EconTalk on Smash Notes

EconTalk podcast.

March 03, 2020

EconTalk is an award-winning weekly talk show about economics in daily life. Featured guests include renowned economics professors, Nobel Prize winners, and exciting speakers on all kinds of topical matters related to economic thought. Topics include health care, business cycles, economic growth, free trade, education, finance, politics, sports, book reviews, parenting, and the curiosities of everyday decision-making. Russ Roberts, of the Library of Economics and Liberty (econlib.org) and the Hoover Institution, draws you in with lively guests and creative repartee. Look for related readings and the complete archive of previous shows at EconTalk.org, where you can also comment on the podcasts and ask questions.



Recently updated notes

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.

Updated on March 25

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Russ Roberts, host of EconTalk, does a monologue this week on the economics of trade and specialization. Economists have focused on David Ricardo's idea of comparative advantage as the source of specialization and wealth creation from trade. Drawing on Adam Smith and the work of James Buchanan, Yong Yoon, and Paul Romer, Roberts argues that we've neglected the role of the size of the market in creating incentives for specialization and wealth creation via trade. Simply put, the more people we trade with, the greater the opportunity to specialize and innovate, even when people are identical. The Ricardian insight masks the power of market size in driving innovation and the transformation of our standard of living over the last few centuries in the developed world.

Updated on April 01

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Russ Roberts talks with Milton Friedman about his research and views on inflation, the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke, and what the future holds.

Updated on June 20

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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.

Updated on May 28

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Jenny Schuetz of the Brookings Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about zoning, boarding houses, real estate development, and the housing market.

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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.

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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.

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Author and conservationist Isabella Tree talks about her book Wilding with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Tree and her husband decided to turn their three and a half 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Doug Lemov of Uncommon School and co-author of Reading Reconsidered talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about reading. Lemov makes the case for the educational importance of critical reading of challenging books and texts. Along the way, he gives listeners some ideas of how to read themselves and gives parents some ideas for how to educate their children.

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Erik Hurst of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of the labor market in the United States. Hurst notes dramatic changes in employment rates for men and speculates about the causes. Two factors discussed in detail are declines in the manufacturing sector and the rise of high-end video games as a form of leisure.

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Tim Harford, journalist and author, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, Messy. Harford argues that we have a weakness for order and neat solutions causing us to miss opportunities to find happiness or success with messier, more disorderly processes and solutions. Hartford looks at a wide range of examples from business and personal life making the case that tidiness is overrated and that messy should get more love.

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David Gelernter, professor of computer science at Yale University and author of The Tides of Mind, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about consciousness and how our minds evolve through the course of the day and as we grow up. Other topics discussed include creativity, artificial intelligence, and the singularity.

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Judith Donath, author of The Social Machine, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in her book--an examination of signaling, online identity, and online community. Donath argues that design elements in technology play a key role in our interactions with one another. The conversation closes with a discussion of data collection by corporations and the government.

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Casey Mulligan of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about life in Cuba. Mulligan, who recently returned from a trip to Cuba, discusses the economy, the standard of living and some of the peculiarities of communist control.

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Chris Arnade, former Wall Street trader turned photographer and social chronicler, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what he learned from the front lines of the financial industry in the 1990s and 2000s when everything slowly and then very quickly began to fall apart. He also discusses his transition into observer and photographer of drug addicts, the poor, and the forgotten parts of America.

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Nobel Laureate in Economics Angus Deaton of Princeton University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economics of trade and aid. Deaton wonders if economists should re-think the widely-held view that redistribution from rich nations to poor nations makes the world a better place. The conversation focuses on the challenges facing poor Americans including the rising mortality rate for white Americans ages 45-54.

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Cathy O'Neil, data scientist and author of Weapons of Math Destruction talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in her book. O'Neil argues that the commercial application of big data often harms individuals in unknown ways. She argues that the poor are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Examples discussed include prison sentencing, college rankings, evaluations of teachers, and targeted advertising. O'Neil argues for more transparency and ethical standards when using data.

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How are those in favor of bigger government and those who want smaller government like a couple stuck in a bad marriage? Economist John Cochrane of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how to take a different approach to the standard policy arguments. Cochrane wants to get away from the stale big government/small government arguments which he likens to a couple who have gotten stuck in a rut making the same ineffective arguments over and over. Cochrane argues for a fresh approach to economic policy including applications to growth, taxes and financial regulation.

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What does an x-ray of Hitler's skull have in common with a jar of Ronald Reagan's jelly beans? They are both part of the Hoover Institution archives. Eric Wakin, Director of the Library and Archives of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what it's like to be an archivist and the importance of archival materials for research, culture, and memory.

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Can machine learning improve the use of data and evidence for understanding economics and public policy? Susan Athey of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how machine learning can be used in conjunction with traditional econometric techniques to measure the impact of say, the minimum wage or the effectiveness of a new drug. The last part of the conversation looks at the experimental techniques being used by firms like Google and Amazon.

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Are there many Americans today who wish the President of the United States had more power relative to the other branches of Congress? Terry Moe is one of them. In this week's EconTalk episode, Moe--a professor of political science at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution--talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book (co-authored with William Howell), Relic. Moe wants to give the President the power to propose legislation that Congress would have to approve or reject free of amendments. Moe argues this would improve legislation and reduce the cronyism and special interest influence on Congress.

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Leo Katz, professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, Why the Law Is So Perverse. Katz argues that certain seemingly inexplicable features of the law are the result of conflicts between multiple objectives that the law or the courts must trade off against each other. Katz also argues that structure of the law and how it is enforced are analogous to certain inevitable ambiguities of collective choice and voting theory.

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Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how attitudes in the American South toward slavery evolved over time and what we can learn from that evolution about the role culture plays in our lives.

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Chuck Klosterman, author of But What If We're Wrong, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the possibility that things we hold to be undeniably true may turn out to be totally false in the future. This wide-ranging conversation covers music and literary reputations, fundamentals of science, and issues of self-deception and illusion.

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Adam D'Angelo, CEO of the question and answer website, Quora, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the history, evolution, and challenges of Quora. Along the way they discuss the aggregation of knowledge and the power of experiments for improving the day-to-day performance of the site.

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Fifty years ago, many of the best players in the National Football League took jobs in the off-season to augment the salaries they earned playing football. Matthew Futterman of the Wall Street Journal and author of Players talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how much football and so many aspects of sports--from tennis to golf to apparel to broadcasting to Olympics--has become incredibly more lucrative. Futterman shares the insights from his book and how all that money has changed sports, the athletes who compete, and the fans who watch.

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How important is grit relative to talent? Can grit be taught? Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance talks with with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the nature of success in work, play and life. How much does grit matter? Is grit malleable or something we're born with? Duckworth discusses her research on these questions and how to think about what it means for a child and an adult to thrive.

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How does our attitude toward ourselves affect our success or failure in the world of business or in friendship? Ryan Holiday, author of Ego Is the Enemy, talks with Econtalk host Russ Roberts about the role of ego in business, our personal lives, and world history.

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Technology and innovation usually mean higher quality and lower prices. Is health care different? Jonathan Skinner of Dartmouth College talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how technology and innovation affect the cost and efficacy of health care. The conversation concludes with a discussion of the rise in mortality among middle-age white males--a surprising reversal of trend--that has been linked to use of opioid painkillers.

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Yuval Levin, author and editor of National Affairs, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his latest book, The Fractured Republic. Levin argues that both major political parties suffer from a misplaced nostalgia--a yearning for a time when things were better even though the policies that created those good times are no longer as relevant to today. Levin argues for a strengthening of the intermediate institutions--institutions between the individual and the government such as religious communities and other non-profits as a way toward a better life for Americans.

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How should we feel about cruise lines that offer special amenities for top-paying travelers, or first-class sections of airplanes? Do such consumption inequalities harm the social fabric or is there more to the story? Richard Epstein of New York University and the Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about these issues arguing that these kinds of unequal treatment provide benefits beyond those who receive the top-of-the-line option. The conversation then moves on to a general discussion of inequality, taxation, and redistribution.

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Futurist, author, and visionary Kevin Kelly talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, The Inevitable, Kelly's look at what the future might be like and the role of the human experience in a world increasingly filled with information, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the connecting of the planet's population.

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You might think your tweets on Twitter belong to you. But in 2010, the Library of Congress acquired the entire archive of Twitter. Why would such a majestic library acquire such seemingly ephemeral material? Historian Abby Smith Rumsey, author of When We Are No More, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about this decision of the Library of Congress and the general challenge of how to cope with a world when so much of what we write and read is digital. Subjects discussed include what we can learn from the past, the power of collective memory, what is worth saving, and how we might archive our electronic lives so that we and those who come after us can find what we might be looking for.

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Jason Zweig of the Wall Street Journal and author of The Devil's Financial Dictionary talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about finance, financial journalism and Zweig's new book. Zweig discusses rationality and the investor's challenge of self-restraint, the repetitive nature of financial journalism, and the financial crisis of 2008.

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Was the Financial Crisis of 2008 caused by a crisis in the housing market? Or did the Federal Reserve turn a garden-variety recession into the Great Recession? David Beckworth of Western Kentucky University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Fed's response to the recession that began in December of 2007 and worsened in 2008. Beckworth argues that the Fed failed to respond adequately to the drop in nominal GDP by keeping interest rates too high for too long. Beckworth describes what he thinks the Fed should have done and the lessons we should learn going forward to reduce the severity of future downturns.

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Are workers being left behind when the economy grows? Is technology making the human workforce obsolete? James Bessen, author of Learning by Doing, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the role of learning on the job in the past and in the present. Bessen argues that during times of technological innovation, it often takes years before workers see higher wages from productivity increases. Bessen stresses the importance of the standardization of education on the job as workers adapt to new technology.

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Should the United States allow its citizens to buy oil from countries run by bad men? Is this a case where morality trumps the usual case for free trade? Leif Wenar, professor of philosophy at King's College, London and author of Blood Oil, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the morality of buying resources from countries that use the resulting revenue to oppress their citizens. Based on the ideas in his book, Wenar argues that in many cases, importing oil is equivalent to buying stolen goods where the low prices cannot justify the purchase. The conversation discusses the possible outcomes from banning foreign oil from tyrannical regimes along with the resource curse and the case for fair trade.

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What is machine learning? How is it transforming our lives and workplaces? What might the future hold? Pedro Domingos of the University of Washington and author of The Master Algorithm talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the present and future of machine learning. Domingos stresses the iterative and ever-improving nature of machine learning. He is fundamentally an optimist about the potential of machine learning with ever-larger amounts of data to transform the human experience.

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Arnold Kling, economist and author, speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, Specialization and Trade: A Reintroduction to Economics. Kling argues that macroeconomics ignores the challenges of buyers and sellers working together in the real world of specialization and trade. Instead, most macroeconomic theories struggle to incorporate the differences across workers and products. Kling points the listener toward a different perspective on macroeconomics and the business cycle that focuses on those differences. Kling also lays out related insights on political economy as well as his take on G.A. Cohen's parable of the camping trip.

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Alberto Alesina of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his research on fiscal policy and austerity. Alesina's research shows that spending cuts to reduce budget deficits are less harmful than tax increases. Alesina discusses the intuition behind this empirical finding and discusses other issues such as Greece's financial situation.

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Gary Belsky, co-author of On the Origins of Sports and former editor-in-chief of ESPN the Magazine, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the origins of sports--how various sports evolved and emerged into their current incarnations. Along the way he discusses the popularity of American football, the written (and unwritten) rules of sports, and the focus on replay and fairness in modern sports.

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Is your success in life your own doing? Robert Frank of Cornell University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, Success and Luck. Frank argues that we underestimate the role that luck plays in our success and makes the case for a progressive consumption tax as a way to improve even the welfare of the wealthy.

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Will our brains ever be uploaded into a computer? Will we live forever? Richard Jones, physicist at the University of Sheffield and author of Against Transhumanism, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about transhumanism--the effort to radically transform human existence via technology. Jones argues that the grandest visions of the potential of technology--uploading of brains and the ability to rearrange matter via nanotechnology are much more limited and unlikely than proponents of these technologies suggest. The conversation closes with the role of government in innovation and developing technology.

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How bad is pink slime? Are free-range chickens happier? Can robots cook? Jayson Lusk of Oklahoma State University and the author of Unnaturally Delicious talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about these questions and more from his new book. Lusk explores the wide-ranging application of technology to farming, cooking, protein production, and more.

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Why would anyone want to hire a middleman, like a wedding planner, especially if you have time to take care of the planning yourself? Marina Krakovsky, author of The Middleman Economy talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about middlemen in the modern economy. Despite predictions that the internet would destroy the need for middlemen, Krakovsky argues they're more valuable than ever though their roles have changed. Krakovsky looks at the different roles middlemen play today and how their value added can justify their existence.

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David Autor of MIT talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the fundamentals of trade and his research on the impact on workers and communities from trade with China. Autor's research finds large and persistent effects on manufacturing jobs and communities where those jobs once were. Autor and Roberts discuss whether these results capture the full impact of increased trade with China and what the policy response might be that could help workers hurt by trade.

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Will Davies of Goldsmith's, University of London and author of The Limits of Neoliberalism talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book. Davies argues that the free-market vision of economists like Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek has de-romanticized politics and ensconced competition at the heart of our economy and culture. Davies argues for the value of a completely different perspective and pushes for a reduction in the influence and status of economists as policymakers and influencers. Along the way he gives his perspective on the role of economists in the financial crisis and in antitrust policy.

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Alison Wolf author of The XX Factor, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the changing roles of women in the family and the workplace. Wolf argues that highly educated women are increasingly similar to highly educated men in their lifestyles and choices while becoming very different from less educated women. Wolf traces the origins of these changes and the interaction between economic and cultural factors affecting men, women, the family, and the workplace.

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Matt Ridley talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, The Evolution of Everything. Ridley applies the lens of emergent order to a wide variety of phenomena including culture, morality, religion, commerce, innovation, and consciousness.

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Why do so many medical practices that begin with such promise and confidence turn out to be either ineffective at best or harmful at worst? Adam Cifu of the University of Chicago's School of Medicine and co-author (with Vinayak Prasad) of Ending Medical Reversal explores this question with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Cifu shows that medical reversal--the discovery that prescribed medical practices are ineffective or harmful--is distressingly common. He contrasts the different types of evidence that support or discourage various medical practices and discusses the cultural challenges doctors face in turning away from techniques they have used for many years.

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Adam Ozimek of Moody's Analytics and blogger at Forbes talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about why economists change their minds or don't. Ozimek argues that economists make erratic but steady progress using econometrics and other forms of evidence to understand the impact of public policies such as the minimum wage or government stimulus. Roberts pushes back and discusses the role of ideology, the complexity of where our views come from and the potential for confirmation bias.

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Timothy Taylor, blogger at the Conversable Economist and editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the role of government and business in taking care of workers and creating economic growth. Taylor discusses the paradox that the political process seems to expect firms to take care of workers and government to create growth. The conversation then turns to a wide array of related issues including how Wal-Mart treats its workers. The conversation closes with a discussion of Taylor's role as founding editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

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Nobel Laureate James Heckman of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of econometrics and the challenges of measurement in assessing economic theories and public policy. Heckman gives us his take on natural experiments, selection bias, randomized control trials and the reliability of sophisticated statistical analysis. The conversation closes with Heckman reminiscing about his intellectual influences throughout his career.

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How many pairs of sneakers do you own? Josh Luber of Campless and StockX talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the world of sneakerheads--people passionate for collecting and trading sneakers. Each week people line up to buy classic sneaker models Nike re-releases. Luber has collected millions of transactions from Ebay on these sneakers and others and has analyzed the return to investing in various sneaker models. The conversation includes a discussion of how Nike has helped to create this market and Luber's work creating a stock market for sneakers and other goods.

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When does the pursuit of safety lead us into danger? Greg Ip, of the Wall Street Journal and author of Foolproof talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book--the way we publicly and privately try to cope with risk and danger and how those choices can create unintended consequences. While much of the conversation focuses on the financial crisis of 2008, there are also discussions of football injuries, damage from natural disasters such as hurricanes, car accidents, and Herbert Hoover. Along the way, Herman Melville's insights into the mesmerizing nature of water make an appearance.

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How can you learn to think like an economist? One way is to think about what might be called dinner table economics--puzzles or patterns that arise in everyday life that would be good to understand. Robert Frank of Cornell University and author of The Economic Naturalist talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a number of these puzzles including why grooms typically rent tuxedos but the bride usually buys her gown, why bicycles can be more expensive to rent than cars, the effects of the price of corn on the price of pork, and why scammers who invoke Nigeria keep using the same old story.

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Noah Smith of Stony Brook University and writer at Bloomberg View talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about whether economics is a science in some sense of that word. How reliable are experiments in economics? What about the statistical analysis that underlies much of the empirical work in modern economics? Additional topics include the reliability of the empirical analysis of the minimum wage, the state of macroeconomics, and the role of prejudice or prior beliefs in the interpretation of data and evidence.

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Can you predict the future? Or at least gauge the probability of political or economic events in the near future? Philip Tetlock of the University of Pennsylvania and author of Superforecasting talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his work on assessing probabilities with teams of thoughtful amateurs. Tetlock finds that teams of amateurs trained in gathering information and thinking about it systematically outperformed experts in assigning probabilities of various events in a competition organized by IARPA, research agency under the Director of National Intelligence. In this conversation, Tetlock discusses the meaning, reliability, and usefulness of trying to assign probabilities to one-time events.

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Did Ben Bernanke and the Fed save the U.S. economy from disaster in 2008 or did the Fed make things worse? Why did the Fed reward banks that kept reserves rather than releasing funds into the economy? George Selgin of the Cato Institute tries to answer these questions and more in this conversation with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Selgin argues that the Fed made critical mistakes both before and after the collapse of Lehman Brothers by lending to insolvent banks as well as by paying interest on reserves held at the Fed by member banks.

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If you have 250 million tons of food to give away every year to local food banks how should you do it? Canice Prendergast of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how he and a team of economists created an artificial currency and a daily auction for the national food bank Feeding America so that local food banks could bid on the types of food that were the most valuable to them. Prendergast explains the results of the new system and the cultural and practical challenges of bringing prices, even artificial ones, to a world accustomed to giving things away.

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Are we on the verge of driverless cars and other forms of autonomous robots and artificial intelligence? David Mindell of MIT and the author of Our Robots, Ourselves talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the robotic revolution. Mindell argues that much of the optimism for autonomous robots ignores decades of experience with semi-autonomous robots in deep-sea operation, space, air, and the military. In all of these areas, the role of human supervision remains at a high level with little full autonomy. Mindell traces some of the history of the human interaction with robots and artificial intelligence and speculates on what the future might hold.

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Michael Munger of Duke University makes his 29th appearance on the 500th episode of EconTalk alongside EconTalk host Russ Roberts. He talks about his personal intellectual journey, his interest in public choice, and Unicorn economics. Other topics include the origins of EconTalk, Roberts's intellectual roots, and the EconTalk theme music. The conversation closes with a brief reprise of a few highlights from past Munger appearances on EconTalk.

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Brian Nosek of the University of Virginia and the Center for Open Science talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Reproducibility Project--an effort to reproduce the findings of 100 articles in three top psychology journals. Nosek talks about the findings and the implications for academic publishing and the reliability of published results.

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Should women get routine mammograms? Should men get regular PSA exams? Robert Aronowitz of the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Risky Medicine talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the increasing focus on risk reduction rather than health itself as a goal. Aronowitz discusses the social and political forces that push us toward more preventive testing even when those tests have not been shown to be effective. Aronowitz's perspective is a provocative look at the opportunity cost of risk-reduction.

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Michael Matheson Miller of the Acton Institute and the Director of the documentary Poverty, Inc., talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his award-winning documentary on the barriers facing the poor around the world. Topics discussed include the incentives facing poverty-fighting NGOs and their staff, the importance of secure and well-defined property rights, and the costs and benefits of agricultural aid.

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Cesar Hidalgo of MIT and the author of Why Information Grows talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the growth of knowledge and know-how in the modern economy. Hidalgo emphasizes the importance of networks among innovators and creators and the role of trust in sustaining those networks.

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Yuval Harari of Hebrew University and author of Sapiens talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the history of humanity. Topics discussed include the move from hunting and gathering to agriculture, the role of fiction in sustaining imagination, the nature of money, the impact of empires and the synergies between empires and science.

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Pete Boettke of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the political and economic lessons he has learned as program director of research in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In this wide-ranging conversation, Boettke discusses the role of civil society, the barriers to recovery that have hampered New Orleans and what worked well as people and institutions responded to tragedy and devastation.

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Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly Media talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his career in technology and media and the challenges facing low-wage workers as technology advances. Topics include the early days of the Internet, the efficacy of regulation to protect workers, and the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop.

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When Lewis and Clark crossed through Montana, they encountered an extraordinary cornucopia of wildlife. Most of that ecosystem and the animals that once thrived there are gone. But a non-profit wants to bring it all back. Pete Geddes, Managing Director of the American Prairie Reserve talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about creating the Serengeti of the Americas--a 3.3 million acre prairie that would allow bison, pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs and their friends to inhabit a Wildlife Reserve in Montana, the size of Connecticut. Geddes discusses the goals of the American Prairie Reserve and how they're using a for-profit company, Wild Sky Beef, to gather support and help from local ranchers for the project.

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There is only one country in the world where a person can sell a kidney to another citizen who buys it. That country is Iran. Tina Rosenberg of The New York Times talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Iranian kidney market--how it works, its strengths and weaknesses, and whether its lessons apply to the United States or elsewhere.

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Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at a Broadway show? This week's EconTalk lifts the curtain on the magical world of Broadway: Mitch Weiss, co-author of The Business of Broadway, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book and what it's like to manage the production of a blockbuster musical in New York City. Topics discussed include the eight-performance-per-week grind, the how and why of creating a Broadway set, the challenges of wardrobes (domestic and international) and the pluses and minuses of unions which are a central part of the Broadway workplace.

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How much care do you take when you make a donation to a charity? What careers make the biggest difference when it comes to helping others? William MacAskill of Oxford University and the author of Doing Good Better talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book and the idea of effective altruism. MacAskill urges donors to spend their money more effectively and argues that the impact on human well-being can be immense. MacAskill wants donors to rely on scientific assessments of effectiveness. Roberts pushes back on the reliability of such assessments. Other topics include sweatshops, choosing a career to have the biggest impact on others, and the interaction between private philanthropy and political action.

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Are human beings naturally cooperative or selfish? Can people thrive without government law? Paul Robinson of the University of Pennsylvania and author of Pirates, Prisoners and Lepers talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts the ideas in his book. Robinson argues that without government sanctions or legislation, there is an evolutionary drive to cooperate even in life-and-death situations. In such situations private punishment and norms play a crucial role in sustaining cooperative solutions. The last part of the conversation deals with the criminal justice system and how attitudes toward the system affect society-wide cooperation and crime.

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Thousands of bears in New Jersey. Humpback whales near New York City. Acres devoted to farming stable or declining even as food production soars. Jesse Ausubel of the Rockefeller University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the return of nature. Ausubel shows how technology has reduced many of the dimensions of the human footprint even as population rises and why this trend is likely to continue into the future. The conversation concludes with Ausubel's cautious optimism about the impact of climate change.

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Rachel Laudan, visiting scholar at the University of Texas and author of Cuisine and Empire, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the history of food. Topics covered include the importance of grain, the spread of various styles of cooking, why French cooking has elite status, and the reach of McDonald's. The conversation concludes with a discussion of the appeal of local food and other recent food passions.

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Summer Brennan, author of The Oyster War, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book and the fight between the Drakes Bay Oyster Company and the federal government over farming oysters in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Along the way they discuss the economics of oyster farming, the nature of wilderness, and the challenge of land use in national parks and seashores.

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Seafood is highly perishable and supply is often uncertain. Roger Berkowitz, CEO of Legal Sea Foods talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of running 34 seafood restaurants up and down the east coast. Berkowitz draws on his 22 year tenure as CEO and discusses how his business works day-to-day and the question of sustainability.

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How important are basic skills for economic success and growth? Eric Hanushek of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the importance of basic education in math and literacy and their relationship to economic growth. Hanushek argues that excellence in educating people in basic skills leads to economic growth, especially in poorer countries where years of education may be a poor proxy for learning. He argues that the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals should emphasize outputs rather than inputs--performance on skill-based exams rather than years of education.

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Wences Casares, bitcoin evangelist and founder and CEO of Xapo, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how bitcoin works, the genius of bitcoin's creator, and how Xapo is structured to create security for bitcoin banking.

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Lee Ohanian, Arnold Kling, and John Cochrane talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the future of freedom, democracy, and prosperity. Recorded in front of a live audience at Stanford University's Hoover Institution as part of a conference on Magna Carta, the three guests give their perspective on the future of the American economy and the interaction between politics and economics. Each guest makes a brief presentation at the start followed by a moderated conversation.

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Nobel Laureate Alvin Roth of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his work on matching markets. Examples include marriage, matching kidney donors to kidney recipients, and students to schools in cities that allow choice in their public school systems. Roth also discusses repugnance--the unease some people have with allowing buying and selling of some goods and what it's like to watch a kidney transplant knowing your research has helped make the surgery possible.

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Science writer and author Matt Ridley discusses climate change with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Based on his reading of the scientific evidence, Ridley describes himself as a "lukewarmer." While Ridley agrees that humans have made the climate warmer, he argues that the impact is small or positive over some temperature ranges and regions. He rejects the catastrophic scenarios that some say are sufficiently likely to justify dramatic policy responses, and he reflects on the challenges of staking out an unpopular position on a contentious policy issue.

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Morten Jerven of Simon Frasier University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book, Africa: Why Economists Get It Wrong. Jerven, who will be joining Noragric at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences this fall, argues that economists have misread the economic history of Africa, ignoring successful episodes of economic growth while trying to explain a perpetual malaise that does not exist. Jerven is critical of many of the attempts to explain growth using econometric techniques and suggests that a richer approach is necessary that is aware of the particular circumstances facing poor countries.

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What's it like to hang out with Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Steve Carell for two months? Adam Davidson, who writes for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, was the technical advisor to the upcoming movie, The Big Short. Besides rubbing shoulders with celebrities, he noticed what he calls the Hollywood model where highly talented workers come together temporarily in project-based employment. Davidson discusses the costs and benefits of this approach and its potential emergence as a more common phenomenon throughout the economy.

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Nathaniel Popper of the New York Times and the author of Digital Gold talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Bitcoin. Can Bitcoin make it? What went wrong with Mt. Gox? Why did Ross Ulbricht, the creator of Silk Road, just get sentenced to life in prison? Why are venture capital firms pouring millions of dollars into companies promising easier ways to use Bitcoin? Popper discusses these questions along with the technical side of Bitcoin to help listeners understand why so many investors are excited about the potential of Bitcoin.

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Is climate change the ultimate Black Swan? Martin Weitzman of Harvard University and co-author of Climate Shock talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the risks of climate change. Weitzman argues that climate change is a fat-tailed phenomenon--there is a non-trivial risk of a catastrophe. Though Weitzman concedes that our knowledge of the climate is quite incomplete, he suggests that it is prudent to take serious measures, including possibly geo-engineering, to reduce the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

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Bent Flyvbjerg of Oxford University speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the political economy of megaprojects--massive investments of a billion dollars or more in infrastructure or technology. Flyvbjerg argues that such projects consistently end up costing more with smaller benefits than projected and almost always end up with costs that exceed the benefits. Flyvbjerg explores the reasons for the poor predictions and poor performance of giant investment projects and what might be done to improve their effectiveness.

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Did an 800-year old piece of parchment really change the world? Nicholas Vincent of the University of East Anglia talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Magna Carta, the founding document of English law and liberty. The Magna Carta was repudiated just ten weeks after King John issued it. Yet, its impact is still with us today. In this conversation, Vincent explains what led to the Magna Carta and how its influence remains with us today in England and elsewhere.

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We're in the middle of a healthcare revolution but it's about more than marvelous life-saving and life-enhancing apps on our smartphone. Eric Topol of the Scripps Translational Science Institute and author of The Patient Will See You Now argues that the digital revolution will give us more control of our health information and data. More powerful patients will transform the doctor-patient interaction. Topol talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book giving us a glimpse of the changes coming to medicine from the digital revolution.

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Michael O'Hare of the University of California, Berkeley talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the management of art museums. O'Hare suggests a number of changes that would allow museums to be more effective and to justify their non-profit status--lower admission prices, selling part of their substantial unseen inventory to other museums, and broadening the activities of the museum to include educational exhibits on the creation of art and the commercial side of art. He encourages trustees of museums to see their job more as tough-minded advisors and less as financiers of museum budgets.

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Leonard Wong of the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about honesty in the military. Based on a recent co-authored paper, Wong argues that the paperwork and training burden on U.S. military officers requires dishonesty--it is simply impossible to comply with all the requirements. This creates a tension for an institution that prides itself on honesty, trust, and integrity. The conversation closes with suggestions for how the military might reform the compliance and requirement process.

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Scott Sumner, of Bentley University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about interest rates. Sumner suggests that professional economists sometimes confuse cause and effect with respect to prices and quantities. Low interest rates need not encourage investment for example, if interest rates are low because of a decrease in demand. Sumner also talk about possible explanations for the historically low real rates of interest in today's economy along with other aspects of monetary policy, interest rates, and investment.

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Phil Rosenzweig, professor of strategy and international business at IMD in Switzerland and author of the book Left Brain, Right Stuff: How Leaders Make Winning Decisions talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book. The focus of the conversation is on the lessons from behavioral economics--when do those lessons inform and when do they mislead when applied to real-world business decisions. Topics discussed include overconfidence, transparency, the winner's curse, evaluating leaders, and the role of experimental findings in thinking about decision-making.

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Vernon Smith and James Otteson talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Adam Smith in front of a live audience at Ball State University. Topics discussed include Smith's view of human nature, the relevance of Smith for philosophy and economics today, and the connection between Smith's two books, The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations.

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David Skarbek of King's College London and author of The Social Order of the Underworld: How Prison Gangs Govern The American Penal System talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the written and unwritten rules in America's prisons for the most violent and dangerous criminals. Skarbek explains how and why prison gangs emerged in the last half of the 20th century, their influence both inside and outside of prisons, and how their governance structure is maintained.

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Campbell Harvey of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his research evaluating various investment and trading strategies and the challenge of measuring their effectiveness. Topics discussed include skill vs. luck, self-deception, the measures of statistical significance, skewness in investment returns, and the potential of big data.

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Paul Romer of New York University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about reforming cities to allow growth and human flourishing. Topics discussed include charter cities, the role of population density in city life, driverless cars, and various ways to help the poorest people in the world.

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Lawrence H. White of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the possibility of a monetary constitution. Based on a new book, Renewing the Search for a Monetary Constitution, White explores different constitutional constraints that might be put on the government's role in money and monetary policy. Topics discussed include cryptocurrencies, the gold standard, the Taylor Rule, the performance of the Fed, free banking, and private currency.

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David Zetland of Leiden University College in the Netherlands and author of Living with Water Scarcity talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of water management. Issues covered include the sustainability of water supplies, the affordability of water for the poor, the incentives water companies face, and the management of water systems in the poorest countries. Also discussed are the diamond and water paradox, campaigns to reduce water usage, and the role of prices in managing a water system.

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Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book (co-authored with Kevin Munger), Choosing in Groups. Munger lays out the challenges of group decision-making and the challenges of agreeing on constitutions or voting rules for group decision-making. The conversation highlights some of the challenges of majority rule and uses the Lewis and Clark expedition as an example.

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Benn Steil of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Bretton Woods, the conference that resulted in the IMF, the World Bank, and the post-war international monetary system. Topics discussed include America and Britain's conflicting interests during and after World War II, the relative instability of the post-war system, and the personalities and egos of the individuals at Bretton Woods, including John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White.

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Daniel Sumner of the University of California talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about agricultural subsidies in the United States, the winners and losers from those subsidies, and how the structure of subsidies has changed from the New Deal to the present. Sumner also explains how American policies have affected foreign farmers.

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Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts on whether the financial sector is good for society and about the gap between how banks and bankers are perceived by the public vs. finance professors. Zingales discusses the costs and benefits of financial innovation, compares the finance sector to the health sector, and suggests how business education should talk about finance to create better behavior.

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Alex Tabarrok of George Mason University talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a recent paper Tabarrok co-authored with Shruti Rajagopalan on Gurgaon, a city in India that until recently had little or no municipal government. The two discuss the successes and failures of this private city, the tendency to romanticize the outcomes of market and government action, and the potential for private cities to meet growing demand for urban living in India and China.

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Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Antifragile, Black Swan, and Fooled by Randomness, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a recent co-authored paper on the risks of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the use of the Precautionary Principle. Taleb contrasts harm with ruin and explains how the differences imply different rules of behavior when dealing with the risk of each. Taleb argues that when considering the riskiness of GMOs, the right understanding of statistics is more valuable than expertise in biology or genetics. The central issue that pervades the conversation is how to cope with a small non-negligible risk of catastrophe.

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Greg Page, former CEO of Cargill, the largest privately-held company in America, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the global food supply and the challenges of running a company with employees and activity all over the world. Page talks about the role of prices in global food markets in signaling information and prompting changes in response to those signals. Other topics include government's role in agriculture, the locavore movement and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

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Joshua Greene, of Harvard University and author of Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about morality and the challenges we face when our morality conflicts with that of others. Topics discussed include the difference between what Greene calls automatic thinking and manual thinking, the moral dilemma known as "the trolley problem," and the difficulties of identifying and solving problems in a society that has a plurality of values. Greene defends utilitarianism as a way of adjudicating moral differences.

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James Tooley, Professor of Education at Newcastle University, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about low-cost for-profit private schools in the slums and rural areas of poor countries. Tooley shows how surprisingly widespread private schools are for the poor and how effective they are relative to public schools where teacher attendance and performance can be very disappointing. The conversation closes with whether public schooling should remain the ideal in poor countries.

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Joshua Angrist of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the craft of econometrics--how to use economic thinking and statistical methods to make sense of data and uncover causation. Angrist argues that improvements in research design along with various econometric techniques have improved the credibility of measurement in a complex world. Roberts pushes back and the conversation concludes with a discussion of how to assess the reliability of findings in controversial public policy areas.

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Gary Marcus of New York University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the future of artificial intelligence (AI). While Marcus is concerned about how advances in AI might hurt human flourishing, he argues that truly transformative smart machines are still a long way away and that to date, the exponential improvements in technology have been in hardware, not software. Marcus proposes ways to raise standards in programming to reduce mistakes that would have catastrophic effects if advanced AI does come to fruition. The two also discuss "big data's" emphasis on correlations, and how that leaves much to be desired.

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James Otteson of Wake Forest University talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book, The End of Socialism. Otteson argues that socialism (including what he calls the "socialist inclination") is morally and practically inferior to capitalism. Otteson contrasts socialism and capitalism through the views of G. A. Cohen and Adam Smith. Otteson emphasizes the importance of moral agency and respect for the individual in his defense of capitalism. The conversation also includes a discussion of the deep appeal of the tenets of socialism such as equality and the impulse for top-down planning.

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Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. Bostrom argues that when machines exist which dwarf human intelligence they will threaten human existence unless steps are taken now to reduce the risk. The conversation covers the likelihood of the worst scenarios, strategies that might be used to reduce the risk and the implications for labor markets, and human flourishing in a world of superintelligent machines.

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Emily Oster of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about why U.S. infant mortality is twice that in Finland and high relative to the rest of the world, given high income levels in the United States. The conversation explores the roles of measurement and definition along with culture to understand the causes of infant mortality in the United States and how it might be improved.

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Nobel Laureate Vernon L. Smith of Chapman University talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how Adam Smith's book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments has enriched his understanding of human behavior. He contrasts Adam Smith's vision in Sentiments with the traditional neoclassical models of choice and applies Smith's insights to explain unexpected experimental results from the laboratory.

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Becky Liddicoat Yamarik, Hospice Palliative Care Physician, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the joys and challenges of providing care for terminally ill patients. The two discuss the services palliative care provides, how patients make choices about quality of life and when to stop receiving treatment, conflicts of interest between patients and families, and patients' preparedness to make these decisions.

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Daron Acemoglu, the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new paper co-authored with James Robinson, "The Rise and Fall of General Laws of Capitalism," a critique of Thomas Piketty, Karl Marx, and other thinkers who have tried to explain patterns of data as inevitable "laws" without regard to institutions. Acemoglu and Roberts also discuss labor unions, labor markets, and inequality.

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Robert Solow, Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Nobel Laureate, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his hugely influential theory of growth and inspiration to create a model that better reflected the stable long-term growth of an economy. Solow contends that capital accumulation cannot explain a significant portion of the economic growth we see. He makes a critical distinction between innovation and technology, and then discusses his views on Milton Friedman and John M. Keynes.

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Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Zingales's essay, "Preventing Economists' Capture." Zingales argues that just as regulators become swayed by the implicit incentives of dealing with industry executives, so too with economists who study business: supporting business interests can be financially and professionally rewarding. Zingales outlines the different ways that economists benefit from supporting business interests and ways that economists might work to prevent that influence or at least be aware of it.

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EconTalk host Russ Roberts is interviewed by long-time EconTalk guest Michael Munger about Russ's new book, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness. Topics discussed include how economists view human motivation and consumer behavior, the role of conscience and self-interest in acts of kindness, and the costs and benefits of judging others. The conversation closes with a discussion of how Smith can help us understand villains in movies.

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David Autor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the future of work and the role that automation and smart machines might play in the workforce. Autor stresses the importance of Michael Polanyi's insight that many of the things we know and understand cannot be easily written down or communicated. Those kinds of tacit knowledge will be difficult for smart machines to access and use. In addition, Autor argues that fundamentally, the gains from machine productivity will accrue to humans. The conversation closes with a discussion of the distributional implications of a world with a vastly larger role for smart machines.

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Martha Nussbaum of the University of Chicago and author of Creating Capabilities talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about an alternative to GDP for measuring economic performance at the national level. She is a proponent of the capabilities approach that emphasizes how easily individuals can acquire skills and use them, as well as the capability to live long and enjoy life. Nussbaum argues that government policy should focus on creating capabilities rather than allowing them to emerge through individual choices and civil society.

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Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century talks to Econtalk host Russ Roberts about the book. The conversation covers some of the key empirical findings of the book along with a discussion of their significance.

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Elizabeth Green, author of the new book Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach it to Anyone), talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the art of teaching and the history of various reforms, mostly failed, trying to improve teaching in America. Specific topics include the theoretical focus of undergraduate education programs and various techniques being used in charter schools and elsewhere to improve teaching performance.

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Paul Pfleiderer, C.O.G. Miller Distinguished Professor of Finance at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his recent paper critiquing what Pfleiderer calls "Chameleon Models," economic models that are thought to explain the real world with little analysis of the accuracy of their assumptions. Also discussed are Akerlof's market for lemons model, Friedman's idea that assumptions do not have to be reasonable as long as the model predicts what happens in the real world, and the dangers of leaping from a model's results to making policy recommendations.

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Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder and chief technology officer of Airbnb, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Airbnb, one of the earliest companies to use technology to allow individuals to share underused resources, and in the case of Airbnb, housing. Blecharczyk and Roberts discuss how a design conference and the Democratic National Convention got Airbnb started, how the company aligns incentives to overcome the trust problem of house-sharing, and the rise of technology and online social networks to make a new business model possible. Along the way, Blecharczyk gives his take on the role of luck vs. skill in entrepreneurial success and how Airbnb plans to expand its product offerings in the future.

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Daphne Koller of Coursera talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about online educational website Coursera and the future of education both online and via bricks-and-mortar. Koller, co-founder of Coursera with Andrew Ng, explains how Coursera partners with universities, how they try to create community and interaction, and the likely impact of widespread digital education on universities and those who want to learn. The conversation includes a discussion of why Koller left a chaired position in computer science at Stanford University to run a for-profit start-up in a crowded field.

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Terry Anderson, Distinguished Fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about free-market environmentalism, the dynamics of the Yellowstone ecosystem, and how property rights can protect natural resources.

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Barry Weingast, professor of political science at Stanford University and senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the nature of law. Weingast takes issue with some of the standard views of law, and proposes a better way to understand law. The two discuss the fundamental principles of law, how it can emerge in a decentralized way to resolve disputes over property and other commercial and social interactions. Examples include Iceland, Ancient Greece, and California during the gold rush. Also considered are how laws coordinate expectations and the way that social pressure can be used to enforce law in a decentralized fashion.

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Reid Hoffman, co-founder of professional networking site LinkedIn, and Ben Casnocha, former Chief-of-Staff of LinkedIn, talk to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about LinkedIn and their book The Alliance. Hoffman and Casnocha discuss the founding and vision of LinkedIn along with their ideas in The Alliance on how to improve employee/employer relations when turnover is high and loyalty on each side is low.

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Sam Altman, president of startup accelerating firm Y Combinator, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Y Combinator's innovative strategy for discovering, funding, and coaching groundbreaking startups, what the company looks for in a potential startup, and Silicon Valley's attitude toward entrenched firms. The two also discuss Altman's thoughts on sectors of the economy that are ripe for innovation and how new firms are revolutionizing operations in these industries.

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Chris Blattman of Columbia University talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a radical approach to fighting poverty in desperately poor countries: giving cash to aid recipients and allowing them to spend it as they please. Blattman shares his research and cautious optimism about giving cash and discusses how infusions of cash affect growth, educational outcomes, and political behavior (including violence). The conversation concludes with a discussion of the limits of aid and the some of the moral issues facing aid activists and researchers.

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D.G. Myers, literary critic and cancer patient, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the lessons he has learned from receiving a cancer diagnosis six years ago. Myers emphasizes the importance of dealing with cancer honestly and using it as a way to focus attention on what matters in life. The conversation illuminates the essence of opportunity cost and the importance of allocating our time, perhaps our scarcest resource, wisely. The last part of the conversation discusses a number of literary issues including the role of English literature and creative writing in American universities.

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Mike Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the sharing economy--companies like Uber, AirBnB, FlightApp, and DogVacay that let people share their houses, cars, or other assets with strangers in exchange for money. These companies dramatically increase the use of resources that would otherwise be idle and disrupt existing services such as hotels and taxis. Topics discussed include the regulatory response to these companies, the politics of that response, and the significance of these new products. The conversation closes with the potential impact of Uber combining with driverless cars to change the automobile industry and cities.

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Lars Peter Hansen of the University of Chicago and Nobel Laureate in economics, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the power and limits of economic models and quantitative methods. Hanson defends the value of models while recognizing their limitations. The two also discuss quantifying systemic financial risk, how our understanding of financial markets has changed, the nature of risk, and areas of economics that Hanson believes are ripe for further research.

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Gregory Zuckerman of the Wall Street Journal and author of The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book, the rise of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), how this technology developed, and the vibrant personalities that pioneered the energy revolution. Topics discussed along the way include the history and future of fracking, environmental concerns about the process, and how the story of fracking is the classic tale of the successes and failures of determined risk-takers. The role of market forces in driving that success and failure runs through the entire conversation.

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William Easterly of New York University and author of The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book. Easterly argues that poverty endures in many poor countries because of a lack of economic and political freedom for its poorest members. He argues that the aid process and the role experts play in that process reinforces the oppression of the poor. Other topics discussed include data-oriented solutions, autocracy vs. democracy, and Easterly's perspective on development from Bill Gates and recent EconTalk guest Jeffery Sachs.

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Edward Lazear of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Gary Becker's innovative contributions to economics. The conversation opens with personal reminiscences by Lazear and Roberts. They then discuss Becker's application of economic principles to social phenomena such as discrimination, crime, education and the family along with Becker's overall approach to economic theory and measurement.

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Andrew McAfee, Megan McArdle, and Lee Ohanian talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts on the future of work. Recorded before a live audience at the 33rd Santa Barbara Economic Summit, the conversation begins with each participant making a brief set of remarks on the topic. Topics discussed include the traits that might be rewards in a world of smart machines, reforming the educational system to prepare people for the changing economy, reforming immigration, and policies that might help the labor market work more effectively.

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Yuval Levin, author of The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas of Burke and Paine and their influence on the evolution of political philosophy. Levin outlines the differing approaches of the two thinkers to liberty, authority, and how reform and change should take place. Other topics discussed include Hayek's view of tradition, Cartesian rationalism, the moral high ground in politics, and how the "right and left" division of American politics finds its roots in the debates of these thinkers from the 1700s.

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Marc Andreessen, venture capitalist and co-creator of the early web browser Mosaic, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how success in venture capital is more about winners that you missed and not losers that you backed. Other topics discussed include the rise of the developing world and the smartphone revolution, why Bitcoin is paving the way for innovative uses of the internet, an optimistic view of the future of journalism, changes in the healthcare system, and the future of education around the world.

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Charles Marohn, President of Strong Towns, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts urban development and what makes a strong town. The two discuss how the post-World War II approach to town and city planning has led to debt problems and wasteful infrastructure investments, and how changes as small as the width of roads make cities more vibrant. Other topics discussed include central Detroit today as a model of city growth, the incentive problems associated with how state and federal infrastructure funds are distributed, and Marohn's efforts to change civil engineers' perspective on growth.

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Gavin Andresen, Chief Scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about where Bitcoin has been and where it might be headed in the future. Topics discussed include competing cryptocurrencies such as Dogecoin, the role of the Bitcoin Foundation, the challenges Bitcoin faces going forward, and the mystery of Satoshi Nakamoto.

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Diane Coyle, author of GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the history of GDP, its uses, and its abuses. Topics discussed include the origins of GDP in the developed countries, the challenges of measuring the service sector, the challenges of dealing with innovation and product diversity, whether GDP should be supplemented with other measures of human well-being, and the challenges of dealing with internet-based goods that produce a great deal of satisfaction but make a much smaller impact on measured economic activity.

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Megan McArdle of Bloomberg View and author of The Up Side of Down talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book. McArdle argues that failure is a crucial part of success in personal life and in the large economy. Topics covered include the psychology of failure, unemployment, and bankruptcy and parole.

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Steven Teles of Johns Hopkins talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about kludgeocracy, a term Teles coined in a National Affairs article to describe what Teles sees as the complex and unproductive state of political governance in the United States, particularly at the federal level. Teles argues that various rules and procedures in the Senate and the House allow politicians to slow down legislation in return for favors. Teles argues that both liberals and conservatives have an incentive to favor more transparency and a more streamlined governing process that would get things done.

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Bryan Caplan of George Mason University and blogger at EconLog talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the value of a college education. Caplan argues that the extra amount that college graduates earn relative to high school graduates is misleading as a guide for attending college--it ignores the fact that a sizable number of students don't graduate and never earn that extra money. Caplan argues that the monetary benefits of a college education have a large signaling component rather than representing the value of the knowledge that's learned. Caplan closes by arguing that the subsidies to education should be reduced rather than increased.

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John Cochrane of the University of Chicago talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the experience of teaching a massive open online course (MOOC)--a class delivered over the internet available to anyone around the world. Cochrane contrasts the mechanics of preparing the class, his perception of the advantages and disadvantages of a MOOC relative to a standard in-person classroom, and the potential for MOOCs to disrupt traditional education.

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John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about climate change. Topics discussed include what we know and don't know about global warming, trends in extreme weather such as hurricanes, rising sea level, the likely change in temperature in the next hundred years. Both scientists also give their perspective on what policies might be put in place to reduce risk from climate change. This episode was recorded before a live audience at the College of Business Administration at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

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Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University and the Millennium Villages Project talks with EconTalk host about poverty in Africa and the efforts of the Millennium Villages Project to fight hunger, disease, and illiteracy. The project tries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in a set of poor African villages using an integrated strategy fighting hunger, poverty, and disease. In this lively conversation, Sachs argues that this approach has achieved great success so far and responds to criticisms from development economists and Nina Munk in her recent EconTalk interview.

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Richard Epstein, of New York University and Stanford University's Hoover Institution, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the differences between classical liberalism and hard-line libertarianism. What is the proper role of the state? Topics discussed include the Constitution, prudent regulation, contract enforcement, intellectual property, and the Supreme Court case, Lochner vs. NY.

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Moises Velasquez-Manoff, author of An Epidemic of Absence, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book--a discussion of why allergies and autoimmune diseases have been on the rise in the developed world for the last half-century. Velasquez-Manoff explores a recent hypothesis in the epidemiological literature theorizing the increase is a response to the overly hygienic environment in rich countries and the absence of various microbes and parasites. Velasquez-Manoff also considers whether reintroducing parasites into our bodies can have therapeutic effects, a possibility currently under examination through FDA trials. The conversation continues a theme of EconTalk--the challenge of understanding causation in a complex world.

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Robert Frank of Cornell University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the implications of Ronald Coase's views on externalities. Drawing on his book, The Darwin Economy, Frank explores the implications of Coase's perspective for assessing public policy challenges where one person's actions affect others. Examples discussed include pollution, cigarette smoking and related issues.

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Charles Calomiris of Columbia University and Stephen Haber of Stanford University, co-authors of Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit, talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about their book. The conversation focuses on how politics and economics interact to give some countries such as Canada a remarkably stable financial system while others such as the United States have a much less stable system. The two authors discuss the political forces that explain the persistence of seemingly bad financial regulation. The conversation includes a discussion of the financial crisis of 2008.

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Paul Sabin of Yale University and author of The Bet talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book. Sabin uses the bet between Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon--a bet over whether natural resources are getting scarcer as population grows--as a lens for examining the evolution of the environmental movement and its status today. Sabin considers the successes and failures of the movement and the challenges of having nuanced public policy discussions on issues where both sides have passionate opinions.

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Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT and co-author of The Second Machine Age talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book, co-authored with Andrew McAfee. He argues we are entering a new age of economic activity dominated by smart machines and computers. Neither dystopian or utopian, Brynjolfsson sees this new age as one of possibility and challenge. He is optimistic that with the right choices and policy responses, the future will have much to celebrate.

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Nina Munk, journalist and author of The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book. Munk spent six years following Jeffrey Sachs and the evolution of the Millennium Villages Project--an attempt to jumpstart a set of African villages in hopes of discovering a new template for development. Munk details the great optimism at the beginning of the project and the discouraging results after six years of high levels of aid. Sach's story is one of the great lessons in unintended consequences and the complexity of the development process.

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Jonathan Haidt of New York University and author of The Righteous Mind talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, the nature of human nature, and how our brain affects our morality and politics. Haidt argues that reason often serves our emotions rather than the mind being in charge. We can be less interested in the truth and more interested in finding facts and stories that fit preconceived narratives and ideology. We are genetically predisposed to work with each other rather than being purely self-interested and our genes influence our morality and ideology as well. Haidt tries to understand why people come to different visions of morality and politics and how we might understand each other despite those differences.

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Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the fiscal health of the federal government of the United States. Kotlikoff argues that the U.S. government is essentially bankrupt because future taxes will fall hundreds of trillions of dollars short of expected expenditures. Kotlikoff argues this problem can be solved by redesigning our tax code, but without changes such as this, large reductions in spending or large increases in tax rates will be necessary.

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Anthony Gill of the University of Washington and host of the podcast Research on Religion talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economics of religion. The conversation focuses on the relationship between religion and the State--how does religion respond to a State-sanctioned monopoly? Why do some governments allow religious liberty while others deny it? The conversation concludes with a discussion of how property rights interact with religious freedom.

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Richard Fisher, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the problems with "too big to fail"--the policy idea that certain financial institutions are too large to face the bankruptcy or failure and need to be rescued or bailed-out. Fisher argues that "too big to fail" remains a serious problem despite claims that recent financial regulation has eliminated it. Fisher discusses various ways to deal with too-big-to-fail, including his own preferred policy. The last part of the conversation deals with quantitative easing and monetary policy during the crisis.

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Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology and blogger at Climate Etc. talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about climate change. Curry argues that climate change is a "wicked problem" with a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the expected damage as well as the political and technical challenges of dealing with the phenomenon. She emphasizes the complexity of the climate and how much of the basic science remains incomplete. The conversation closes with a discussion of how concerned citizens can improve their understanding of climate change and climate change policy.

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Wally Thurman of North Carolina State University and PERC talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the world of bees, beekeepers, and the market for pollination. Thurman describes how farmers hire beekeepers to pollinate their crops and how that market keeps improving crop yields and producing honey. Thurman then discusses how beekeepers have responded to Colony Collapse Disorder--a not fully understood phenomenon where colonies disband, dramatically reducing the number of bees. The discussion closes with the history of bee pollination as an example of a reciprocal externality and how Coase's insight helps understand how the pollination market works.

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Doug Lemov of Uncommon Schools and author of Teach Like a Champion talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about teaching and education. Drawing on his experience working in charter schools with children in poverty, Lemov discusses what makes a great teacher and a great school. Lemov argues that practice and technique can transform teaching and education. The conversation concludes with a discussion of how EconTalk might be made more valuable to its listeners.

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Lant Pritchett of Harvard University and author of The Rebirth of Education talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book. Pritchett argues that increases in years of schooling for students in poor countries do not translate into gains in education, learning, or achievement. This tragic situation is due to corruption and poor incentives in the top-down educational systems around the world. School reforms that imitate successful systems fail to take into account the organic nature of successful school systems that cause various external attributes to be effective. The conversation concludes with a discussion of school systems in rich countries and possible lessons for reform that might apply there.

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Joel Mokyr of Northwestern University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the future of the American economy. Mokyr rejects the claims that the we are entering an area of stagnation or permanently lower economic growth. He argues that measured growth understates the impact on human welfare. Many of the most important discoveries are new products that are often poorly measured and not reflected in measures such as gross domestic product or income. The conversation closes with a discussion of the downsides of technology and why Mokyr remains optimistic about the future.

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Angus Deaton of Princeton University and author of the Great Escape talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book--the vast improvements in health and standard of living in recent times. Deaton surveys the improvements in life expectancy and income both in the developed and undeveloped world. Inequality of both health and wealth are discussed as well. The conversation closes with a discussion of foreign aid and what rich nations can do for the poor.

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Edmund Phelps of Columbia University, Nobel Laureate in economics, and author of Mass Flourishing talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book. Phelps argues that human flourishing requires challenges, struggles, and success and goes beyond material prosperity. He argues that in recent decades, policy has discouraged innovation and mass flourishing resulting in a slow-down in growth rates. Phelps emphasizes the non-material benefits of economic growth and the importance of small innovations over big inventions as key to that growth.

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John Ralston Saul, author and head of PEN International, speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, Voltaire's Bastards, and the role of reason in the modern world. Saul argues that the illegitimate offspring of the champions of reason have led to serious problems in the modern world. Reason, while powerful and useful, says Saul, should not be put on a pedestal above other values including morality and common-sense. Saul argues that the worship of reason has corrupted public policy and education while empowering technocrats and the elites in dangerous and unhealthy ways.

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Don Boudreaux of George Mason University and Cafe Hayek talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the intellectual legacy of Ronald Coase. The conversation centers on Coase's four most important academic articles. Most of the discussion is on two of those articles, "The Nature of the Firm," which continues to influence how economists think of firms and transaction costs, and "The Problem of Social Cost," Coase's pathbreaking work on externalities.

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Guillermo Calvo of Columbia University and the National Bureau of Economic Research talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the nature of macroeconomic crises and what we have learned or should have learned in the aftermath of the most recent one. Based loosely on his recent paper, "Puzzling Over the Anatomy of Crises," Calvo discusses a wide array of issues related to macroeconomics and the role of financial instability in economy-wide crises. Topics include the role of money, the problem of short-term lending in the financial sector, the black-box approach of modern macroeconomic theory and the forgotten economists we might want to reconsider.

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Cliff Winston of the Brookings Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his recent article in the Journal of Economic Literature on the U.S. transportation system. Winston argues that the while the United States has a very good transportation system overall, it is extremely expensive and poorly organized. What is needed, Winston argues, is not more money, but to spend the money already allocated more wisely. He discusses the evolution of the U.S. transportation system, government's role in transportation, dramatic innovations that might transform aviation and driving, and the potential for privatizing airports and roads.

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Emily Oster of the University of Chicago and author of Expecting Better talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book on pregnancy and the challenges of decision-making under uncertainty. Oster argues that many of the standard behavioral prescriptions for pregnant women are not supported by the medical literature. The conversation centers around the general issue of interpreting medical evidence in a complex world using pregnancy advice as an application. Alcohol, caffeine, cats, gardening and deli-meats and their effect on pregnant women are some of the examples that come up. The conversation closes with a discussion of Oster's work on hepatitis-B and the male-female birth ratio.

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Tyler Cowen of George Mason University and blogger at Marginal Revolution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, Average is Over. Cowen takes a provocative look at how the growing power of artificial intelligence embodied in machines and technologies might change labor markets and the standard of living. He tries to predict which people and which skills will be complementary to smart machines and which people and which skills will struggle.

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David Epstein, writer for ProPublica and author of The Sports Gene, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book. Epstein discusses a number of the ideas in the book including what we have learned about the nature vs. nurture debate, the role of practice in achieving mastery, why a small part of Kenya produces so many champion marathoners, why major league all-stars can't hit a fast-pitch softball, the strange nature of body types in the NBA and why Michael Phelps's body gives him an advantage.

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David Laidler of the University of Western Ontario talks about money and monetary policy with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Laidler sketches the monetarist approach to the Great Depression and the Great Recession. He defends the Federal Reserve's performance in the recent crisis against the critics. He argues that the Fed's monetary policies have not been unconventional nor impotent as some critics have suggested. The conversation closes with a discussion of the state of macroeconomics and monetary economics.

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Nassim Taleb of NYU-Poly talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his recent paper (with Constantine Sandis) on the morality and effectiveness of "skin in the game." When decision makers have skin in the game--when they share in the costs and benefits of their decisions that might affect others--they are more likely to make prudent decisions than in cases where decision-makers can impose costs on others. Taleb sees skin in the game as not just a useful policy concept but a moral imperative. The conversation closes with some observations on the power of expected value for evaluating predictions along with Taleb's thoughts on economists who rarely have skin in the game when they make forecasts or take policy positions.

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On April 10, 2013, Liberty Fund and Butler University sponsored a symposium, "Capitalism, Government, and the Good Society." The evening began with solo presentations by the three participants--Michael Munger of Duke University, Robert Skidelsky of the University of Warwick, and Richard Epstein of New York University. (Travel complications forced the fourth invited participant, James Galbraith of the University of Texas, to cancel.) Each speaker gave his own interpretation of the appropriate role for government in the economy and in our lives. This was followed by a lively conversation on the topic moderated by Russ Roberts of Stanford University, host of the weekly podcast, EconTalk. A video of the event along with other materials is available at http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2013/09/capitalism_gove.html .

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Mike Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about why milk is in the back of the grocery store. Michael Pollan and others argue that milk is in the back so that customers, who often buy milk, will be forced to walk through the entire story and be encouraged by the trek to buy other items. Munger and Roberts argue that competition encourages stores to serve customers and that alternative explanations explain where milk is found in the store. The conversation also discusses restaurant pricing, government "nudging" and related issues of grocery economics.

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Eric Hanushek of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book, Endangering Prosperity (co-authored with Paul Peterson and Ludger Woessmann). Hanushek argues that America's educational system is mediocre relative to other school systems around the world and that the failure of the U.S. system to do a better job has a significant negative impact on the American standard of living. Hanushek points to improving teacher quality as one way to improve education.

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Jagdish Bhagwati of Columbia University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economy of India based on his book with Arvind Panagariya, Why Growth Matters. Bhagwati argues that the economic reforms of 1991 ushered in a new era of growth for India that has reduced poverty and improved the overall standard of living in India. While supportive of social spending on the poor, Bhagwati argues that growth should precede higher levels of spending, providing the tax revenue for expanded spending.

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Barry Weingast, the Ward C. Krebs Family Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and a Senior Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the role of violence and the threat of violence in maintaining destructive economic policies that reduce growth and development. Weingast argues that the threat of violence encourages leaders to create monopolies and other unproductive policies to pay off special interests that would otherwise threaten a coup or revolution. Weingast shows there is a surprising amount of violent regime change in modern times and discusses how this discourages growth-enhancing economic policies. The conversation closes with an analysis of similar ideas in Book III of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

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Robert Pindyck of MIT talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of global warming for policy makers. Pindyck argues that while there is little doubt about the existence of human-caused global warming via carbon emissions, there is a great deal of doubt about the size of the effects on temperature and the size of the economic impact of warmer climate. This leads to a dilemma for policy-makers over how to proceed. Pindyck suggests that a tax or some form of carbon emission reduction is a good idea as a precautionary measure, despite the uncertainty.

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Amrita Narlikar of the University of Cambridge talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about fair trade and policy issues related to trade. Narlikar argues--based on a recent article with Dan Kim--that the Fair Trade movement hurts workers outside of the fair trade umbrella and does little for those it is trying to help. She advocates free trade, particularly the elimination of agricultural subsidies in the developed world and the best way to help workers in poor nations. Drawing on a recent article with Jagdish Bhagwati, she criticizes the international response to recent deaths in Bangladesh factories. In the last part of the conversation, she defends the World Trade Organization.

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Michael Lind of the New American Foundation talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about two recent articles by Lind at Salon.com. In the first article, Lind argues that libertarians are wrong about how to organize a society because they embrace a philosophy that has never been tried. In the second article, Lind argues that the ideas taught in economics principles classes lead to bad public policy. Roberts challenges Lind and along the way they manage to find some areas of agreement.

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Michael Clemens of the Center for Global Development talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the effects of aid and migration on world poverty. Clemens argues that the effects of aid are positive but small. But emigration has the potential to have a transformative effect on migrants from poor countries who emigrate to richer ones. The discussion concludes with the impact of migrants on the host country.

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Morris Fiorina, the Wendt Family Professor of Political Science and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow at Stanford University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of the American electorate and recent election results. Fiorina argues that while the Republican and Democratic parties are more extreme than they were in the past, there has been only modest change in the character of the American electorate. Fiorina discusses these differences in light of recent election results which show an inability of either party to sustain control of the Presidency or the Congress.

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Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the role of formal rules and informal rules in sports. Many sports restrain violence and retaliation through formal rules while in others, protective equipment is used to reduce injury. In all sports, codes of conduct emerge to deal with violence and unobserved violations of formal rules. Munger explores the interaction of these forces across different sports and how they relate to insights of Coase and Hayek.

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Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, of the University of Michigan talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about their work on the relationship between income and happiness. They argue that there is a positive relationship over time and across countries between income and self-reported measures of happiness. The second part of the conversation looks at the recent controversy surrounding work by Reinhart and Rogoff on the relationship between debt and growth. Stevenson and Wolfers give their take on the controversy and the lessons for economists and policy-makers. This conversation was recorded shortly before Betsey Stevenson was nominated to the President's Council of Economic Advisers.

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Dan Pallotta, Chief Humanity Officer of Advertising for Humanity and author of Uncharitable talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book. Pallotta argues that charities are deeply handicapped by their culture and how we view them. The use of overhead as a measure of effectiveness makes it difficult for charities to attract the best talent, advertise, and invest for the future. Pallotta advocates a new culture for non-profits that takes the best aspects of the for-profit sector to enhance the mission and effectiveness of charities.

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Bruce Schneier, author and security guru, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about power and the internet. Schneier argues that the internet enhances the power of the powerless but it also enhances the power of the powerful. He argues that we should be worried about both corporate and government uses of the internet to enhance their power. Recorded before news of the PRISM system and the use of Verizon's customer information by the NSA (National Security Agency), Schneier presciently worries about government surveillance that we are not aware of and explains how governments--democratic and totalitarian--can use the internet to oppress their citizens. The conversation closes with a discussion of terrorism and the costs of the current system for reducing the probability of a terrorist attack.

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Arnold Kling, author of The Three Languages of Politics, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book. Kling argues that Progressives, Conservatives, and Libertarians each have their own language and way of looking at the world that often doesn't overlap. This makes it easier for each group to demonize the others. The result is ideological intolerance and incivility. By understanding the language and mindset of others, Kling suggests we can do a better job discussing our policy disagreements and understand why each group seems to feel both misunderstand and morally superior to the other two.

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Jim Manzi, founder and chair of Applied Predictive Technologies, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and author of Uncontrolled, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Oregon Medicaid study and the challenges of interpreting experimental results. Manzi notes a number of interesting aspects of the study results that have generally been unnoticed--the relatively high proportion of people in the Oregon study who turned down the chance to receive Medicaid benefits, and the increase (though insignificant) in smoking by those who received Medicaid benefits under the experiment. Along the way, Manzi discusses general issues of statistical significance, and how we might learn more about the effects of Medicaid in the future.

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Richard Epstein of New York University and Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the U.S. Constitution. Topics covered in this wide-ranging conversation include how the interpretation of the Constitution has changed over time, the relationship between state and federal power, judicial activism, the increasing importance of administrative agencies' regulatory power, and political influences on the Supreme Court.

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Austin Frakt of Boston University and blogger at The Incidental Economist talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Medicaid and the recent results released from the Oregon Medicaid study, a randomized experiment that looked at individuals with and without access to Medicaid. Recent released results from that study found no significant impact of Medicaid access on basic health measures such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but did find reduced financial stress and better mental health. Frakt gives his interpretation of those results and the implications for the Affordable Care Act. The conversation closes with a discussion of the reliability of empirical work in general and how it might or might not affect our positions on social and economic policy.

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William Bernstein talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, Masters of the Word. Bernstein traces the history of language, writing, and communication and its impact on freedom. The discussion begins with the evolution of language and the written word and continues up through radio and the internet. A particular focus of the conversation is how tyrants use information technology to oppress their people but at the same time, technology can be used to liberate people from oppression.

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James Galbraith of the University of Texas and author of Inequality and Instability talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about inequality. Galbraith argues that much of the mainstream analysis of inequality in the economics literature is flawed. Galbraith looks at a variety of different measures and ways of analyzing income data. In the podcast he focuses on how much of measured inequality is due to changes in specific counties or industries. Other topics discussed include the state of economics in the aftermath of the Great Recession and the importance of the government safety net and other social legislation.

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Edward Glaeser of Harvard University and author of The Triumph of Cities talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about American cities. The conversation begins with a discussion of the history of Detroit over the last century and its current plight. What might be done to improve Detroit's situation? Why are other cities experiencing similar challenges to those facing Detroit? Why are some cities thriving and growing? What policies might help ailing cities and what policies have helped those cities that succeed? The conversation concludes with a discussion of why cities have such potential for growth.

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Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University and author of The Price of Civilization talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of the American economy. Sachs sees the current malaise as a chronic problem rather than a short-term challenge caused by the business cycle. He lists a whole host of issues he thinks policymakers need to deal with including the environment, inequality, and infrastructure. He disagrees with the Keynesian prescriptions for stimulating the economy and believes that the federal government budget deficits are a serious problem. The conversation closes with a discussion of the state of economics.

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Anat Admati of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her new book (co-authored with Martin Hellwig), The Bankers' New Clothes. Admati argues that the best way to reduce the fragility of the banking system is to increase capital requirements--that is, require banks to finance their activities with a greater proportion of equity rather than debt. She explains how debt magnifies returns and losses while making each bank more fragile. Despite claims to the contrary, she argues that the costs of reducing debt are relatively small for society as a whole while the benefits are substantial.

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Eric Topol of the Scripps Research Institute and the author of The Creative Destruction of Medicine talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book. Topics discussed include "evidence-based" medicine, the influence of the pharmaceutical industry, how medicine is currently conducted for the "average" patient, the potential of genomics to improve health care and the power of technology, generally, to transform medicine.

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Scott Sumner of Bentley University and blogger at The Money Illusion talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the basics of money, monetary policy, and the Fed. After a discussion of some of the basics of the money supply, Sumner explains why he thinks monetary policy in the United States during and since the crisis has been inadequate. Sumner stresses the importance of the Fed setting expectations and he argues for the dominance of monetary policy over fiscal policy.

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Angus Burgin of Johns Hopkins University and the author of The Great Persuasion talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the idea in his book--the return of free market economics in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Burgin describes the reaction to Hayek's Road to Serfdom, the creation of the Mont Pelerin Society, and the increasing influence of Milton Friedman on public policy.

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Doc Searls, author of The Intention Economy and head of Project VRM at Harvard University's Berkman Center talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the how the relationship between buyers and sellers might evolve as the internet evolves. Searls imagines a world where buyers would advertise their intentions and desires and sellers would respond with offers. Other topics discussed include Google and Apple's business strategies and the role of the cable and telephone companies in providing access to the internet.

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Leigh Steinberg, legendary sports agent, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his career as a sports agent. He discusses the challenges of building a clientele, how sports agents spend their time, strategies for building a brand as an athlete, and safety issues currently affecting the National Football League.

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Yanis Varoufakis of the University of Athens, the University of Texas, and former economist-in-residence at Valve Software talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the unusual structure of the workplace at Valve. Valve, a software company that creates online video games, has no hierarchy or bosses. Teams of software designers join spontaneously to create and ship video games without any top-down supervision. Varoufakis discusses the economics of this Hayekian workplace and how it actually functions alongside Steam--an open gaming platform created by Valve. The conversation concludes with a discussion of the economic crisis in Europe.

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Glenn Reynolds of the University of Tennessee and blogger at Instapundit talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the political malaise in America, whether it could lead to a Constitutional Convention, and what might emerge were such an event to occur. Reynolds also gives his thoughts on the suggestion advanced in a recent episode of EconTalk that we should ignore the Constitution. The conversation concludes with Reynolds's views on the decentralizing power of technology and Reynolds's music career.

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Cathy O'Neil, data scientist and blogger at mathbabe.org, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her journey from Wall Street to Occupy Wall Street. She talks about her experiences on Wall Street that ultimately led her to join the Occupy Wall Street movement. Along the way, the conversation includes a look at the reliability of financial modeling, the role financial models played in the crisis, and the potential for shame to limit dishonest behavior in the financial sector and elsewhere.

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Louis Michael Seidman of Georgetown University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the United States Constitution. Seidman argues that the we should ignore the Constitution in designing public policy, relying instead on the merits of policy regardless of their constitutionality. Seidman defends his position by citing examples in the past where constitutionality has been ignored and says it would be better to recognize our disdain for the Constitution in a transparent way. In this lively conversation, Roberts pushes back against these ideas, citing the limits of reason and the dangers of using popular sentiment to determine policy.

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Peter Boettke of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, Living Economics. Boettke argues for embracing the tradition of Smith and Hayek in both teaching and research, arguing that economics took a wrong turn when it began to look more like a branch of applied mathematics. He sees spontaneous order as the central principle for understanding and teaching economics. The conversation also includes a brief homage to James Buchanan who passed away shortly before this interview was recorded.

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Kevin Kelly talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about measuring productivity in the internet age and recent claims that the U.S. economy has entered a prolonged period of stagnation. Then the conversation turns to the potential of robots to change the quality of our daily lives.

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Esther Dyson talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the market for attention and how technology has changed, how much we pay attention to others, and vice versa. Along the way Dyson reminisces about Steve Jobs, the nature of the start-up and venture capital world, and the future of space travel.

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Morten Jerven of Simon Fraser University, author of Poor Numbers, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the quality of data coming out of Africa on income, growth, and population. Jerven argues that the inconsistency of the numbers and methodology both across countries and within a country across time, makes many empirical studies of African progress meaningless. The conversation closes with a discussion of what might be done to improve data collection in poor countries.

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Becky Pettit of the University of Washington and author of Invisible Men talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the growth of the prison population in the United States in recent decades. Pettit describes the magnitude of the increase particularly among demographic groups. She then discusses the implications of this increase for interpreting social statistics. Because the prison population isn't included in the main government surveys used by social scientists, data drawn from those surveys can be misleading as to what is actually happening among demographic groups, particularly the African-American population.

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Lisa Turner of Laughing Stock Farm talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about life as a small organic farmer. She describes her working day, the challenges of farming, the role of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in her life and what some job applicants who want to work on her farm need to understand about business.

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Don Boudreaux of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the work of F. A. Hayek, particularly his writings on philosophy and political economy. Boudreaux provides an audio annotated bibliography of Hayek's most important books and essays and gives suggestions on where to start and how to proceed through Hayek's works if you are a beginner.

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Chris Anderson, author of Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book--the story of how technology is transforming the manufacturing business. Anderson argues that the plummeting prices of 3D printers and other tabletop design and manufacturing tools allows for individuals to enter manufacturing and for manufacturing to become customized in a way that was unimaginable until recently. Anderson explores how social networking interacts with this technology to create a new world of crowd-sourced design and production.

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Casey Mulligan of the University of Chicago and the author of The Redistribution Recession, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book. Mulligan argues that increases in the benefits available to unemployed workers explains the depth of the Great Recession that began in 2007 and the slowness of the recovery particularly in the labor market. Mulligan argues that other macroeconomic explanations ignore the microeconomic incentives facing workers and employers.

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Marcia Angell of Harvard Medical School and the author of The Truth About the Drug Companies talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the impact of pharmaceutical companies on academic research, clinical trials and the political process. Angell argues that the large pharmaceutical companies produce little or no innovation and use their political power to exploit consumers and taxpayers.

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John Cochrane of the University of Chicago and Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how existing regulations distort the market for health care. Cochrane argues that many of the problems in the health care market would go away if these distortions were removed. In this conversation, he explores how the market for health care might work in the United States without those distortions. He also addresses some of the common arguments against a more choice-oriented less top-down approach.

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Mike Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the gas shortage following Hurricane Sandy and John Locke's view of the just price. Drawing on a short, obscure essay of Locke's titled "Venditio," Munger explores Locke's views on markets, prices, and morality.

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Joshua Rauh, Professor of Finance at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business and a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the unfunded liabilities from state employee pensions. The publicly stated shortfall in revenue relative to promised pensions is about $1 trillion. Rauh estimates the number to be over $4 trillion. Rauh explains why that number is more realistic, how the problem grew in recent years, and how the fiscal situation might be fixed moving forward. He also discusses some of the political and legal choices that we are likely to face going forward as states face strained budgets from promises made in the past to retired workers.

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Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins and the Cato Institute talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about hyperinflation and the U.S. fiscal situation. Hanke argues that despite the seemingly aggressive policies of the Federal Reserve over the last four years, there is currently little or no risk of serious inflation in the United States. His argument is that broad measures of the money supply lag well below their trend level. While high-powered reserves have indeed expanded dramatically, they have not increased sufficiently to offset reductions in bank money, in part because of requirements imposed by Basel III. So, the overall money supply, broadly defined, has fallen. Hanke does argue that the current fiscal path of the United States poses a serious threat to economic stability. The conversation closes with a discussion of hyperinflation in Iran--its causes and what might eventually happen as a result.

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Jonathan Rodden, political science professor at Stanford and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the geography of voting. The main focus is on the tendency of urban voters around the world to vote for candidates on the left relative to suburban and rural voters. Rodden argues that this pattern is related to the geography of work and housing going back to the industrial revolution. He also discusses the implications of various voting systems such as winner-take-all vs. proportional representation, the electoral college and how political systems and voter preferences can produce unexpected outcomes.