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EconTalk

English, Economic, 1 season, 946 episodes, 2 days, 19 hours, 44 minutes
About
EconTalk: Conversations for the Curious is an award-winning weekly podcast hosted by Russ Roberts of Shalem College in Jerusalem and Stanford's Hoover Institution. The eclectic guest list includes authors, doctors, psychologists, historians, philosophers, economists, and more. Learn how the health care system really works, the serenity that comes from humility, the challenge of interpreting data, how potato chips are made, what it's like to run an upscale Manhattan restaurant, what caused the 2008 financial crisis, the nature of consciousness, and more. EconTalk has been taking the Monday out of Mondays since 2006. All 800+ episodes are available in the archive. Go to EconTalk.org for transcripts, related resources, and comments.
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Purpose, Pleasure, and Meaning in a World Without Work (with Nicholas Bostrom)

If you didn't have to work to enjoy material abundance, would you do it anyway? If an algorithm or a pill could achieve better results, would you bother shopping or going to the gym? These are the kinds of questions we'll need to ask ourselves if AI makes all human labor and other traditional ways of spending time obsolete. Oxford philosopher Nicholas Bostrom, author of Deep Utopia, is downright bullish about our ability, not only to adjust to a life stripped of labor, but to thrive. Listen as Bostrom explains to EconTalk's Russ Roberts what pleasure and leisure might look like in a world without struggle or pain, and why art and religion may come out still standing, or even become more necessary. Finally, they speak about how AI might free us up to be the best people we can be.
5/20/20241 hour, 16 minutes, 32 seconds
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Glenn Loury Tells All

Economist and social critic Glenn Loury talks about his memoir, Late Admissions, with EconTalk's Russ Roberts. In a wide-ranging and blunt conversation, Loury discusses his childhood, his at-times brilliant academic work, his roller-coaster ideological journey, and his personal flaws as a drug addict and imperfect husband. This is a rich conversation about academic life, race in America, and the challenges of self-control.
5/13/20241 hour, 30 minutes, 26 seconds
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Living with the Constitution (with A.J. Jacobs)

What does it mean to live Constitutionally in the year 2024? For a start, it means getting off social media. It also means swapping a quill pen for your keyboard, and candlelight for electricity. And don't forget the tricorn hat and musket--though maybe skip the boiled mutton. Join author A.J. Jacobs as he deep-dives with EconTalk's Russ Roberts into the centuries-old principles of the U.S. Constitution and tries to apply them to the current day. Topics include the original conceptions of our most cherished amendments, the office of the President, and the Supreme Court, and an explanation of how one can be an originalist and still believe in gender equity. Jacobs also shares his family's experience writing its own constitution, and explains why his research made him more optimistic about the future of American democracy.
5/6/20241 hour, 8 minutes, 51 seconds
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The Top EconTalk Conversations of 2023 (with Russ Roberts)

The favorite EconTalk episodes for host Russ Roberts are when he and his guest have an unusually powerful connection such as his recent episode with Charles Duhigg, and the ones where he learns something mind-blowing, like Adam Mastroianni’s insight that you can’t reach the brain through the ears. Listen as Russ explains how he chooses guests, and why EconTalk has evolved to focus on things other than economics. He also shares listeners' favorite conversations from 2023, and tells a story that shows the challenges—and opportunities—of applying EconTalk’s lessons to our personal lives.
4/29/202442 minutes, 8 seconds
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Seeking Immortality (with Paul Bloom)

Would an AI simulation of your dead loved one be a blessing or an abomination? And if you knew that after your own death, your loved ones would create a simulation of you, how would that knowledge change the way you choose to live today? These are some of the questions psychologist Paul Bloom discusses with EconTalk's Russ Roberts as we stand on the threshold of digital immortality.
4/22/20241 hour, 13 minutes, 35 seconds
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When Prediction Is Not Enough (with Teppo Felin)

If the Wright Brothers could have used AI to guide their decision making, it's almost certain they would never have gotten off the ground. That's because, points out Teppo Felin of Utah State University and Oxford, all the evidence said human flight was impossible. So how and why did the Wrights persevere? Felin explains that the human ability to ignore existing data and evidence is not only our Achilles heel, but also one of our superpowers. Topics include the problems inherent in modeling our brains after computers, and the value of not only data-driven prediction, but also belief-driven experimentation.
4/15/20241 hour, 7 minutes, 10 seconds
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Rituals Without Religion (with Michael Norton)

While religion may play less of a role in many people's lives, rituals--the lifeblood of religion--remain central to the human experience. Listen as Michael Norton of the Harvard Business School explains how and why rituals remain at the center of our lives--they give meaning to life-cycle events and secular holidays, calm our fears, and give us a sense of control when the pressure to perform can otherwise overwhelm us.
4/8/20241 hour, 59 seconds
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A User's Guide to Our Emotional Thermostat (with Adam Mastroianni)

Can you be too happy? Psychologist Adam Mastroianni talks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about our emotional control systems, which seem to work at bringing both sadness and happiness back to a steady baseline. Too much happiness is--perhaps surprisingly--not necessarily a good thing. They also explore whether our general level of happiness is really related to events in our lives or connected to something much larger than ourselves.
4/1/20241 hour, 3 minutes, 3 seconds
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What Does "Unbiased" Mean in the Digital World? (with Megan McArdle)

Listen as Megan McArdle and EconTalk's Russ Roberts use Google's new AI entrant Gemini as the starting point for a discussion about the future of our culture in the shadow of AI bias. They also discuss the tension between rules and discretion in Western society and why the ultimate answer to AI bias can't be found in technology.
3/25/20241 hour, 12 minutes, 25 seconds
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Voices from Gaza (with Ahmed Alkhatib)

Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib spent much of his childhood in Gaza before becoming an American citizen. He has lost dozens of family members and both his childhood homes in Israel's war in Gaza. But he hasn't lost hope for peace and the future of the Palestinian people. Listen as he describes the reality of life in Gaza under Hamas rule, and what he believes most Gazans think of Hamas. He also shares his thoughts on how to save Israel's hostages, and how Palestinians can thrive once the war is over.
3/18/20241 hour, 12 minutes, 58 seconds
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Living with Exponential Change (with Azeem Azhar)

The world of today would seem alien to someone living 30 years ago: people seduced by their screens in private and public and now AI blurring the lines between humans and the machine. Author and technologist Azeem Azhar chronicles the pace of change and asks whether the human experience can cope with that pace while preserving what is fundamentally human.
3/11/20241 hour, 14 minutes, 10 seconds
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How to Avoid Lying With Statistics (with Jeremy Weber)

There's often a gap between the textbook treatment of statistics and the cookbook treatment--how to cook up the numbers when you're in the kitchen of the real world. Jeremy Weber of the University of Pittsburgh and the author of Statistics for Public Policy hopes his book can close that gap. He talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how to use numbers thoughtfully and honestly.
3/4/20241 hour, 12 minutes, 33 seconds
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The Secrets of Great Conversation (with Charles Duhigg)

When EconTalk's Russ Roberts sat down with Charles Duhigg to talk about his new book on the art of conversation, Supercommunicators, Roberts tried to apply some of its lessons to his conversation with the author. The result is this special conversation between two people eager to connect and communicate. Enjoy.
2/26/20241 hour, 23 minutes, 5 seconds
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A Lively Debate on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (with Robert Wright)

Journalist and author Robert Wright invited EconTalk's Russ Roberts to his podcast, NonZero, to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, knowing that there would be plenty to disagree about. The two then agreed to release their back-and-forth on their respective podcasts. The result is a lively but respectful discussion that is more debate than the usual EconTalk episode. We hope there will still be much to learn from this slightly more combative than usual episode.
2/19/20241 hour, 46 minutes, 37 seconds
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Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (with Hillel Cohen)

How far back should you go to understand the current moment in the relationship between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors and the attack of October 7? Some would say 2005, or 1967, or maybe 1948 when the State of Israel was founded. But for historian and author Hillel Cohen of Hebrew University, year zero was 1929. Listen as he explains to EconTalk's Russ Roberts the significance of that year for the current moment, and the challenge of being an open-minded historian when tribal issues loom large.
2/12/20241 hour, 8 minutes, 6 seconds
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Should Israel Depend on the US? (with Michael Oren)

For decades, American aid to Israel has sent a strategic message: the greatest superpower in the world stands behind the Jewish state. But does it really? Historian and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren tells EconTalk's Russ Roberts that it's time for Israel to stop accepting U.S. foreign aid. He also explains why he's optimistic about Israel's future even as the Gaza War drags on.
2/5/20241 hour, 13 minutes, 39 seconds
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What Palestinians Are Thinking (with Dahlia Scheindlin)

Pollster and political scientist Dahlia Scheindlin has worked extensively with public opinion polls of both Palestinians and Israelis. Listen as she talks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about the dreams, fears, anger, and frustration of both sides. Along the way she analyzes the mood of Arab-Israelis and what optimism, if any, she has for a peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians in the aftermath of October 7th.
1/29/20241 hour, 5 minutes, 37 seconds
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If Life Is Random, Is It Meaningless? (with Brian Klaas)

How did a husband-and-wife vacation end up saving a city from the atomic bomb while destroying another? And how did a century-old murder of one family bring another into existence? Easily, explains political scientist Brian Klaas of University College London, who points out that history is replete with chance events that profoundly shaped both society and individual lives. Listen as Klaas discusses his book Fluke with EconTalk's Russ Roberts. Klaas argues that recognizing the randomness of everyday life and history can lead to a newfound appreciation for the meaning of every decision, and to a focus on joyful experimentation instead of relentless optimization.
1/22/20241 hour, 24 seconds
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Can a Nation Plunder Its Way to Wealth (with Noah Smith)

Did nations get rich on the backs of other nations? Did the West get rich from imperialism? Noah Smith says no. But why not? If you can steal stuff, isn't that better than having to make it yourself? Listen as Noah Smith and EconTalk's Russ Roberts discuss the impact of imperialism and industrialization on growth and wealth. Smith argues that understanding plunder and where wealth comes from is more than an exercise in economic history--it matters for today's world, too.
1/15/20241 hour, 9 minutes, 31 seconds
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The Challenge of Covering the Most Important Story on Earth (with Matti Friedman)

Journalist Matti Friedman worked for the Jerusalem Bureau of the Associated Press from 2006 to 2011. Looking back at that experience, Friedman argues that little has changed in the journalism landscape. Listen as Friedman discusses with EconTalk host Russ Roberts the media's obsession with Israel and how and why the media often sidelines facts in service of ideology, and the challenge of objective reporting in wartime.
1/8/20241 hour, 15 minutes, 29 seconds
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From the Second Intifada to October 7th (with Daniel Gordis)

Over the 25 years he's lived in Israel, author Daniel Gordis of Shalem College has seen many chapters of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, beginning with the Second Intifada that followed the Oslo Accords. Listen as he and EconTalk's Russ Roberts discuss why Hamas's massacre of October 7th is different and is an existential threat to Israel. They also speak about why Israelis are demanding a different response to Hamas than they have in the past, and how and why this war will change Israel and the Jewish people.
1/1/20241 hour, 4 minutes, 35 seconds
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Can Artificial Intelligence Be Moral? (with Paul Bloom)

It seems obvious that moral artificial intelligence would be better than the alternative. But psychologist Paul Bloom of the University of Toronto thinks moral AI is not just a meaningless goal but a bad one. Listen as Bloom and EconTalk's Russ Roberts have a wide-ranging conversation about the nature of AI, the nature of morality, and the value of ensuring that we mortals can keep doing stupid or terrible things. 
12/25/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 20 seconds
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An Extraordinary Introduction to the Birth of Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (with Haviv Rettig Gur)

Israeli journalist Haviv Rettig Gur takes us on a deep dive into the origins of Israel--how European Jew-hatred gave birth to Zionism and the founding of the Jewish state in 1948. He then turns to the rise of Palestinian terrorism and explains why the Palestinian experience and the Israeli experience are so incompatible. Along the way, Gur places the Holocaust in a much broader European context. I learned an immense amount from this conversation and hope you do, too.
12/18/20231 hour, 40 minutes, 59 seconds
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Niall Ferguson on Free Speech and Kissinger's Role in the Middle East

How can we create a radically different atmosphere at American universities? Easy, says historian Niall Ferguson of Stanford University's Hoover Institution--have meaningful rules about free speech, and ensure that they're upheld. As with humans, as with institutions: It's all about incentives. Ferguson discusses the current state of free speech on American campuses and how the new University of Austin when it opens hopes to safeguard freedom of speech. The conversation shifts then to the war in the Middle East. Ferguson draws on his work on the biography of Henry Kissinger and compares the present moment for Israel to the Yom Kippur War and the role Kissinger played in 1973.
12/11/20231 hour, 5 minutes, 49 seconds
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Yossi Klein Halevi on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

In 2018, author Yossi Klein Halevi wanted Palestinians to understand his story of how Israel came into existence. At the same time, he wanted Palestinians to tell him their personal and national stories, too, about the same land. The result was Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, a candid, heartfelt book that engaged Jews and Arabs around the world in conversation. Listen as Klein Halevi talks about his book and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with EconTalk's Russ Roberts. Halevi explains why he believes that dialogue is possible, even when there are things about which the two sides will never agree. Finally, he speaks about where he sees Israel headed in the wake of Hamas's brutal October 7th attack.
12/4/20231 hour, 8 minutes, 6 seconds
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Tyler Cowen on the GOAT of Economics

Who is the greatest economist of all time? In Tyler Cowen's eclectic view, you need both breadth and depth, macro and micro. You can't have been too wrong--and you need to be mostly right. You have to have had a lasting impact, and done both theory and empirical work. If you meet all these criteria, you may just be history's greatest economist. Listen as Cowen talks about his new and freely accessible book GOAT with EconTalk's Russ Roberts. Along the way to crowning a winner, Cowen offers original insights into what shaped the theories and worldviews of the greatest economists of all time. Cowen and Roberts also talk about the evolution of economics from a field concerned mainly with ideas to one that mostly grapples with empirical challenges.
11/27/20231 hour, 34 minutes, 45 seconds
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Andrew McAfee on the Geek Way

What's different about companies that accomplish amazing things? Perhaps surprisingly, says Andrew McAfee of MIT, it has nothing to do with being agile or with better technology. Instead, they've developed what he calls "geek" cultures, which emphasize intense cooperation, rapid learning curves, and a lack of hierarchy. Listen as McAfee talks about his book The Geek Way with EconTalk's Russ Roberts and how focusing on company norms, as opposed to organizational charts and structure, is a key to realizing big ambitions. They also discuss the role that data and evidence play in geek companies' decision-making and why the willingness to embrace failure is a winning strategy. 
11/20/20231 hour, 13 minutes, 17 seconds
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Jennifer Burns on Milton Friedman

Who was Milton Friedman? Jennifer Burns of Stanford University finds in her biography of Friedman that the answer to that question is more complicated than she thought. Listen as she and EconTalk's Russ Roberts discuss how the now-forgotten Henry Simons shaped Friedman's thought, the degree to which Friedman had a deep understanding and belief in the role of prices in a modern economy, and the influence of key women on Friedman's intellectual life. Finally, they explore whether or not Friedman's insights continue to affect public policy and the discipline of economics.
11/13/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 38 seconds
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Zach Weinersmith on Space Settlement and A City on Mars

Loss of taste for most foods, vision problems, loss of muscle mass and bone density. In light of these and the many unpleasant our outright dangerous effects of space travel on human physiology, science writer and cartoonist Zach Weinersmith wonders: When it comes to the dream of space expansion, what exactly do we hope to gain? Listen as he and EconTalk's Russ Roberts discuss his new book (co-authored with Kelly Weinersmith) A City on Mars, which offers a hard-nosed yet humorous look at the sobering and lesser-discussed challenges involved in building space settlements. Topics include the particular problems posed by the moon and Mars's atmospheres; the potential difficulty of reproducing in zero gravity; and the dangerous tendency to overlook a key factor in whether space settlement is a good idea: the fact that people are people, wherever they may be.
11/6/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 21 seconds
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Michael Easter on Excess, Moderation, and the Scarcity Brain

Slot machines, social media, and potato chips: we humans seem to find a lot of things hard to consume in moderation. Why does "enough" seem so much harder to say than "more?" Listen as Michael Easter discusses these questions and his book, The Scarcity Brain, with EconTalk's Russ Roberts. Easter shares ways that our awareness of how our brain works can help us reclaim balance--in our diets, our money, our emotions, and how we spend our time. 
10/30/20231 hour, 8 minutes, 5 seconds
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Robert Sapolsky on Determinism, Free Will, and Responsibility

Your mother's socio-economic status at the time of your birth. Whether your ancestors raised crops or led camels through the desert. The smell of the room you're in when you're making a decision--all of these things, says neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky, combine to affect your behavior, as well as everything in between. And if you're wondering where free will fits in, Sapolsky says, it doesn't: If we're all the sum of our biology and environments over which we had no control, it makes no sense to hold us accountable for anything that we do. In a conversation that's equal parts fascinating and frightening, Sapolsky and EconTalk's Russ Roberts discuss the science and philosophy behind determinism. They explore what this argument, taken to its logical conclusion, means for our social and legal systems, and the challenge of how to live if free will is an illusion.
10/23/20231 hour, 13 minutes, 44 seconds
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Alexandra Hudson on the Soul of Civility

When Alexandra Hudson arrived in Washington, DC, she discovered that outward behavior is not always a reflection of a person's character. Her disillusionment led to an in-depth exploration of the historical concept and practice of civility, along with a newfound appreciation for not only empathy, but also debate and disagreement in a healthy society. Listen as she and EconTalk's Russ Roberts discuss her book The Soul of Civility, a call for less superficial politeness and more genuine respect for and consideration toward others in the social, cultural, and political spheres. They also discuss the power of social norms and how they can promote human flourishing.
10/16/20231 hour, 4 minutes, 59 seconds
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Adam Mastroianni on Learning and Mostly Forgetting

How much do we remember of what we learn in school or from conversation? Psychologist Adam Mastroianni says: from little to nothing much. What do our brains retain? Mastroianni argues that often it's a mix of emotions, meanings, and values that end up shaping who we are, what Mastroianni calls "vibes." Listen as he and EconTalk's Russ Roberts discuss the role of vibes in knowledge acquisition and the implications for how we teach, learn, and speak to those around us.
10/9/20231 hour, 15 minutes, 32 seconds
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Elie Hassenfeld on GiveWell

When then-hedge fund manager Elie Hassenfeld began his philanthropic journey in 2006, he knew that he wanted to get the most charitable bang for his buck. He quickly realized, however, that detailed data on charitable impact simply didn't exist. So he and Holden Karnovsky founded GiveWell, an organization inspired by effective altruism that identifies the charities that save or improve lives the most for every dollar given. Listen as Hassenfeld, GiveWell's CEO, explains to EconTalk's Russ Roberts how GiveWell determines the small number of charities they recommend to achieve optimal impact. They also discuss the dangers of an over-reliance on data and the case for bucketing our philanthropy to allow for local or personal giving.
10/2/20231 hour, 11 minutes, 41 seconds
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Peter Attia on Lifespan, Healthspan, and Outlive

We spend too much of our health care focus on lifespan and not enough on healthspan--the quality of our life as we get older. So argues Dr. Peter Attia, author of Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity. Attia speaks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about what kills us, what slows us down as we age, and the weapons we have to allow us to live better and longer.
9/25/20231 hour, 39 minutes
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Michael Munger on How Adam Smith Solved the Trolley Problem

In the original version of a now classic thought experiment, five people are about to be killed by a runaway trolley. Would you divert the trolley knowing that your choice will kill a single innocent bystander? Listen as Michael Munger of Duke University argues that Adam Smith gave an answer to this challenge a few hundred years before it was proposed by the philosopher Philippa Foot and brought vividly to life in the miniseries, The Good Place. Along the way, Munger and EconTalk's Russ Roberts discuss effective altruism, the moral claims of Peter Singer, what the trolley problem really tells us, if anything, and how our moral choices differ according to context.
9/18/20231 hour, 11 minutes, 28 seconds
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Anupam Bapu Jena on Random Acts of Medicine

Do marathons kill people who aren't in the race? Does when you're born make you more likely to get the flu? And what's the difference between a good doctor and a bad one? These are some of the questions Anupam Bapu Jena of Harvard University and EconTalk host Russ Roberts take up as they discuss Jena's book, Random Acts of Medicine.
9/11/20231 hour, 12 minutes, 29 seconds
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Roland Fryer on Race, Diversity, and Affirmative Action

Can economics and better measurement help us understand racial disparities and suggest how to reduce or eliminate them? Economist Roland Fryer of Harvard University believes deeply in the power of data to help us understand how the world works and how we might change it. Listen as he tells EconTalk's Russ Roberts of his devotion to this mission, what he learned from his grandmother, and what colleges can do if they really want to increase minority enrollment.
9/4/20231 hour, 7 minutes, 18 seconds
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Vinay Prasad on Cancer Screening

Early detection of cancer seems like a very good idea. But it's a lot more complicated than it seems. Oncologist and epidemiologist Vinay Prasad of the University of California, San Francisco talks to EconTalk's Russ Roberts about why many tests to detect cancer do little or nothing to extend lifespan.
8/28/20231 hour, 13 minutes, 51 seconds
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Walter Russell Mead on Innovation, Religion, and the State of the World

Historian and author Walter Russell Mead of Bard College and the Hudson Institute talks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about how innovation and religion can help us make sense of the current state of the world.
8/21/20231 hour, 24 minutes, 59 seconds
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Adam Mastroianni on the Brain, the Ears, and How We Learn

Psychologist and writer Adam Mastroianni says our minds are like the keep of a castle protecting our deepest held values and beliefs from even the most skilled attacks. The only problem with this design for self-preservation is that it also can keep out wisdom that might be both useful and true. Mastroianni's summary of the problem is "you can't reach the brain through the ears." Listen as Mastroianni talks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about the implication of this view of mind for teaching, learning, and our daily interactions with the people around us.
8/14/20231 hour, 5 minutes, 49 seconds
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Zvi Mowshowitz on AI and the Dial of Progress

The future of AI keeps Zvi Mowshowitz up at night. He also wonders why so many smart people seem to think that AI is more likely to save humanity than destroy it. Listen as Mowshowitz talks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about the current state of AI, the pace of AI's development, and where--unless we take serious action--the technology is likely to end up (and that end is not pretty). They also discuss Mowshowitz's theory that the shallowness of the AI extinction-risk discourse results from the assumption that you have to be either pro-technological progress or against it.
8/7/20231 hour, 36 minutes, 43 seconds
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Daron Acemoglu on Innovation and Shared Prosperity

Economist and author Daron Acemoglu of MIT discusses his book Power and Progress with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Acemoglu argues that the productivity and prosperity that results from innovation is not always shared widely across the population. He makes the case for the importance of regulating new technologies to ensure that the benefits of innovation are distributed equitably.
7/31/20231 hour, 6 minutes, 15 seconds
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Erik Hoel on Consciousness, Free Will, and the Limits of Science

Neuroscientist and author Erik Hoel talks about his book, The World Behind the World, with EconTalk's Russ Roberts. Is it possible to reconcile the seemingly subjective inner world of human experience with the seemingly objective outer world of observation, measurement, and science? Despite the promise of neuroscience, Hoel argues that this reconciliation is surprisingly difficult. Join Hoel and Roberts for a wide-ranging exploration of what it means to be human and the limits of science in helping us understand who we are.
7/24/20231 hour, 7 minutes, 37 seconds
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Lydia Dugdale on the Lost Art of Dying

Physician and author Lydia Dugdale wants to teach us a better way to die. She argues that this will help us find a better way to live. Listen as she discusses her book, The Lost Art of Dying, with EconTalk's Russ Roberts.
7/17/20231 hour, 18 minutes, 17 seconds
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Marc Andreessen on Why AI Will Save the World

Marc Andreessen thinks AI will make everything better--if only we get out of the way. He argues that in every aspect of human activity, our ability to understand, synthesize, and generate knowledge results in better outcomes. Listen as the entrepreneur and venture capitalist speaks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about AI's potential to improve the world and why those who fear that AI will destroy humanity are wildly over-reacting.
7/10/20231 hour, 20 minutes, 2 seconds
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James Rebanks on the Shepherd's Life

James Rebanks's family has raised sheep in the same small English village for at least four centuries. There are records of people with his same last name going back a few hundred more. Even his sheep are rooted in place: their DNA is from Viking times. It's enough to make anyone feel insignificant--and according to Rebanks, that's a wonderful thing. Listen as the author of The Shepherd's Life speaks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about the deep pleasures and humbling privilege of being a sheep farmer.
7/3/20231 hour, 14 minutes, 1 second
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Jacob Howland on the Hidden Human Costs of AI

In the early 1900s, the philosopher Henry Adams expressed concern about the rapid rate of social change ushered in by new technologies, from the railways to the telegraph and ultimately airplanes. If we transpose Adams's concerns onto the power of artificial intelligence--a power whose rate of acceleration would have exceeded his wildest dreams--you might feel a bit uneasy. Listen as philosopher Jacob Howland of UATX speaks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about why too much leisure is at best a mixed blessing, and how technology can lead to intellectual atrophy. They also speak about the role of AI in education and its implications for that most human of traits: curiosity. Finally, they discuss Howland's biggest concern when it comes to outsourcing our tasks, and our thinking, to machines: that we'll ultimately end up surrendering our own liberty.
6/26/20231 hour, 21 minutes, 53 seconds
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Michael Munger on Obedience to the Unenforceable

Civilization and the pleasantness of everyday life depend on unwritten rules. Early in the 20th century, an English mathematician and government official, Lord Moulton, described complying with these rules as "obedience to the unenforceable"--the area of personal choice that falls between illegal acts and complete freedom. Listen as economist Michael Munger talks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about the power and challenge of the unenforceable.
6/19/20231 hour, 10 minutes, 38 seconds
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Rebecca Struthers on Watches, Watchmaking, and the Hands of Time

Called "a poem in clockwork," the self-winding Breguet watch made for Marie Antionette was meant to be the most beautiful example of mechanical art in the world. Yet when she was imprisoned in the Tour du Temple, she wanted only a simple watch that would mark the passing of the hours until her meeting with the guillotine. Listen as Rebecca Struthers, the watchmaker, antiquarian horologist, and author of the Hands of Time talks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about how our need to keep time has shaped watchmaking history, and how, in turn, the development of watches has shaped human culture and society. Other topics include the precise and painstaking craft of bespoke watchmaking and the challenge of restoring watches from another time.
6/12/20231 hour, 10 minutes, 34 seconds
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Les Snead on Risk, Decisions, and Football

After nearly 12 years as general manager for the L.A. Rams, Les Snead has learned the power of humility when it comes to making big decisions--who to draft, who to hire as head coach, and how to create a shared vision for his team. Listen as he and EconTalk's Russ Roberts discuss what it's like to manage a professional football team along with the intense pressures that come with the territory. An episode for every fan who has played Monday-morning quarterback, and all of us who wonder how those who play for high stakes survive and thrive.
6/5/20231 hour, 17 minutes, 37 seconds
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Luca Dellanna on Risk, Ruin, and Ergodicity

Author and consultant Luca Dellanna talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the importance of avoiding ruin when facing risk. Along the way Dellanna makes understandable the arcane concept of ergodicity and shows the importance of avoiding ruin in every day life.
5/29/20231 hour, 7 minutes, 31 seconds
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Casey Mulligan on Vaccines, the Pandemic, and the FDA

When there's no vaccine on the market, people will look for other ways to be safe, including school closures and the handwashing of groceries. Listen as economist Casey Mulligan of the University Chicago talks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about the costs of delaying a vaccine, the hidden costs of FDA regulation, and what we learned and failed to learn about the Covid pandemic.
5/22/20231 hour, 8 minutes, 17 seconds
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Tyler Cowen on the Risks and Impact of Artificial Intelligence

Economist Tyler Cowen of George Mason University talks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about the benefits and dangers of artificial intelligence. Cowen argues that the worriers--those who think that artificial intelligence will destroy mankind--need to make a more convincing case for their concerns. He also believes that the worriers are too willing to reduce freedom and empower the state in the name of reducing a risk that is far from certain. Along the way, Cowen and Roberts discuss how AI might change various parts of the economy and the job market.
5/15/20231 hour, 51 seconds
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Eliezer Yudkowsky on the Dangers of AI

Eliezer Yudkowsky insists that once artificial intelligence becomes smarter than people, everyone on earth will die. Listen as Yudkowsky speaks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts on why we should be very, very afraid, and why we're not prepared or able to manage the terrifiying risks of artificial intelligence.
5/8/20231 hour, 17 minutes, 35 seconds
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Patrick House and Itzhak Fried on the Brain's Mysteries

While operating on a 16-year-old girl who suffered from severe seizures, neurosurgeon Itzhak Fried stumbled on the region of the brain that makes us laugh. To neuroscientist Patrick House, Fried's ability to produce laughter surgically raises deep and disconcerting questions about how the brain works. Join Fried, House, and EconTalk's Russ Roberts for a live broadcast from Jerusalem's Shalem College that is a sequel of sorts to House's earlier appearance on EconTalk. House and Fried discuss the mystery of consciousness and try to square the biological bases for emotions with the circle of our humanity.
5/1/20231 hour, 7 minutes, 41 seconds
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Michael Munger on the Perfect vs. the Good

Is the perfect really the enemy of the good? Or is it the other way around? In 2008, Duke University economist Michael Munger ran for governor and proposed increasing school choice through vouchers for the state's poorest counties. But some lovers of liberty argued that it's better to fight for eliminating public schools instead of trying to improve them. Munger realized his fellow free-marketers come in two flavors: directionalists--who take our political realities as given and try to move outcomes closer to the ideal--and destinationists--who want no compromises with what they see as the perfect outcome. Listen as Munger talks to EconTalk's Russ Roberts about two different strategies for achieving political goals. Along the way, they discuss rent control, the minimum wage, and why free-market policies are so rare.
4/24/20231 hour, 14 minutes, 38 seconds
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Dana Gioia on Poetry, Death and Mortality

When he was a child, poet Dana Gioia's mother would come home from a long day of work and recite poems while she cleaned. It was a way, he realized later, for her to express the feelings she didn't want to describe directly, and to vent her sorrows without burdening her son. This, he believes, is what makes poetry so compelling: It's the secret language of emotions, a bit of magic that gets us through the day. Listen as Gioia speaks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about poems, mortality, and loved ones who died too young. Gioia also explains the fundamental role of allusions in poems, and how--if they’re really good--they have the power to summon the dead.
4/17/202358 minutes, 31 seconds
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Daniel Gordis on Israel and Impossible Takes Longer

As Israel turns 75, has it fulfilled the promise of its founders? Daniel Gordis of Shalem College talks about his book, Impossible Takes Longer, with EconTalk's Russ Roberts looking at the successes and failures of Israel. Topics discussed include the history of Zionism, the plight of the Palestinians, the Jewishness of the Jewish state, and the current debate in Israel over judicial reform.
4/10/20231 hour, 27 minutes, 1 second
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Erik Hoel on the Threat to Humanity from AI

They operate according to rules we can never fully understand. They can be unreliable, uncontrollable, and misaligned with human values. They're fast becoming as intelligent as humans--and they're exclusively in the hands of profit-seeking tech companies. "They," of course, are the latest versions of AI, which herald, according to neuroscientist and writer Erik Hoel, a species-level threat to humanity. Listen as he tells EconTalk's Russ Roberts why we need to treat AI as an existential threat.
4/3/20231 hour, 24 minutes, 57 seconds
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Kevin Kelly on Advice, AI, and Technology

Photographer, author, and visionary Kevin Kelly talks about his book Excellent Advice for Living with EconTalk's Russ Roberts. His advice includes how to have a deep conversation, why it's better to control time than money--and whether, in the end, we should give advice in the first place. Other topics of discussion include the right object of our aspirations, the reason for optimism when it comes to technology, and why Kelly is not worried about AI.
3/27/20231 hour, 26 minutes, 36 seconds
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Megan McArdle on the Oedipus Trap

When physician Walter Freeman died in 1972, he still believed that lobotomies were the best treatment for mental illness. A pioneer in the method, he was a deeply confident and charismatic man who eagerly spread the technique in America, long after the rise of alternative treatments that were less destructive. Listen as journalist Megan McArdle and EconTalk's Russ Roberts discuss what McArdle calls the "Oedipus Trap": mistakes that no one can live with, even if they were innocently made, and how admitting such mistakes to ourselves is nearly impossible. They also discuss the complexity of the credo, "follow the science."
3/20/20231 hour, 14 minutes, 38 seconds
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Zach Weinersmith on Beowulf and Bea Wolf

Tolkien read it as a tale about mortality. The poet David Whyte said it was a metaphor for the psychological demons deep in our minds. And that, insists the cartoonist and writer Zach Weinersmith, is precisely Beowulf's appeal: Its richness opens the door to endless interpretation. Listen as the author of Bea Wolf, a graphic novel for children based on the Old English poem, speaks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about poetry in general, Beowulf in particular, whether we should require students to memorize poems, and the value of stories for children even without a moral lesson.
3/13/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 12 seconds
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Omer Moav on the Emergence of the State

Since at least Adam Smith, the common wisdom has been that the transition from hunter-gathering to farming allowed the creation of the State. Farming, so went the theory, led to agricultural surplus, and that surplus is the prerequisite for taxation and a State. But economist Omer Moav of the University of Warwick and Reichman University argues that it wasn't farming but the farming of a particular kind of crop (but not others) that led to hierarchy and the State. Moav explains to EconTalk host Russ Roberts storability is the key dimension that allows for taxation and a State. The conversation includes a discussion of why it's important to understand the past and the challenges of confirming or refuting theories about history.
3/6/20231 hour, 2 minutes, 8 seconds
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Paul Bloom on Psych, Psychology, and the Human Mind

Do psychologists know anything? Psychologist Paul Bloom says yes--but not the things that you might think. Bloom discusses his book Psych with EconTalk's Russ Roberts and what the field of psychology can teach us about human intelligence, consciousness, and unhelpful instincts. They also discuss just how far psychology is from a true understanding of the human mind, and why, according to Bloom, that might not be such a bad thing.
2/27/20231 hour, 13 minutes, 41 seconds
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Marco Ramos on Misunderstanding Mental Illness

When psychiatrist Marco Ramos of Yale University prescribes antidepressants to patients in distress and they ask him how they work, Ramos admits: We don't really know. And too often, they don't work at all. Despite decades of brain research and billions of dollars spent, psychiatry has made little progress in understanding mental illness. Listen as Ramos explains to EconTalk's Russ Roberts how the myth of the biological basis for mental illness began, why it stubbornly persists, and why honesty about what we know and don't know is the best policy.
2/20/20231 hour, 28 minutes, 46 seconds
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Adam Mastroianni on Peer Review and the Academic Kitchen

Psychologist Adam Mastroianni says peer review has failed. Papers with major errors make it through the process. The ones without errors often fail to replicate. One approach to improve the process is better incentives. But Mastroianni argues that peer review isn't fixable. It's a failed experiment. Listen as he makes the case to EconTalk host Russ Roberts for a new approach to science and academic research.
2/13/20231 hour, 6 minutes, 38 seconds
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Sam Harris on Meditation, Mindfulness, and Morality

According to neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris, rationality is the key to safeguarding everything we cherish, and its only true enemy is dogmatic inflexibility. Harris speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the views that have made Harris famous, teasing out the often mind-blowing subtleties of his religious and cultural critiques. They discuss what Harris has learned as a podcaster and author, and how ecstasy launched his spiritual journey. Finally, they move on to the power of meditation, exploring the way it can lead to self-transcendence and real connection with others.
2/6/20231 hour, 51 minutes, 7 seconds
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Vinay Prasad on Pharmaceuticals, the FDA, and the Death of Duty

Oncologist and epidemiologist Vinay Prasad argues that too many very expensive drugs get approved by the FDA that have very limited impact on the lives of patients. Prasad explains the incentives that distort the current system. The general problem, he explains to EconTalk host Russ Roberts, is the death of duty--too many players in the health care landscape and elsewhere stay quiet or do the wrong thing in order to serve themselves.
1/30/20231 hour, 9 minutes, 12 seconds
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Dwayne Betts on Beauty, Prison, and Redaction

Dwayne Betts was a 16-year-old in solitary confinement when a fellow inmate slid a book of poetry under his cell door. What happened next is an astounding story of transformation: from desperation to the discovery of beauty, even behind bars. Listen as the lawyer, prison reform advocate, and award-winning poet explains to EconTalk host Russ Roberts why he's on a mission to bring books--and beauty--into prisons. They also discuss Betts's latest book, Redaction, a collaboration with the artist Titus Kaphar.
1/23/20231 hour, 22 minutes, 58 seconds
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Tiffany Jenkins on Plunder, Museums, and Marbles

Should the British Museum return the Elgin Marbles, taken from the Parthenon in Athens about 200 years ago? What should be the purpose of museums, education or social justice? Listen as Tiffany Jenkins, author of Keeping Their Marbles, discusses these questions and more with EconTalk host Russ Roberts.
1/16/20231 hour, 12 minutes, 44 seconds
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Ian Leslie on Being Human in the Age of AI

When OpenAI launched its conversational chatbot this past November, author Ian Leslie was struck by the humanness of the computer's dialogue. Then he realized that he had it exactly backward: In an age that favors the formulaic and generic to the ambiguous, complex, and unexpected, it's no wonder that computers can sound eerily lifelike. Leslie tells EconTalk host Russ Roberts that we should worry less about the lifelike nature of AI and worry more that human beings are being more robotic and predictable. Leslie bolsters his argument with evidence from music and movies. The conversation includes a discussion of the role of education in wearing down the mind's rougher, but more interesting and more authentic, edges as well as how we might strive to be more human in the age of AI.
1/9/202357 minutes, 16 seconds
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Hannah Ritchie on Eating Local

Having completed several degrees in environmental science, Hannah Ritchie nearly left the field out of helplessness and frustration, worried she would never make a real difference. Today, she's a passionate advocate for changing climate messaging, replacing what she believes are paralyzing--and often false--claims with empowering arguments that people can embrace. Listen as the head of research at Our World in Data talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about food emissions, low-carbon technologies, and what the data shows about what matters (and what matters much less) when it comes to climate change.
1/2/20231 hour, 41 seconds
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Judge Glock on Zoning and Local Government

Economic historian Judge Glock talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about zoning and the housing market. Glock argues the impact on zoning on housing affordability is small and that we should learn to love property taxes as long as they're administered properly. The conversation includes a discussion of the environmental impact of urban sprawl--Glock argues sprawl has certain environmental benefits.
12/26/20221 hour, 35 seconds
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Arnold Kling on Twitter, FTX, and ChatGPT

Economist and author Arnold Kling talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the recent drama in the tech world--Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter, the collapse of FTX, and the appearance of ChatGPT. Underlying topics discussed include the potential for price discrimination to make social media profitable, whether you could tell Jeff Bezos from Sam Bankman-Fried early on, and the role of human beings in the world of artificial intelligence.
12/19/20221 hour, 27 seconds
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Monica Guzman on Curiosity and Conversation in Contentious Times

In our highly polarized times, everyone seems obsessed with the truth: what is it, who has it, and which side's got it all wrong. What we don't seem to care about, says journalist Monica Guzman, is the truth behind perspectives other than our own. Listen as Guzman and host Russ Roberts discuss Guzman's book I Never Thought of It That Way, a call to get interested in the people behind the positions, and the experiences, hopes, and fears that lead to their beliefs. Guzman and Roberts also discuss the role of great questions in sparking meaningful conversations, and how we can not only get along with, but even learn from, those with whom we ardently disagree.
12/12/20221 hour, 10 minutes, 25 seconds
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Patrick House on Consciousness

How does the mind work? What makes us sad? What makes us laugh? Despite advances in neuroscience, the answers to these questions remain elusive. Neuroscientist Patrick House talks about these mysteries and about his book Nineteen Ways of Looking at Consciousness with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. House's insights illuminate not just what we know and don't know about our minds--he also helps us understand what it means to be human.
12/5/20221 hour, 28 minutes, 9 seconds
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Annie Duke on the Power of Quitting

Annie Duke is angry that quitting gets such a bad rap. Instead of our relentless focus on grit and "going for it," the former professional poker player, decision strategist, and author of Quit wants us to recognize the costs associated with sticking to a losing outcome. Listen as she explains to EconTalk host Russ Roberts how society's conflation of grit with character has made quitting unnecessarily hard, and why our desire for certainty harms our decision-making ability. Additional topics include the flawed mental accounting that makes us confuse wins for losses, what we can learn from ants, and the tragic story of how the refusal to quit cost 16 lives one terrible night at the top of Mt. Everest.
11/28/20221 hour, 22 minutes, 19 seconds
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Johnathan Bi on Mimesis and René Girard

When the 20-year-old overachiever Johnathan Bi's first startup crashed and burned, he headed to a Zen retreat in the Catskills to "debug himself." He discovered René Girard and his mimetic theory--the idea that imitation is a key and often unconscious driver of human behavior. Listen as entrepreneur and philosopher Bi shares with EconTalk host Russ Roberts what he learned from Girard and Girard's insights into how we meet our primal need for money, fame, and power. The conversation includes the contrasts between economics and Girard's perspective.
11/21/20221 hour, 11 minutes, 46 seconds
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Agnes Callard on Meaning, the Human Quest, and the Aims of Education

Suppose all of humanity was infected by a virus that left us all infertile--no one will come along after us. How would you react to such a world? Agnes Callard of the University of Chicago says she would be filled with despair. But why does this seem worse than our own inevitable deaths? Callard speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the meaning of life, and what exactly about the end of humanity is so demoralizing. The conversation concludes with a discussion of whether humanity is making progress.
11/14/20221 hour, 21 minutes, 12 seconds
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Jessica Todd Harper on Beauty, Family, and Photography

When everyone is carrying a camera in their pocket, what raises the act of taking pictures to the level of fine art photography? Jessica Todd Harper, the award-winning portrait photographer, says that it's equal parts mindset and technique--and lots of setting the stage to seize that perfect light. Listen as Harper speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her desire to capture the complexity of life in a single image, why family relationships and home life are her chosen subjects, and the integral role beauty plays in her images, despite its diminished status in art today.
11/7/20221 hour, 22 minutes, 16 seconds
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Michael Munger on Industrial Policy

Economist and political scientist Michael Munger of Duke University talks about industrial policy with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Munger argues that in a democracy, the default outcome for industrial policy is crony capitalism--attempts to improve on that outcome either by appointing experts or eliminating cronyism are going to fail for political reasons. The conversation concludes with a discussion of the reliability of Munger's claim and what options are left for dissatisfied reformers.
10/31/20221 hour, 9 minutes, 36 seconds
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Ryan Holiday on Discipline Is Destiny

Author Ryan Holiday talks about his book, Discipline Is Destiny, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Holiday discusses the mentor who taught him discipline, the self-control of Queen Elizabeth, the world-champion boxer who counseled the man who defeated him in the ring, and the forgotten Roman emperor who helped make Marcus Aurelius the man he would become.
10/24/20221 hour, 11 minutes
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Devon Zuegel on Inflation, Argentina, and Crypto

Devon Zuegel talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the crazy world of money and finance in Argentina. When inflation is often high and unpredictable, people look for unusual ways to hold their savings. And when banks are unreliable because of public policy, people look for unusual ways to keep their savings safe and to make financial transactions. Welcome to Argentina, where Zuegel finds surprising applications of cryptocurrency for solving problems.
10/17/20221 hour, 3 minutes, 48 seconds
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Roland Fryer on Educational Reform

The good news about educational reform, says Harvard economist Roland Fryer, is that we know what it takes to turn a school around. The bad news is that it's hard work--and implementing it won't win you any popularity contests. Listen as the MacArthur Genius Award Winner and John Bates Clark medalist speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how pizza parties revealed the potential of incentives to improve students' test scores, and why he's far more concerned about closing the racial achievement gap than keeping the love of learning pure. He also discusses the five best practices of successful schools, and why it's his failures far more than his successes that keep him in this fight.
10/10/20221 hour, 13 minutes, 14 seconds
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Sonat Birnecker Hart on Whiskey

Scholar and distiller Sonat Birnecker Hart of the Koval Distillery talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her career move from academia to whiskey-making. She explains that the heart is the key to great flavor--when making whiskey, and when making the right choices in life.
10/3/20221 hour, 29 minutes, 3 seconds
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Erik Hoel on Effective Altruism, Utilitarianism, and the Repugnant Conclusion

Neuroscientist Erik Hoel talks about why he is not an "effective altruist" with EconTalk host, Russ Roberts. Hoel argues that the utilitarianism that underlies effective altruism--a movement co-founded by Will MacAskill and Peter Singer--is a poison that inevitably leads to repugnant conclusions and thereby weakens the case for the strongest claims made by effective altruists.
9/26/20221 hour, 17 minutes, 1 second
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Kieran Setiya on Midlife

John Stuart Mill's midlife crisis came at 20 when he realized that if he got what he desired he still wouldn't be happy. Art and poetry (and maybe love) saved the day for him. In this week's episode, philosopher Kieran Setiya of MIT talks about his book Midlife with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Setiya argues we can learn from Mill to help deal with the ennui to which so many midlifers succumb--along with regrets for roads not taken and wistfulness for what could have been. Setiya argues that a well-lived life needs fewer projects and more pursuits that don't have goals or endpoints. He explains why past mistakes can turn out to be good things and how lost chances can help us appreciate the richness of life.
9/19/20221 hour, 39 minutes, 49 seconds
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David McRaney on How Minds Change

To the Founding Fathers it was free libraries. To the 19th century rationalist philosophers it was a system of public schools. Today it's access to the internet. Since its beginnings, Americans have believed that if facts and information were available to all, a democratic utopia would prevail. But missing from these well-intentioned efforts, says author and journalist David McRaney, is the awareness that people's opinions are unrelated to their knowledge and intelligence. In fact, he explains, the better educated we become, the better we are at rationalizing what we already believe. Listen as the author of How Minds Change speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about why it's so hard to change someone's mind, the best way to make it happen (if you absolutely must), and why teens are hard-wired not to take good advice from older people even if they are actually wiser.
9/12/20221 hour, 28 minutes, 17 seconds
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Will MacAskill on Longtermism and What We Owe the Future

Philosopher William MacAskill of the University of Oxford and a founder of the effective altruism movement talks about his book What We Owe the Future with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. MacAskill advocates "longtermism," giving great attention to the billions of people who will live on into the future long after we are gone. Topics discussed include the importance of moral entrepreneurs, why it's moral to have children, and the importance of trying to steer the future for better outcomes.
9/5/20221 hour, 16 minutes, 22 seconds
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Amor Towles on A Gentleman in Moscow and the Writer's Craft

Author Amor Towles talks about his book, A Gentleman in Moscow, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Along the way they discuss the craft of writing, the wellsprings of persistence, and Towles's reading habits.
8/29/20221 hour, 19 minutes, 46 seconds
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Raj Chetty on Economic Mobility

Economist Raj Chetty of Harvard University talks about his work on economic mobility with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The focus is on Chetty's recent co-authored study in Nature where he finds that poor people in America who are only connected to other poor people do dramatically worse financially than poor people who are connected to a wider array of economic classes. The discussion includes the policy implications of this result as well as a discussion of Chetty's earlier work on the American Dream and the challenge of Americans born in recent decades to do better financially than their parents.
8/22/20221 hour, 19 minutes, 14 seconds
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Tyler Cowen on Talent

How do you hone your craft on an everyday basis? It could be writing, meeting with experts, even listening to podcasts, just so long, argues economist and blogger Tyler Cowen, as it makes you better at what you already do. Perhaps more than anything else, he believes, it's practice that divides middle managers from founders, and mere good hires from the creative obsessives who end up transforming the world. Join Cowen and EconTalk host Russ Roberts for a conversation about Talent, Cowen's new book on how (and how not) to identify the talented. Hear Cowen explain why, for high-level positions, unstructured interviews are important, why stamina is usually preferable to grit, and why credentials are largely a relic of the past.
8/15/20221 hour, 1 minute, 40 seconds
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Russ Roberts and Mike Munger on Wild Problems

Waze and Google Maps tell us the best way to get to where we're going. But no app or algorithm can tell us whether we should head there in the first place. To economist Russ Roberts, the reason is simple: Humans are dynamic and aspirational beings. When it comes to making life's big decisions, from what to study to whom to marry or whether to have a child, it's not always us doing the deciding, he argues, but rather the people we want to be. Join the host of EconTalk, the president of Shalem College, and the author of the new book Wild Problems: A Guide to the Decisions that Define Us, as he speaks with friend and EconTalk favorite Michael Munger about why the traditional economic models for decision making can lead us astray--and why life should be less about solving problems than embracing possibilities.
8/8/20221 hour, 17 minutes, 20 seconds
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Gerd Gigerenzer on How to Stay Smart in a Smart World

IBM's super-computer Watson was a runaway success on Jeopardy! But it wasn't nearly as good at diagnosing cancer. This came as no surprise to Max Planck Institute psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer, who argues that when it comes to life-and-death decisions, we'll always need real, not artificial, brains. Listen as the author of How to Stay Smart in a Smart World tells EconTalk host Russ Roberts why computers aren't nearly as smart as we think. But, Gigerenzer says, human beings need to get smarter in order to avoid being manipulated by people who use AI for their own ends.
8/1/20221 hour, 8 minutes, 32 seconds
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John List on Scale, Uber, and the Voltage Effect

Economist John List of the University of Chicago talks about his book, The Voltage Effect, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. He discusses what determines scalability and argues that the only good ideas that count are those that scale. Along the way, he draws on his experiences as chief economist of Uber and Lyft to peer inside the black box of ride sharing.
7/25/20221 hour, 52 seconds
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Vinay Prasad on the Pandemic

When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccination, is the risk of myocarditis greater than the benefit to a healthy male teen? Is natural immunity really better than vaccination--and were we right to mask the kids? Dr. Vinay Prasad of the University of California San Francisco talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what we learned and didn't learn from COVID so far and how we should handle a pandemic going forward.
7/18/20221 hour, 27 minutes, 17 seconds
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Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Nations, States, and Scale

A language, a flag, a national anthem and shared history—like a heart that has to pump harder to support a heavier body, the bigger a nation gets, the harder to curate an identity. Nassim Nicholas Taleb talks about scale and governance with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Taleb sings the virtues of smaller relative to larger and decentralized as much as possible relative to centralized. Along the way, he provides a framework for Russia's war against Ukraine and explains why the United States has thrived despite its size and scope.
7/11/20221 hour, 5 minutes, 16 seconds
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Ran Abramitzky and Leah Boustan on Immigration Then and Now

Immigration to the United States, say Ran Abramitzky and Leah Boustan, is more novel than short story: It takes decades for new immigrants to catch up economically. But their kids on average thrive economically and have higher rates of upward mobility than American-born kids. Abramitzky and Boustan talk about their book Streets of Gold with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Using an extraordinary data set of millions of Americans, Boustan and Abramitzky find that today's immigrants and their children are surprisingly similar to yesterday's.
7/4/20221 hour, 13 minutes, 54 seconds
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A.J. Jacobs on Solving Life's Puzzles

How much of life can be solved by algorithms, and how much just can't be solved? Listen as A.J. Jacobs, author of The Puzzler, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the lessons he learned from solving every kind of puzzle imaginable, including the biggest stumper of all: what it really means to be a human being.
6/27/20221 hour, 8 minutes, 39 seconds
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Roosevelt Montás on Rescuing Socrates

How do books change our lives? Educator and author Roosevelt Montás of Columbia University talks about his book Rescuing Socrates with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Drawing on his own educational and life journey, Montás shows how great books don't just teach us stuff--they get inside us and make us who we are.
6/20/20221 hour, 20 minutes, 23 seconds
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Sridhar Ramaswamy on Google, Search, and Neeva

Former Google ads boss Sridhar Ramaswamy says that we live in a world that seems to give out free content when we use a search engine. But that world comes with a hidden cost--search results that distort what we find and serve advertisers rather than searchers. Ramaswamy talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how Google works and why he started a new search engine, Neeva, with a different business model.
6/13/20221 hour, 1 minute, 4 seconds
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Matti Friedman on Leonard Cohen and the Yom Kippur War

In October 1973, an unhappy Leonard Cohen was listening to the radio on his Greek island home when he heard that Israel was at war. He headed to Tel Aviv, exchanging a personal and creative crisis for a national one. Absent a plan and even a guitar, Cohen wound up serenading Israeli soldiers at the front. Journalist Matti Friedman talks about his book Who by Fire with EconTalk host Russ Roberts and explains how a songwriter and a nation were transformed in the crucible of war.
6/6/20221 hour, 9 minutes, 2 seconds
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Ian Leslie on Curiosity

Why are some people incurious? Is curiosity a teachable thing? And why, if all knowledge can be googled, is curiosity now the domain of a small elite? Listen as Ian Leslie, author of Curious, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts why curiosity is a critical virtue, why it's now in dangerous decline, and why, when it comes to what sustains long-term fascination, mysteries beat puzzles every time.
5/30/20221 hour, 7 minutes, 5 seconds
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Diane Coyle on Cogs, Monsters, and Better Economics

Mainstream economics, says author Diane Coyle, keeps treating people like cogs: self-interested, rational agents. But in the digital economy, we're less sophisticated consumer and more monster under the influece of social media. Listen as the economist and former UK Treasury advisor tells EconTalk host Russ Roberts how, for economics to remain relevant, it needs both more diverse methodologies and more engagement with the broader issues of the day.
5/23/20221 hour, 2 minutes, 49 seconds
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Marc Andreessen on Software, Immortality, and Bitcoin

What's the single best thing happening in technology right now? According to entrepreneur and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, it's the ability to live in rural Wisconsin but still earn a Silicon Valley salary. Andreessen also explains to EconTalk host Russ Roberts why software is still eating the world, why he's an optimist, and why he's still bullish on Bitcoin and the blockchain.
5/16/20221 hour, 13 minutes, 48 seconds
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Chris Blattman on Why We Fight

It's tempting to explain Russia's invasion of Ukraine with Putin's megalomania. Economist Chris Blattman of the University of Chicago talks about his book Why We Fight with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Blattman explains why only a fraction of rivalries ever erupt into violence, the five main reasons adversaries can't arrive at compromise, and the problem with trying to get into Putin's head (and why it's not all about Putin. Really).
5/9/20221 hour, 8 minutes, 35 seconds
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Dwayne Betts on Ellison, Levi, and Human Suffering

In his memoir of his time in Auschwitz, Primo Levi describes Jewish prisoners bathing in freezing water without soap--not because they thought it would make them cleaner, but because it helped them hold on to their dignity. For poet and author Dwayne Betts, Levi's description of his fellow inmates' suffering, much like the novelist Ralph Ellison's portrayal of early twentieth-century black life in America, is much more than bearing witness to the darkest impulses of mankind. Rather, Betts tells EconTalk host Russ Roberts, both authors' writing turns experiences of inhumanity into lessons on what it means to be a human being.
5/2/20221 hour, 23 minutes, 39 seconds
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Michael Munger on Antitrust

Are tech giants such as Google, Amazon, or Facebook dangerous? Do they have too much power? Dive into the murky waters of antitrust as Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about monopoly, antitrust policy, and competition in the 21st century.
4/25/20221 hour, 22 minutes, 25 seconds
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Tyler Cowen on Reading

Intellectual omnivore Tyler Cowen of George Mason University and EconTalk host Russ Roberts talk about their reading habits, their favorite books, and the pile of books on their nightstands right now.
4/18/20221 hour, 8 minutes, 46 seconds
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Russ Roberts on Education

What do crossing rivers and investing in stocks have in common? Real education is seeing the connection between things that seem very different. EconTalk's host Russ Roberts talks about education with Alex Aragona of the podcast, The Curious Task. Roberts argues that the ability to apply insights from one area to another with which we're unfamiliar is one of the ways that real education differs from the mere accumulation of knowledge. And when we combine insights from two areas into something completely new, we can not only navigate rivers and stock markets, but also scale the heights of the human experience.
4/11/20221 hour, 1 minute, 3 seconds
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Richard Gunderman on Greed, Adam Smith, and Leo Tolstoy

Physician and careful reader Richard Gunderman of Indiana University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how Adam Smith and Leo Tolstoy looked at greed. Drawing on Tolstoy's short story, "Master and Man," and adding some Thomas Hobbes along the way, Gunderman argues that a life well-lived requires us to rise above our lower desires. Join Gunderman and Roberts for a sleigh ride into a snowy blizzard, where you won't find your way by following rules, but rather by recognizing what needs to be seen.
4/4/20221 hour, 5 minutes, 14 seconds
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Pano Kanelos on Education and UATX

What is real education? What can colleges provide their students? Pano Kanelos, president of the new college-to-be in Austin, UATX, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the nature of education, what the Great Books can teach us, and how we should rethink college education in today's world.
3/28/20221 hour, 14 minutes, 50 seconds
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Robert Pindyck on Averting and Adapting to Climate Change

Economist Robert Pindyck of MIT talks about his book, Climate Future, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Pindyck lays out what we know and do not know about climate change. He argues that because of the nature of greenhouse gases, adaptation must be part of the policy response to climate change.
3/21/20221 hour, 10 minutes, 36 seconds
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Maxine Clark on Building the Build-a-Bear Workshop

Stuff it, fluff it, stitch it, dress it: Build-a-Bear Founder and former CEO Maxine Clark built a retail-entertainment empire by letting people make their own furry friends. Two hundred million of them. What's the secret to her success? Listen as she tells EconTalk's Russ Roberts how she developed a customer-focused culture, why she sought to join (and not beat) her competition, and about some of the (seriously) strange things people have stuffed into their bears.
3/14/20221 hour, 3 minutes, 50 seconds
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Angela Duckworth on Character

Many people think schools are no place for teaching character. Psychologist Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania and founder of Character Lab, disagrees. She talks with EconTalk's Russ Roberts about the implicit curriculum for character, the critical role early education plays in shaping our adult values, and why the Marshmallow Test doesn't determine our destiny.
3/7/20221 hour, 5 minutes, 36 seconds
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Tamar Haspel on First-Hand Food

What did author and Washington Post columnist Tamar Haspel learn from her quest to eat at least one thing she'd grown, caught, or killed every day? For starters, that just-caught fish always tastes better (unless you've caught a false albacore). That all it takes to build a coop is the will and the right power tools, and that when it comes to homegrown produce, you've got none until you've got way too much. But most of all, she tells EconTalk's Russ Roberts in talking about her book To Boldly Grow, she learned that figuring stuff out to solve problems is more delicious than the most decadent of desserts.
2/28/20221 hour, 4 minutes, 57 seconds
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Luca Dellanna on Compulsion, Self-deception, and the Brain

Why do people eat too much even when they don't want to? Why are there so many bad managers? And why might anti-vaxxers be useful? Luca Dellanna, author of The Control Heuristic, thinks the answers to all of these questions are in our heads, or rather in our basal ganglia. Dellanna talks to EconTalk's Russ Roberts about why both brains and employees need immediate feedback, why we're wired to believe our best guesses, and why addiction is just our brain's way of making sure we survive.
2/21/20221 hour, 17 minutes, 52 seconds
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Michael Eisenberg on the Start-Up Nation, Storytelling, and the Power of Technology

Michael Eisenberg, venture capitalist and the author of The Tree of Life and Prosperity talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the secret of the Start-Up Nation, the role of principles in investing, and why he's optimistic about technology's contribution to humanity.
2/14/20221 hour, 11 minutes, 31 seconds
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John Taylor on Inflation, the Fed, and the Taylor Rule

What's so bad about rising inflation? Why should we aim for a rate of 2 percent? Why is it a problem if interest rates are too low--and what do we mean by inflation, anyway? Stanford University's John Taylor talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about these questions, the Taylor Rule, why inflation is rising, and what the Fed should do about it. At the end of the conversation, Taylor discusses whether stimulus stimulates and the dangers of the national debt.
2/7/20221 hour, 5 minutes, 14 seconds
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Moshe Koppel on Norms, Tradition, and Resilient Societies

Traditions and norms can seem at best out-of-touch and at worst offensive to many a modern mind. But Israeli computer scientist and Talmud scholar Moshe Koppel argues that traditions and norms--if they evolve slowly--create trust, develop our capacity for deferred gratification, and even, in the case of how we prepare cassava, protect us from poisoning. Listen as the author of Judaism Straight Up: Why Real Religion Endures talks with EconTalk Russ Roberts about tradition, religion, tribalism, resilience, and emergent order.
1/31/20221 hour, 9 minutes, 22 seconds
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Penny Lane on Loving and Loathing Kenny G

Love it or hate it, but you've definitely heard it: the so-called "smooth jazz" of saxophonist Kenny G. Filmmaker Penny Lane talks about her documentary, Listening to Kenny G with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. They discuss the pursuit of perfection, the power of vulnerability in art, and why Kenny G is loved by the people and reviled by the critics.
1/24/20221 hour, 25 minutes, 16 seconds
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Tyler Cowen and Russ Roberts on Nation, Immigration, and Israel

Can Israeli society survive the loss of universal military service? Will the deregulation of Israel's kosher supervision spell the end of its Jewish character? And, speaking of Israel, what is it that makes its television dramas so good? Tyler Cowen discusses these and other subjects with EconTalk host Russ Roberts, new immigrant to Israel and unabashed fan of the Prisoners of War miniseries and Homer's Odyssey.
1/17/20221 hour, 16 minutes, 34 seconds
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Gregory Zuckerman on the Crazy Race to Create the COVID Vaccine

In the race for a COVID vaccine, how did a couple of companies who had never produced a successful vaccine make it to the finish line so quickly? Gregory Zuckerman talks about his book, A Shot to Save the World, with EconTalk's  Russ Roberts about the daring, deranged, and damaged visionaries behind one of science and medicine's great success stories.
1/10/20221 hour, 22 minutes, 55 seconds
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Lorne Buchman on Creativity, Leadership, and Art

When we see Michaelangelo's David or the design of the Apple Store, we assume a genius with a predetermined vision was the key to the outcome. Yet as Lorne Buchman, author of Make to Know, tells EconTalk's Russ Roberts, great art is more about embracing the process of exploration and the results that emerge in the process of creating. Buchman makes the case for embracing uncertainty in both leadership and life.
1/3/20221 hour, 9 minutes, 14 seconds
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Megan McArdle on Belonging, Home, and National Identity

After being stranded with a bunch of Brits for eight hours at a German airport in 2016, journalist Megan McArdle felt that Brexit was going to happen. The giveaway? Not the concerns over economics or politics. Rather, it was about something far more elemental: in whom they could place their trust. Join the journalist and Washington Post columnist for a discussion with EconTalk host Russ Roberts of the late British philosopher Roger Scruton's poetic exploration of home and nation, Where We Are: The State of Britain Now, and a discussion of why, when it comes to loyalties, it's our mates that matter.
12/27/20211 hour, 20 minutes, 37 seconds
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Michael Munger on Constitutions

More than we need rules, argues Michael Munger, we need rules about the rules. So does the United States need a new Constitution? Listen as the Duke University economist and political scientist talks to host Russ Roberts about public choice, consenting to coercion, and whether constitutions matter.
12/20/20211 hour, 6 minutes, 29 seconds
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Frank Rose on Internet Narratives

Once it was The Shadow radio show; now it's the podcast Serial. Is every old storytelling medium new again? Frank Rose, author of The Sea We Swim In, concedes that some things remain sacred--from the power of a great hook to the hope that great stories never end. But he also thinks the Internet has led to new kinds of stories, ones that are not just entertaining, but immersive, and whose worlds are more richly imaginative than ever--even as they leave increasingly little to our imagination.
12/13/20211 hour, 8 minutes, 35 seconds
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Michael Faye and Paul Niehaus on GiveDirectly

Economic theory teaches that people make choices that provide them with the greatest benefit. So why not extend this idea to the realm of charity? Economists and social entrepreneurs Michael Faye and Paul Niehaus of GiveDirectly argue that giving people cash with no strings attached is the most cost-effective means of helping the poorest people in the world and their communities.
12/6/20211 hour, 14 minutes, 6 seconds
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Nina Kraus on Hearing, Noise, and Of Sound Mind

We undervalue our sense of hearing and we under-appreciate the impact sweet sounds and disturbing noises have on our well-being. Neuroscientist Nina Kraus of Northwestern University talks about her book, Of Sound Mind. Kraus argues that our listening affects our minds and brains in ways we ignore at our peril.
11/29/20211 hour, 12 minutes, 27 seconds
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Eric Jacobus on the Art and Science of Violence

Stuntman and action designer Eric Jacobus joins EconTalk host Russ Roberts for a no-holds-barred discussion of the biological basis for violence and how to avoid the worst of it, the value of violence as spectator sport, and the vast superiority of duels to feuds--Alexander Hamilton notwithstanding.
11/22/20211 hour, 27 minutes, 19 seconds
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Emily Oster on the Family Firm

Author and economist Emily Oster of Brown University talks about her book, The Family Firm, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Oster argues that running your family life the way you'd run your own business makes for a better family in today's crazy world. And where possible, the myriad of decisions you make should be based on hard data, at least when it's available.
11/15/20211 hour, 2 minutes, 12 seconds
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Sandra Faber on the Future of the Earth

Of all the scenarios that keep astrophysicist Sandra Faber up at night, it's not the Earth's increasing volcanism, the loss of photosynthesis, or even the impact of a massive asteroid. Rather, it's the collapse she's certain will result from the unbridled growth of the world's economies. Join Faber and EconTalk host Russ Roberts as they explore what the most inexorable law of physics has to do with economics and whether the world's growing economies pose a problem or provide the solution for the finiteness of planet Earth.
11/8/20211 hour, 28 minutes, 56 seconds
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Jennifer Frey on Education, Philosophy, and the University

Philosopher Jennifer Frey of the University of South Carolina talks about the state of the university in American education. Frey urges a stronger focus on virtue and human flourishing and a reduced focus on career preparation. Roberts, despite his sympathy with the examined life, challenges the virtue of philosophical enquiry. At the end of the conversation, both guest and host defend philosophy.
11/1/20211 hour, 5 minutes, 53 seconds
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Paul Bloom on Happiness, Suffering, and the Sweet Spot

Author and psychologist Paul Bloom of the University of Toronto talks about his book, The Sweet Spot, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Bloom argues that suffering is underrated--suffering is part of happiness and meaning. This is a wide-ranging discussion of popular culture, religion, and what we hope to get out of life.
10/25/20211 hour, 9 minutes, 3 seconds
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Rowan Jacobsen on Truffle Hound

Journalist and author Rowan Jacobsen talks about his book Truffle Hound with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. This conversation has nothing to do with chocolate. It's about the strange world of underground fungi, found in the forest by specially trained dogs and used by chefs and home cooks around the world. You will learn about truffle oil, cooking with truffles, truffle hounds, and the economics of all of the above.
10/18/20211 hour, 7 minutes, 43 seconds
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Sam Quinones on Meth, Fentanyl, and the Least of Us

Author and journalist Sam Quinones talks about his book, The Least of Us, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Quinones focuses on the devastation caused by methamphetamine and fentanyl, the latest evolution of innovation in the supply of mind-altering drugs in the United States. The latest versions of meth, he argues, are more emotionally damaging than before and have played a central role in the expansion of the homeless in tent encampments in American cities. The conversation includes an exploration of the rising number of overdose deaths in the United States and what role community and other institutions might play in reducing the death toll.
10/11/20211 hour, 22 minutes, 12 seconds
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Arnold Kling on Reforming Government and Expertise

Economist and author Arnold Kling talks about improving government regulation with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Kling suggests ways to improve the administrative state--the agencies and regulatory bodies that often write the regulations that they enforce. The conversation concludes with Kling's idea for holding public intellectuals accountable for their pronouncements.
10/4/20211 hour, 3 minutes, 59 seconds
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Noreena Hertz on the Lonely Century

Author and economist Noreena Hertz of University College London talks about her book, The Lonely Century, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hertz blames social media and the individualist, pro-capitalism worldviews of leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan for the rise in loneliness in the developed world. Russ suggests some alternative causes. The result is a lively conversation about understanding and explaining social trends.
9/27/20211 hour, 5 minutes, 6 seconds
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David Henderson on the Essential UCLA School of Economics

Economist and author David Henderson talks about his book (co-authored with Steve Globerman) The Essential UCLA School of Economics with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Much of the conversation focuses on the work of Armen Alchian and Harold Demsetz, who both saw economics as a powerful tool for understanding human behavior and how the world works.
9/20/20211 hour, 7 minutes, 21 seconds
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Glen Weyl on Antitrust, Capitalism, and Radical Reform

Author and Microsoft executive Glen Weyl talks about radical reforms of capitalism with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Weyl is worried about the concentration of corporate power, especially in the tech sector. But rather than use the traditional tools of antitrust, he has a more radical strategy for reorganizing corporate governance entirely.
9/13/20211 hour, 5 minutes, 55 seconds
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Johann Hari on Lost Connections

Author and journalist Johann Hari talks about his book, Lost Connections: Why You Are Depressed and How to Find Hope, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hari, who has suffered with depression as a teenager and an adult, offers a sweeping critique of the medical establishment's understanding of depression and the frequent reliance on pharmaceutical treatments. Hari argues that it is our lost connections with each other, with our work, and with ourselves that explains the rise in depression in recent times.
9/6/20211 hour, 35 minutes, 22 seconds
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Bret Devereaux on Ancient Greece and Rome

Historian Bret Devereaux of the University of North Carolina talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about our understanding of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Devereaux highlights the gap between the reality of Greece and Rome and how they're portrayed in popular culture. The conversation focuses on the diversity of ancient Rome and the military prowess of Sparta.
8/30/20211 hour, 16 minutes, 51 seconds
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Michael Heller and James Salzman on Mine!

Law professors Michael Heller and James Salzman talk about their book, Mine! with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Heller and Salzman argue that ownership is trickier and more complicated than it looks. While we tend to think of something as either mine or not mine, there's often ambiguity and a continuum about who owns what. Salzman and Heller explore a wide and surprising range of property rights from everyday life. The conversation includes a discussion of the insights of Ronald Coase on the assignment of property rights when rights conflict.
8/23/20211 hour, 9 minutes, 44 seconds
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Nicholas Wapshott on Samuelson and Friedman

Journalist and author Nicholas Wapshott talks about his book Samuelson Friedman with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Milton Friedman and Paul Samuelson were two of the most influential economists of the last century. They competed for professional acclaim and had very different policy visions. The conversation includes their differences over the work of Keynes, their rivalry in their columns at Newsweek, and a discussion of their intellectual and policy legacies.
8/16/20211 hour, 8 minutes, 56 seconds
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Michael Munger on Free Markets

Author and economist Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the virtues--and the flaws--of free markets. Munger says the best argument for a free market approach is not that it's perfect but that it's better than anything else we've been able to come up with over the centuries. Better at bringing people out of poverty, better at promoting wealth creation, and better at pushing up the standard of living for most of the people, most of the time. Topics include what exactly is a free market, why specialization is so important, the case for case-by-case intervention, and the challenge of picking the prettiest pig.
8/9/20211 hour, 10 minutes, 16 seconds
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Jonathan Rauch on the Constitution of Knowledge

8/2/20211 hour, 2 minutes, 36 seconds
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James Heckman on Inequality and Economic Mobility

Economist and Nobel Laureate James Heckman of the University of Chicago talks about inequality and economic mobility with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Drawing on research on inequality in Denmark with Rasmus Landerso, Heckman argues that despite the efforts of the Danish welfare state to provide equal access to education, there is little difference in economic mobility between the United States and Denmark. The conversation includes a general discussion of economic mobility in the United States along with a critique of Chetty and others' work on the power of neighborhood to determine one's economic destiny.
7/26/20211 hour, 23 minutes, 40 seconds
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Michael Easter on the Comfort Crisis

Journalist and author Michael Easter talks about his book The Comfort Crisis with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Easter thinks modern life is too easy, too comfortable. To be healthy, he says, we need to move out of our comfort zones and every once in a while try to do something, especially something physically demanding, that we didn't think was possible. Easter discusses rising levels of anxiety and depression in the West and why taking on challenges can be part of the solution.
7/19/20211 hour, 13 minutes, 8 seconds
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Don Boudreaux on the Pandemic

Economist Don Boudreaux of George Mason University talks about the pandemic with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Boudreaux argues that a perfect storm of factors created a huge overreaction, including unnecessary lockdowns that accomplished little at a very high cost in physical and emotional health. Instead, Boudreaux argues, we should have focused attention on the population most at risk of dying from COVID--the elderly and especially the elderly with co-morbidities. The conversation includes a discussion of externalities and the insights of Ronald Coase applied to the policies during the pandemic.
7/12/20211 hour, 10 minutes, 53 seconds
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Claudia Hauer on War, Education, and Strategic Humanism

Claudia Hauer of St. John's College and the Air Force Academy talks about her book Strategic Humanism with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Topics discussed include war, rage, terrorism, and what a modern warrior might learn from Homer.
7/5/20211 hour, 11 minutes, 56 seconds
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Sebastian Junger on Freedom

Journalist and author Sebastian Junger talks about his book, Freedom, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The book and conversation are based on a 400-mile walk Junger took with buddies along railroad rights-of-way, evading police, railroad security, and other wanderers. Junger discusses the ever-present tension between the human desire to be free and the desire to be interconnected and part of something. Along the way, Junger talks about the joy of walking, the limits of human endurance, war, and why the more powerful, better-equipped military isn't always the winner.
6/28/20211 hour, 1 minute, 53 seconds
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Anja Shortland on Lost Art

Economist and author Anja Shortland of King's College London talks about her new book, Lost Art, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. When a famous painting disappears into the underworld of stolen art, how does it make its way back into the legitimate world of auction houses and museums? Drawing on the archives of a private database of stolen objects--the Art Loss Register--Shortland discusses the economics of the art world when objects up for sale may be the result of theft.
6/21/20211 hour, 12 minutes, 13 seconds
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Donald Shoup on the Economics of Parking

Author and economist Donald Shoup of UCLA talks about destructive parking policies with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Shoup argues that most parking policies inflict unseen damage on the economy. He urges cities to charge for curbside parking and use the proceeds to improve the neighborhood beyond the curb. Shoup also explains the surprising harm done by requiring new buildings to provide a minimum level of off-street parking.
6/14/20211 hour, 8 minutes, 33 seconds
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Ian Leslie on Conflicted

Author Ian Leslie talks about his book Conflicted with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Leslie argues that, far from being a negative thing, conflict is often the essential ingredient that helps us get to the right answer or best solution. Because some of our best thinking comes in collaboration with others, learning how to disagree civilly when our views conflict is the key to productive conversation in business and in marriage. The conversation includes a surprising defense of confirmation bias.
6/7/20211 hour, 14 minutes, 1 second
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Bruce Meyer on Poverty

Economist Bruce Meyer of the University of Chicago talks about poverty with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. In recent years, a number of scholars have claimed that millions of Americans live in extreme poverty, akin to the standard of living in the poorest countries around the world. Meyer argues that these studies are based on flawed surveys or particular assumptions that may not be justified. The conversation also addresses broader challenges around measuring mobility and the American Dream.
5/31/20211 hour, 11 minutes, 44 seconds
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Jason Riley on Race in America

Journalist and author Jason Riley talks about race with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Riley argues that the challenges facing Black America go beyond racial discrimination and the threat of police violence. He argues that both the history of Black Americans and the current situation has been distorted by activists who benefit from that distorted picture.
5/24/20211 hour, 5 minutes, 39 seconds
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Julia Galef on the Scout Mindset

Podcaster and author Julia Galef talks about her book The Scout Mindset with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Galef urges us to be more rational--to be open-minded about what we might discover about the world--rather than simply defend what we already believe, which she calls the soldier mindset. The conversation is a wide-ranging discussion of our biases and the challenges of viewing the world objectively.
5/17/20211 hour, 7 minutes, 10 seconds
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Agnes Callard on Anger

Philosopher Agnes Callard of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about anger. Is anger something we should vilify and strive to eradicate in ourselves? Or should we accept it as a necessary and appropriate human emotion? Callard takes a fresh look at anger and has much to say about jealousy, desire, and forgiveness as well.
5/10/20211 hour, 25 minutes, 26 seconds
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Katy Milkman on How to Change

Behavioral scientist Katy Milkman of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania talks about her book How to Change with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. What can we learn from research in psychology and behavioral economics about breaking the habits we want to change? Is that research reliable? And should Russ Roberts accept being overweight or keep working at finding the thinner man trying to get out?
5/3/20211 hour, 8 minutes, 19 seconds
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Roya Hakakian on A Beginner's Guide to America

Author and poet Roya Hakakian talks about her latest book, A Beginner's Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hakakian was born in Iran and came to the United States as a 19 year-old, not speaking any English, and carrying only the things she could stuff in her backpack. She tells Russ about the love affair she's had with her adopted country as well as where there is room for improvement.
4/26/20211 hour, 9 minutes, 43 seconds
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Mark Rank on Poverty and Poorly Understood

Sociologist and author Mark Rank talks about his book, Poorly Understood, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Rank looks at a wide variety of aspects of poverty. He argues that many widely-held views on poverty are inaccurate, and in particular he argues that most Americans will be poor at some point in their lives. This is a wide-ranging and lively conversation on the nature of poverty and the challenge of ending or reducing it.
4/19/20211 hour, 8 minutes, 47 seconds
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Emiliana Simon-Thomas on Happiness

Psychologist Emiliana Simon-Thomas of the University of California, Berkeley talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the science of happiness--what research can teach us about happiness.
4/12/20211 hour, 32 minutes, 1 second
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Tyler Cowen on the Pandemic, Revisited

Blogger, author, podcaster, economist Tyler Cowen of George Mason University discusses the lessons learned from the pandemic with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Appearing roughly one year after his first conversation on the pandemic, Cowen revisits the predictions he made then and what he has learned for the next time.
4/5/20211 hour, 14 minutes, 48 seconds
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Max Kenner on Crime, Education, and the Bard Prison Initiative

Max Kenner, founder and executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative--which offers college degrees to prisoners--talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the program, which replicates the coursework of students at Bard College. The Bard Prison Initiative was profiled in a four-part PBS documentary, College Behind Bars. Kenner talks about the origins of the program, what students experience, and the injustice he sees in both the criminal justice system and the educational system in the United States.
3/29/20211 hour, 7 minutes, 27 seconds
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Megan McArdle on Catastrophes and the Pandemic

Whether it's a pandemic or a Texas-sized ice storm that leaves millions of people without power, we'd like to avoid a repetition. Megan McArdle of the Washington Post talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenge of learning the right lessons from the current crisis in order to prevent the next one. McArdle argues that we frequently learn the wrong lessons from the past in trying to prevent the harm from the catastrophes that might be waiting in our future.
3/22/20211 hour, 18 minutes, 44 seconds
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Sherry Turkle on Family, Artificial Intelligence, and the Empathy Diaries

Psychologist and author Sherry Turkle of MIT talks about her book, The Empathy Diaries, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The Empathy Diaries is a memoir about Turkle's secretive family and how that secrecy turned Turkle into an acute observer, skilled at revealing the story behind the story. She also chronicles the early days of artificial intelligence and the evolution of the computer. Topics in this conversation include the challenges of family, the role of technology in our lives, the limits of artificial intelligence, and the importance of Bambi.
3/15/20211 hour, 27 minutes, 51 seconds
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Leon Kass on Human Flourishing, Living Well, and Aristotle

Leon Kass, long-time teacher of classic works at the University of Chicago and now Dean of Faculty at Shalem College in Jerusalem, talks about human flourishing with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Drawing on an essay from his book, Leading a Worthy Life, Kass gives a broad overview of Aristotle's ideas on how to live. This episode also discusses the listeners' votes for their Top 10 EconTalk podcast episodes for 2020.
3/8/20211 hour, 16 minutes, 1 second
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Michael Munger on Desires, Morality, and Self-Interest

Economist and author Michael Munger of Duke University talks about human wants and desires with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Human beings have desires about our desires. Can we change what we want? And how should economists and normal human beings think about doing the right thing, what we often call morality? Is acting morally self-interested behavior or is it possible to act selflessly?
3/1/20211 hour, 14 minutes, 15 seconds
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John Cochrane on the Pandemic

Would the impact of the pandemic have been different if government and policymakers had been more open to more market-based responses and less committed to a top-down approach? Economist John Cochrane of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the pandemic and the policy response. Cochrane believes outcomes would have been much better if governments, in the United States and elsewhere, had embraced approaches that relied more on market forces.
2/22/20211 hour, 8 minutes, 28 seconds
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Dana Gioia on Learning, Poetry, and Studying with Miss Bishop

Poet and author Dana Gioia talks about his book Studying with Miss Bishop with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. They talk about the craft of being a poet, the business world, mentorship, loss, why poetry no longer seems to matter, and how it might begin to matter again.
2/15/20211 hour, 35 minutes, 44 seconds
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Lamorna Ash on Dark, Salt, Clear

Lamorna Ash talks about her book Dark, Salt, Clear with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Ash leaves London and moves to the small fishing village of Newlyn, near where her mother grew up on the Cornish coast. In Newlyn, everything revolves around fishing. Ash gets herself a bunk on a trawler and quickly learns how to gut fish with sharp knives on a rocking boat in the middle of the night. And so much more.
2/8/20211 hour, 14 minutes, 21 seconds
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Michael McCullough on the Kindness of Strangers

Author and psychologist Michael McCullough of the University of California, San Diego talks about his book The Kindness of Strangers with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. McCullough traces the history of human empathy and tries to explain why we care about the welfare of people we don't even know.
2/1/20211 hour, 21 minutes, 7 seconds
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Scott Newstok on How to Think Like Shakespeare

Author Scott Newstok of Rhodes College talks about his book, How to Think Like Shakespeare, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Newstok draws on Shakespeare and other great writers and thinkers to explore the nature of education and the life well-lived.See also the Transcript/Highlights and Delve Deeper/Additional readings materials --all available at econtalk.org.
1/25/20211 hour, 9 minutes, 12 seconds
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Gary Shiffman on the Economics of Violence

Economist and author Gary Shiffman of Georgetown University talks about his book, The Economics of Violence, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Shiffman argues that we should view terrorism, insurgency, and crime as being less about ideology and more about personal expression and entrepreneurship. He argues that approaching these problems as economists gives us better tools for fighting them.
1/18/202159 minutes, 4 seconds
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Don Boudreaux on Buchanan

Economist and author Don Boudreaux of George Mason University discusses the life and work of the economist James Buchanan with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Buchanan received the Nobel Prize in 1986 for his work creating and developing public choice--the field which applies the tools of economics to politicians and political behavior. After discussing the importance of public choice, Boudreaux and Roberts focus on two contrarian articles of Buchanan's where he argues for the importance of markets and life as processes rather than problems to be solved analytically.
1/11/20211 hour, 16 minutes, 17 seconds
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Matthew Crawford on Why We Drive

Author Matthew Crawford talks about his book Why We Drive with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The conversation is about driving but also much more: how human beings interact with technology and what we gain and give up when we embrace technology driven by corporate profit-seeking.
1/4/20211 hour, 15 minutes, 19 seconds
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Michael Blastland on the Hidden Half

Author Michael Blastland talks about his book The Hidden Half with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Blastland argues that the deeper you delve into science, medicine, astrophysics--pick a topic--the more you realize there is a lot we don't understand. Things we can't explain. Blastland believes we would all do well to admit that and stop pretending that everything is knowable and every problem solvable.
12/28/20201 hour, 14 minutes, 45 seconds
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Jay Bhattacharya on the Pandemic

Economist and physician Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University talks about the pandemic with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Bhattacharya, along with Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University, authored The Great Barrington Declaration, which advocates a very different approach to fighting the pandemic than current policy and practice. Bhattacharya and his colleagues argue the best way to reduce overall harm is to focus protection efforts on those most at risk, while allowing low-risk populations to return to a more normal way of life. Bhattacharya argues that we have greatly neglected the costs of lockdown and self-quarantine.
12/21/20201 hour, 20 minutes, 58 seconds
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Katherine Levine Einstein on Neighborhood Defenders

Why is affordable housing in such short supply? Author and political scientist Katherine Levine Einstein of Boston University talks about her book Neighborhood Defenders with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Einstein focuses on the ability of local residents to use the zoning and permit process to prevent development of housing or to reduce the amount of housing that can be built.
12/14/20201 hour, 2 minutes, 45 seconds
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Branko Milanovic on the Big Questions of Economics

Author and economist Branko Milanovic of CUNY talks about the big questions in economics with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Milanovic argues that the Nobel Prize Committee is missing an opportunity to encourage more ambitious work by awarding the prize to economists tackling questions like the rise of China's economy and other challenging but crucial areas of scholarship. In the conversation, he lays out what those questions might be and discusses what we know and don't know in these areas.
12/7/20201 hour, 22 minutes, 39 seconds
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Emily Oster on the Pandemic

Economist and author Emily Oster of Brown University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenge of reopening schools in a pandemic. Oster has been collecting data from K-12 schools around the country. Her preliminary analysis finds little evidence that schools are super-spreaders of COVID. She argues that closing schools comes at a high cost for the students with little benefit in reducing the spread of the disease. The conversation ends with a discussion of parenting.
11/30/20201 hour, 4 minutes, 26 seconds
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Daniel Haybron on Happiness

Philosopher and author Daniel Haybron of St. Louis University talks about his book, Happiness, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Happiness turns out to be a little more complicated than it sounds. Haybron discusses the good life and different philosophical perspectives on how to achieve happiness.
11/23/20201 hour, 24 minutes, 1 second
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Virginia Postrel on Textiles and the Fabric of Civilization

Author and journalist Virginia Postrel talks about her book The Fabric of Civilization and How Textiles Made the World with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Postrel tells the fascinating story behind the clothes we wear and everything that goes into producing them throughout history. The history of textiles, Postrel argues, is a good way of understanding the history of the world.
11/16/20201 hour, 6 minutes, 40 seconds
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Steven Levitt on Freakonomics and the State of Economics

Author and economist Steven Levitt is the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and host of the podcast "People I (Mostly) Admire." He is best known as the co-author, with Stephen Dubner, of Freakonomics. The book, published in 2005, became a phenomenon, selling more than 5 million copies in 40 languages. Levitt talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book's surprising success, the controversy it generated, and how it shaped his career. Levitt says, for him, "economics is about going into the world and finding puzzles and thinking about how understanding incentives or markets might help us get a better grasp of what's really going on."
11/9/20201 hour, 33 minutes, 36 seconds
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Rob Wiblin and Russ Roberts on Charity, Science, and Utilitarianism

Rob Wiblin, host of the 80,000 Hours podcast, interviews EconTalk host Russ Roberts about charity, the reliability of data to inform decision-making, and utilitarianism.
11/2/20201 hour, 47 minutes, 17 seconds
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Fredrik deBoer on the Cult of Smart

Author and journalist Fredrik deBoer discusses his book The Cult of Smart with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. DeBoer argues that there is little that can be done to change the distribution of success in K-12 education. He argues that educational reforms like charter schools and No Child Left Behind are doomed to failure. At the end of the conversation, deBoer, a self-described Marxist, makes the case for a radical re-imagining of the U.S. economy.
10/26/20201 hour, 17 minutes, 9 seconds
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Dwayne Betts on Reading, Prison, and the Million Book Project

Author, lawyer, and poet Dwayne Betts talks about his time in prison and the power of reading with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Betts is the founder of the Million Book Project, which aims to put a small library of great books in 1,000 U.S. prisons. Betts discusses his plans for the project and how reading helped him transform himself.
10/19/20201 hour, 32 minutes, 44 seconds
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Anne Applebaum on the Twilight of Democracy

Journalist and author Anne Applebaum talks about her book, Twilight of Democracy, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Applebaum discusses the rise of populist and nationalist movements in Eastern Europe as well as in the West, and the appeal of these movements even when they begin to erode or destroy democracy.
10/12/20201 hour, 12 seconds
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Zena Hitz on Lost in Thought

Philosopher and author Zena Hitz of St. John's College talks about her book, Lost in Thought, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hitz defends learning for its own sake--learning that has nothing to do with passing an exam or preparing for a career. For Hitz, learning is a refuge and an essential part of what makes us human.
10/5/20201 hour, 29 minutes, 49 seconds
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Agnes Callard on Aspiration

Where do our deepest personal values come from? Can we choose those values? Philosopher and author Agnes Callard of the University of Chicago talks about her book, Aspiration, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Callard explores the challenge of aspiration--who we are versus who we would like to become. How does aspiration work? How can we transform ourselves when we cannot know how it will feel to be transformed? Callard discusses these questions and more in this provocative episode.
9/28/20201 hour, 23 minutes, 30 seconds
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Lisa Cook on Racism, Patents, and Black Entrepreneurship

How much has racism held back the U.S. economy? What would the country look like today if Black entrepreneurs and inventors had been welcomed and encouraged over the past century and a half? Economist Lisa Cook of Michigan State University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her research into the impact of racism, lynching, and segregation on Black inventors and entrepreneurs.
9/21/20201 hour, 8 minutes, 52 seconds
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Robert Chitester on Milton Friedman and Free to Choose

Once upon a time, a man had an idea for a documentary on free-market ideas. Then that man was introduced to Milton Friedman. The result of their collaboration was a wildly successful book and PBS series, Free to Choose, capturing Friedman's view of the world, how markets work, and the role of individual liberty in free-market economies. The man behind that documentary, Robert Chitester, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how that documentary came about and Chitester's long-time friendship and work with Milton and Rose Friedman.
9/14/20201 hour, 5 minutes, 13 seconds
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Margaret Heffernan on Uncharted

How do we prepare for a future that is unpredictable? That's the question at the heart of Margaret Heffernan's new book, Uncharted: How to Navigate the Future. Heffernan is a professor at the University of Bath, but she is also a serial entrepreneur, a former CEO, and the author of five books on leadership, innovation, and the challenge of unleashing talent and creativity in large organizations. In this wide-ranging conversation with EconTalk host Russ Roberts, Heffernan discusses the central thesis of her book: The future may be unpredictable, but that doesn't mean you can't prepare for it. And smart organizations and people can learn how to do it.
9/7/20201 hour, 4 minutes, 19 seconds
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Matt Ridley on How Innovation Works

What's the difference between invention and innovation? Could it be that innovation--the process of making a breakthrough invention available, affordable, and reliable--is actually the hard part? In this week's EconTalk episode, author Matt Ridley talks about his book How Innovation Works with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Ridley argues that we give too much credit to inventors and not enough to innovators--those who refine and improve an invention to make it valuable to users. Along the way, he emphasizes the power of trial and error and the importance of permissionless innovation.
8/31/20201 hour, 11 minutes, 8 seconds
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Franklin Zimring on When Police Kill

Franklin Zimring's 2017 book, When Police Kill, starts with an alarming statistic: Roughly 1,000 Americans die each year at the hands of police. Zimring, criminologist and law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, talks about his book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Zimring argues that better policing practices can reduce the number of citizens killed by the police. He also discusses the barriers that stand in the way of more effective and safer policing.
8/24/20201 hour, 3 minutes, 39 seconds
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Michael Munger on the Future of Higher Education

In this c750th (!) episode, Duke University's Michael Munger talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about whether the pandemic might create an opportunity for colleges and universities to experiment and innovate. Munger is Professor of Political Science, Economics and Public Policy at Duke. He believes "top" schools can emerge from the current period of uncertainty to thrive in the long run. The path for "second-tier" institutions could be more difficult. They will still face the challenges that existed before the pandemic: competition from online classes and a shrinking pool of new applicants ready to pay high tuition bills.
8/17/20201 hour, 7 minutes, 55 seconds
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Ben Cohen on the Hot Hand

Journalist and author Ben Cohen talks about his book, The Hot Hand, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. At times in sports and elsewhere in life, a person seems to be "on fire," playing at an unusually high level. Is this real or an illusion? Cohen takes the listener through the scientific literature on this question and spreads a very wide net to look at the phenomenon of being in the zone outside of sports. Topics include Shakespeare, investing, Stephen Curry, and asylum judges.
8/10/20201 hour, 8 minutes, 52 seconds
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John Kay and Mervyn King on Radical Uncertainty

John Kay and Mervyn King talk about their book, Radical Uncertainty, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. This is a wide-ranging discussion based on the book looking at rationality, decision-making under uncertainty, and the economists' view of the world.
8/3/20201 hour, 14 minutes, 10 seconds
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Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Pandemic

Nassim Nicholas Taleb talks about the pandemic with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Topics discussed include how to handle the rest of this pandemic and the next one, the power of the mask, geronticide, and soul in the game.
7/27/20201 hour, 7 minutes, 44 seconds
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Glenn Loury on Race, Inequality, and America

Economist and author Glenn Loury of Brown University talks about race in America with EconTalk host Russ Roberts.
7/20/202057 minutes, 32 seconds
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Josh Williams on Online Gaming, Blockchain, and Forte

Josh Williams, co-founder and CEO of the blockchain gaming company Forte, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of online gaming and the potential of a blockchain-based gaming platform to create market economies with property rights within online games.
7/13/20201 hour, 13 minutes, 56 seconds
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Robert Lerman on Apprenticeships

Economist Robert Lerman of the Urban Institute talks about apprenticeships with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Lerman argues that apprenticeships--a combination of work experience and classroom learning--have the potential to expand opportunities for young people who don't want to attend college.
7/6/20201 hour, 3 minutes, 12 seconds
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Vivian Lee on The Long Fix

Physician and author Vivian Lee talks about her book The Long Fix with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Lee argues that we can transform health care in the United States, though it may take a while. She argues that the current fee-for-service system incentivizes doctors to provide services rather than keep patients healthy and that these are not the same thing. Topics explored include innovations in Medicare and in technology that might change treatment incentives as well as the weird world of health care pricing.
6/29/20201 hour, 4 minutes, 35 seconds
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Agnes Callard on Philosophy, Progress, and Wisdom

Philosopher and author Agnes Callard talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of philosophy, the power of philosophy, and the search for wisdom and truth. This is a wide-ranging conversation related to the question of how we learn, how to behave ethically, and the role of religion and philosophy in encouraging good behavior.
6/22/20201 hour, 9 minutes, 24 seconds
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Diane Ravitch on Slaying Goliath

Author and historian Diane Ravitch of New York University talks about her book, Slaying Goliath, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Ravitch argues that the charter school movement is a failure and that it drains needed money from public schools.
6/15/20201 hour, 2 minutes, 18 seconds
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Rebecca Henderson on Reimagining Capitalism

Author and economist Rebecca Henderson of the Harvard Business School talks about her book Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Henderson argues that the focus on shareholder value threatens to destroy capitalism from within. Henderson argues that business leaders need to manage their companies differently in order to create a more humane and stable capitalism.
6/8/20201 hour, 6 minutes, 20 seconds
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Sarah Carr on Charter Schools, Educational Reform, and Hope Against Hope

Journalist and author Sarah Carr talks about her book Hope Against Hope with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Carr looked at three schools in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and chronicled their successes, failures, and the challenges facing educational reform in the poorest parts of America.
6/1/20201 hour, 56 seconds
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Martin Gurri on the Revolt of the Public

Author Martin Gurri, Visiting Fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, talks about his book The Revolt of the Public with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Gurri argues that a digital tsunami--the increase in information that the web provides--has destabilized authority and many institutions. He talks about the amorphous nature of recent populist protest movements around the world and where we might be headed politically and culturally.
5/25/20201 hour, 11 minutes, 31 seconds
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Robert Pondiscio on How the Other Half Learns

Author and teacher Robert Pondiscio of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute talks about his book How the Other Half Learns with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Pondiscio shares his experience of being embedded in a Success Academy Charter School in New York City for a year--lessons about teaching, education policy, and student achievement.
5/18/20201 hour, 20 minutes, 46 seconds
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Paul Romer on the COVID-19 Pandemic

In this bonus episode of EconTalk, economist and Nobel Laureate Paul Romer discusses the coronavirus pandemic with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Romer argues that the status quo of shutdown and fear of infection is unsustainable. Returning to normal requires an inexpensive, quick, and relatively painless test. Such tests are now available. The challenge is in relaxing certain regulations and then creating a supply chain of production and availability. Romer then explains how such a test could ease a return to something like normalcy for many sectors of the economy. The conversation concludes with a discussion of the dynamics of the labor market in the current situation.
5/15/20201 hour, 2 minutes, 1 second
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Branko Milanovic on Capitalism, Alone

Economist and author Branko Milanovic of the Graduate Center, CUNY, talks about his book, Capitalism, Alone, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. They discuss inequality, the challenge of corruption in the Chinese system, and Milanovic's claim that in American capitalism, the texture of daily life is increasingly affected by the sharing economy and other opportunities.
5/11/20201 hour, 38 minutes, 7 seconds
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L.A. Paul on Vampires, Life Choices, and Transformation

Philosopher and author L.A. Paul talks about her book Transformative Experience with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Paul explores the uncertainties that surround the transformative experiences that we choose and that happen to us without choosing. How should we think about the morality and personal impact of these kinds of experiences, especially when some decisions are very hard or impossible to reverse? Examples include becoming a vampire, having children, religion, and other life experiences and choices.
5/4/20201 hour, 14 minutes, 31 seconds
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Alan Lightman on Stardust, Meaning, Religion, and Science

Physicist and author Alan Lightman talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the origins of the universe, meaning, transcendence, and the relationship between science and religion.
4/27/20201 hour, 21 minutes, 14 seconds
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Vinay Prasad on Cancer Drugs, Medical Ethics, and Malignant

Oncologist, author, and podcaster Vinay Prasad talks about his book Malignant with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Prasad lays out the conflicts of interest and scientific challenges that make drugs that fight cancer so disappointing at times. The conversation looks at how policy changes might improve the incentives facing doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and patients.
4/20/20201 hour, 18 minutes, 3 seconds
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Ed Leamer on Manufacturing, Effort, and Inequality

Economist Ed Leamer of UCLA talks about manufacturing, effort, and inequality with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The conversation draws on recent empirical work of Leamer's on how measured inequality is affected by the work effort of Americans at different levels of education. The conversation ends with a discussion of how education can be transformed when it is more personal and allows the student to explore and discover under the guidance of a teacher.
4/13/20201 hour, 14 minutes, 5 seconds
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Arnold Kling on the Three Languages of Politics, Revisited

Economist and author Arnold Kling talks about the revised edition of his book The Three Languages of Politics in front of a live audience at the Cato Institute, recorded in September of 2019. Kling talks about the changed political landscape in the United States and around the world and how his ideas have changed since the book was first published in 2013.
4/6/20201 hour, 3 minutes, 14 seconds
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Jenny Schuetz on Land Regulation and the Housing Market

Jenny Schuetz of the Brookings Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about zoning, boarding houses, real estate development, and the housing market.
3/30/20201 hour, 15 minutes, 12 seconds
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Azra Raza on The First Cell

Author and oncologist Azra Raza talks about her book The First Cell with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Raza argues that we have made little progress in fighting cancer over the last 50 years. The tools available to oncologists haven't changed much--the bulk of the progress that has been made has been through earlier and earlier detection rather than more effective or compassionate treatment options. Raza wants to see a different approach from the current strategy of marginal improvements on narrowly defined problems at the cellular level. Instead, she suggests an alternative approach that might better take account of the complexity of human beings and the way that cancer morphs and spreads differently across people and even within individuals. The conversation includes the challenges of dealing with dying patients, the importance of listening, and the bittersweet nature of our mortality.
3/23/20201 hour, 24 minutes, 42 seconds
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Tyler Cowen on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Economist and infovore Tyler Cowen of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the political, social, and economic aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
3/19/20201 hour, 19 minutes, 51 seconds
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Isabella Tree on Wilding

Author and conservationist Isabella Tree talks about her book Wilding with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Tree and her husband decided to turn their 3500 acre farm, the Knepp Castle Estate, into something wilder, a place for wild ponies, wild pigs, wild oxen, and an ever-wider variety of birds and bugs. The conversation covers the re-wilding phenomenon, the complexity of natural systems, and the nature of emergent order.
3/16/20201 hour, 17 minutes, 44 seconds
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Richard Davies on Extreme Economies

Economist and author Richard Davies talks about his book Extreme Economies with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The conversation explores economic life in extreme situations. Examples discussed are the Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana, two Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, the rain forest in the Darien Gap in Panama, and Kinshasa, the largest city in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is an economic and journalistic tour de force as Davies shares insights from his encounters with people around the world struggling to trade and prosper in extreme environments.
3/9/20202 hours, 4 minutes, 57 seconds
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Yuval Levin on A Time to Build

Author and political scientist Yuval Levin of the American Enterprise Institute talks about his book A Time to Build with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Levin argues that institutions in America are less trustworthy than they have been in the past. The cause, in Levin's view, is that the participants in these institutions no longer see the institution they are part of as something that molds them and has norms to which the participants conform. Instead, participants view the institution as a platform to gain attention and notoriety. This in turn means that institutions are increasingly unable to perform their primary function as they once did. The conversation concludes with some ideas for how individuals might change how they see their roles within institutions and life as a way of working together in common purpose.
3/2/20201 hour, 8 minutes, 57 seconds
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Richard Robb on Willful

Economist, author, and investor Richard Robb talks about his book Willful with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Robb is interested in what motivates and explains the choices we make. He explores alternatives to the optimizing model of economics including what he calls "for-itself" behavior--behavior that isn't purposive. Topics discussed in this wide-ranging conversation include the nature of work, decision-making under uncertainty, the Joseph story in the Book of Genesis, Nietzsche, the Financial Crisis of 2008, altruism, and how green beans are sold.
2/24/20201 hour, 31 minutes, 33 seconds
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Peter Singer on The Life You Can Save

Philosopher and author Peter Singer of Princeton University talks about his book, The Life You Can Save with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Singer argues that those of us in the developed world with a high standard of living can and should give/forgo some luxuries and donate instead to reduce poverty and suffering in poor countries. This is a wide-ranging conversation on the potential we have to make the world a better place and the practical challenges of having an impact.
2/17/20201 hour, 6 minutes, 13 seconds
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Marty Makary on the Price We Pay

Physician and author Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University talks about his book The Price We Pay with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Makary highlights some of the stranger aspects of our current health care system including the encouragement of unnecessary or even harmful procedures and the predatory behavior of some hospitals who sue patients and garnish their wages to recover fees that are secret until after the procedure is completed. Makary favors requiring hospitals to make their prices transparent. He also discusses a number of ways that employers and patients are trying to avoid the worst aspects of the current system.
2/10/20201 hour, 20 minutes, 1 second
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Robert Shiller on Narrative Economics

Economist, author, and Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller of Yale University discusses his book Narrative Economics with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Shiller proposes a novel idea--that the narratives that people believe and use to understand the world affect their economic behavior and in turn affect the macroeconomy. Shiller argues that taking these psychological effects into account is a new frontier of economic research and he gives a number of examples of how we might think about these phenomena.
2/3/20201 hour, 2 minutes, 22 seconds
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Daniel Klein on Honest Income

Economist and author Daniel Klein of George Mason University talks about the ethics of working and the potential for our working lives to make the world a better place. This is a wide-ranging conversation that includes discussion of Adam Smith, what jobs we should work on, what charities we should donate to, how we can make ourselves more virtuous, the movies Se7en and Sabrina, and ultimately what Adam Smith calls "the becoming use of our own."
1/27/20201 hour, 23 minutes, 37 seconds
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Janine Barchas on the Lost Books of Jane Austen

Author and professor Janine Barchas of the University of Texas talks about her book, The Lost Books of Jane Austen, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The conversation explores Austen's enduring reputation, how the cheap reprints of her work allowed that reputation to thrive, the links between Shakespeare and Austen, how Austen has thrived despite the old-fashioned nature of her content, Colin Firth's shirt, and the virtue of studying literature.
1/20/20201 hour, 10 minutes, 50 seconds
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Adam Minter on Secondhand

Journalist and author Adam Minter talks about his book Secondhand with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Minter explores the strange and fascinating world of secondhand stuff--the downsizing that the elderly do when they move to smaller quarters, the unseen side of Goodwill Industries, and the global market for rags.
1/13/20201 hour, 8 minutes, 41 seconds
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Melanie Mitchell on Artificial Intelligence

Computer Scientist and author Melanie Mitchell of Portland State University and the Santa Fe Institute talks about her book Artificial Intelligence with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Mitchell explains where we are today in the world of artificial intelligence (AI) and where we might be going. Despite the hype and excitement surrounding AI, Mitchell argues that much of what is called "learning" and "intelligence" when done by machines is not analogous to human capabilities. The capabilities of machines are highly limited to explicit, narrow tasks with little transfer to similar but different challenges. Along the way, Mitchell explains some of the techniques used in AI and how progress has been made in many areas.
1/6/20201 hour, 18 minutes, 46 seconds
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Kimberly Clausing on Open and the Progressive Case for Free Trade

Economist and author Kimberly Clausing of Reed College talks about her book Open with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Clausing, a self-described progressive, argues that the United States should continue to embrace free trade but she argues for other interventions to soften the impact of trade on workers and communities.
12/30/20191 hour, 8 minutes, 42 seconds
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Joe Posnanski on the Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini

Journalist and author Joe Posnanski talks about his book, The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Posnanski explores the enduring fame of Houdini who remains an iconic cultural figure almost a century after his death. Topics discussed include the nature of celebrity, the nature of ambition, parenting, magic, and the use of public relations to create and sustain reputation and celebrity.
12/23/20191 hour, 25 minutes, 19 seconds
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Binyamin Appelbaum on the Economists' Hour

Journalist and author Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times talks about his book, The Economists' Hour, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Appelbaum blames the triumph of free-market ideology for the rise in inequality and the decline in growth rates over the last half-century. The result is a lively, civil conversation about the economic events over that time period and the role of economists in changing economic policy.
12/16/20191 hour, 9 minutes, 35 seconds
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Terry Moe on Educational Reform, Katrina, and Hidden Power

Political Scientist and author Terry Moe of Stanford University talks about his book, The Politics of Institutional Reform with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Moe explores the politics and effectiveness of educational reform in the New Orleans public school system in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Moe finds that policy-makers turned to charter schools for pragmatic reasons and students enjoyed dramatic improvements in educational outcomes as a result. Moe uses this experience to draw lessons about political reforms generally and the power of vested interests to preserve the status quo in the absence of catastrophic events like Katrina.
12/9/20191 hour, 10 minutes, 42 seconds
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Gerd Gigerenzer on Gut Feelings

Psychologist and author Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development talks about his book Gut Feelings with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Gigerenzer argues for the power of simple heuristics--rules of thumb--over more complex models when making real-world decisions. He argues that many results in behavioral economics that appear irrational can be understood as sensible ways of coping with complexity.
12/2/20191 hour, 8 minutes, 18 seconds
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Susan Mayer on What Money Can't Buy

Sociologist Susan Mayer of the University of Chicago talks about her book What Money Can't Buy with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Mayer reports on her research which found that giving poor parents money had little measured effect on improving the lives of their children. She emphasizes the importance of accurately understanding the challenges facing children in poverty if the goal is to actually help them. She concludes that there is no simple way to help the most vulnerable children and that strategies to help them must recognize this reality. The conversation ends with a discussion of the potential role of education and parenting practices to help children in poor families.
11/25/20191 hour, 14 minutes, 17 seconds
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Keith Smith on Free Market Health Care

Entrepreneur and Anesthesiologist Keith Smith of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma talks with host Russ Roberts about what it's like to run a surgery center that posts prices on the internet and that does not take insurance. Along the way, he discusses the distortions in the market for health care and how a real market for health care might function if government took a smaller role.
11/18/20191 hour, 23 minutes, 42 seconds
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Rory Sutherland on Alchemy

Author and Advertising Executive Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy talks about his book Alchemy with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Sutherland makes the case for the magic (yes, magic!) of advertising and branding in helping markets work well. This is a wide-ranging conversation on consumer choice, public policy, travel, real estate, and corporate decision-making using insights from behavioral economics and decades of experience in the world of advertising.
11/11/20191 hour, 24 minutes, 5 seconds
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Venkatesh Rao on Waldenponding

Writer and management consultant Venkatesh Rao talks about Waldenponding with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Rao coined the term Waldenponding to describe various levels of retreating from technology akin to how Thoreau extolled the virtues of retreating from social contact and leading a quieter life at Walden Pond. Rao argues that the value of Waldenponding is overrated and that extreme Waldenponding is even somewhat immoral. Rao sees online intellectual life as a form of supercomputer, an intellectual ecosystem that produces new knowledge and intellectual discourse. He encourages all of us to contribute to that intellectual ecosystem even when it can mean losing credit for some of our ideas and potentially some of our uniqueness.
11/4/20191 hour, 19 minutes, 2 seconds
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Michele Gelfand on Rule Makers, Rule Breakers

Psychologist Michele Gelfand talks about her book, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Gelfand distinguishes between loose cultures and tight cultures--the degree to which culture and regulation restrict behavior or leave it alone. Gelfand explores the causes of why some cultures are tighter than others and the challenges societies face when culture is too tight or too loose. She also applies these ideas of cultural tightness and looseness to corporate mergers and family life.
10/28/20191 hour, 9 minutes, 58 seconds
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Susan Houseman on Manufacturing

Economist Susan Houseman of the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research talks about the manufacturing sector with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Houseman argues that the data surrounding both manufacturing output and employment have been misunderstood and misinterpreted. In particular, she argues that conclusions about the growth of manufacturing are driven overwhelmingly by computer production while the rest of manufacturing has been stagnant. She also argues that productivity has a small role in reducing manufacturing employment. Trade has been the main cause of employment reductions. These claims go against the standard narratives most economists have been telling for the last 20 years.
10/21/20191 hour, 16 minutes, 5 seconds
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Andrew McAfee on More from Less

Andrew McAfee of MIT's Sloan School of Management talks about his book, More from Less, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. McAfee argues that technology is helping developed nations use fewer resources in producing higher levels of economic output. The improvement is not just a reduction in energy per dollar of GDP but less energy in total as economic growth progresses. This "dematerialization" portends a future that was unimaginable to the economists and pundits of the past. McAfee discusses the potential for dealing with climate change in a dematerialized world, the non-material aspects of economic progress, and the political repercussions of the current distribution of economic progress.
10/14/20191 hour, 34 minutes, 17 seconds
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Ryan Holiday on Stillness Is the Key

Ryan Holiday talks about his latest book, Stillness Is the Key, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Holiday explores how stillness--the cultivation of serenity and focus--can affect how we live and how we perceive life. Topics discussed include the performance artist Marina Abramovic, Winnie the Pooh, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame induction speech. Holiday also explains how he keeps track of information and how his system makes it easier for him to write his books.
10/7/20191 hour, 23 minutes, 12 seconds
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Sabine Hossenfelder on Physics, Reality, and Lost in Math

Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder talks about her book Lost in Math with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hossenfelder argues that the latest theories in physics have failed to find empirical confirmation. Particles that were predicted to be discovered by the mathematics have failed to show up. Whether or not there is a multiverse has no observable consequences. Hossenfelder argues that physicists have become overly enamored with the elegance and aesthetics of their theories and that using beauty to evaluate a model is unscientific. The conversation includes a discussion of similar challenges in economics.
9/30/20191 hour, 6 minutes, 28 seconds
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Dani Rodrik on Neoliberalism

Dani Rodrik of Harvard University talks about neoliberalism with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Rodrik argues that a dogmatic embrace of markets has increased inequality and limited who benefits from economic growth. He argues for a more interventionist approach to the economy with the goal of better-paying jobs and more widely shared prosperity.
9/23/20191 hour, 8 minutes, 40 seconds
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George Will on the Conservative Sensibility

George Will talks about his new book, The Conservative Sensibility, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Will argues for a conservative vision that embraces the dynamic nature of life. Topics discussed include the current political landscape, the American founding, James Madison's vision of government vs. Woodrow Wilson's, Friedrich Hayek, and of course, a little baseball.
9/16/20191 hour, 18 minutes, 22 seconds
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Daron Acemoglu on Shared Prosperity and Good Jobs

Economist and author Daron Acemoglu of MIT discusses with EconTalk host Russ Roberts the challenge of shared prosperity and the policies that could bring about a more inclusive economy. Acemoglu argues for the importance of good jobs over redistribution and makes the case for the policies that could lead to jobs and opportunities across skill levels.
9/9/20191 hour, 6 minutes, 33 seconds
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David Deppner on Leadership, Confidence, and Humility

Can a great leader or manager be humble in public? Or is exuding confidence, even when it may not be merited, a key part of leadership? In this episode of EconTalk, host Russ Roberts talks with David Deppner, CEO of Psyberware, about an email David sent Russ wondering how Russ might reconcile his passion for humility and honesty with the demands put upon leaders to inspire followers with confidence in their vision.
9/2/20191 hour, 16 minutes, 9 seconds
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Andrew Roberts on Churchill and the Craft of Biography

Historian Andrew Roberts talks about the life of Winston Churchill and the art of biography with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. How did Churchill deal with the mistakes he inevitably made in a long career? Was he prescient or just the right man in the right place at the right time? Was he an alcoholic? Did he suffer from depression? Drawing on his recent biography of Churchill, Andrew Roberts answers these and other questions in this wide-ranging conversation that includes a discussion of the mechanics of writing a 1000 page book on a man who has had over 1000 biographies written about him already.
8/26/20191 hour, 10 minutes, 2 seconds
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Tyler Cowen on Big Business

Author and economist Tyler Cowen of George Mason University talks about his book, Big Business, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Cowen argues that big corporations in America are underrated and under-appreciated. He even defends the financial sector while adding some caveats along the way. This is a lively and contrarian look at a timely issue.
8/19/20191 hour, 6 minutes, 24 seconds
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Arthur Diamond on Openness to Creative Destruction

Arthur Diamond of the University of Nebraska at Omaha talks about his book, Openness to Creative Destruction, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Diamond sings the sometimes forgotten virtues of innovation and entrepreneurship and argues that they should be taught more prominently as a central part of economics.
8/12/20191 hour, 15 minutes, 44 seconds
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Andy Matuschak on Books and Learning

Software Engineer Andy Matuschak talks about his essay "Why Books Don't Work" with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Matuschak argues that most books rely on transmissionism, the idea that an author can share an idea in print and the reader will absorb it. And yet after reading a non-fiction book, most readers will struggle to remember any of the ideas in the book. Matuschak argues for a different approach to transmitting ideas via the web including different ways that authors or teachers can test for understanding that will increase the chances of retention and mastery of complex ideas.
8/5/20191 hour, 6 minutes, 26 seconds
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Shoshana Zuboff on Surveillance Capitalism

Shoshana Zuboff of Harvard University talks about her book Surveillance Capitalism with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Zuboff argues that the monetization of search engines and social networks by Google, Facebook, and other large tech firms threatens privacy and democracy.
7/29/20191 hour, 33 minutes, 14 seconds
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Chris Arnade on Dignity

Photographer, author, and former Wall St. trader Chris Arnade talks about his book, Dignity, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Arnade quit his Wall Street trading job and criss-crossed America photographing and getting to know the addicted and homeless who struggle to find work and struggle to survive. The conversation centers on what Arnade learned about Americans and about himself.
7/22/20191 hour, 21 minutes, 42 seconds
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Michael Brendan Dougherty on My Father Left Me Ireland

Author and journalist Michael Brendan Dougherty talks about his book My Father Left Me Ireland with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Dougherty talks about the role of cultural and national roots in our lives and the challenges of cultural freedom in America. What makes us feel part of something? Do you feel American or just someone who happens to live within its borders? When are people willing to die for their country or a cause? These are some of the questions Dougherty grapples with in his book and in this conversation.
7/15/20191 hour, 33 minutes, 6 seconds
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Arthur Brooks on Love Your Enemies

Economist and author Arthur Brooks talks about his book Love Your Enemies with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Brooks argues that contempt is destroying our political conversations and it's not good for us at the personal level either. Brooks makes the case for humility and tolerance. Along the way he discusses parenting, his past as professional musician, and the challenges of leading a think tank.
7/8/20191 hour, 10 minutes, 1 second
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Adam Cifu on the Case for Being a Medical Conservative

Physician and author Adam Cifu of the University of Chicago talks about being a medical conservative with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Cifu encourages doctors to appreciate the complexity of medical care and the reality that many medical techniques advocated by experts are not always beneficial or cost-effective. The conversation explores the challenges of finding reliable evidence to support medical interventions and the inherent uncertainty surrounding outcomes.
7/1/20191 hour, 13 minutes, 46 seconds
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Eric Topol on Deep Medicine

Cardiologist and author Eric Topol talks about his book Deep Medicine with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Topol argues that doctors spend too little face-to-face time with patients, and the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is a chance to emphasize the human side of medicine and to expand the power of human connection in healing. Topol surveys the current landscape of the application of technology to health care showing where its promise has been overstated and where it is having the most impact. The conversation includes a discussion of the placebo effect and the importance of the human touch in medicine.
6/24/20191 hour, 8 minutes, 25 seconds
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Anja Shortland on Kidnap

Anja Shortland of King's College London talks about her book Kidnap with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Kidnapping is relatively common in parts of the world where government authority is weak. Shortland explores this strange, frightening, but surprisingly orderly world. She shows how the interaction between kidnappers, victims, and insurance companies creates a somewhat predictable set of prices for ransom and creates a relatively high chance of the safe return of those who are kidnapped.
6/17/20191 hour, 17 minutes, 53 seconds
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Bjorn Lomborg on the Costs and Benefits of Attacking Climate Change

Bjorn Lomborg, President of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, talks about the costs and benefits of attacking climate change with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Lomborg argues that we should always be aware of tradeoffs and effectiveness when assessing policies to reduce global warming. He advocates for realistic solutions that consider the potential to improve human life in other ways. He is skeptical of the potential to move away from fossil fuels and argues that geo-engineering and adaptation may be the most effective ways to cope with climate change.
6/10/20191 hour, 10 minutes, 52 seconds
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Alain Bertaud on Cities, Planning, and Order Without Design

Urbanist and author Alain Bertaud of NYU talks about his book Order Without Design with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Bertaud explores the role of zoning and planning alongside the emergent factors that affect the growth of cities. He emphasizes the importance of cities as places for people to work and looks at how preferences and choices shape cities. Bertaud also reflects upon the differing perspectives of urban planners and economists.
6/3/20191 hour, 18 minutes, 20 seconds
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David Epstein on Mastery, Specialization, and Range

Journalist and author David Epstein talks about his book Range with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Epstein explores the costs of specialization and the value of breadth in helping to create mastery in our careers and in life. What are the best backgrounds for solving problems? Can mastery be achieved without specialization at a young age? What experiences and knowledge best prepare people to cope with unexpected situations? This is a wide-ranging conversation that includes discussion of chess, the Challenger tragedy, sports, farming in obscure Soviet provinces after the revolution, the Flynn effect and why firefighters sometimes fail to outrun forest fires.
5/27/20191 hour, 41 minutes, 54 seconds
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Mary Hirschfeld on Economics, Culture, and Aquinas and the Market

Author, economist, and theologian Mary Hirschfeld of Villanova University talks about her book, Aquinas and the Market, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hirschfeld looks at the nature of our economic activity as buyers and sellers and whether our pursuit of economic growth and material well-being comes at a cost. She encourages a skeptical stance about the ability of more stuff to produce true happiness and/or satisfaction. The conversation includes a critique of economic theory and the aspect of human satisfaction outside the domain of economists.
5/20/20191 hour, 16 minutes, 52 seconds
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Robert Burton on Being Certain

Neurologist and author Robert Burton talks about his book, On Being Certain, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Burton explores our need for certainty and the challenge of being skeptical about what our brain tells us must be true. Where does what Burton calls "the feeling of knowing" come from? Why can memory lead us astray? Burton claims that our reaction to events emerges from competition among different parts of the brain operating below our level of awareness. The conversation includes a discussion of the experience of transcendence and the different ways humans come to that experience.
5/13/20191 hour, 20 minutes, 17 seconds
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Mauricio Miller on Poverty, Social Work, and the Alternative

Poverty activist, social entrepreneur and author, Mauricio Miller, talks about his book The Alternative with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Miller, a MacArthur genius grant recipient, argues that we have made poverty tolerable when we should be trying to make it more escapable. This is possible, he argues, if we invest in the poor and encourage them to leverage their skills and social networks. Miller emphasizes the importance of self-determination and self-respect as keys to helping the poor improve their own lives.
5/6/20191 hour, 18 minutes, 6 seconds
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Emily Oster on Cribsheet

Economist and author Emily Oster of Brown University talks about her book Cribsheet with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Oster explores what the data and evidence can tell us about parenting in areas such as breastfeeding, sleep habits, discipline, vaccination, and food allergies. Oster often finds that commonly held views on some of these topics are not well supported by the evidence while on others, the evidence appears decisive. Oster thoughtfully explores the challenges of using empirical work and balances our sometimes ignorance with common sense.
4/29/20191 hour, 6 minutes, 3 seconds
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Paul Romer on Growth, Cities, and the State of Economics

Nobel Laureate Paul Romer of New York University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the nature of growth, the role of cities in the economy, and the state of economics. Romer also reflects on his time at the World Bank and why he left his position there as Chief Economist.
4/22/20191 hour, 26 minutes, 42 seconds
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Jill Lepore on Nationalism, Populism, and the State of America

Historian and author Jill Lepore talks about nationalism, populism, and the state of America with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Lepore argues that we need a new Americanism, a common story we share and tell ourselves. Along the way, topics in the conversation include populism, the rise of globalization, and the challenge of knowing what is true and what is false in the internet era.
4/15/20191 hour, 6 minutes, 32 seconds
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Robin Feldman on Drugs, Money, and Secret Handshakes

Law professor and author Robin Feldman of UC Hastings College of the Law talks about her book Drugs, Money, and Secret Handshakes with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Feldman argues that the legal and regulatory environment for drug companies encourages those companies to seek drugs that extend their monopoly through the patent system often with insufficient benefit for consumers. The prices for those drugs are then protected from new competition. She also argues that the pharmacy benefit management system allows drug companies to exploit consumers. The conversation concludes with a discussion of what can be done to improve the situation.
4/8/20191 hour, 5 minutes, 15 seconds
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Jacob Stegenga on Medical Nihilism

Philosopher and author Jacob Stegenga of the University of Cambridge talks about his book Medical Nihilism with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Stegenga argues that many medical treatments either fail to achieve their intended goals or achieve those goals with many negative side effects. Stegenga argues that the approval process for pharmaceuticals, for example, exaggerates benefits and underestimates costs. He criticizes the FDA approval process for approving too many drugs that are not sufficiently helpful relative to their side effects. Stegenga argues for a more realistic understanding of what medical practice can and cannot achieve.
4/1/20191 hour, 18 minutes, 32 seconds
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Daniel Hamermesh on Spending Time

Economist and author Daniel Hamermesh of Barnard College and the Institute for the Study of Labor talks about his latest book, Spending Time, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hamermesh explores how we treat time relative to money, how much we work and how that has changed over time, and the ways economists look at time, work, and leisure.
3/25/20191 hour, 2 minutes, 48 seconds
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Amy Tuteur on Birth, Natural Parenting, and Push Back

Obstetrician gynecologist Amy Tuteur and author of Push Back, talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Tuteur argues that natural parenting--the encouragement to women to give birth without epidurals or caesarians and to breastfeed--is bad for women's health and has little or no benefit for their children.
3/18/20191 hour, 2 minutes, 33 seconds
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Amy Webb on Artificial Intelligence, Humanity, and the Big Nine

Futurist and author Amy Webb talks about her book, The Big Nine, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Webb observes that artificial intelligence is currently evolving in a handful of companies in the United States and China. She worries that innovation in the United States may lead to social changes that we may not ultimately like; in China, innovation may end up serving the geopolitical goals of the Chinese government with some uncomfortable foreign policy implications. Webb's book is a reminder that artificial intelligence does not evolve in a vacuum--research and progress takes place in an institutional context. This is a wide-ranging conversation about the implications and possible futures of a world where artificial intelligence is increasingly part of our lives.
3/11/20191 hour, 24 minutes, 45 seconds
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Jacob Vigdor on the Seattle Minimum Wage

Jacob Vigdor of the University of Washington talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the impact of Seattle's minimum wage increases in recent years. Vigdor along with others from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance have tried to measure the change in employment, hours worked, and wages for low-skilled workers in Seattle. He summarizes those results here arguing that while some workers earned higher wages, some or all of the gains were offset by reductions in hours worked and a reduction in the rate of job creation especially for low-skilled workers.
3/4/20191 hour, 13 minutes, 54 seconds
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Michael Munger on Crony Capitalism

Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about whether real capitalism is unstable and leads inevitably to crony capitalism. They also discuss ways to prevent the descent into cronyism and speculate on their own blind spots.
2/25/20191 hour, 10 minutes, 11 seconds
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Catherine Semcer on Poaching, Preserves, and African Wildlife

Catherine Semcer of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the role of incentives in preserving wildlife in Africa. The conversation discusses how allowing limited hunting of big game such as elephants and using revenue from hunting licenses to reward local communities for habitat stewardship has improved both habitat and wildlife populations while reducing poaching. Semcer draws on her experience as former Chief Operating Officer of Humanitarian Operations Protecting Elephants and also discusses recent efforts to re-locate lions in Mozambique.
2/18/20191 hour, 7 minutes, 30 seconds
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Jessica Riskin on Life, Machinery, and the Restless Clock

Historian Jessica Riskin of Stanford University talks about her book The Restless Clock with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. What is the difference between human beings and machines? How has science thought about this distinction? When do we have agency and when are we constrained? Riskin discusses these issues and the implications for how we think about ourselves and the growth of artificial intelligence.
2/11/20191 hour, 4 minutes, 51 seconds
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Gary Greenberg on the Placebo Effect

Author and psychotherapist Gary Greenberg talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the placebo effect. Is it real? How does the placebo effect influence drug testing? If it's real, what is the underlying mechanism of why it works and how might it be harnessed to improve health care? The conversation concludes with a discussion of how knowledge of the placebo effect has influenced Greenberg's psychotherapy practice.
2/4/20191 hour, 1 minute, 35 seconds
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Patrick Collison on Innovation and Scientific Progress

Patrick Collison, co-founder and CEO of Stripe, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the pace of innovation. Collison argues that despite enormous increases in the numbers of scientists and researchers, the pace of progress in scientific and technological understanding does not seem to be increasing accordingly. The conversation looks at the challenge of measuring innovation and whether the pace of innovation should be a matter of concern and if so, what might be done about it.
1/28/20191 hour, 15 minutes, 48 seconds
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Jennifer Doleac on Crime

Economist Jennifer Doleac of Texas A&M University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her research on crime, police, and the unexpected consequences of the criminal justice system. Topics discussed include legislation banning asking job applicants if they've been in prison, body cameras for police, the use of DNA databases, the use of Naloxone to prevent death from opioid overdose, and the challenges of being an economist who thinks about crime using the economist's toolkit.
1/21/20191 hour, 22 minutes, 58 seconds
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Stephen Kotkin on Solzhenitsyn

Historian and author Stephen Kotkin of Princeton University and Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the historical significance of the life and work of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Solzhenitsyn's birth.
1/14/20191 hour, 3 seconds
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Ed Dolan on Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

Economist Ed Dolan of the Niskanen Center talks about employer-based health insurance with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Dolan discusses how unusual it is relative to other countries that so many Americans get their health insurance through their employer and the implications of that phenomenon for the structure of the health insurance market. Dolan explores the drawbacks of this structure and makes the case for what he calls Universal Catastrophic Coverage.
1/7/20191 hour, 4 minutes, 26 seconds
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Sebastian Junger on Tribe

Journalist and author Sebastian Junger talks about his book Tribe with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Junger explores the human need to be needed and the challenges facing many individuals in modern society who struggle to connect with others. His studies of communal connection include soldiers in a small combat unit and American Indian society in the nineteenth century.
12/31/20181 hour, 16 minutes, 24 seconds
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Mariana Mazzucato on the Value of Everything

Economist and author Mariana Mazzucato talks about her book The Value of Everything with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Mazzucato argues that economists have mismeasured value and have failed to appreciate the role of government as innovator. She argues for a more active role for government in the innovation process and for government to share in revenue proportional to its role in the creation of new technology.
12/24/20181 hour, 7 minutes, 52 seconds
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John Horgan on Mind-Body Problems

Science journalist and author John Horgan talks about his book, Mind-Body Problems, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Horgan interviewed an array of scientists, philosophers, and others who have worked on consciousness, free-will, and what it means to be human. Horgan argues that no single solution to the problems in these areas is likely to be established by science and that our perspective on these questions is inevitably colored by our personal experiences rather than by scientific evidence. Horgan concludes by making the case for personal and intellectual freedom and the need to embrace subjective interpretations of mind-body issues in ways that bring meaning to our lives.
12/17/20181 hour, 17 minutes, 10 seconds
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Peter Berkowitz on Locke, Liberty, and Liberalism

Peter Berkowitz of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the origins of liberalism and the importance of John Locke. Berkowitz defends the liberal project of individual rights and liberty and argues that critics of Locke mischaracterize his thought. The conversation closes with an evaluation of the Enlightenment.
12/9/20181 hour, 20 minutes, 2 seconds
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Maeve Cohen on Rethinking Economics

Maeve Cohen, Co-director of Rethinking Economics, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her organization and its efforts to change economics education. Cohen, who co-founded the Post-Crash Economics Society, argues for a more human-centered approach to economics that would be less confident in its policy prescriptions and more honest about the significance of its underlying assumptions.
12/3/20181 hour, 2 minutes, 2 seconds
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Anat Admati on the Financial Crisis of 2008

Anat Admati of Stanford's Graduate School of Business talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the financial crisis of 2008, the lessons she has learned, and how it has changed her view of economics, finance, and her career.
11/26/20181 hour, 5 minutes, 57 seconds
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A.J. Jacobs on Thanks a Thousand

Journalist and author A. J. Jacobs talks about his book, Thanks a Thousand, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Jacobs thanked a thousand different people who contributed to his morning cup of coffee. In this conversation, Jacobs talks about the power of gratitude and different ways we can express gratitude in everyday life. He and Roberts also explore the unintended web of cooperation that underlies almost every product we encounter in a modern economy.
11/19/20181 hour, 1 minute, 27 seconds
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Julia Belluz on Epidemiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism

Science writer Julia Belluz of Vox.com talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of epidemiology, nutrition, and the relationship between obesity and metabolism.
11/12/20181 hour, 5 minutes, 21 seconds
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Alan Lightman on Science, Spirituality, and Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine

Author and Physicist Alan Lightman talks about his book Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. This is a wide-ranging conversation on religion, science, transcendence, consciousness, impermanence, and whether matter is all that matters.
11/5/20181 hour, 12 minutes
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Michael Munger on Sharing, Transaction Costs, and Tomorrow 3.0

Economist and author Michael Munger of Duke University talks about his book, Tomorrow 3.0, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Munger analyzes the rise of companies like Uber and AirBnB as an example of how technology lowers transactions costs. Users and providers can find each other more easily through their smartphones, increasing opportunity. Munger expects these costs to fall elsewhere and predicts an expansion of the sharing economy to a wide array of items in our daily lives.
10/29/20181 hour, 10 minutes, 18 seconds
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Ran Abramitzky on the Mystery of the Kibbutz

Economist and author Ran Abramitzky of Stanford University talks about his book, The Mystery of the Kibbutz, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Abramitzky traces the evolution of the kibbutz movement in Israel and how the kibbutz structure changed to cope with the modernization and development of the Israeli economy. The conversation includes a discussion of how the history of the kibbutz might help us to understand the appeal and challenges of the socialism and freedom.
10/22/20181 hour, 6 minutes, 43 seconds
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Kevin McKenna on Characters, Plot, and Themes of In the First Circle

Russian Literature Professor Kevin McKenna of the University of Vermont talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the characters, plot, and themes of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's masterpiece, In the First Circle. This is the second episode of the EconTalk book club discussing the book. The first episode--a discussion of Solzhenitsyn's life and times--is available on EconTalk.
10/18/20181 hour, 16 minutes, 19 seconds
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John Gray on the Seven Kinds of Atheism

Philosopher and author John Gray talks about his latest book, Seven Types of Atheism, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Gray argues that progress is an illusion and that most atheisms inherit, unknowingly, a religious belief in progress that is not justified. While Gray concedes that technological know-how and scientific knowledge improve over time, he argues that morality and political systems are cyclical and that there is no reason to be optimistic about the future.
10/15/20181 hour, 36 minutes, 3 seconds
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Neil Monnery on Hong Kong and the Architect of Prosperity

Neil Monnery, author of Architect of Prosperity, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book--a biography of John Cowperthwaite, the man often credited with the economic success of Hong Kong. Monnery describes the policies that Cowperthwaite championed and the role they played in the evolution of Hong Kong's economy. How much those policies mattered is the focus of the conversation. Other topics include the relationship between Hong Kong and China and the irony of the challenges Hong Kong faced from U.S. and British protectionism.
10/8/20181 hour, 13 minutes, 30 seconds
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Noah Smith on Worker Compensation, Co-determination, and Market Power

Bloomberg Opinion columnist and economist Noah Smith talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about corporate control, wages, and monopoly power. Smith discusses the costs and benefits of co-determination--the idea of putting workers on corporate boards. The conversation then moves to a lively discussion of wages and monopoly power and how the American worker has been doing in recent years.
10/1/20181 hour, 15 minutes, 17 seconds
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Rodney Brooks on Artificial Intelligence

Rodney Brooks, emeritus professor of robotics at MIT, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the future of robots and artificial intelligence. Brooks argues that we both under-appreciate and over-appreciate the impact of innovation. He applies this insight to the current state of driverless cars and other changes people are expecting to change our daily lives in radical ways. He also suggests that the challenges of developing truly intelligent robots and technologies will take much longer than people expect, giving human beings time to adapt to the effects. Plus a cameo from Isaac Newton.
9/24/20181 hour, 5 minutes, 37 seconds
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Paul Bloom on Cruelty

Yale University psychologist Paul Bloom talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about cruelty--what motivates cruelty, the cruelty of small acts that accumulate into something monstrous, and the question of whether the abuse of a robot is a form of cruelty.
9/17/20181 hour, 22 minutes, 35 seconds
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Kevin McKenna on Solzhenitsyn, the Soviet Union, and In the First Circle

Russian Literature Professor Kevin McKenna of the University of Vermont talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the life and times of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. This is the opening episode of the EconTalk Book Club for Solzhenitsyn's masterpiece In the First Circle: The First Uncensored Edition. A subsequent episode to air in the next few weeks discusses the book itself.
9/10/20181 hour, 18 minutes, 37 seconds
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Yoram Hazony on the Virtue of Nationalism

Yoram Hazony discusses his book, The Virtue of Nationalism, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hazony argues that nationalism, for all its flaws, is a better system than a global system of governance. He argues that while the competition between nationalist states can lead to violence, the opportunity for each nation to pursue its own policies creates the benefits that trial-and-error innovation create in the marketplace. He also points out the dangers of global government systems and argues that U.S. military dominance and various international institutions such as European Union and the International Criminal Court have been growing in power.
9/3/20181 hour, 22 minutes, 34 seconds
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Charlan Nemeth on In Defense of Troublemakers

Psychologist Charlan Nemeth of the University of California, Berkeley and author of In Defense of Troublemakers talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book--the power of groupthink, the power of conviction, and the opportunity for an authentic, persistent dissenter to have an impact on a group's decision. The conversation concludes with a discussion of the challenges of doing careful research in modern times.
8/27/20181 hour, 23 minutes, 24 seconds
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Lilliana Mason on Uncivil Agreement

Political scientist Lilliana Mason of the University Maryland and author of Uncivil Agreement talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Mason argues that political partisanship has become stronger in America in recent years because it aligns with other forms of community and identity. People are associating primarily with people who share their political views in their other social activities outside of politics. As a result, they encounter fewer people from the other side. The intensity of partisanship can even overcome ideology as partisans change their policy positions in their eagerness to be on the winning side. The conversation closes with a discussion of what might be done to improve political discourse in America.
8/20/20181 hour, 10 minutes, 17 seconds
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David Meltzer on the Doctor-Patient Relationship

Physician David Meltzer of the University of Chicago talks about the power of the doctor-patient relationship with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Meltzer, who also has a Ph.D. in economics, discusses a controlled experiment he has been running to measure the importance of maintaining the continuity of doctor-patient relationships. Meltzer argues that the increasing use of hospitalists--specialists who take over a patient from the patient's regular doctor once the patient is hospitalized--has raised costs and hurt patients. The initial results from his study show that patients who stay with their doctors have fewer subsequent hospitalizations and have better mental health. The conversation closes with a discussion of the challenges facing the current medical system to adopt cost-saving or life-improving technology or techniques.
8/13/20181 hour, 8 minutes, 45 seconds
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Frank Dikotter on Mao's Great Famine

Historian Frank Dikotter of the University of Hong Kong and author of Mao's Great Famine talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Dikotter chronicles the strategies Mao and Chinese leadership implemented to increase grain and steel production in the late 1950s leading to a collapse in agricultural output and the deaths of millions by starvation.
8/6/20181 hour, 12 minutes, 47 seconds
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Alberto Alesina on Immigration and Redistribution

Alberto Alesina of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how people in the US and five European countries perceive the population and characteristics of legal immigrants. Reporting on research with Armando Miano and Stefanie Stantcheva, Alesina finds that individuals systematically overestimate the number of immigrants while underestimating their standard of living. His research also finds that support for welfare payments to the poor is related to the perception people have of the size of the immigrant population and their economic status. The conversation concludes with a discussion of why people's perceptions are so inaccurate and the implications of perception for public policy.
7/30/20181 hour, 6 minutes, 14 seconds
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Teppo Felin on Blindness, Rationality, and Perception

Teppo Felin of the University of Oxford talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about perception, cognition, and rationality. Felin argues that some of the standard experimental critiques of human rationality assume an omniscience that misleads us in thinking about social science and human capability. The conversation includes a discussion of the implications of different understandings of rationality for economics, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
7/23/20181 hour, 4 minutes, 30 seconds
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Russ Roberts on the Information Revolution, Politics, Yeats, and Yelling

EconTalk host Russ Roberts does a monologue on how political discourse seems to have deteriorated in recent years and the growth in outrage, tribalism, and intolerance for those with different views from one's own. Roberts suggests that part of the problem is the revolution of the market for information caused by the internet that allows people to customize what they see to fit their own political narratives and worldview. In short, the market for news works to make us feel good rather than to help us to discover the truth. The monologue closes with some suggestions for how we might improve the way we consume information and interact with those we disagree with.
7/16/20181 hour, 1 minute, 30 seconds
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Patrick Deneen on Why Liberalism Failed

Political Scientist and author Patrick Deneen of the University of Notre Dame talks about his book Why Liberalism Failed with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. By liberalism, Deneen means the modern enterprise--the push for self-actualization free of the constraints of tradition, family, and religion that typifies modern culture. He argues that both the left and the right have empowered the state and reduced liberty. He argues for a smaller, more local, more artisanal economy and a return to the virtues of self-control and self-mastery.
7/9/20181 hour, 14 minutes, 58 seconds
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Arnold Kling on Morality, Culture, and Tribalism

Economist and author Arnold Kling talks about the economic impact of culture and morality with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Drawing on a recent essay on the importance of social interactions, Kling explores the role of culture and norms and their broad impact on economic life. At the end of the conversation, Roberts discusses the implications of human sociality for the way economics is taught and the way economists think about public policy.
7/2/20181 hour, 6 minutes, 52 seconds
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Michael Pollan on Psychedelic Drugs and How to Change Your Mind

Journalist and author Michael Pollan talks about his book, How to Change Your Mind, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Pollan chronicles the history of the use of psychedelic drugs, particularly LSD and psilocybin, to treat addiction, depression and anxiety. He discusses his own experiences with the drugs as well. Much of the conversation focuses on what we might learn from psychedelic drugs about their apparent spiritual dimension, the nature of consciousness, and the nature of the mind.
6/25/20181 hour, 12 minutes, 27 seconds
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Richard Reinsch on the Enlightenment, Tradition, and Populism

Richard Reinsch, editor of Law and Liberty and the host of the podcast Liberty Law Talk, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Enlightenment. Topics discussed include the search for meaning, the stability of liberalism, the rise of populism, and Solzhenitsyn's indictment of Western values from his Harvard Commencement Address of 1978.
6/18/20181 hour, 6 minutes, 41 seconds
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Moises Velasquez-Manoff on Cows, Carbon Farming, and Climate Change

Journalist and author Moises Velasquez-Manoff talks about the role of dirt in fighting climate change with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Velasquez-Manoff explains how changes in farming can allow dirt and plants to absorb carbon and potentially reduce climate change. At the end of the conversation he discusses the state of the science on hygiene, parasites, and auto-immune disorders that he discussed in his previous appearance on EconTalk in 2014.
6/11/20181 hour, 14 minutes, 20 seconds
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Janet Golden on Babies Made Us Modern

Historian and author Janet Golden talks about her book, Babies Made Us Modern, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Golden chronicles the transformation of parenting in first half of the 20th century. It's a fascinating story of how our knowledge of infant health and behavior grew dramatically but remains imperfect. At the same time, government, business, and private organizations responded to that imperfect knowledge.
6/4/20181 hour, 3 minutes, 3 seconds
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Iain McGilchrist on the Divided Brain and the Master and His Emissary

Psychiatrist and author Iain McGilchrist talks about his book, The Master and His Emissary, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. McGilchrist argues we have misunderstand the purpose and effect of the divided brain. The left side is focused, concrete, and confident while the right side is about integration of ourselves with the complexity of the world around us. McGilchrist uses this distinction to analyze the history of western civilization. This is a wide-ranging conversation that includes discussions of poetry, philosophy, and economics.
5/28/20181 hour, 26 minutes, 8 seconds
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Glen Weyl on Radical Markets

Economist Glen Weyl of Microsoft Research New England and Visiting Senior Research Scholar at Yale University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book (co-authored with Eric Posner) Radical Markets. Weyl urges a radical transformation of land and housing markets using a new federal real estate tax based on self-assessment. Owners would be required to sell their houses at the self-assessed price. Weyl argues this would eliminate the market power home owners have in the re-sale market and the revenue tax would could be used to reduce inequality. In the last part of the conversation, Weyl proposes an overhaul of U.S. immigration policy by having residents sponsor immigrants for a fee.
5/21/20181 hour, 3 minutes, 27 seconds
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Peter Boettke on Public Administration, Liberty, and the Proper Role of Government

Peter Boettke of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the proper role of the state in the economy. This is a wide-ranging conversation on political economy. Topics include Adam Smith's view of the state, the tension between the state as enabler of real vs. crony capitalism, the potential for the poor to flourish in a market economy, and the challenges of democracy.
5/20/20181 hour, 12 minutes, 46 seconds
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Joel Peterson on Leadership, Betrayal, and the 10 Laws of Trust

How did the CEO of a real estate development company become chairman of an airline? How can a competent manager learn to trust his subordinates? Joel Peterson, chairman of the Board at JetBlue Airways and author of The 10 Laws of Trust, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his career at Trammell Crow and JetBlue and how the concept of trust, outlined in his book, has helped his career. He closes the conversation with a discussion of how he overcame his personal weaknesses that would have handicapped his career--or as he puts it, how he "rewrote his operating system."
5/7/20181 hour, 13 minutes, 16 seconds
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Ryan Holiday on Conspiracy, Gawker, and the Hulk Hogan Trial

Author Ryan Holiday discusses his book, Conspiracy, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. This is a crazy episode about a crazy book about a crazy set of events--the Hulk Hogan lawsuit against the website Gawker, a lawsuit that was secretly funded by Peter Thiel. Holiday explains how this happened and the lessons for all of us related to conspiracies, patience, strategy, and revenge. Along the way, Holiday discusses his techniques for reading and lessons for how to grab someone's attention when looking for a job or opportunity.
4/30/20181 hour, 17 minutes, 50 seconds
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Jonah Goldberg on The Suicide of the West

Jonah Goldberg of National Review talks about his latest book, Suicide of the West, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Goldberg argues that both capitalism and democracy are at risk in the current contentious political environment. He argues that we take for granted what he calls "the miracle"--the transformation of the standard of living in the democracies with market economies. Goldberg argues that unless we actively work to preserve our political and economic systems, the forces of populism, nationalism, and tribalism will work steadily to destroy them.
4/23/20181 hour, 27 minutes, 24 seconds
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Jerry Muller on the Tyranny of Metrics

Historian and author Jerry Muller of Catholic University talks about his latest book, The Tyranny of Metrics, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Muller argues that public policy and management are overly focused on measurable outcomes as a measure of success. This leads to organizations and agencies over-focusing on metrics rather than their broader mission. The conversation includes applications to education, crime, and health care.
4/16/20181 hour, 4 minutes, 45 seconds
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Vincent Rajkumar on the High Price of Cancer Drugs

Can a life-saving drug be too expensive? What explains the high price of cancer drugs? Dr. Vincent Rajkumar of the Mayo Clinic talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the high price of cancer drugs--drugs that can cost an American with cancer $300,000 per year and require multiple years of treatment. Rajkumar explains how little a role market forces play in setting prices and what might be done to improve the situation.
4/9/20181 hour, 12 minutes, 38 seconds
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Michael Munger on Traffic

Does rush-hour traffic drive you crazy? Is a congestion tax on car travel a good idea? Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economics of traffic and congestion taxes. It takes a while to get there (how appropriate!) but they eventually agree that a tax on congestion while reducing travel time is harmful to many drivers and may be best thought of as any tax placed on a particular good--a way to raise government revenue from the pockets of the consumers of that good.
4/2/20181 hour, 14 minutes, 8 seconds
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Edward Glaeser on Joblessness and the War on Work

Why are fewer men working over the last few decades? Is a universal basic income a good policy for coping with the loss of employment? Economist Edward Glaeser of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what Glaeser calls the war on work--the policy changes that have reduced employment among prime-aged men. Glaeser does not see the universal basic income as a viable solution to the decrease in work especially if technology ends up reducing employment opportunities more dramatically in the future. The conversation also includes a discussion of the role of cities and the reduction in geographic mobility in the United States.
3/26/20181 hour, 6 minutes, 5 seconds
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Beth Redbird on Licensing

Economists often oppose the expansion of licensing in America in recent years because it makes it harder for people with low skills to get access to opportunity. Sociologist Beth Redbird of Northwestern University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a different perspective. Redbird finds that licensing expands opportunity for women and minorities and has little impact on wages. She argues that licensing helps historically disadvantaged groups discover ways into various careers they otherwise would have trouble accessing. The discussion closes with a discussion of Redbird's work on the economic situation of Native Americans.
3/19/20181 hour, 2 minutes, 28 seconds
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Arnold Kling on Economics for the 21st Century

Economist, blogger, and author Arnold Kling talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of economics in the 21st century. Kling argues that economics would be more useful if it took account of intangibles like culture, incorporated the role of financial intermediation in the economy, and modeled some of the the subtleties of the labor market--how wages are set and the role of team production.
3/12/20181 hour, 4 minutes, 50 seconds
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Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Rationality, Risk, and Skin in the Game

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Skin in the Game, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book. This is the third episode of EconTalk with Taleb related to the general topic of skin in the game and how it affects decision-making and policy in an uncertain world. This episode focuses on rationality, religion, and the challenge of thinking about probability and risk correctly in a dynamic world.
3/5/20181 hour, 14 minutes, 26 seconds
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Elizabeth Anderson on Worker Rights and Private Government

Philosopher Elizabeth Anderson of the University of Michigan and author of Private Government talks about her book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Anderson argues that employers have excessive power over employees that we would never accept from government authority. Topics discussed include the role of competition in potentially mitigating employer control, whether some worker rights should be inviolate, potential measures for empowering employees, and the costs and benefits over time of a relatively unregulated labor market.
2/26/20181 hour, 7 minutes, 5 seconds
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Jordan Peterson on 12 Rules for Life

Jordan Peterson, author of 12 Rules for Life, talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Topics covered include parenting, conversation, the role of literature in everyday life, and the relationship between sacrificial rites and trade.
2/19/20181 hour, 18 minutes, 22 seconds
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Bryan Caplan on the Case Against Education

Bryan Caplan of George Mason University and the author of The Case Against Education talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Caplan argues that very little learning takes place in formal education and that very little of the return to college comes from skills or knowledge that is acquired in the classroom. Schooling, he concludes, as it is currently conducted is mostly a waste of time and money. Caplan bring a great deal of evidence to support his dramatic claim and much of the conversation focuses on the challenge of measuring and observing what students actually learn.
2/12/20181 hour, 11 minutes, 27 seconds
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Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay on the Enemies of Modernity

Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about their essay on the enemies of modernity. Pluckrose and Lindsay argue that modernity--by which they mean democracy, reason, and individual liberty--is under attack from pre-modern and post-modern ideological enemies. They discuss why modernity is under attack and encourage people on the political left and right to support modernity.
2/5/20181 hour, 9 minutes, 26 seconds
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Marian Goodell on Burning Man

Marian Goodell, CEO of the Burning Man Project, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Burning Man, the 8-day art and music festival in the Nevada Desert. Goodell explains how Burning Man has evolved over the years, the principles and rules that govern the experience today, and plans for expanding the Burning Man experience around the world.
1/29/20181 hour, 12 minutes, 34 seconds
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John Ioannidis on Statistical Significance, Economics, and Replication

John Ioannidis of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his research on the reliability of published research findings. They discuss Ioannidis's recent study on bias in economics research, meta-analysis, the challenge of small sample analysis, and the reliability of statistical significance as a measure of success in empirical research.
1/22/20181 hour, 5 minutes, 11 seconds
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Bill James on Baseball, Facts, and the Rules of the Game

Baseball stats guru and author Bill James talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of understanding complexity in baseball and elsewhere. James reflects on the lessons he has learned as a long-time student of data and the role it plays in understanding the underlying reality that exists between different variables in sports and outside of sports. The conversation closes with a discussion of our understanding of social processes and the connection to public policy and the ideologies we hold.
1/14/20181 hour, 2 minutes, 20 seconds
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Dick Carpenter on Bottleneckers

Dick Carpenter of the Institute for Justice and author of Bottleneckers talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book--a look at how occupational licensing and other regulations protect existing job holders from competition.
1/8/20181 hour, 14 minutes, 58 seconds
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Kelly Weinersmith and Zach Weinersmith on Soonish

Ecologist Kelly Weinersmith and cartoonist Zach Weinersmith--creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal--talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about their new book, Soonish--a look at cutting-edge and not-quite cutting edge technologies. The Weinersmiths speculate about everything from asteroid mining to robotic house construction to the nasal cycle and how the human body and medicine might be transformed in the future. They discuss the likelihood of some really crazy stuff coming along and changing our lives as well as the possible downsides of innovation.
1/1/20181 hour, 10 minutes, 27 seconds
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Matt Stoller on Modern Monopolies

Matt Stoller of the Open Market Institute talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the growing influence of Google, Facebook, and Amazon on commercial and political life. Stoller argues that these large firms have too much power over our options as consumers and creators as well as having a large impact on our access to information.
12/25/20171 hour, 10 minutes, 11 seconds
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Brink Lindsey and Steven Teles on the Captured Economy

Brink Lindsey of the Niskanen Center and Steven Teles of the Niskanen Center and Johns Hopkins University talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about their book, The Captured Economy. Lindsey and Teles argue that inequality has been worsened by special interests who steer policy to benefit themselves. They also argue that the influence of the politically powerful has lowered the overall growth of the American economy.
12/18/20171 hour, 9 minutes, 34 seconds
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John Cogan on Entitlements and the High Cost of Good Intentions

John Cogan of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Cogan's book, The High Cost of Good Intentions, a history of U.S. entitlement policy. Cogan traces the evolution of government pensions beginning with Revolutionary War vets to the birth and evolution of the Social Security program. Surprises along the way include President Franklin Roosevelt as fiscal conservative and the hard-to-believe but true fact that there is still one person receiving monthly checks from the Civil War veterans pension program. The conversation concludes with Cogan's concerns over the growing costs of financing social security payments to baby boomers.
12/12/20171 hour, 6 minutes, 7 seconds
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Rachel Laudan on Food Waste

Historian Rachel Laudan talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about food waste. Laudan argues that there are tradeoffs in preventing food waste--in reduced time for example, or a reduction in food security, and that these tradeoffs need to be measured carefully when considering policy or giving advice to individuals or organizations. She also discusses the role of food taboos and moralizing about food. Along the way, Laudan defends the virtue of individual choice and freedom in deciding what to eat.
12/4/20171 hour, 1 minute, 49 seconds
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Simeon Djankov and Matt Warner on the Doing Business Report and Development Aid

Simeon Djankov, creator of the World Bank's Doing Business Report, and Matt Warner, Chief Operating Officer of Atlas Network talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the role regulation plays in economic development and the challenges of measuring regulatory barriers to new business creation.
11/27/20171 hour, 15 minutes, 26 seconds
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Tim Harford on Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy

Financial Times columnist and author Tim Harford talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Harford's latest book, Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy. Highlights include how elevators are an important form of mass transit, why washing machines didn't save quite as much time as you'd think, and the glorious illuminating aspects of light throughout history.
11/20/20171 hour, 8 minutes, 50 seconds
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Anthony Gill on Tipping

Why does tipping persist? Despite the efforts of some restaurants to stop tipping, it remains a healthy institution and has recently spread to Uber. Political scientist Anthony Gill of the University of Washington talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about why tipping persists and what it achieves despite there being no formal way of enforcing this norm.
11/13/20171 hour, 5 minutes, 42 seconds
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Dennis Rasmussen on Hume and Smith and The Infidel and the Professor

How did the friendship between David Hume and Adam Smith influence their ideas? Why do their ideas still matter today? Political Scientist Dennis Rasmussen of Tufts University and author of The Infidel and the Professor talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book--the intellectual and personal connections between two of the greatest thinkers of all time, David Hume and Adam Smith.
11/6/20171 hour, 11 minutes, 36 seconds
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Michael Munger on Permissionless Innovation

Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about permissionless innovation. Munger argues that the ability to innovate without permission is the most important concept of political economy. Munger defends this claim and explores the metaphor of emergent order as a dance, a metaphor coming from the German poet Schiller.
10/30/20171 hour, 7 minutes, 51 seconds
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Jennifer Burns on Ayn Rand and the Goddess of the Market

Jennifer Burns of Stanford University and the Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her biography of Ayn Rand, Goddess of the Market. They discuss Rand's philosophy, her influence, her relationship with the conservative movement, and the intersection of her personal life with her philosophical principles.
10/23/20171 hour, 4 minutes, 38 seconds
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Megan McArdle on Internet Shaming and Online Mobs

Author and journalist Megan McArdle of Bloomberg View talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how the internet has allowed a new kind of shaming via social media and how episodes of bad behavior live on because Google's memory is very, very good. McArdle discusses the implications this new reality has on how we behave at work and how people protect and maintain their reputations in a world where nothing is forgotten and seemingly little is forgiven.
10/16/20171 hour, 14 minutes, 31 seconds
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Tim O'Reilly on What's the Future

Author Tim O'Reilly, founder of O'Reilly Media and long-time observer and commenter on the internet and technology, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book, WTF? What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us. O'Reilly surveys the evolution of the internet, the key companies that have prospered from it, and how the products of those companies have changed our lives. He then turns to the future and explains why he is an optimist and what can be done to make that optimism accurate.
10/9/20171 hour, 2 minutes, 46 seconds
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Robert Wright on Meditation, Mindfulness, and Why Buddhism is True

Robert Wright, author of Why Buddhism Is True, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the psychotherapeutic insights of Buddhism and the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. Wright argues our evolutionary past has endowed us with a mind that can be ill-suited to the stress of the present. He argues that meditation and the non-religious aspects of Buddhism can reduce suffering and are consistent with recent psychological research.
10/2/20171 hour, 6 minutes, 58 seconds
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Philip Auerswald on the Rise of Populism

Author and professor Philip Auerswald of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the rise of populism in the United States and throughout the world. Auerswald argues that the rise of cities and the productivity of urban life has created a divergence in experience and rewards between urban and rural areas around the world. Auerswald ties these changes to changes in voting patterns and speculates about the sources of the increasing productivity of metropolitan areas.
9/25/20171 hour, 19 minutes, 40 seconds
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Gabriel Zucman on Inequality, Growth, and Distributional National Accounts

Gabriel Zucman of the University of California, Berkeley talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his research on inequality and the distribution of income in the United States over the last 35 years. Zucman finds that there has been no change in income for the bottom half of the income distribution over this time period with large gains going to the top 1%. The conversation explores the robustness of this result to various assumptions and possible explanations for the findings.
9/18/20171 hour, 12 minutes, 35 seconds
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Gillian Hadfield on Law and Rules For a Flat World

Law professor Gillian Hadfield of the University of Southern California and author of Rules for a Flat World talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in her book for regulating the digital future. Hadfield suggests the competitive provision of regulation with government oversight as a way to improve the flexibility and effectiveness of regulation in the dynamic digital world we are living in.
9/11/20171 hour, 7 minutes, 17 seconds
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Rob Reich on Foundations and Philanthropy

Is private charity always a good thing? Do large foundations have too much power? Political Scientist Rob Reich of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the power and effectiveness of foundations--large collections of wealth typically created and funded by a wealthy donor. Is such a plutocratic institution consistent with democracy? Reich discusses the history of foundations in the United States and the costs and benefits of foundation expenditures in the present.
9/3/20171 hour, 3 minutes, 33 seconds
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Benedict Evans on the Future of Cars

Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about two important trends for the future of personal travel--the increasing number of electric cars and a world of autonomous vehicles. Evans talks about how these two trends are likely to continue and the implications for the economy, urban design, and how we live.
8/28/20171 hour, 7 minutes, 24 seconds
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John McWhorter on the Evolution of Language and Words on the Move

How did bad come to mean good? Why is Shakespeare so hard to understand? Is there anything good about "like" and "you know?" Author and professor John McWhorter of Columbia University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the unplanned ways that English speakers create English, an example of emergent order. Topics discussed include how words get short (but not too short), the demand for vividness in language, and why Shakespeare is so hard to understand.
8/21/20171 hour, 4 minutes, 42 seconds
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Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Work, Slavery, the Minority Rule, and Skin in the Game

Nassim Nicholas Taleb talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the manuscript version of his forthcoming book, Skin in the Game. Topics discussed include the role of skin in the game in labor markets, the power of minorities, the Lindy effect, Taleb's blind spots and regrets, and the politics of globalization.
8/14/20171 hour, 24 minutes, 39 seconds
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Tyler Cowen on Stubborn Attachments, Prosperity, and the Good Society

Tyler Cowen of George Mason University and the co-host of the blog Marginal Revolution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Stubborn Attachments, his book-length treatment of how to think about public policy. Cowen argues that economic growth--properly defined--is the moral key to maintaining civilization and promoting human well-being. Along the way, the conversation also deals with inequality, environmental issues, and education.
8/7/20171 hour, 45 seconds
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Alex Guarnaschelli on Food

Alex Guarnaschelli, Food Channel star and chef at Butter in midtown Manhattan, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what it's like to run a restaurant, the challenges of a career in cooking, her favorite dishes, her least favorite dishes, and what she cooked to beat Bobby Flay.
7/31/20171 hour, 3 minutes, 55 seconds
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Sally Satel on Organ Donation

Sally Satel, psychiatrist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of increasing the supply of donated organs for transplantation and ways that public policy might increase the supply. Satel, who has received two kidney donations, suggests a federal tax credit as a way to increase the supply of organs while saving the federal government money. She also discusses the ethical issues surrounding various forms of compensation for organ donors.
7/24/20171 hour, 12 seconds
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Tamar Haspel on Food Costs, Animal Welfare, and the Honey Bee

Tamar Haspel, who writes "Unearthed," a column on food and agriculture at the Washington Post, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a wide variety of issues related to the cost of food and how it's produced. Topics discussed include why technology helps make some foods inexpensive, how animals are treated, the health of the honey bee, and whether eggs from your backyard taste any better than eggs at the grocery.
7/17/20171 hour, 1 minute, 51 seconds
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Martha Nussbaum on Alexander Hamilton

Martha Nussbaum, professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Alexander Hamilton. Nussbaum talks about the tension between acquiring power and living a life of virtue. The topics discussed include Hamilton's relationship with Aaron Burr, Burr's complicated historical legacy, and the role of the humanities in our lives.
7/10/20171 hour, 1 minute, 58 seconds
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Chris Blattman on Chickens, Cash, and Development Economics

Chris Blattman of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about whether it's better to give poor Africans cash or chickens and the role of experiments in helping us figure out the answer. Along the way he discusses the importance of growth vs. smaller interventions and the state of development economics.
7/3/20171 hour, 3 minutes, 40 seconds
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Robin Feldman on Drug Patents, Generics, and Drug Wars

Robin Feldman of the University of California Hastings College of Law and author of Drug Wars talks about her book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Feldman explores the various ways that pharmaceutical companies try to reduce competition from generic drugs. The conversation includes a discussion of the Hatch-Waxman Act and the sometimes crazy world of patent protection.
6/26/20171 hour, 5 minutes, 21 seconds
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Thomas Ricks on Churchill and Orwell

Author and historian Thomas Ricks talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, Churchill and Orwell. Ricks makes the case that the odd couple of Winston Churchill and George Orwell played and play an important role in preserving individual liberty. Ricks reviews the contributions of these two giants whose lives overlapped and whose legacy remains vibrant.
6/19/20171 hour, 5 minutes, 47 seconds
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Don Boudreaux, Michael Munger, and Russ Roberts on Emergent Order

Why is it that people in large cities like Paris or New York City people sleep peacefully, unworried about whether there will be enough bread or other necessities available for purchase the next morning? No one is in charge--no bread czar. No flour czar. And yet it seems to work remarkably well. Don Boudreaux of George Mason University and Michael Munger of Duke University join EconTalk host Russ Roberts to discuss emergent order and markets. The conversation includes a reading of Roberts's poem, "It's a Wonderful Loaf."
6/12/20171 hour, 13 minutes, 39 seconds
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Christy Ford Chapin on the Evolution of the American Health Care System

Historian Christy Ford Chapin of University of Maryland Baltimore County and Johns Hopkins and author of Ensuring America's Health talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book--a history of how America's health care system came to be dominated by insurance companies or government agencies paying doctors per procedure. Chapin explains how this system emerged from efforts by the American Medical Association to stop various reform efforts over the decades. Chapin argues that different models might have emerged that would lead to a more effective health care system.
6/5/20171 hour, 5 minutes, 52 seconds
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David Boaz, P.J. O'Rourke, and George Will on the State of Liberty

What is the state of liberty in America? Is liberty increasing or decreasing? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic about the future? This week EconTalk features David Boaz, P.J. O'Rourke, and George Will discussing these questions and more with EconTalk host Russ Roberts in front of a live audience at the Cato Institute.
5/29/20171 hour, 4 minutes, 51 seconds
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Lant Pritchett on Poverty, Growth, and Experiments

How should we think about growth and poverty? How important is the goal of reducing the proportion of the world's population living on less than a dollar a day? Does poverty persist because people lack skills or because they live in economic systems where skills are not rewarded? What is the role of experimental methods in understanding what reduces poverty? Author and economist Lant Pritchett of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about these questions and more in a wide-ranging discussion of how best to help the world's poorest people.
5/22/20171 hour, 3 minutes, 14 seconds
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Cass Sunstein on #Republic

Author and legal scholar Cass Sunstein of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, #Republic. Sunstein argues that the internet has encouraged people to frequent informational echo chambers where their views are reinforced and rarely challenged. In addition, there is a loss of public space where people might have to encounter dissonant ideas or causes they might wish to champion. Sunstein considers this a threat to democracy and discusses a variety of ways the situation might improve.
5/15/20171 hour, 7 minutes, 14 seconds
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Tyler Cowen on The Complacent Class

Author and economist Tyler Cowen of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, The Complacent Class. Cowen argues that the United States has become complacent and the result is a loss of dynamism in the economy and in American life, generally. Cowen provides a rich mix of data, speculation, and creativity in support of his claims.
5/8/20171 hour, 6 minutes, 1 second
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Jennifer Pahlka on Code for America

Jennifer Pahlka, founder of Code for America, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the organization she started. Code for America works with private sector tech people to bring technology to the provision of government services. Pahlka discusses some of the success Code for America has had with improving government and the challenges of citizenship and technology in the 21st century.
5/1/201759 minutes, 36 seconds
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Elizabeth Pape on Manufacturing and Selling Women's Clothing and Elizabeth Suzann

Elizabeth Pape, founder of the women's clothing company Elizabeth Suzann, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about starting and running her company--a manufacturer and seller of high-end women's clothing in Nashville, Tennessee. The conversation chronicles the ups and downs of her entrepreneurial story, the recent evolution of the women's clothing market, and the challenge of competition from lower quality, lower-priced products.
4/24/20171 hour, 15 minutes, 53 seconds
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Rana Foroohar on the Financial Sector and Makers and Takers

Journalist and author Rana Foroohar of the Financial Times talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book, Makers and Takers. Foroohar argues that finance has become an increasingly powerful part of the U.S. economy and has handicapped the growth and effectiveness of manufacturing and the rest of the economy.
4/17/20171 hour, 3 minutes, 45 seconds
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Erica Sandberg on Homelessness and Downtown Streets Team

Podcaster and writer Erica Sandberg talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about homelessness in San Francisco. Sandberg talks about what the city can do about homelessness and her experience with Downtown Streets Team, which gives homeless people in the Bay Area the chance to work in exchange for gift cards that let them buy food and other basics.
4/10/201757 minutes, 40 seconds
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Vanessa Williamson on Taxes and Read My Lips

Are Americans overtaxed? How does the average American feel about the tax system and tax reform? Vanessa Williamson of the Brookings Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book, Read My Lips. Williamson shares the results of her survey of American attitudes toward taxation and government spending. People misperceive much about who pays what and the structure of the tax system, particularly the payroll tax. But some of what appears to be errors--about foreign aid and government waste for example, come from the average person's definition of these terms being different from the narrow meaning.
4/3/20171 hour, 8 minutes, 38 seconds
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Jason Barr on Building the Skyline and the Economics of Skyscrapers

Why does the Manhattan skyline look like it does with incredible skyscrapers south of City Hall then almost no tall buildings until midtown? Jason Barr of Rutgers University-Newark and author of Building the Skyline talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the evolution of Manhattan as a place to live and work, and the mix of individual choices and government policy that created the skyline of Manhattan.
3/27/20171 hour, 17 minutes, 36 seconds
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Andrew Gelman on Social Science, Small Samples, and the Garden of the Forking Paths

Statistician, blogger, and author Andrew Gelman of Columbia University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges facing psychologists and economists when using small samples. On the surface, finding statistically significant results in a small sample would seem to be extremely impressive and would make one even more confident that a larger sample would find even stronger evidence. Yet, larger samples often fail to lead to replication. Gelman discusses how this phenomenon is rooted in the incentives built into human nature and the publication process. The conversation closes with a general discussion of the nature of empirical work in the social sciences.
3/20/20171 hour, 7 minutes, 41 seconds
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Robert Whaples on the Economics of Pope Francis

Is capitalism part of the poverty problem facing the world or part of the solution? Are human beings doing a good job preserving the earth for future generations? To improve the world, should we improve capitalism or ourselves? Robert Whaples of Wake Forest University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about "Laudato Si'," Pope Francis's encyclical on capitalism, poverty, and environmental issues.
3/13/201758 minutes, 18 seconds
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Nicholas Crafts, Luis Garicano, and Luigi Zingales on the Economic Future of Europe

What is the future of the European economy? What are the challenges facing Europe? What are the implications of Brexit for the United Kingdom and the rest of the Europe? Nicholas Crafts of the University of Warwick, Luis Garicano of the London School of Economics, and Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about these questions and more in front of a live audience at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
3/6/20171 hour, 2 minutes, 42 seconds
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Paul Bloom on Empathy

Psychologist Paul Bloom of Yale University talks about his book Against Empathy with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Bloom argues that empathy--the ability to feel the emotions of others--is a bad guide to charitable giving and public policy. Bloom argues that reason combined with compassion is a better and more effective guide to making the world a better place.
2/27/20171 hour, 8 minutes, 24 seconds
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Tom Wainwright on Narconomics

When fighting the war on drugs, governments typically devote enormous resources trying to reduce the supply. But is this effective? Journalist and author Tom Wainwright of the Economist and author of Narconomics talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ways that the drug cartels respond to government attempts to reduce the availability of drugs. Like any business trying to maintain profitability, cartels look for ways to cut costs and maintain or grow revenue. Wainwright uses extensive on-the-ground interviews and reporting to understand the behavior of the cartels and argues that reducing demand would be a much more effective strategy for reducing drug use.
2/20/20171 hour, 11 minutes, 21 seconds
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Jim Epstein on Bitcoin, the Blockchain, and Freedom in Latin America

Writer, reporter, and film producer Jim Epstein talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about mining Bitcoins in Venezuela as a way to import food. Venezuela is a tragicomic example of how policy can lead to strange and presumably unexpected outcomes. Epstein also discusses how Bitcoin is being used elsewhere in Latin America and the potential for the blockchain technology to lower the costs of owning and transferring property.
2/13/201759 minutes, 51 seconds
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Gary Taubes on the Case Against Sugar

Sugar appears to have no nutritional value. But is it more than just empty calories? Is it actually bad for us? Author and journalist Gary Taubes talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, The Case Against Sugar. Taubes argues that there is substantial circumstantial evidence suggesting that sugar is the underlying cause of a host of modern health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Taubes concedes the evidence is not iron-clad or definitive and reflects along the way on the intellectual and personal challenges of holding a strong view in the face of significant skepticism.
2/6/20171 hour, 16 minutes, 57 seconds
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George Borjas on Immigration and We Wanted Workers

George Borjas of Harvard University and author of We Wanted Workers talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about immigration and the challenges of measuring the impact of increased immigration on American workers and consumers. The discussion also looks at the cultural impact of immigration and what immigration in the past can tell us about immigration today.
1/30/20171 hour, 5 minutes, 19 seconds
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Sam Quinones on Heroin, the Opioid Epidemic, and Dreamland

How did heroin spread beyond big cities in America? What's the connection between heroin and America's opioid problem? Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the explosion in heroin use and how one small Mexican town changed how heroin was produced and sold in America. That in turn became entangled with the growth in the use of pain-killers as recreational drugs. Drawing on the investigative reporting that culminated in his book, Quinones lays out the recent history and economics of the growth in heroin and pain-killer usage and the lost lives along the way.
1/23/20171 hour, 9 minutes, 56 seconds
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Michael Munger on the Basic Income Guarantee

Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the virtues and negatives of a basic guaranteed income--giving every American adult an annual amount of money to guarantee a subsistence level of well-being. How would such a plan work? How would it interact with current anti-poverty programs? How would it affect recipients and taxpayers? Munger attacks these issues and more in a lively conversation with Roberts.
1/16/20171 hour, 4 minutes, 16 seconds
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Robert Hall on Recession, Stagnation, and Monetary Policy

Economist Robert Hall of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the current state of the U.S. economy and what we know and don't know about the recovery from the Great Recession. Much of the conversation focuses on the choices facing the Federal Reserve and the policy instruments the Fed has available. The conversation includes a discussion of Hall's experience as chair of the National Bureau of Economic Research Committee on Business Cycle Dating.
1/9/20171 hour, 8 minutes, 23 seconds
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Mark Warshawsky on Compensation, Health Care Costs, and Inequality

Economist and author Mark Warshawsky of George Mason Univerity's Mercatus Center talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his work on the role health care benefits play in measuring inequality. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Warshawsky shows that because health care benefits are a larger share of compensation for lower-paid than higher-paid workers, measures of inequality and even measures of economic progress can be misleading or distorted. The conversation covers a wide range of topics related to how the labor market treats workers and the role of benefits in setting overall compensation.
1/2/20171 hour, 7 minutes, 2 seconds
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Chris Blattman on Sweatshops

If you were a poor person in a poor country, would you prefer steady work in a factory or to be your own boss, buying and selling in the local market? Economist Chris Blattman of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about experimental evidence on how poor people choose in the labor market and the consequences for their income, health, and satisfaction.
12/26/20161 hour, 17 minutes, 40 seconds
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Terry Anderson on Native American Economics

Terry Anderson of PERC talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about economic life for Native Americans. Anderson discusses economic life before the arrival of Europeans and how current policy affects Native Americans living on reservations today.
12/19/20161 hour, 7 minutes, 11 seconds
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Bruce Bueno de Mesquita on the Spoils of War

There is a fascinating and depressing positive correlation between the reputation of an American president and the number of people dying in wars while that president is in office. Political scientist Bruce Bueno de Mesquita of NYU and co-author of The Spoils of War talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how presidents go to war. Bueno de Mesquita argues that the decision of how and when to go to war is made in self-interested ways rather than in consideration of what is best for the nation. The discussion includes a revisionist perspective on the presidencies of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and others as Bueno de Mesquita tries to make the case that the reputations of these men are over-inflated.
12/12/20161 hour, 15 minutes, 10 seconds
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Thomas Leonard on Race, Eugenics, and Illiberal Reformers

Were the first professional economists racists? Thomas Leonard of Princeton University and author of Illiberal Reformers talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book--a portrait of the progressive movement and its early advocates at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. The economists of that time were eager to champion the power of the state and its ability to regulate capitalism successfully. Leonard exposes the racist origins of these ideas and the role eugenics played in the early days of professional economics. Woodrow Wilson takes a beating as well.
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