Russ Roberts

Your Favorite Episodes of 2016

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by Russ Roberts
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Here are the results of the survey of your favorite episodes of 2016. I want to thank all of you around the world (and you live in over 60 different countries) who responded. I'm particularly grateful to those who took the trouble to make suggestions and to share your thoughts on EconTalk. I am hoping to record a bonus episode sharing some of the other survey results and responding to some of your comments. And congrats to the guests who earned your votes.

1. Munger on Slavery and Racism (which received 34% of the vote--one in three of you put it in your top five.

2. Thomas Leonard on Race, Eugenics, and Illiberal Reformers

3. Cathy O'Neil on Weapons of Math Destruction

4. Chuck Klosterman on But What If We're Wrong

5. Matt Ridley on the Evolution of Everything

6. Doug Lemov on Reading

7. David Autor on Trade, China, and U.S. Labor Markets

8. Terry Anderson on Native American Economics

9. Angela Duckworth on Grit

10. Angus Deaton on Inequality, Trade, and the Robin Hood Principle

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CATEGORIES: Favorites (29)

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COMMENTS (5 to date)
Nathan writes:

Odd only 2 of the episodes I voted for made the list.

Bradley Calder writes:

I'm amazed Erik Hurst didn't make the list.

Todd Kreider writes:

I suspected something so looked it up and not surprised I was correct - maybe call it "The Oscars Effect."

8 out of 10 favorites were in the second half of the year:

1.August
2.December
3.October
4.August
5.February (Matt Ridley, among the most well-known guests)
6.November
7.March
8.December
9.July
10.October

O'Neal writes:

It's called "Recency Bias" and yes that's probably what's happening here. I would guess there's also a bit of "halo effect" as well. Because Munger has been a part of so many great EconTalk moments people tend to rate his episodes a little higher than other guests. (That doesn't mean his Slavery/Racism episode wasn't fantastic-it's just that we probably overvalued it in the voting)

Also, "The Oscars Effect" is a little more complicated. Studios know recency bias exists so they wait to release the movies most likely to win until right before voting.

Todd Kreider writes:

I knew that "The Oscar Effect" wasn't really right as studios often release potential Oscar films for Thanksgiving and Christmas but couldn't think of a better name and hadn't heard of the term "recency effect." Thanks for that.

I checked 2014 and 2015 and saw they also had bias toward the latter part of the year but not as strong. Although the last year I checked, 2013, also had 8 out of the 10 voted best in the last half of the year and there were no votes from January to May. {The audience gasps} Well, I just checked for fun to see if a pattern held. Four data points convinces me...

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