Russ Roberts

Data and Evidence Podcast Episodes and Extras

Category Archive with 27 podcast episodes and extras
 

Denier? Lukewarmer? Alarmist? Why so many pejorative descriptors for those engaging in conversation about climate change? This is among the questions explored in this week's EconTalk episode with with Matt Ridley.

Now we'd like to continue a civil conversation on this important issue. Please use the prompts below as conversational sparks, and share your reactions in the Comments. As always, we love to hear from you.

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Podcast episode Matt Ridley on Climate Change

EconTalk Episode with Matt Ridley
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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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Is climate change the ultimate Black Swan? Harvard's Martin Weitzman joined Russ this week to talk about the potential risks of rising CO2 levels and what policies might be appropriate as a response.

Here are questions for thinking about this week's episode. We feel to respond in the comments making EconTalk more useful to our audience.

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Podcast episode Martin Weitzman on Climate Change

EconTalk Episode with Martin Weitzman
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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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Podcast episode David Skarbek on Prison Gangs and the Social Order of the Underworld

EconTalk Episode with David Skarbek
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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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In this week's episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down with Duke University's Campbell Harvey to discuss his research on various investment strategies.

Here are some follow-up questions--please share your response in the Comments. We love to hear from you, and as always, please help us continue the conversation.

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CATEGORIES: Data and Evidence , Extras , Finance


Podcast episode Campbell Harvey on Randomness, Skill, and Investment Strategies

EconTalk Episode with Campbell Harvey
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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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Podcast episode Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Precautionary Principle and Genetically Modified Organisms

EconTalk Episode with Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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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This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts explored his skepticism about econometrics and causation with MIT's Joshua Angrist. Did Angrist convince Roberts about the value of empirical methods today? Are you convinced?

We want to hear what you think...

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CATEGORIES: Books , Data and Evidence , Extras


Podcast episode Joshua Angrist on Econometrics and Causation

EconTalk Episode with Joshua Angrist
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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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Podcast episode Emily Oster on Infant Mortality

EconTalk Episode with Emily Oster
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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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In the Easterly Essay questions I asked:

What role can (and should) data play in development? How does Easterly answer this question? How would Jeffrey Sachs answer this question? Morten Jerven discusses the quality of data collected by African nations in this 2013 episode. Given some of these challenges, how should Easterly and Sachs revise their approaches?

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CATEGORIES: Data and Evidence , Extras , Growth


Coyle Postmortem

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts

Here's my postmortem on the Coyle episode. Includes my early nominee for worst economics story of the year.

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In this week's episode, Roberts talks with Diane Coyle about her new book on GDP. We'd like to hear your thoughts on this episode, too!

Questions below the fold:

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CATEGORIES: Books , Data and Evidence


Podcast episode Diane Coyle on GDP

EconTalk Episode with Diane Coyle
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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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Podcast episode Bryan Caplan on College, Signaling and Human Capital

EconTalk Episode with Bryan Caplan
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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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The seductiveness of beauty

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts

Stanford's Andrei Linde discovers that his theory about the first nano-nano-nano-second of the universe is confirmed by the latest experimental evidence. It is very moving. EconTalk listeners will particularly enjoy his closing remarks about the dangers of confirmation bias. He says:

If this is true, this is a moment of understanding of nature, of such a magnitude, it just overwhelms. Let's just hope that this is not a trick. I always live with this feeling--what if I am tricked, what if I believe in this just because it is beautiful...

It's a danger for all of us--we are all at risk at being tricked. Though sometimes it's not beauty but comfort or habit. Always good to remember. Richard Feynman said it best:

The first principle is not to fool yourself--and you are the easiest person to fool.

Coming next to EconTalk--John Christy and Kerry Emanuel discuss climate change.



[Addendum: Video on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOysRpdo7hY -- Econlib. Ed.]

CATEGORIES: Data and Evidence


Podcast episode Stevenson and Wolfers on Happiness, Growth, and the Reinhart-Rogoff Controversy

EconTalk Episode with Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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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Podcast episode Jim Manzi on the Oregon Medicaid Study, Experimental Evidence, and Causality

EconTalk Episode with Jim Manzi
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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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Podcast episode Frakt on Medicaid and the Oregon Medicaid Study

EconTalk Episode with Austin Frakt
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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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Podcast episode Jerven on Measuring African Poverty and Progress

EconTalk Episode with Morten Jerven
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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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Podcast episode Yong on Science, Replication, and Journalism

EconTalk Episode with Ed Yong
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Ed Yong, science writer and blogger at "Not Exactly Rocket Science" at Discover Magazine, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of science and science journalism. Yong was recently entangled in a controversy over the failure of researchers to replicate a highly-cited and influential psychology study. He discusses the issues behind the failed replication and the problem of replication in general in other fields, arguing that replication is under-appreciated and little rewarded. After a discussion of the incentives facing scientists, the conversation turns to the challenges facing science journalists when work that is peer-reviewed may still not be reliable.

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Podcast episode Burkhauser on the Middle Class

EconTalk Episode with Richard Burkhauser
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Richard Burkhauser of Cornell University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of the middle class. Drawing on recently published papers, Burkhauser shows that changes in the standard of living of the middle class and other parts of the income distribution are extremely sensitive to various assumptions about how income is defined as well as whether you look at tax units or households. He shows that under one set of assumptions, there has been no change in median income, but under a different and equally reasonable set of assumptions, median income has grown 36%. Burkhauser explains how different assumptions can lead to such different results and argues that the assumptions that lead to the larger growth figure are more appropriate for capturing what has happened over the last 40 years than those that suggest stagnation.

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Podcast episode Kaplan on the Inequality and the Top 1%

EconTalk Episode with Steven Kaplan
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Steven Kaplan of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the richest Americans and income inequality. Drawing on work with Joshua Rauh, Kaplan talks about the composition of the richest 1% and 1/10 of 1%--what proportions come from the financial sector, CEOs from non-financial corporations, athletes, lawyers and so on. Then he discusses how the incomes of these different groups have changed over time. Kaplan argues that these groups have increased their incomes by similar proportions, suggesting that a failure of corporate governance is not the explanation of rising CEO pay. The discussion closes with a discussion of the financial crisis and the compensation in the financial sector.

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Podcast episode Ramey on Stimulus and Multipliers

EconTalk Episode with Valerie Ramey
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Valerie Ramey of the University of California, San Diego talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the effect of government spending on output and employment. Ramey's own work exploits the exogenous nature of wartime spending. She finds a multiplier between .8 and 1.2. (A multiplier of 1 means that GDP goes up by the amount of spending--there is neither stimulus nor crowding out.) She also discusses a survey looking at a wide range of estimates by others and finds that the estimates range from .5 to 2.0. Along the way, she discusses the effects of taxes as well. The conversation concludes with a discussion of the imprecision of multiplier estimates and the contributions of recent Nobel Laureates Thomas Sargent and Christopher Sims.

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Podcast episode Leamer on the State of Econometrics

EconTalk Episode with Ed Leamer
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Ed Leamer of UCLA talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of econometrics. He discusses his 1983 article, "Let's Take the 'Con' Out of Econometrics" and the recent interest in natural experiments as a way to improve empirical work. He also discusses the problems with the "fishing expedition" approach to empirical work. The conversation closes with Leamer's views on macroeconomics, housing, and the business cycle and how they have been received by the profession.

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Podcast episode Ayres on Super Crunchers and the Power of Data

EconTalk Episode with Ian Ayres
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Ian Ayres of Yale University Law School talks about the ideas in his new book, Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart. Ayres argues for the power of data and analysis over more traditional decision-making methods using judgment and intuition. He talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about predicting the quality of wine based on climate and rainfall, the increasing use of randomized data in the world of business, the use of evidence and information in medicine rather than the judgment of your doctor, and whether concealed handguns or car protection devices such as LoJack reduce the crime rate. The podcast closes with a postscript by Roberts challenging the use of sophisticated statistical techniques to analyze complex systems.

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