852 minutes 39 seconds
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John Nye on Revisionist Economic History and Having Too Many Hobbies

Is John Nye the finest polymath in the George Mason economics department? Raised in the Philippines and taught to be a well-rounded Catholic gentleman, John Nye learned the importance of a rigorous education from a young age. Indeed, according to Tyler he may very well be the best educated among his colleagues, having studied physics and literature as an undergraduate before earning a master’s and PhD in economics. And his education continues, as he’s now hard at work mastering his fourth language.  On this episode of Conversations with Tyler, Nye explains why it took longer for the French to urbanize than the British, the origins of the myth of free-trade Britain, why Vertigo is one of the greatest movies of all time, why John Stuart Mill is overrated, raising kids in a bilingual household, and much more.  Read a <a h
21/11/201858 minutes 30 seconds
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Eric Schmidt on the Life-Changing Magic of Systematizing, Scaling, and Saying "Thanks" (Live)

The son of an economist, Eric Schmidt eschewed his father’s profession, first studying architecture before settling on computer science and eventually earning a PhD. Now one of the most influential technology executives in the world, he still however credits his interest in network economies and platforms for a large part of his success. In this live event hosted by Village Global in San Francisco, Tyler questioned Schmidt about underused management strategies, what Google learned after interviewing one job candidate sixteen times, his opinion on early vs. late Picasso, the best reform in corporate governance, why we might see a bifurcation of the Internet, what technology will explode in the the next 10 years, the most underrated media source, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  <p c
07/11/201854 minutes 51 seconds
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Ben Thompson on Business and Tech

Not only is Ben Thompson's Stratechery frequently mentioned on MR, but such is Tyler's fandom that the newsletter even made its way onto the reading list for one of his PhD courses. Ben's based in Taiwan, so when he recently visited DC, Tyler quickly took advantage of the chance for an in-person dialogue. In this conversation they talk about the business side of tech and more, including whether tech titans are good at PR, whether conglomerate synergies exist, Amazon's foray into health care, why anyone needs an Apple Watch or an Alexa, growing up in small-town Wisconsin, his pragmatic book-reading style, whether MBAs are overrated, the prospects for the Milwaukee Bucks, NBA rule changes, the future of the tech industries in China and India, and why Taiwanese breakfast is the best breakfast. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded October 15th, 2018<
24/10/20181 hour 8 seconds
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Rob Wiblin interviews Tyler on *Stubborn Attachments*

In this special episode, Rob Wiblin of 80,000 Hours has the super-sized conversation he wants to have with Tyler about Stubborn Attachments. In addition to a deep examination of the ideas in the book, the conversation ranges far and wide across Tyler's thinking, including why we won't leave the galaxy, the unresolvable clash between the claims of culture and nature, and what Tyrone would have to say about the book, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded September 21st, 2018 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Follow <a href= "htt
16/10/20182 hours 30 minutes 23 seconds
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Paul Krugman on Politics, Inequality, and Following Your Curiosity

After winning the Nobel, Paul Krugman found himself at the "end of ambition," with no more achievements left to unlock. That could be a depressing place, but Krugman avoids complacency by doing what he's always done: following his curiosity and working intensely at whatever grabs him most strongly. Tyler sat down with Krugman at his office in New York to discuss what's grabbing him at the moment, including antitrust, Supreme Court term limits, the best ways to fight inequality, why he's a YIMBY, inflation targets, congestion taxes, trade (both global and interstellar), his favorite living science fiction writer, immigration policy, how to write well for a smart audience, new directions for economic research, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded September 25th, 2018 Other ways to connect <li class="p1
10/10/201852 minutes 56 seconds
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Bruno Maçães on the Spirit of Adventure

Political scientist Bruno Maçães has built a career out of crossing the globe teaching, advising, writing, and talking to people. His recent book, born out of a six-month journey across Eurasia, is one of Tyler's favorites. So how does it feel to face Tyler's rat-a-tat curiosity about your life's work? For Bruno, the experience was "like you are a politician under attack and your portfolio is the whole of physical and metaphysical reality." Listen to this episode to discover how well Bruno defended that expansive portfolio, including what's missing from liberalism, Obama's conceptual foreign policy mistake, what economists are most wrong about, how to fall in love with Djibouti, stagnation in Europe, the diversity of Central Asia, Hitchcock's perfect movie, China as an ever-growing global force, the book everyone under 25 should read, the creativity of Washington, D.C versus Silicon Valley, and more. Read a <a href= "
26/09/201857 minutes 45 seconds
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Michele Gelfand on Tight and Loose Cultures

Michele Gelfand is professor of psychology at the University of Maryland and author of the just-released Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World. In her conversation with Tyler, Michele unpacks the concept of tight and loose cultures and more, including which variable best explains tightness, the problem with norms, whether Silicon Valley has an honor culture, the importance of theory and history in guiding research, what Donald Trump gets wrong about negotiation, why MBAs underrate management, the need to develop cultural IQ, and why mentorship should last a lifetime. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded August 31st, 2018 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and <a href="
12/09/201856 minutes 5 seconds
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Claire Lehmann on Speaking Freely

Claire Lehmann is the founding editor of Quillette, an online magazine dedicated to free thought and open inquiry. Founded in 2015, the magazine has already developed a large and growing readership that values Quillette's promise to treat all ideas with respect, even those that may be politically incorrect. As an Australian, Claire tells Tyler she doesn't think she could have started the magazine in America. Even in risk-loving San Fransisco, where this conversation took place, people are too afraid to speak their minds. "You celebrate entrepreneurs and courage in making money and that kind of thing, but there is a general timidity when it comes to expressing one's honest views about things," she tells Tyler. "I find that surprising, and particularly among people who are risk-taking in all sorts of other domains." She and Tyler explore her ideas about the stifling effect of political correctness and more, including why its dominant form may come from the political righ
29/08/201847 minutes 5 seconds
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Michael Pollan on the Science and Sublimity of Psychedelics

Michael Pollan has long been fascinated by nature and the ways we connect and clash with it, with decades of writing covering food, farming, cooking, and architecture. Pollan's latest fascination? Our widespread and ancient desire to use nature to change our consciousness. He joins Tyler to discuss his research and experience with psychedelics, including what kinds of people most benefit from them, what it can teach us about profundity, how it can change your personality and political views, the importance of culture in shaping the experience, the proper way to integrate it into mainstream practice, and - most importantly of all - whether it's any fun. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded July 20th, 2018 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter 
15/08/201859 minutes 15 seconds
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Michelle Dawson on Autism and Atypicality

Perhaps no one else in the world more appreciates the challenges facing a better understanding of autism than Michelle Dawson. An autistic herself, she began researching her condition after experiencing discrimination at her job. "Because I had to address these legal issues and questions," she tells Tyler, "I did actually look at the autism literature, and suddenly I had information I could really work with. Suddenly there it was, this information that I was supposed to be too stupid to work with." And so she continued reading papers - lots and lots of papers - and is now an influential researcher in her own right. For Michelle, the best way to understand autism is to think of it as atypical information processing. Autistic brains function differently, and these highly varied divergences lead to biases and misunderstanding among typical thinkers, including autism researchers. In her conversation with Tyler, she outlines the current thinking on autism, including her ide
01/08/201853 minutes 36 seconds
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Vitalik Buterin on Cryptoeconomics and Markets in Everything

At the intersection of programming, economics, cryptography, distributed systems, information theory, and math, you will find Vitalik Buterin, who has managed to synthesize insights across those fields into successful, real-world applications like Ethereum, which aims to decentralize the Internet. Tyler sat down with Vitalik to discuss the many things he's thinking about and working on, including the nascent field of cryptoeconomics, the best analogy for understanding the blockchain, his desire for more social science fiction, why belief in progress is our most useful delusion, best places to visit in time and space, how he picks up languages, why centralization's not all bad, the best ways to value crypto assets, whether P = NP, and much more. Do you have a world-changing idea like Vitalik? The Mercatus Center is launching a new fellowship and grant program called Emergent Ventures to support transformational thinkers and doers. Listen to Tyler talk about the n
18/07/201852 minutes 34 seconds
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Juan Pablo Villarino on Travel and Trust

Travel writer Juan Pablo Villarino had visited 90 countries before making the trek to exotic Arlington, Virginia for this chat with Tyler. Amazingly enough, this recording marked his first trip to the mainland United States, which is now the 91st country in an ever-expanding list. The world's best hitchhiker talks with Tyler about the joys of connecting with people, why it's so hard to avoid stereotypes (including of hitchhikers), how stamp collecting guides his trips, the darkest secrets of people he's gotten rides from, traveling and writing books with his wife, the cause of violence in the Americas, finding the emotional heart of a journey, where he's going next, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded May 4th, 2018 Other ways to connect Follow us on <a href= "https://twitter.c
03/07/20181 hour 1 minute 27 seconds
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Elisa New on Poetry in America and Beyond

Elisa New believes anyone can have fun reading a poem. And that if you really want to have a blast, you shouldn't limit poetry to silent, solitary reading  - why not sing, recite, or perform it as has been the case for most of its history? The Harvard English professor and host of Poetry in America recently sat down with Tyler to discuss poets, poems, and more, including Walt Whitman's city walks, Emily Dickinson's visual art, T.S. Eliot's privilege, Robert Frost's radicalism, Willa Cather's wisdom, poetry's new platforms, the elasticity of English, the payoffs of Puritanism, and what it was like reading poetry with Shaquille O'Neal. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded May 8th, 2018 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and <a href="https://www.i
20/06/201854 minutes 10 seconds
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David Brooks on Youth, Morality, and Loneliness (Live at Mason)

For two hours every morning, David Brooks crawls around his living room floor, organizing piles of research. Then, the piles become paragraphs, the paragraphs become columns or chapters, and the process - which he calls "writing" - is complete. After that he might go out and see some people. A lunch, say, with his friend Tyler. And the two will discuss the things they're thinking, writing, and learning about. And David will feel rejuvenated, for he is a social animal (as are we all). Then one day David will be asked by Tyler to come on his show, and perform this act publicly. To talk about his love for Bruce Springsteen, being a modern-day Whig, his "religious bisexuality," covenants vs. contracts, today's answer to the "Fallows Question," why failure is overrated, community and loneliness, the upside of being invaded by Canada, and much more. And though he will be intimidated, David will oblige, and the result is here for you to enjoy. Read a <a href= "h
06/06/20181 hour 22 minutes 31 seconds
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Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Self-Education and Doing the Math (Plus special guest Bryan Caplan)

Though what Taleb was really after was a discussion with Bryan Caplan (which starts at 51:50), the philosopher, mathematician, and author most recently of *Skin in the Game* also generously agreed to a conversation with Tyler. They discuss the ancient Phoenicians and Greco-Roman heritage of Lebanon, philology, genetics, the blockchain, driverless cars, the advantages of Twitter fights, how to think about religion, fancy food vs. Auntie Anne's pretzels, autodidactism, The Desert of the Tartar, why Taleb refused to give a book tour, inverse role models, why math isn't just a young man's game, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Click here for the full transcript where Bryan Caplan interviews Nassim.  Recorded May 2nd, 2018<br /
23/05/20181 hour 37 minutes 20 seconds
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Bryan Caplan on Learning across Disciplines (Live at Mason Econ)

"No single paper is that good", says Bryan Caplan. To really understand a topic, you need to read the entire literature in the field. And to do the kind of scholarship Bryan's work requires, you need to cover multiple fields. Only that way can you assemble a wide variety of evidence into useful knowledge. But few scholars ever even try to reach the enlightened interdisciplinary plane. So how does he do it? Tyler explores Bryan's approach, including how to avoid the autodidact's curse, why his favorite philosopher happens to be a former classmate, what Tolstoy has that science fiction lacks, the idea trap, most useful wrong beliefs, effective altruism, Larry David, what most economics papers miss about the return to education, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded April 17th, 2018 Other ways to connect</
09/05/20181 hour 11 minutes 57 seconds
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Balaji Srinivasan on the Power and Promise of the Blockchain

When Balaji Srinivasan sat down for his conversation with Tyler he was the CEO of Today he is the CTO at Coinbase, which acquired his company in the intervening weeks (congrats Balaji!). But while his job title has changed, his passion remains the same: harnessing the power of the blockchain to launch a new generation of entrepreneurs, businesses, and entire markets. Balaji talks with Tyler about the potential of the blockchain and beyond, including how firewalls may become the new immigration policy tool, why drones are still underrated, the future of news and academia, what the Silicon Valley opener reveals about how America views the tech industry, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded April 2nd, 2018 Other ways to connect Follow us on <a href= "
25/04/201854 minutes 54 seconds
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Agnes Callard on the Theory of Everything

Is a written dialogue the best way to learn from philosopher Agnes Callard? If so, what does that say about philosophy? Is Plato’s Symposium about love or mere intoxication? If good people lived forever, would they be less bored than the bad people? Should we fear death? Is parenting undertheorized? Must philosophy rely on refutation? Should we read the classics? Is Jordan Peterson’s moralizing good? Should we take Socrates at his word? Is Hamlet a Cartesian? Are we all either Beethoven or Mozart people? How do we get ourselves to care about things we don’t yet care about? To what should we aspire to? Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded March 22nd, 2018 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and <a href="
11/04/201859 minutes 47 seconds
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Martina Navratilova on Shaping Herself (Live at Mason)

Martina Navratilova is one of the greatest tennis players of all time. No one has won more matches than her thanks to an astonishing 87 percent win rate in a long and dominant career. In their conversation, she and Tyler cover her illustrious tennis career, her experience defecting from Czechoslovakia and later becoming a dual citizen, the wage gap in tennis competition and commentary, gender stereotypes in sports, her work regimen and training schedule, technological progress in tennis, her need for speed, journaling and constant self-improvement, some of her most shocking realizations about American life, the best way to see East Africa, her struggle to get her children to put the dishes in the dishwasher, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded March 19th, 2018 Other ways to connect <li class=
28/03/20181 hour 5 minutes 48 seconds
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Chris Blattman on Development, Conflict, and Doing What’s Interesting

Chris Blattman’s made his career as a development economist by finding a place he likes and finding a reason to live there. Not a bad strategy considering the impact of the work he’s done in Liberia, Uganda, and most recently, Colombia. He joins Tyler to talk about what he’s learned from his work there, including the efficacy of cash transfers, the spread of violence and conflict, factory jobs as a social safety net, Botswana’s underappreciated growth miracle, Battlestar Galactica, standing desks, how to write papers with your spouse, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded February 8th, 2018 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow <a href= "http
14/03/20181 hour 48 seconds
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Robin Hanson on Signaling and Self-Deception (Live at Mason Econ)

If intros aren’t about introductions, then what’s this here for? Is not including one a countersignal? Either way, you’ll enjoy this conversation — and that says a lot about you. This episode was recorded live at Mason for econ grad students. If you’re interested in learning economics with great professors like Robin and Tyler, check out these fellowships. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded February 6th, 2018 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow <a href= "
28/02/20181 hour 5 minutes 47 seconds
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Matt Levine Live at Bloomberg HQ

Is Matt Levine a modern-day Horace? Like Matt, Horace has a preoccupation with wealth and the law. There’s a playful humor as he segues from topic to topic. An ability to read Latin. And many of Horace’s letters are about the length of a Bloomberg View column. QED, says Tyler. So Matt, the Latin teacher turned lawyer turned investment banker turned finance writer, recently joined Tyler for a conversation on Horace and more, including cryptocurrencies, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Nabakov, New York, Uber, financial regulation, market volatility, M&A, whether finance is nerdy, and why panic is central to the Matt Levine production function. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram
14/02/20181 hour 6 minutes 2 seconds
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Charles C. Mann on Shaping Tomorrow’s World and the Limits to Growth

At the beginning of their conversation, Tyler dubs Charles C. Mann a tlamatini, or ‘he who knows things.’ And oh, the things he knows, effortlessly weaving together, history, anthropology, economics, and a half-dozen other disciplines into enthralling writing. And the latest book, *The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World*, is no exception, which Tyler calls one of the best overall frameworks for thinking about environmentalism and the limits to growth. In the course of their chat, Tyler and Charles cover pollution, why the environmental impact of beef might be overstated, what fixed factor might ultimately constrain growth (and if there is one), Jared Diamond and Bjorn Lomberg, the underrated political genius of Cortes, his top tip for appreciating Robert Frost, and why Andrew Jackson didn’t have to be such a jerk. Read a full transcr
31/01/201855 minutes 42 seconds
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Ross Douthat on Narrative and Religion (Live at Mason)

Last year, Tyler asked his readers “What Is the Strongest Argument for the Existence of God?” and followed up a few days later with a post outlining why he doesn’t believe in God. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat accepted the implicit challenge, responding to the second post in dialogic form and arguing that theism warrants further consideration. This in-person dialogue starts along similar lines, covering Douthat’s views on religion and theology, but then moves on to more earth-bound concerns, such as his stance on cats, The Wire vs The Sopranos, why Watership Down is the best modern novel for understanding politics, eating tofu before it was cool, journalism as a trade, why he’s open to weird ideas, the importance of Sam’s Club Republicans, the specter of a Buterlian Jihad, and more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded January 11th, 2018<
17/01/20181 hour 25 minutes 17 seconds
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Andy Weir on the Economics of Sci-Fi and Space

Before writing a single word of his new book Artemis, Andy Weir worked out the economics of a lunar colony. Without the economics, how could the story hew to the hard sci-fi style Weir cornered the market on with The Martian? And, more importantly, how else can Tyler find out much a Cantonese meal would run him on the moon? In addition to these important questions of lunar economics, Andy and Tyler talk about the technophobic trend in science fiction, private space efforts, seasteading, cryptocurrencies, the value of a human life, the outdated Outer Space Treaty, stories based on rebellion vs. cooperation, Heinlein, Asimov, Weir’s favorite episode of Star Trek, and the formula for finding someone else when stranded on a lonely planet. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded November 15th, 2017 Other ways to connect
20/12/201752 minutes 39 seconds
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Doug Irwin on US Trade Policy

Tyler thinks Douglas Irwin has just released the best history of American trade policy ever written. So for this conversation Tyler went easy on Doug, asking softball questions like: Have tariffs ever driven growth? What trade exceptions should there be for national security, or cultural reasons? In an era of low tariffs, what margins matter most for trade liberalization? Do investor arbitration panels override national sovereignty? And, what’s the connection between free trade and world peace? They also discuss the revolution as America’s Brexit, why NAFTA is an ‘effing great’ trade agreement, Jagdish Bhagwati’s key influence on Doug, the protectionist bent of the Boston Tea Party, the future of the WTO, Trump, China, the Chicago School, and what’s rotten in the state of New Hampshire. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded October 5th, 2017<st
29/11/201757 minutes 6 seconds
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Sujatha Gidla on being an Ant amongst the Elephants (Live)

Sujatha Gidla was an untouchable in India, but moved to the United States at the age of 26 and is now the first Indian woman to be employed as a conductor on the New York City Subway. In her memoir Ants Among Elephants, she explores the antiquities of her mother, her uncles, and other members of her family against modern India’s landscape. Through this book she redeemed the value of her family’s memories, understanding her family’s stories were not those of shame, but did reveal to the world the truth of India and its caste system. During her conversation with Tyler, they discuss the nature and persistence of caste, gender issues in India, her New York City lifestyle, religion, living in America versus living in India, Bob Dylan and Dalit music, American identity politics, the nature of Marxism, and why she left her job at the Bank of New York to become a New York City Subway conductor. Read a full t
15/11/20171 hour 2 minutes 44 seconds
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Steve Teles and Brink Lindsey on *The Captured Economy*

What happens when a liberal and a libertarian get together?  In the case of Steve Teles and Brink Lindsey, they write a book. And then Tyler separates them for a podcast interview about that book, prisoner’s dilemma style. How much inequality is due to bad policy? Is executive compensation to blame? How about higher education? And what’s the implicit theory of governance in Bojack Horseman? Tyler wants to know—and so do you. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded October 23rd, 2017 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Follow <a hre
01/11/201752 minutes 43 seconds
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Mary Roach on Disgust, Death, and Danger (Live at Mason)

Legal writing was never Mary Roach’s thing. She describes that short-lived stint as an inscrutable “bringing forth of multisyllabic words.” Instead, she’s forged a career by letting curiosity lead the way. The result has been a series of successful books — Grunt, Gulp, Spook, Stiff, and Bonk among them— that all reveal a specific sense of nonsensibility (and love for monosyllabic titles). She joins Tyler Cowen for a conversation covering the full range of her curiosity, including fear, acclimating to grossness, chatting with the dead, freezing one’s head, why bedpans can kill you, sex robots, Freud, thinking like an astronaut, the proper way to eat a fry, and why there’s a Medicare reimbursement code for maggots. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. </p
18/10/20171 hour 15 minutes 52 seconds
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Larry Summers on Macroeconomics, Mentorship, and Avoiding Complacency (Live)

The economist, President Emeritus at Harvard University, and former Treasury Secretary joins Tyler to discuss innovation in higher education, Herman Melville, the Fed, Mexico, Russia, China, the Larry Summers production function, philanthropy and Larry’s table tennis adventure in the summer Jewish Olympics. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  Recorded September 6th, 2017 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Follow <a href= "htt
20/09/20171 hour 13 minutes 31 seconds
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Dave Barry on Humor, Writing, and Life as a Florida Man

Though most know him first as a humor columnist, Dave Barry’s career has spanned many forms of media, including books, movies, TV, and music. Driving this relentless output, says Barry, is the constant worry he’ll find himself stuck in a rut — or worse — no longer funny. And do we even need professional comedians in an age where so many funny amateurs are readily available online? Tyler and Dave discuss all these topics and more, including the weirdness of Peter Pan, what makes Florida special, how it felt to teach Roger McQuinn a lick on the guitar, and why business writing is so terrible. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded April 21st, 2017 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagr
16/08/201757 minutes 56 seconds
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Dave Rubin on Digital Media, Crowdfunding, and Comedy (Live)

Today many YouTube channels have more influence than traditional TV shows. This fact is not lost on Dave Rubin, who started his talk show career in traditional media, but soon decided to strike out on his own. He now hosts The Rubin Report, which has half a million subscribers on YouTube and is financially backed by its fans on Patreon. But the most important indicator of influence? All but one of Tyler’s law and literature class had heard of Dave before this taping. Recorded live at an event a few months ago, Dave and Tyler’s conversation covers all this and more, including what Dave learned from his year abroad in Israel and his pick for the most underrated Star Wars movie. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded April 25th, 2017 Other ways to connect Follow us on <a href= "https://twitter.c
02/08/201732 minutes 45 seconds
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Atul Gawande on Priorities, Big and Small

The surgeon, researcher, and celebrated writer joined Tyler for a conversation on why Watson will never diagnose your illness, what George Church’s narcolepsy teaches us about CRISPR, what’s missing in medical education, Michael Crichton’s cultural influence, Knausgård versus Ferrante, indie music, and the thing that makes Gawande “bawl like a baby.” Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded June 12th, 2017 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Follow Atul on Twitter Email us: <a class
19/07/201757 minutes 33 seconds
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Ben Sasse on the Space between Nebraska and Neverland (Live at Mason)

The US senator and former college president joined Tyler for a conversation on adolescence, adulthood, driving for Uber, loving Luther, hate-reading Rousseau, the decline of small towns, backpacking across Europe, America’s peculiar fondness for age-segregation, and why his latest book contains so little sex. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  Recorded June 14th, 2017 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Follow <a href= "htt
28/06/20171 hour 21 minutes 28 seconds
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Edward Luce on The Retreat of Western Liberalism (Live)

Edward Luce has a new book out about the rising crisis in Western liberalism, so naturally Tyler’s first question to him dealt with James II and William of Orange. #gloriousrevolution In this bonus audio recorded at a Mercatus event last week, Tyler and Edward discuss the ideas in his book and more, including future paths of liberalism, whether the current populism is an Anglo-American phenomenon or not, Modi's India, whether Kubrick, Hitchcock, and John Lennon are overrated or underrated, and what it’s like to write speeches for Larry Summers. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded June 13th, 2017 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and <a href="
21/06/201754 minutes 23 seconds
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Jill Lepore on Traveling through Time

Is time like a line, a stretched out accordion, buried silos, or a flat circle? We concoct many ways to think about the relationship between the present and the past, but according to Jill Lepore one constant endures: “When you’re writing history, you’re always using your imagination.” The historian and New Yorker writer joins Tyler for a conversation on the Tea Party, Mary Pickford, Dickens in America, growing up watching TV (the horror), Steve Bannon’s 19th century visage, the importance of friendship, the subversiveness of Stuart Little, and much more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded April 8th, 2017 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram <li class="p1
14/06/20171 hour 8 minutes 51 seconds
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Tyler Cowen and Steve Davies talk Theresa May, Brexit, and Europe (Live)

The UK is holding a big election on June 8, so today we’re bringing you some bonus audio on that topic featuring Tyler and Steve Davies of the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs. They talk about how the general election could shape the terms of Brexit, how much further the EU and even the UK will splinter, the prospects for the European left-wing, and the populism underneath it all. Note: this was recorded at event in late April shortly after May called for the snap election in June. Got it? Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded April 22nd, 2017 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow <a href= "
07/06/201723 minutes 59 seconds
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Raj Chetty on Teachers, Social Mobility, and How to Find Answers to Big Questions

A high school teacher once told Raj Chetty he’d some day serve on the Federal Reserve Board. At the the time Raj thought the comment was silly, since he was busy working in the laboratory on staining techniques for electron microscopy and was set to become a biomedical scientist. About a decade later, however, and Chetty would become one of the youngest tenured economics professors at Harvard and would soon win both a John Bates Clark medal and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. Now at Stanford, he’s one of the most-cited economists in the world. Raj’s conversation with Tyler spans that well-cited body of work and more, including social mobility, the value-add of kindergarten teachers, why corporations pay dividends, his love of Piano Guys, the most underrated US state, and why okra may have been the secret of his success. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. <p class="p1
24/05/20171 hour 2 minutes 30 seconds
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Garry Kasparov on AI, Chess, and the Future of Creativity

The chess grandmaster, political activist, and author joins Tyler for a conversation on artificial intelligence, Russia, Putin, how education must change, favorite cities for chess, the most likely challenger to Magnus Carlsen, Tolstoy v. Dostoevsky, the benefits of pressure for performance, and why we should speed up our search for new frontiers and challenges. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded April 29th, 2017 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Follow Garry on Twitter <li clas
10/05/20171 hour 7 minutes 33 seconds
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Patrick Collison has a Few Questions for Tyler (Live at Stripe)

A few months ago, Tyler asked Patrick Collison, CEO of Stripe, to be on the show. Patrick agreed, but only under the condition that the be the one to do the interviewing. Thus, what follows is the conversation Patrick wanted to have with Tyler, not the one you wanted to have. Happily Patrick stayed true to the spirit of Conversations with Tyler, and their dialogue covers a wide range of topics including the the benefits of diverse monocultures, the state of macroeconomics, Donald Trump, the amazing economics faculty at GMU, Peter Thiel, Brian Eno, Thomas Schelling, why Twitter is underrated, and — most pressing of all — why Marginal Revolution is so strange looking. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Recorded January 25th, 2017 Other ways to connect Follow us on <a href= "https://twitter
12/04/20171 hour 33 minutes 37 seconds
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Malcolm Gladwell Wants to Make the World Safe for Mediocrity (Live at Mason)

Journalist, author, and podcaster Malcolm Gladwell joins Tyler for a conversation on Joyce Gladwell, Caribbean identity, satire as a weapon, Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden, Harvard’s under-theorized endowment, why early childhood intervention is overrated, long-distance running, and Malcolm’s happy risk-averse career going from one “fur-lined rat hole to the next.” Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  Recorded February 27th, 2017 Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Ty
15/03/20171 hour 32 minutes 3 seconds
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*The Complacent Class* with Katherine Mangu-Ward (Live at Mason)

In this bonus episode, Editor-in-chief of Reason Katherine Mangu-Ward interviews Tyler about *The Complacent Class.* Make sure to listen all the way to the end for an answer Katherine describes as #PeakTyler. Follow Katherine on Twitter Follow Tyler on Twitter More CWT goodness: Facebook Twitter Instagram Email
13/03/201756 minutes 14 seconds
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Rabbi David Wolpe on Leadership, Religion, and Identity (Live at Sixth & I)

Named one of the most influential Jewish thinkers of our time, Rabbi David Wolpe joins Tyler in a conversation on flawed leaders, Jewish identity in the modern world, the many portrayals of David, what’s missing in rabbinical training, playing chess on the Sabbath, Srugim, Hasidic philosophy, living in Israel and of course, the durability of creation. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Follow David on Twitter Email us: <a class="c-link" tabindex="-1" href=
15/02/20171 hour 20 minutes 20 seconds
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Chef Mark Miller on Food as the Ultimate Intellectual Exploration

Mark Miller is often called the founder of modern southwestern cuisine, but his unique anthropological approach to food has led him to explore cuisines in over 100 countries around the world. He joins Tyler for a conversation on all that he’s learned along the way, including his pick for the most underrated chili pepper, palate coaching, the best food cities in Asia, Mexico, and Europe, the problems with sous-vide, mezcal versus tequila, the decline of food brands, why Michelin guide is overrated, how to do fast food well, and why the next hipster food trend should be about corn. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  Other ways to connect Follow us on <a href= "
25/01/20171 hour 15 minutes 57 seconds
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Jhumpa Lahiri on Writing, Translation, and Crossing Between Cultures (Live at Mason)

Author, teacher, and translator Jhumpa Lahiri joins Tyler for a conversation on identity, Rhode Island, writing as problem solving, reading across languages, the badness of book covers, Elena Ferrante, Bengali culture, the magic of Calcutta, Italian authors, Indian classical music, architectural influences, and much more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Email us: <a class="c-link" tabindex="-1" href= "mailto:cowen
11/01/20171 hour 26 minutes 37 seconds
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Joseph Henrich on WEIRD Societies and Life Among Two Strange Tribes (Live at Mason)

To anthropologist Joseph Henrich, intelligence is overrated. Social learning, and its ability to influence biological evolution over time, is what really sets our species apart. He joined Tyler for a conversation on his work on cultural evolution, as well as his life among different tribes (academic and otherwise), Star Trek, big gods, small gods, China’s missing industrial revolution, the merits of coconut milk, the Flynn effect, American exceptionalism, and why he wants to travel in time to 6th-century Kent. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and <a href="
14/12/20161 hour 25 minutes 13 seconds
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Fuchsia Dunlop on Chinese Food, Culture, and Travel

For centuries, China has treated its cuisine with a reverence and delight that is only just starting to emerge with Western “foodie” culture. No one understands this better than Fuchsia Dunlop, who has spent her career learning about the fantastic diversity in Chinese food, and who is one of Tyler’s favorite writers on any subject. She joined Tyler over dinner at one of his favorite restaurants in DC to talk about all aspects of how to truly enjoy Chinese food, including where to visit, how to order, the few key ingredients to keep in your pantry, her favorite Chinese dishes, what Chinese chefs think about Western food, and why you should really learn to love sea cucumbers. For this conversation, Tyler was also joined by Ezra Klein, past CWT guest and editor-in-chief of, chef and super-taster Mark Miller, journalist Megan McArdle, and Eva Summer, a graduate student from Shandong province. Their comments can be found in the Q&A near the end of the chat. <p c
16/11/20161 hour 15 minutes 4 seconds
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Steven Pinker on Language, Reason, and the Future of Violence (Live at Mason)

Steven Pinker has spent an entire academic career thinking deeply about language, cognition, and human nature. Driving it all, he says, is an Enlightenment belief that the world is intelligible, science can progress, and through rational inquiry we can better understand ourselves. He recently joined Tyler for a conversation not only on the power of reason, but also the economics of irrational verbs, whether violence will continue to decline, behavioral economics, existential threats, the merits of aerobic exercise, photography, group selection, Fermi’s paradox, Noam Chomsky, universal grammar, free will, the Ed Sullivan show, and why people underrate the passive (or so it is thought). Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  <p class="p1"
02/11/20161 hour 26 minutes 46 seconds
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Ezra Klein on Media, Politics, and Models of the World

Ezra Klein, editor-in-chief of, joins Tyler Cowen for a conversation on biases in digital media, the morality of meat-eating, how working for large organizations has changed his worldview, the psychographics of CEOs, what’s missing in public discourse, the most underrated member of the Obama administration, and why you should never follow his lead on what’s good culture. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Follow Ezra on Twitter Email us: <a class="c-link" t
06/10/20161 hour 17 minutes 5 seconds
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Margalit Fox on Life, Death, and the Best Job in Journalism

The stereotypical obituary is a formulaic recitation of facts — dry, boring, and without craft. But Margalit Fox has shown the genre can produce some of the most memorable and moving stories in journalism. Exploiting its “pure narrative arc,” Fox has penned over 1,200 obituaries, covering well-known and obscure subjects with equal aplomb. In her conversation with Tyler Cowen, Fox reveals not only the process for writing an obituary, but her thoughts on life, death, storytelling, puzzle-solving, her favorite cellist, and how it came to be that an economist sang opera 86 times at the Met. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  Other ways to connect Follow us on <a href= "https://twitte
24/08/201647 minutes 54 seconds
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Michael Orthofer on Why Fiction Matters

Michael Orthofer, one of the world’s most prolific book reviewers, joins Tyler Cowen for a conversation on — what else? — books. Read to discover why Michael believes everyone should read more fiction, how we should choose books, why American popular literature is overrated, what he thinks about authors like Herman Melville, Fyoder Dostoevsky, Goethe, J.K. Rowling, Arno Schmidt, and many others, his recommendations for the best sites for readers, why studying literature at college was such a big disappointment, how much book covers matter, and why his opinion will never be the final word. Check out the reader Q&A here and the Strand shopping video here. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Oth
27/07/201656 minutes 51 seconds
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Cass Sunstein on Judicial Minimalism, the Supreme Court, and Star Wars (Live at Mason)

Cass Sunstein joins Tyler Cowen for a conversation on judicial minimalism, Bob Dylan’s best album, the metaphysics of nudging, Byatt's Possession, the ideal size of the Supreme Court, Hayek, why people should choose their own path, the benefits of a banned products store, James Joyce, and, oh yeah, Star Wars. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Follow Cass</
22/06/20161 hour 17 minutes 21 seconds
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Camille Paglia on her Lifestyle of Observation (Live at Mason)

Camille Paglia joins Tyler Cowen for a conversation on the brilliance of Bowie, lamb vindaloo, her lifestyle of observation, why writers need real jobs, Star Wars, Harold Bloom, Amelia Earhart, Edmund Spenser, Brazil, why she is most definitely not a cultural conservative, and much more. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Email us: <a class="c-link" tabindex="-1" href= "mailto:[email protected]" target="_
25/04/20161 hour 26 minutes 46 seconds
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Jonathan Haidt on Morality, Politics, Disgust, and Intellectual Diversity on Campus

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt joins Tyler Cowen for a conversation on morality, politics, disgust, how to maintain free speech on campus, the enriching effects of LSD, antiparsimonialism, and why economists set all the interesting variables to zero. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links. Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Follow Jonathan on Twitter Email us: <a class="c-link" tabindex="-1" href= "mailto:[email protected]" target="_blank" rel= "noopener noreferrer" data-stringify-link=
24/03/20161 hour 9 minutes 14 seconds
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Nate Silver on the Supreme Court and the Underrated Stat for Finding Good Food (Live at Mason)

Nate Silver joins Tyler Cowen for a conversation on data, forecasting, My Bloody Valentine, the social value of gambling, Donald Trump and the presidential field, vacation advice, Supreme Court picks, the wisdom of Björk, and the most underrated statistic for finding good food. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Follow Nate on Twitter <li cla
23/02/20161 hour 21 minutes 20 seconds
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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Fighting Bruce Lee, Growing Up in Harlem, and Basketball (Live at Mason)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar joins Tyler Cowen for a conversation on segregation, Islam, Harlem vs. LA, Earl Manigault, jazz, fighting Bruce Lee, Kareem’s conservatism, dancing with Thelonious Monk, and why no one today can shoot a skyhook. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Follow Kareem on Twitter Email us: <a class="c-link" tabindex=
02/02/20161 hour 22 minutes 15 seconds
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Cliff Asness on Comics and Why Never to Share a Gym with Cirque du Soleil (Live at Mason)

Tyler and investment strategist Cliff Asness discuss momentum and value investing strategies, disagreeing with Eugene Fama, Marvel vs. DC, the inscrutability of risk, high frequency trading, the economics of Ayn Rand, bubble logic, and why never to share a gym with Cirque du Soleil. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Email us: <a class="c-link" tabindex="-1" href= "mailto:[email protected]" target="_blank"
18/11/20151 hour 22 minutes 31 seconds
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Dani Rodrik on Premature Deindustrialization and Why the World is Second Best at Best

Tyler and Dani Rodrik discuss premature deindustrialization, the world’s trilemmas, the political economy of John le Carré, what’s so special about manufacturing, Orhan Pamuk, RCTs, and why the world is second best at best. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video. Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Follow Dani on Twitter Email us: <a class="c-link" tabindex="-1" href= "ma
01/10/20151 hour 24 minutes 47 seconds
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Luigi Zingales on Italy, Google and Conglomeration, and Donald Trump (Live at Mason)

In the third event of this series, Tyler and Luigi Zingales discuss Italy, Donald Trump, Antonio Gramsci, Google and conglomeration, Luchino Visconti, Starbucks, and the surprisingly high productivity of Italian cafés. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Email us: <a class="c-link" tabindex="-1" href= "mailto:[email protected]" target="_blank" rel= "noopener noreferrer" data-stringify-link= "mailto:cowenco
16/09/20151 hour 16 minutes 42 seconds
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Jeffrey Sachs on Charter Cities and How to Reform Graduate Economics Education (Live at Mason)

Tyler Cowen and Jeffrey Sachs discuss the resource curse, why Russia failed and Poland succeeded, charter cities, Sach's China optimism, JFK, Paul Rosenstein-Rodan, whether Africa will be able to overcome the middle income trap, Paul Krugman, Sach's favorite novel, premature deindustrialization, and how to reform graduate economics education. Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.  Other ways to connect Follow us on Twitter and Instagram Follow Tyler on Twitter  Follow <a href= "https:
31/03/20151 hour 32 minutes 17 seconds
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Peter Thiel on Stagnation, Innovation, and What Not to Call your Company (Live at Mason)

Peter Thiel and Tyler Cowen, both New York Times bestselling authors, are among today’s top global thought leaders and influential innovators. Listen as these two engage in a serious dialogue on the ideas and policies that will shape the future of innovation and progress in the coming years and decades. Peter Thiel is among the most impressive innovators of the past two decades. As co-founder of Paypal and seed-funder for Facebook, Thiel has been instrumental in the conception and growth of some of today’s most entrepreneurial and innovative companies. In his latest best-selling book, Zero to One, Thiel explains how to build a better future by capitalizing on innovation. A staunch optimist, he maintains that progress can be achieved anywhere the human mind is able to think creatively. Thiel describes how entrepreneurial thinking leads to innovation, which builds something new and moves the mark from zero to one. Note: Due to a technical malfunction, the audio quality b
25/03/20151 hour 20 minutes 33 seconds