Russ Roberts

Extras Podcast Episodes and Extras

Category Archive with 136 podcast episodes and extras
 

Rhapsody in Reading

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

read aloud.jpg EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed back Doug Lemov, of Uncommon Schools, this week, for a very interesting conversation about reading, and especially, reading rigorously. In his new book, Reading Reconsidered, Lemov's primary audience is educators, but as Russ notes, and as should be evident from their conversation, it has relevance far beyond the classroom.

How much do you read today, and do you prefer electronic reading to "real" books? How has the digital age- and your cellphone, in particular- changed your reading habits? Those of your children and/or students? Do you ever read aloud anymore? Share your thoughts on this week's episode with us; we love to hear from you.

1. What does Lemov mean when he says that reading is "first among equals," and to what extent do you agree?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Education , Extras



We Dare You.

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

disorder.jpg How messy is your desk? Do you shy away from face-to-face conversations in favor of text messages? What sort of strategy do you use to allocate your retirement savings? These situations and more were on the table in this week's delightfully "messy" EconTalk episode, as host Russ Roberts welcomed author Tim Harford (aka the Undercover Economist) back to the program.

Harford, with his affinity for (most) things messy, is a man after my own heart. (I posted a photo of my own messy desk on twitter earlier this week, and got some great pics in response. Please add yours to the collection!) Of course now we're wondering about more than what your desk looks like...So have a go at some of our prompts, and share your thoughts with us. As always, we love to hear from you.

1. How does Harford's notion of a "more metaphorical mess" spark creativity? To what extent have you experienced such a phenomenon in your own life? (And have you listened to the Keith Jarrett recording yet??? You won't be disappointed. We'd love to hear your reaction to that, too!)

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras , Psychology



Where Are You on the Spectrum?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

consciousness.jpg Why do we tend to think of the mind as static--whether throughout our lives or even throughout the day? What do our brains have in common with computers? David Gelernter, Yale professor of computer science and author of The Tides of Mind, joined EconTalk host Russ Roberts this week to explore the nature of consciousness.

So brush the dust off your Up spectrum (or is it your Down spectrum?) and share your thoughts with us. Or share your vacuum cleaner's thoughts.* As always, we love to hear from you.

1. How does Gelernter describe the journey our mind makes between its Up and Down spectrums over the course of the day? Does this affect your experience? If yes, and how do these changes affect the way you think and the actions you take at different points throughout the day?

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Strangers on the Web

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

down online.jpg What do you tell others about yourself- purposefully or not- via your online persona? How can we ensure that our communication remains "honest enough to function?" How will what we protect about our identities online and how we do it change over the decades to come? In this week's conversation, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed Judith Donath to talk about how technology affects the social world, along with her new book, The Social Machine.

As always, we'd like to know what thoughts and questions this week's episode prompted for you. So let's hear it; we love to hear from you.

1. Share a question (or more!) that arose in your mind sparked by Roberts's and Donath's conversation.

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Freedom (and Free Beer) Tomorrow

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Che in Cuba.jpg What's it really like to live in communist Cuba today? In this week's episode, host Russ Roberts welcomes back the University of Chicago's Casey Mulligan, who recently returned from a week-long trip there. Mulligan's observations on the current state of the Cuban people, as well as his optimism for their future, made for fascinating conversation, and left me with lots to think about.

Now it's your turn...What's the promise of freedom for Cubans today? Is it merely a dream that's always just around the corner, or will the Castro regime continue to allow for change in the form of less state control? Have you ever been to Cuba? If so, how does your experience compare to Mulligan's?

1. Mulligan has a lot to say about the differences he perceived between Cuban-Americans and "Cuban-Cubans." What are some of these differences, and what does Mulligan believe accounts for them? What do you think such differences suggest?

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How Poor is Poor?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis
pinky.jpg Should economists rethink the widely held view that redistribution from rich nations to poor nations makes the world a better place? 2015 Nobel laureate Sir Angus Deaton thinks so. That's the topic of conversation in this week's EconTalk episode.

So are you a cosmopolitan prioritarianist? A try-it-out-atarianist? Do you feel more sympathy for your fellow countrymen or those in the poorest parts of the world? As always, we'd love to see your response to this week's conversation...Let's continue it here.

1. Why does Deaton think making the claim that everyone is better off as a result of trade and globalization is "intellectual hucksterism," and to what extent do you agree?

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CATEGORIES: Extras



Is Big Data Your Frenemy?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

accuracy.jpg In this week's EconTalk episode, host Russ Roberts welcomes back Cathy O'Neil, author of the fantastically titled new book, Weapons of Math Destruction. The "weapons" O'Neil is concerned with are problematic algorithms- widespread, in some sense secret or proprietary, and in some way destructive. While Roberts and O'Neil agree about the dangers inherent in certain algorithmic applications, they disagree on many as well.

So let's hear your thoughts on the issues in this week's conversation. As always, we love to hear from you.

1. How does the use of recidivism risk scores "create its own reality" in criminal sentencing? According to O'Neil, how does this practice confuse accuracy with causality?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Data and Evidence , Extras



I Don't Know Why She Swallowed the Fly

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

old lady.jpg There was an old lady who swallowed a fly...So goes the story of the regulation of the United States economy, according to this week's EconTalk guest, John Cochrane. Cochrane is concerned about the effects of creeping regulation and what he sees as a lack of respect for the rule of law in government today. He also sees policy debates today like bad marriages, with each side just shouting over one another. He aspires to change the nature of this debate...

As always, we want to hear from you...Share your thoughts with us in the Comments, on social media, or simply with your own friends and family.

1. Both Roberts and Cochrane are anxious to get rid of barriers to innovation, but they approach this with different rationales. How does the moral case for the removal of such barriers differ from the practical case? Which side are you on, and why?

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CATEGORIES: Extras , Growth



The Maintenance of Memory

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

archives.jpg
Listening to this week's EconTalk episode, I felt a little like a kid in a candy store (and not just because of the reference to Ronald Reagan's jelly beans). It also sparked some wanderlust...specifically, to go visit the archives of the Hoover Institution, about whose collections EconTalk host Russ Roberts chatted with archivist Eric Wakin.

But this week's episode was about more than just the unique nature of the items housed in these archives...Lots of economic questions were raised simultaneously. So we'll share a few, and we hope you'll share your thoughts in return. Why are we as humans so attached to material reminders or our past? What is the role for archives, libraries, museums, etc. in maintaining our memory? How important is accessibility in the preservation of these memories?

1. While the archives generally do not sell the items they have, they still need to approximate the market value of them. In the absence of comparable prices, how do archivists such as Wakin do this? How accurate do you think they are? What of the gap Wakin notes between items' financial and research value- to what extent can this be accounted for?

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CATEGORIES: Extras , History



Bigger is Better?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

big data.jpg Is economic analysis ready for the age of Big Data? That's the underlying question explored in this week's EconTalk episode. Host Russ Roberts welcomes Stanford's Susan Athey, and they discuss how machine learning might be used in conjunction with more traditional econometric techniques. They also talk about the ways commercial entities, such as amazon and Facebook, use machine learning to change their users' experiences and increase profits.

Are there lessons to be learned from these commercial experiences that can help us analyze policy? Or will counterfactuals, such as what would have happened had NAFTA not passed, forever evade such rigorous analysis? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments...As always, we love to hear from you.

1. Why is it so difficult to measure the effects of a policy such as minimum wage legislation, and how does Athey cast doubt on the Card-Krueger study?

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Power to the President?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

USconstitution.jpg It seems somehow shocking to suggest that the American President be given more power today...Trust me...Having done so in the context of this week's EconTalk episode in different online media (here, for example), the reactions are strong. But that's just what this week's guest, Stanford political scientist Terry Moe, suggests. His reasons are interesting...and he suggests the sort of change he proposes might actually result in smaller, not to mention more efficient, government.

So let's hear what you have to say about Moe's proposal...Share your thoughts in the comments below, join us on twitter or Facebook, or strike up a conversation of your own! As always, we love to hear from you.

1. What is the mechanism by which Moe suggests more power be shifted to the President? How does he think this will increase governmental efficiency, and how convincing do you find his argument?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras , Political Science



Rock, Paper, Scissors

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

rock paper scissors.jpg Voluntary exchange is good, right? It's a foundational principle of economics, and probably one of the most revered. Why then would the law purposefully not allow some kinds of voluntary exchange? What principles trump property rights and contract? And can we who love markets be OK with that? These are some of the many head-scratching questions Russ Roberts explores in this week's episode with Leo Katz, professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania.

This week's conversation sure made me think...How about you? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments, and use some of our prompts to start your own conversations off-line. As always, we love to hear from you.

1. Three main "stories" Katz uses in this conversation to show the occasional perversity in the law are the kidney club, the voting paradox, and emergency room triage. Which of these scenarios (long live Al, Bea, and Chloe!) seemed most counter-intuitive to you, and why?

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Ugly Emergence

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

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EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomes back favorite guest Michael Munger of Duke University for a complex discussion of slavery and the evolution of racial attitudes in the 19th century American South. Munger argues that white Southerners evolved over time as a way of rationalizing an increasingly unattractive institution. How did white Southerners' attitudes change over time? And how are we to feel about emergent orders with ugly consequences?

As I mentioned earlier this week over at EconLog, this episode is a tough listen. But I learned a lot, and it's really made me think. How about you? As always, we love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts with us in the Comments.

1. There's a lot of discussion of the role of incentives in perpetuating slavery. Roberts argues that incentives are not destiny. What does he mean? Don't economists believe that incentives explain behavior? To what extent do the financial incentives of slavery contribute to our understanding?

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CATEGORIES: Adam Smith , Extras



You Can't Handle the Truth

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

wrong.jpg Did you know Moby Dick was a flop until well after Herman Melville's death? Which author of today will be the most highly regarded 100 years from now? Which rock star? Which TV show? Fun to ponder, but we'll never really know...But that's exactly the sort of metaphysical space this week's EconTalk episode stakes out. Host Russ Roberts welcomes writer Chuck Klosterman to talk about his new book, But What If We're Wrong?

So what's the point in seeking truth if it whatever we find will ultimately prove false? (Next, we'll ask about the meaning of life...) Give it some thought...and please share your thoughts with us here. We love to hear from you!

1. One of the fundamental questions posed by Klosterman's project is, why do so many things we're so sure about today turn out to be wrong? How does he answer this question? Do you think our power to predict is better or worse than Klosterman suggests?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Competition, Community, Transaction Costs

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

knowledge.jpg Is it possible to capture all the world's knowledge in one place, and make it universally shareable? While this seems like a tall order, it's exactly what Adam D'Angelo is trying to do on Quora. This week EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down with D'Angelo in Quora's offices to talk about the project.

So where do you go to look for answers? Have you ever stumbled across knowledge on the web that changed your life? Should Russ cut the intro to EconTalk??? We'd love to hear your thoughts on these questions and more...So please share your responses in the Comments today!

1. Why are transaction costs such an important concept to Quora's business?

2. BOOK BONUS QUESTION: Is there a concept, such as transaction costs, that you're learned about through EconTalk that's radically changed the way you think about some aspect of your life? If so, share the story with us. We'd like to share some of them in turn, and of course we'll share books with our faves!

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Faster, Higher, Stronger

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Why do sports contests have such a unique propensity to engage- and even inspire- us? Is this a phenomenon unique to the past few decades, or has this always been the case? EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down with Matthew Futterman, author of Players: The Story of Sports and Money and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution.

Arnold Palmer and Roger Staubach both had side jobs while they were professional athletes...Why don't Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady have to do the same today? What are you looking forward to seeing from the upcoming Olympics in Rio- the events themselves, or Bob Costas's commentary?

Share your thoughts with us today...We love to hear from you.

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1. What is the nature of the "real revolution" that Futterman argues has occurred in professional sports over the last thirty years or so? How has it changed the experience of sports for the fans? Is this change for the good? What do you think the next 30 years will bring?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras , Sports



The Right Practice

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

What's the secret of success? Doesn't everyone want to know the answer to that question??? This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down with Angela Duckworth to discuss her work on Grit, which she defines as a combination of passion and perseverance for challenging, long-term goals.

Can grit be taught? How important is practice to success, and what kind of practice is best? Is there any role left for innate talent in success today? These and other questions spring to mind listening to this fascinating conversation. So post your own question...or post a comment in response to one of ours. Either way, we love to hear from you.

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1. How "gritty" are YOU? Take Duckworth's "grit scale" quiz. (I'm a 3.90 on the scale...) What do you think you could do to increase your grit? What have you done in the past to do so?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Don't Fool Yourself

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Do you think too much of yourself, or perhaps not enough? When does productive self-esteem become egotistical? How has the presence or absence of ego influenced world history? These were just some of the questions explored in this week's EconTalk episode as host Russ Roberts welcomed Ryan Holiday to talk about his new book, Ego is the Enemy.

Now we'd like to hear what you took away from this week's episode. Use the questions below to prompt discussion both here and offline. Let us know your thoughts...We love to hear from you.

ego boy.jpg

1. Holiday cautions people to beware the "narrative fallacy." What does this mean? What are some examples from your own life in which you've fallen prey to this fallacy?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Medicare Part P

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Why don't advances in technology bring the same cost decreases (and quality increases) in health care as they do in other sectors of the economy? That was the central question this week as EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed Dartmouth's Jonathan Skinner. Is innovation in health care always worth it? And why do some seem to benefit disproportionately more than others?

We want to hear more about your experiences with health care- of the human and animal varieties. How is the health care system where you live working for you, and what could be done to make it better?

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1. I've long joked that my cats get better quality health care than I...And this is a theme Roberts and Skinner pick up this week. They suggest several reasons why we might feel this way...in the absence of "Medicare Part P." What has actually happened to the real cost of caring for our pets? What are the challenges of measuring this change and what it might teach us about human health care? To what extent does competition among vets reduce the cost of pet health care by introducing innovation and other cost-saving measures? What about pet insurance? How does private pet insurance contribute to the quality and cost of animal care?

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First Class Fissures

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed back New York University's Richard Epstein. The focal point of their conversation was a recent New York Times article by Nathan Schwartz , describing a "money-based caste system" in the travel industry. Does tiered service such as that Schwartz describes make day-to-day interactions between classes less frequent, and perhaps less comfortable? Should we be concerned about the new segregated luxuries the wealthy can enjoy? Should the rich be taxed at higher rates to reduce this segregation? What are the incentive effects of higher taxes?

Conversations with Professor Epstein are always a whirlwind, and this one is no exception. So how did you experience it? As always, we'd love to hear from you.

1. Two economics-related points both Epstein and Roberts come back to are the notion of such "luxury guests" sharing the fixed costs with their fellow passengers and the distinction between competitive and political markets. How do each of these concepts inform your reading of the Schwartz piece?

first class.jpg

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CATEGORIES: Extras , Income Inequality



Constructing our Truths

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Russ Roberts's enthusiasm for technology and optimism for the future might only be outdone by this week's EconTalk guest, futurist Kevin Kelly. Their conversation ranges over the human need for communication, developing techno-literacy skills for The Inevitable future, and the very purpose of humans in relation to the digital world.

How do you interact with technology? Are you seeing a transition from the technology of information to the technology of experience? Has the Internet shortened your attention span? Sped up your brain? As always, we love to hear from you...So please share your thoughts with us in the Comments, and share our posts with your friends.

virtual reality.jpg

1. What does Kelly mean when he says, "...in a very real way our inventions assign us our jobs?" How has your work changed with technology, and to what extent do you think technological advance is a net positive for people in your line of work?

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Curating Our Cultural History

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

How will our memories be experienced by future generations? How much of our cultural memory is "owed" to them? And why on earth would the Library of Congress be interested in preserving years worth of tweets??? These were among the topics of conversations in this week's episode in which EconTalk host Russ Roberts talked with archivist and historian Abby Smith Rumsey about how we experience memories of the past, and how we might preserve them for the future.

This episode got me thinking a lot about what my grandchildren might make of EconTalk, among other memories and experiences I hold dear. Can I ensure that they will experience them? How do I know they will find any value in them? As always, we'd like to hear whay you took away from this week's conversation. Let us know; we love to hear from you!

memory.jpg

1. What sorts of memories (personal and/or cultural) are you most concerned with preserving for the future? How will you ensure they are preserved?

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You're a Poet...We DID Know It!

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Special thanks to all those of you who submitted poems in response to last week's EconTalk Extra based on our episode with Jason Zweig...You exceeded our expectations in your thoughtfulness!

While we loved them all, two especially stood out to us... And we post them below.


The first is from Andrew Beauchamp:

If you save a large part of your earnings
for something you don't yet need;
If you find the lightest jockey
to drive your investment steed;
If you understand your tolerance for risk
and think about allocation;
If you spread your bets among the rest
and know we're not the only nation;
If you keep your head when things go south
and do the same on a bull run;
If you insure your risk and spend a little less
you'll be a great investor my son.


The second is from Ken Simpson:

If the madness of the crowd
brings you last to the game,
If the yearning that haunts you
is finding fortune and fame.
If you find that the glisten
was ne'er more than a bubble.
You'll try again later,
but for now, you're in trouble.

Money is a store of value, they say
A tally of debts one is owed.
Like a karma that's earned by your service to others:
Three duckets per row that is hoed.

Invest it at 6 per centum per annum
In 12 anni hence 'tis worth twice.
Chase the seduction of higher returns,
And find this temptress mayn't play nice.

For this karma is tied to the whimsy of fortune,
And great fortune often brings risk.
Don't be astrayed by the smiles of the winners
Whom by fate of the wheel have been kissed.

For hidden from view are the tears of the others,
The many who lost or were cheated.
They chased the allure, the promise, the riches,
But found the money was gone when 'twas needed.

High risk for the excess, the rest much more safely.
Sleep soundly and dream of great things.
From safe returns time can do magic,
And from paupers often makes kings.

What do you think??? Are these great or what?

Thanks again to all of you (and happy reading!). We always love to hear from you...And stay tuned for our Extra on the Rumsey episode coming up next!


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CATEGORIES: Extras , Finance



You're a Poet, But We Don't Know It

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

It's easier than ever to be an investor...but is this "democratization" of investing a good thing for all involved? This was among the issues explored in this week's episode, in which EconTalk host Russ Roberts chatted with The Wall Street Journal's "Intelligent Investor" columnist Jason Zweig. As usual, I'd like to suggest a few questions for thought for you...

And this week, we're also offering you a literary challenge...At the very end of the interview, Russ mentions Rudyard Kipling's poem, "If." He challenges Zweig to create a poem of financial advice modeled after Kipling's. Now we're extending the same challenge to you... We'd like to publish some of them on EconTalk, and we've got plenty of Liberty Fund books for those authors selected! So commence poetry-ing, and post yours in the Comments!

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1. What about the "democratization of finance" and the profusion of information bothers Zweig? Is this an issue you struggle to deal with?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras , Finance



You Gotta Have Standards

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

When machines make workers more productive do workers wages rise? Does technology destroy jobs across the entire economy? These were two of the key questions EconTalk host Russ Roberts explored this week in his conversation with James Bessen.

As always, we'd like to continue the conversation with you...Let us know your reactions to these questions in the Comments. We love to hear from you.

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1. This week, Adidas made news by announcing it was moving production back to Germany from Asia...but using robots. What is the mechanism discussed by Bessen that could cause this to increase jobs elsewhere in the economy?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras , Labor



Are YOU propping up a tyrant?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

EconTalk host Russ Roberts showed us a very personal challenge this week...As a self-professed hard-core free-trader, this week's guest Leif Wenar had Russ re-examining some of his views. I know this week's episode had quite the same effect on me...So what about you?

If we care about the oppression of people living in oppressive regimes rich with oil, what should we do? Or more precisely, what can we do that would help the people we're hoping to help? Can we escape the "blood oil" ties to tyrannical regimes through government action? Is there a way to avoid blood oil using a bottom-up strategy? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments, and thanks for listening.

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1. How is the Oil Curse different from the Resource Curse we've long heard about, or what makes oil a special case, according to Wenar?

2. To what extent is the legislation Wenar advocates to combat blood oil just another form of "fair trade"? (Revisit this 2013 episode with Amrita Narlika to explore the differences between free trade and fair trade.)

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Will YOU trust the algorithm?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

EconTalk host Russ Roberts shows a pessimistic side this week in his conversation with Pedro Domingos on machine learning. What promise does the future of machinae learning hold? What's the difference between AI and machine learning? Will a Master Algorithm become possible when the best of these schools of machine learning are joined? And more interestingly, will you trust it?

These were just some of the issues touched on in this fascinating conversation, on which we'd like to hear your input as well. Consider some of the questions posed here, and share your response in the Comments. And/or try some of these thought experiments out on your friends...You just never know where a great conversation might take you...

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1. We're somewhat accustomed to Russ's optimism about all things technology, but this week was a little different. How would you characterize the nature of Russ' skepticism about the potential for the emergence of a Master Algorithm? To what extent do you share his skepticism?

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Culture Change and Chasing Tails

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed back one of our favorites this week, Arnold Kling. to talk about his forthcoming book, Specialization and Trade: A Reintroduction to Economics. Kling argues that with its reliance on aggregate models, economics today has lost sight of its most important insight, dating back to Adam Smith. Russ ends the conversation with Kling, an MIT trained economist, ruminating on why they have each departed so far from their early training.

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1. What does Kling mean when he says that macroeconomics is not an experimental science, but "a bunch of observations?" How does Kling describe his own odyssey as an economist from his days in grad school at MIT? Have you experienced a similar transformation? Tell us about it...

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Time is Money

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Tough talk on taxes and spending in this week's episode, as Russ sat down with Harvard's Alberto Alesina to talk about the promise and perils of austerity. Which is better to shore up a nation's fiscal situation- tax increases or spending cuts? How long are government deficits sustainable? What's unique about the case of Greece?

Please lend some more of your considerable consideration to these issues, and share your thoughts with us in the Comments. We love to hear from you.

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1. What's the difference between "strategic" and "oh my gosh!" austerity? Under what circumstances does each arise? Is one more dangerous- or more promising- than the the other?

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Socialism, Sportsmanship, and the Stanley Cup

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down with golfing buddy and former editor-in-chief of ESPN Magazine Gary Belsky. Their conversation ranged over many sports, with discussion of American football, Indian field hockey, British tennis, and the mystique of the Stanley Cup. And Belsky's newest book...On the Origins of Sports.

Now of course we want to hear what you think...Is sportsmanship a thing of the past? Are sporting contests always a zero-sum game? Are there too many rules in sports today? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments...We love to hear from you.

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1. Why does Belsky think football players would suffer fewer concussions if the only time they wore helmets was during games? What would be the costs, if any, if this change were implemented?

2. What's your least favorite rule in sports? What would be your remedy for the problem that rule was enacted to mitigate? (Don't even start on designated hitters...)

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CATEGORIES: Extras , Sports



Advantage Luck

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down with Cornell's Robert Frank to discuss his new book, Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy. As in past episodes with Frank as a guest, it was a spirited conversation, with several good-natured points of disagreement.

So where do you stand? Is luck responsible for a larger share of our success than we're willing to admit? Or is luck, as Branch Rickey said, merely "the residue of design" of the result of good old-fashioned effort?

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1. After listening to this week's episode, how much of a role has luck played in your life? To what extent have you underestimated the role of luck?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Would you freeze your brain?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In this week's episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts chats with physicist and transhumanism skeptic Richard Jones about nanotechnology, life extension, and the perils and promise of technology. Are you a techno-optimist? Would you cryogenically freeze yourself in hopes that you'd be revived in the future? Do we spend enough energy today on alleviating end-of-life illness and suffering? Let us know what you think...As always, we love to hear from you.

1. What's the difference between designed and evolved systems, according to Jones? Which is more descriptive of the human brain? To what extent do you think it's possible that a "wiring diagram" for the brain will be discovered? cryonics.jpg

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Should we fear?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Should we fear the influence of technology on our food supply? If not, can we still celebrate the role of technology while still eating unpalatable test-tube burgers? In this week's episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts chats with agricultural economist Jayson Lusk about his newest book, Unnaturally Delicious: How Science and Technology are Serving Up Superfoods to Save the World.

We all eat, and we all think about what we eat...So let's hear your thoughts. What drives your decisions about what to eat? What do you worry about when you think about the food you consume? Use the prompts below...or pose your own questions...And let's keep the conversation going!

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1. What foods do you not eat, and why? Are your reasons based on morality? Religion? Concern for the environment? Health and wellness?

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Limiting Leakage and Lemons

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

How do middlemen emerge, and what value do they create in the economy? Who isn't a middleman, and why do they seem to suffer such disdain? In this week's episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts chats with Marina Krakovsky about her new book, The Middleman Economy.

Now it's your turn. Use the prompts below to help us keep thinking about the episode and continue the conversation. As always, we love to hear from you.

wedding planner.jpg 1. In the very beginning of the conversation, Krakovsky notes, "No one likes a middleman, but most of us are middlemen." By the end of the conversation, she's identified six roles for middlemen: bridge, certifier, enforcer, risk-bearer, concierge, and insulator. Does your work fit one of these types? Which of these middlemen stand out for their usefulness in your own life?

CONTINUE READING...

CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Symposium: David Autor on Trade

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts

This week's episode with David Autor did not go as I planned. I thought we would spend most of the time on the empirical estimates he and his co-authors have made of the impact of US trade with China. Eventually, we got to those estimates along with how reliable they are and the possible implications for public policy. But along we way, we had a lengthy discussion of the fundamentals of trade, trade deficits, and the complexity of labor markets. Because this was such a lively conversation and because it is such a timely issue, I invited four blogging economists--Don Boudreaux, Arnold Kling, Adam Ozimek, and Noah Smith to respond to the conversation. You'll find their reactions below the fold. And you have a chance to respond to those reactions in the comment section.

CONTINUE READING...

CATEGORIES: Extras



What do we really know from international trade theory, and how does it compare to what we see on the ground? Are all international trading partners created equal? This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down with MIT's David Autor for a hard-hitting conversation about the impact of trade with China on US labor markets.

We have some "Extra" treats for you later this week, but let's start here with some of the basics of the conversation between Autor and Roberts. Let us know your reactions; we love to hear from you.

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1. What is the "redistributive face of trade"? What has the opening of China taught us about international trade theory, according to Autor?

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Competition as an Elimination Process

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts takes the role of an animal at the zoo, chatting with sociologist Will Davies about his observations of economists and how they think. Have economists had too much (or not enough) influence on politics and public policy? Share your thoughts with us on this and/or the prompts below. As always, we love to hear from you!

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1. What does Davies mean by the "disenchantment of politics by economics?" While Davies is concerned by this disenchantment, Roberts is worried we haven't been disenchanted enough. With whom do you agree more, and why?

CONTINUE READING...

CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Viva la Revolution?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Women have made an enormous amount of economic progress over the last half-century but how have the gains been felt by different kinds of women? How have these changes affected women's perspectives on marriage and family? In this week's provocative episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sits down with Alison Wolf of King's College to discuss her new book, The XX Factor.

As always, we'd like to hear your reactions to this week's conversation, so let's continue it here. We love to hear from you!

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1. What's the difference between gender gaps and gender segregation, according to Wolf, and why is this significant in her analysis?

2. How different is the situation for women today, really, according to Wolf? Or, how much do women hold in common with Jane Austen character's today? To what extent do you regard these historical changes as a net positive?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Ordinary People

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In this week's episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed back 2015's most popular guest, Matt Ridley, to talk about his new book, The Evolution of Everything. Their wide-ranging conversation left me with a lot more questions than answers, which I think is a hallmark of a great conversation. Still, I'm now passing along some of things I've continued to wonder about to you.

Give some thought to the prompts below, and let us know your thoughts in the comments. You keep us learning and inspired. As always, we love to hear from you.

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1. The idea of evolution is often associated with progress...But should it be? And more particularly, does morality actually make progress, or does it instead simply adapt itself to people's current attitudes? If the latter, where do those attitudes come from?

CONTINUE READING...

CATEGORIES: Extras



Your Favorite Episodes of 2015

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts

I want to share with you the results of the survey of your favorite episodes of 2015. I want to thank all of you around the world (and you live in 65 different countries) who responded, particularly your general comments and feedback. Those comments were very helpful in thinking about ways to make EconTalk better. And I very much enjoyed hearing how EconTalk has been useful or educational for you. It's very gratifying and I thank you for listening and for sharing.

Here are your favorites episodes from 2015:


CATEGORIES: Extras , Favorites



The World's a Little More Complicated...

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In a follow-up to this recent episode with Noah Smith, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down with Adam Ozimek of Forbe's and Moody's to explore how new data influences people's world views.

As always, we'd like to continue the conversation and hear what you have to say about this week's episode. Use the prompts below as food for thought...and let us know how it goes!

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1. Ozimek, an empirical optimist, asserts that we are making steady progress in figuring out the empirical effects of various policies such as the minimum wage. Roberts is skeptical. What grounds does he have for his skepticism? Is his skepticism dogmatic in its own way? How might their disagreement be resolved?

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Talking Topsy Turvy

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts chats with the Conversable Economist, Timothy Taylor. Together they explore the topsy turvy nature of public conversation about the respective roles of business and the government today.

Russ thinks we're living in the "golden age" of economics communication...So let's not let him down! Respond to the prompts below (and pose them to your friends!) in the Comments...Let's be golden!

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1. In discussing why people tend to turn toward the private sector, or capitalism, for fairness and justice,Taylor warns about what happens when you don't pay attention to your golden geese. What does he mean by this, and what lesson(s) does this suggest for private firms? For public policy?

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CATEGORIES: Extras , Growth , Labor



There's No Such Thing as an Objective Fact

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In a fascinating and far-ranging conversation with Nobel Laureate James Heckman (who was also one of his teachers), EconTalk host Russ Roberts explored the progress, problems, and limits of econometric analysis--the application of statistics to economic data.

There's a lot to learn this week's episode, and lots to think about as well. We hope you'll use the prompts below to continue our conversation in the comments. As you know, we love to hear from you!
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1. Why might there be a difference between measured and real progress? Why is it important to recognize this distinction, and in what additional areas have policy makers failed to account for this?

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Selling Sneakers and Swooshes

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Are you a sneakerhead? Have you organized a portfolio of your collection? (Did you even know you could???) This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down with the foremost expert on the secondary sneaker market, Josh Luber. They talked about the process of data collection, "deadstock" and the composition of this multi-million dollar secondary market.

As always, we'd like to hear what you took away from this conversation. So please share your thoughts with us in the comments, and let's continue.

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1. Luber talks about his process of transitioning to full-time work on Campless, and his plans to launch StockX. What does he mean by a "stock market of things?" How does this comport with the traditional idea of stock markets? Can you think of other "things" that might benefit from a platform like StockX?

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Knowledge, Ignorance, and Spectacles

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In this week's episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts chats with Greg Ip of the Wall Street Journal about his new book, Foolproof.

How do people formulate their attitudes toward risk? How do people respond to policies that try to insulate them from risk? How should policymakers take these responses into account? These questions and more are highlights from the conversation. Now let's continue that conversation here...We love to hear from you.

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1. In this recent Econlib column, Arnold Kling explores Ip's distinction between two philosophies for handling risk, those of the "engineers" and the "ecologists." Which style is better for dealing with risk or is it a matter of the context and setting for the risk?

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All the World's a Puzzle

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

The "economic way of thinking" is something we at Econlib emphasize...a LOT. This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down again with "the Economic Naturalist, Cornell'S Robert Frank. Their subject...almost anything! They explored some puzzles, what Roberts calls "dinner table economics," such as why do brides buy their gowns, while grooms rent their tuxes. (Presumably, the gown will be worn once, while tuxes may have a longer useful life.)

So now let's see how we can liven up your dinner table conversation. Give some thought to the prompts below...Your puzzle(s) could even become the subject of a future episode!

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1. Frank suggests that only a half dozen or so concepts "do the heavy lifting" in economics. What do you think those half dozen concepts are, and why? (Hint/Spoiler: Russ seems to think there are ten...)

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Come the Revolution

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

At the suggestion of YOU, our followers, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down with Bloomberg View columnist and professor of economics Noah Smith about whether economics is a science, how people's minds are changed, and more.

Let's hear what you have to contribute to our conversation...Share your thoughts with us below. And stay tuned next week for our annual survey of listeners!


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1. Early in the conversation, Roberts admits he has an ideology. If you have listened to EconTalk for a while, how would you describe Roberts's philosophical and methodological worldview? How would you describe Smith's based on this conversation?

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Why does it seem that pundits' and politicians' predictions are always right? How can you assess the accuracy of a probabilistic prediction? This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down with Superforecasting author Phillip Tetlock, and their conversation ranged over these topics and more.

Let us know your reaction to this week's episode, and let's continue our conversation here. As always, we love to hear from you!

1. As Tetlock told Russ about his earliest forecasting tournaments about the Soviet Union, he noted how different the predictions of liberals and conservatives was. Still, he explains, none of them foresaw the rise of Mikhail Gorbechev or the collapse of the USSR, describing an "outcome-irrelevant learning situation." What does he mean by this? What sorts of outcome-irrelevant learning situations have you found yourself in and/or witness to? How might they have turned out differently?

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CONTINUE READING...

CATEGORIES: Books , Data and Evidence , Extras



How much credit (or blame) should the Fed receive for its response to the 2008 financial crisis? What about former Fed chief Ben Bernanke? This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down with George Selgin of Cato's Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives to discuss just that, and we think some of their answers might surprise you...

So please let us know what you thought and learned this week, and let's keep learning from one another. You're our inspiration!

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1. Selgin and Roberts both seem to think that the Fed policy of paying interest on reserve held at the Fed neutralized any stimulative effects of monetary policy. What empirical evidence would you need before accepting this claim? How might Bernanke respond?

CONTINUE READING...




A Better Strategy for Feeding America?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In this week's EconTalk episode, host Russ Roberts and Canice Prendergast of the University of Chicago talked about an innovative new allocation system for a nationwide network of food banks. But maybe there's an even better way to get food to the poor.

I'd heard rumors of this venture in the past, but today I came across this piece on a new store in Boston called Daily Table, started by a former president of Trader Joe's, Doug Rauch. The means by which Daily Table acquires its inventory bears some similarity to that of Feeding America.

But what most struck me was this:

Some are seeing this as an alternative to food banks. The benefit of cheap food, opposed to free food, is that it allows customers to buy with dignity.
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We asked you earlier this week how you thought Chris Blattman, an advocate of cash transfers as a better means of aid, so now I wonder what you think of the model used by the Daily Table. Would food banks better serve their constituents by converting to a non-for-profit store, like Daily Table? Does receiving food at no cost demean the recipient in some way that purchasing it does not?

According to the article, Daily Table allows anyone to shop there, but they must become a member so that Daily Table can better track demand. Daily Table also has an in-house kitchen that seems remarkably flexibly in its ability to prepare ready-to-eat meals with its always uncertain inventory. Does this offer any sort of advantage over food banks that distribute unprepared food? What would be some of the other impacts of having customers who pay prices rather than recipients who accept donations of food without charge? If you were running Daily Table how would you price one item relative to another or relative to prices in for-profit groceries? How might this low-price non-profit option affect the profitability of for-profit groceries?

Here's another alternative to think about. What about a grocery for the hungry that didn't rely on donations as Daily Table does but simply lowered prices below those of for-profit groceries and financed their losses from donations of cash? How would this differ from Daily Table?

Share your thoughts...As always, we love to hear from you.

CATEGORIES: Extras



Peanut Butter, Pasta, and Relative Prices

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

EconTalk host Russ Roberts once again delved into the world of charity this week, chatting with the University of Chicago's Canice Prendergrast about an innovative allocation scheme he and a group of economists developed for Feeding America.

food fight2.jpg 1. Several times Prendergrast notes how the Feeding America served to educate all those involved. Speaking of the food bank managers, he says it was "not hard to educate them on the benefits of choice." At the same time, some managers were uneasy with using prices and an auction to determine the allocation of food. How did the structure of the system implemented by Prendergast and his team resolve this tension?

CONTINUE READING...




You're Not the Boss of Me (Are You?)

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

EconTalk host Russ Roberts goes back to the future again in this week's episode with engineer David Mindell of MIT. Their conversation covers exploring the Titanic, Mars, and the moon, air travel and the future of driverless cars, and more.

Their discussion had me tossing the notion of autonomy around in my brain endlessly. What do we really mean by autonomy, and how is it (ever) achieved? We wonder this conversation made you think about. So please, share your thoughts with us. We love to hear from you.

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1. What does Mindell mean when he says that the notion of full autonomy is a myth? To what extent is autonomy a useful notion when discussing robots and machines? Can the "human machine" achieve full autonomy?

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What color is your unicorn?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

This week marked a significant milestone for us at EconTalk, Russ' 500th episode. To mark the occasion, he invited back his most popular guest, Mike Munger. Despite not having a "topic," the two had a wide-ranging conversation. Now it's your turn. Share your thoughts with us (including Roberts and Munger!) and let's continue the conversation.
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1. Both Roberts and Munger told the story of their "intellectual journeys." What's the story of your journey? What economists or philosophers or others have shaped your views? Have those influencers changed over time?

CONTINUE READING...

CATEGORIES: Extras



Psyching Ourselves Out

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Brian Nosek, professor of psychology and Executive Director of the Open Science Project, joined EconTalk host Russ Roberts for a follow-up conversation on the results of his meta-analysis of 100 psychology studies, seeking to replicate their findings.

So what did they find? The answer is complicated...But we're most interested in what you think of the results and this week's conversation. Share your reaction with us in the Comments, and strike up some conversations with your fellows!

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1. Nosek and Roberts make reference to the recent news that there's a link between bacon consumption and cancer. What does this story have to teach people about p values and statistical significance?

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Perhaps Preventing Prevention is Prudent

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In his newest book, Risky Medicine, physician Robert Aronowitz calls into question many of the health care norms we've adopted in our lives, including PSA tests for men and routine mammograms for women. In an unusual twist for EconTalk listeners, perhaps, Aronowitz suggests, the biggest problem in health care isn't too little information, but too much.

EconTalk host Russ Roberts also offers a very personal post-script (1:04:44) to this episode, and we're hoping you're willing to be a bit personal this week as well. Let us know how this episode has impacted the way you think about your own health, using the prompts below. As always. we love to hear from you.

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1. How do we confuse the means to good health with actual good health, according to Aronowitz? To what extent have you seen such confusion, either among people you know, or perhaps yourself?

2. What is the "elephant in green pajamas problem," and how does it describe what Aronowitz sees as wrong in medicine today?


CONTINUE READING...

CATEGORIES: Books , Data and Evidence , Extras , Health



We Know How to Make it Worse.

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

(So why don't we stop?)

If the poor aren't poor because they lack stuff, then why are they? And more importantly, what can we do about it? Michael Matheson Miller, director of the award-winning documentary Poverty, Inc., sat down with EconTalk host Russ Roberts to explore just that. He argues that we've been asking the wrong questions all along.

What did you think? Let's continue our conversation about these ideas.

1. Has this conversation changed the way you think about any particular poverty alleviation programs (TOMS shoes, NGOs, etc.)? Which one(s), and why? What might you do differently going forward, and why?

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Hidalgo Follow-up

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts


There was an interesting moment in this week's episode when Cesar Hidalgo said the following when I was asking why he ignored the role of prices:

like Hayek said it, and basically it gets regurgitated even nowadays in every common section of every newspaper more or less when people are discussing the economy--since the role of prices in revealing information about supply and demand has been said, I tried to focus on aspects of information in the economy that had not been so much discussed in the literature.
Hidalgo's take on prices reminded me of this EconTalk episode with William Byers. Byers makes the point that there are some concepts such as "randomness" that can be defined. But you can spend a lifetime thinking about them and still not understand them completely. You can always go deeper.

For me the role of prices in steering information and allocating resources is one of those ideas. It's a very deep idea. But a lot of people (and Hidalgo seems to be in this group) treat it as been-there done-that idea. Let's move on to the more interesting stuff. Like when they don't work. Or they're good for explaining buying and selling so let's talk about trust and cooperation among networks of people, which is what Hidalgo finds more interesting.

But the role of prices in supply and demand is just the beginning. Of course it doesn't work perfectly except in textbooks. But what do we know about when it works better and when it works less well? And prices do a lot more than just take care of supply and demand--they create the division of labor and decide what receives attention from innovators and entrepreneurs. Prices coordinate undesigned cooperation across firms and across space ad across time. Prices encourage collaborators to work on some things and not others. Freely adjusting prices don't solve all problems. They aren't perfect. But their effects are not fully understood or appreciated. See Venezuela for one example.

And finally, not all prices are monetary. Commercial transactions are not the only results from a well-functioning price system. Again, see Venezuela. I have a feeling there isn't a lot of trust in a system where the price system isn't allowed to function.

I understand Hidalgo's interest in going beyond (or maybe it's beside) the role of prices. But I wonder if he's thought enough about them. I haven't and I think about them a lot. I do concede that they are often my hammer looking for a nail. (After all, I wrote a book about how prices create order and prosperity and flourishing.) I'm just encouraging Hidalgo to take a closer look at the hammer. It might be more interesting than it appears at first glance.

CATEGORIES: Extras



How Does Your Information Garden Grow?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Physicist Cesar Hidalgo's new book, Why Information Grows was the subject of this week's episode. While Hidalgo and Roberts's ideas about information and the networks that transmit it have much in common, we'd like to continue to explore some of these ideas with you.

What's your reaction to the questions for thought below? Share your own in the comments, or share the results of a conversation you've had with friends. However you do it, we love to hear from you.

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1. How is "information" distinct from "knowledge?" Essayist Michel de Montaigne once wrote, "We can be knowledgeable with other men's knowledge, but we can't be wise with other men's wisdom." How does Montaigne's remark apply to the way Hidalgo thinks about knowledge and information?

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What's Your Story?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Yuval Harari joined EconTalk host Russ Roberts this week to discuss his sweeping new book, Sapiens. The conversation was wide and varied, as varied as the "stories" Harari suggests distinguish our species. Are you governed by stories in the way Harari suggests? Is our ability to weave such tales really the key to homo sapiens' success?

Please share your thoughts with us in the Comments. We love to hear from you.
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1. Harari's thesis is that man (of the homo sapiens variety) has been able to become dominant as a result of his ability to "flexibly cooperate" on a large scale, and that this in turn is enabled by his affinity and ability in story-telling. He regards religion, ideology, and more as "stories." How convinced are you by this characterization, and why?

CONTINUE READING...

CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Hurricanes, Heuristics, and the Human Spirit

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In a follow-up of sorts to this early 2006 episode, Roberts sat down with Peter Boettke this week to talk about the impact of Hurricane Katrina ten years later. The two discussed the utility of various research methodologies, the interaction of the public and private sectors with civil society, and the amazing resilience of the human spirit.

We hope to continue the conversation with you...Let us know your reaction to the prompts below in the Comments, or use them to strike up a conversation offline. (And if you do, we'd still love to at least hear about it!)

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1. What were the three areas of focus in the field research Boettke and his colleagues undertook in New Orleans post-Katrina? What does Boettke mean when he says, "it's the framework that's up for grabs?" Why does it seem economists are so loathe to grasp this? To what extent are economics' common heuristics inapplicable?

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This week EconTalk host Russ Roberts spoke with Tim O'Reilly, and the conversation ranged over the history of the Internet and the sharing economy, the significance of open-source software, climate change, income inequality, and poetry.

What did you take from this week's whirlwind episode? Use our prompts below (or pose some of your own!) in the Comments, and let's continue the conversation.

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1. Roberts defines the central human problem as one of meaning, noting that he finds meaning at least in part through his work. We want to know how YOU find meaning? And how do you define it? Is it close to Adam Smith's definition? Explain.

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Amber Waves of Grain

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

If you've started playing a drinking game for every time EconTalk host RussRoberts has said the word "prairie" in recent episodes, this week's conversation with Pete Geddes of the American Prairie Reserve is sure to top your favorites list!

What are your thoughts on this attempt to re-create a prairie? Please respond to the prompts below. As always, we love to hear from you.

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1. The role of incentives in conservation is a dominant theme throughout the conversation, and Geddes notes early on that part of his objective is to "flip" the incentives of the ranchers surrounding the reserve. What do you think of his proposals for doing so? What additional incentive modifications would you suggest?

CONTINUE READING...

CATEGORIES: Environment , Extras



Being Wrong

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Journalist Kathryn Schulz, in Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, describes how very uncomfortable, and indeed how very difficult it is for we humans to be wrong. (You can watch Schulz' TED talk on being wrong here.) Indeed, she argues, we revel in being right. Further, we generally associate being wrong with being ignorant, indolent, morally degenerate, etc. But, says Schulz, we make a "meta-mistake;" we are wrong about being wrong. She writes, "Far from being a sign of intellectual inferiority, the capacity to err is crucial to human cognition. Far from being a moral flaw, it is inextricable from some of our most humane and honorable qualities: empathy, optimism, imagination, conviction, and courage." Why, them is admitting we were wrong so hard?

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A remarkable part of this week's EconTalk episode was when one such moment came to light. Tina Rosenberg described how, over the course of her research on the Iranian kidney market, she changed her mind. Prior to this project, she says she held two assumptions that she no longer holds. She says, "And one of them is that paying donors is necessarily exploitative. And the second one is: There are serious moral and ethical reasons not to pay donors. I no longer believe either of those things." Our hats are off to Rosenberg; such an admission takes courage.

But what we're interested here are examples from your own experience. Have you ever experienced a change in a belief you held very strongly? What was it? And more importantly, what precipitated the change? We'd like to hear about your experience. It could become a future EconTalk Extra, or perhaps even part of an episode. Please share your story with us via email at econlib@libertyfund.org by noon EST on Monday, September 28. Thanks in advance, and we look forward to hearing from you.

CATEGORIES: Extras



Transplanting Kidneys in Tehran

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

There's only one place in the world where individuals can be financially compensated for donating a kidney- Iran. This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts chatted with New York Times writer Tina Rosenberg, as a follow-up to an earlier episode on matching markets with Nobel laureate Alvin Roth.

We'd like to hear your reactions on this controversial topic. Use the prompts below to start a conversation offline, and share your thoughts in the Comments to continue our conversation online. As always, we love to hear from you.

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1. Rosenberg describes the process in Iran whereby a non-governmental organization coordinates donors and recipients. Of this process, she says, "You don't want brokers in the middle who are going to take a cut or who have a financial incentive." Go back and listen to this EconTalk episode from 2008 with Mike Munger on the economics of middlemen. If kidney sales were legal in the United States, do you think a for-profit broker would do a better or worse job than a non-profit broker?

CONTINUE READING...

CATEGORIES: Extras , Health , Theory of Markets



They Say the Neon Lights Shine Bright...

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

It turns out the odds in Vegas may beat those on Broadway, but this week's guest (and host!) find Broadway much more magical. Roberts takes a fascinating peek behind the stage door this week with Broadway manager Mitch Weiss.

Join us on this theatrical journey, and share your thoughts on the prompts below in the Comments section. We love engaging with you, and watching you engage with one another. Let's continue the conversation!

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1. Toward the end of this week's episode, Weiss talked about premium seating--some of the best seats at the hottest shows are prices many times higher than other nearby seats. Here is Weiss's reaction:

The great thing--as I said, for me, working in the theater--I don't have to worry about whether or not it's going to survive. It's--first of all, it's blooming. I've never seen it like this. We are making a fortune. Of course, those premium priced seats, which I am one of the few people on Broadway totally against--I just see it as greed. But people are willing to buy it; and that's our marketplace.

Roberts did not follow-up on this point. If he had, what might have been his response? How would he deal with the concern that the poorest citizens may be priced out of seeing a Broadway show?

CONTINUE READING...

CATEGORIES: Extras



Earning to Live or Earning to Give?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

What are you doing to make the world a better place? Co-founder of the Effective Altruism movement, Will MacAskill, joins Roberts this week to talk about Doing Good Better, "tooling up" to change the world, and earning to give.

We'd like to hear what you took away from this week's episode, and how it might affect the way you try to make a difference. Use the prompts below, or suggest alternative ones, to continue the conversation. We love to hear from you!

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1. What is the "Hundred Times Multiplier," according to MacAskill? Roberts is skeptical. Which side are you on?

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Crime & Punishment & Cooperation

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Are humans instinctively cooperative? Under what circumstances does human cooperation tend to break down? Can we experience cooperation in the absence of sanctions? How much are individuals willing to sacrifice to achieve justice?

This week, Roberts spoke with Paul Robinson, co-author (with Sarah Robinson) of Pirates, Prisoners, and Lepers: Lessons from Life Outside the Law.

In this week's Extra, we'd like to further explore these ideas, and give you an opportunity to let us (and each other!) know your thoughts, Please use the prompts below to continue the conversation. We love to hear from you!

Lady Justice2.jpg 1. Many economists argue that government activities crowd out private ones. How does this week's episode fit in with those arguments?

CONTINUE READING...

CATEGORIES: Extras



Lynxes, and Soybeans, and Bears, Oh My!

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

When you think about "high-tech," you tend to think about your electronic devices, silicon chips, the Internet...But what about nature? How much do bears, deer, and whales owe to technology?

This week's EconTalkepisode with Jesse Ausubel is a whirlwind of food, transportation, wilderness, and more. There's a lot to think about, and we know you doing just that! So please share your thoughts based on the prompts below in the Comments, and let's continue the conversation.

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1. Ausubel claims that if the world shifted to a more plant-centric diet, this would be better for the land. Roberts points to the paleo craze, which seems to dampen this possibility. How might prices play in role in encouraging one or the other? Consider the price of soybeans, the price of animal protein and the price of land used for one or the other.

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Haute Cuisine pour Vous?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In an age of abundance, how does the way we think about food differ from the past? This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed historian Rachel Laudan for a fascinating conversation about the history, culture, and economics of food.

We'd like to see their conversation expand here. Please share your thoughts on the prompts below in the Comments. As always, we love to hear from you. burger2.jpg

1. What was the most interesting thing you took from this week's episode? Explain.

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Where the Wild Things Are(n't)?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Oysters, elk, and ungulates, oh, my! Who knew that a political storm could develop over oysters? This week's guest, Summer Brennan, did. Russ chatted with the author of The Oyster War on the nature of wilderness, competing interests, and the nature of truth. A tall order to be sure...but now we want to hear from you.
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1. Russ cites a common economics mantra in relation to the story of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, "There are no solutions, only trade-offs." Can you think of a controversy similar to this one that also illustrates this principle?

2. What does "wilderness" mean to you? How do you enjoy "wilderness?" How well does the political process define it?

3. Check out the American Prairie Reserve. How might its management and access differ from a traditional national park?

4. Why is the idea of equilibrium so comforting in both economics and ecology? What are the dangers of pushing this concept too far in either area?

CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Maximizing our RoG

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Fish business CEO Roger Berkowitz tells Russ that his guiding philosophy is RoG, or Return of the Guest. Says Berkowitz, "And what I'm simply trying to do is make sure that we can enhance the overall experience that are going to encourage people to want to come back again."

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So this week we'd like to try something a little different...In fact, we're asking for your advice. What can we do at EconTalk to increase our RoG? How can we make the "experience" of EconTalk a better one? What can we do to bring more listeners into our community?

You might think about the conversation Russ and Berkowitz had about competition, which Russ paints in very broad brush strokes. What constitutes EconTalk's competition, and how can we fare better in that competitive landscape? How can we make more people aware that we're here and might be of value to those who don't know about EconTalk yet?

Send your ideas (200 words or less, please) to econlib@libertyfund.org by midnight EST on Sunday, August 9. We'd really like your input...And we'd like to highlight some of the best responses. And there are books in it for our most thoughtful responders!!!




If a nation sends all its children to school, can it count on greater economic growth? Does putting bottoms in seats generate human capital? This week, Russ welcomed back the Hoover Institution's Eric Hanushek.

What did you think of this week's episode? What did it make you think more about? Share with us your thoughts and reactions, helping us make EconTalk ever better. As always, we learn from you and we love to hear from you.

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1. What additional question(s) would you have asked Hanushek?

2. Hanushek suggests a causal relationship between academic achievement and economic growth in a nation, What is the nature of Russ's concern about "reverse causation?" To what extent do you find Hanushek's claim plausible?

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If the Magna Carta sowed the seeds of freedom and prosperity 800 years ago, what should we look forward to in the next 800 years? This week's episode, recorded before a live audience at the Hoover Institution, asks three EconTalk favorites to offer their thoughts.

And now it's time to share yours. Are you more of an optimist or pessimist about the future of freedom? Help us continue the conversation.

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1. After listening to the opening statements of each guest, which guest do you find most compelling? Explain.

2. The speakers were critical of the role of regulation or the size of government in holding back the US economy. Yet as Russ Roberts pointed out, the economy has grown fairly steadily in the post-WWII United States. How might defenders of regulation or those who support larger government answer critics of regulation and the growth of government?

3. If you had been a member of the live audience, what would you have asked during the Q&A? (Please note if your question would be a general one or directed to a particular speaker.)

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Can economists save lives? It seems Nobel laureate Alvin Roth can...In this week's episode, Roth talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about matching markets and social support for markets. The conversation ranges over indirect kidney donations, (public) school choice, financial market trading, and more.

As always, we'd like to take this chance to enrich the experience of this week's conversation. Use the prompts below to respond in the comments, and use them to spark you own conversations offline. We love to hear from you!

1. What were your top takeaways from this week's episode?

2. Roth asserts that in matching markets, prices function differently than they do in commodities markets? How would you describe this difference?

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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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Is it possible that what we though we knew about Africa's stagnant economy is wrong? Do we need a more stylized economic history? If so, this week's guest, Morten Jerven may be the one to provide it.

Let's hear what you took away from this week's conversation. Share your thoughts with us, and let's continue our education together. Africa2.jpg

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CATEGORIES: Extras



Go Hollywood this week as Russ chats with Adam Davidson of Planet Money, who recently served as technical advisor on the upcoming film The Big Short.

We hope you're looking forward to the film, too. In the meantime, help us continue to expand our learning and conversation at EconTalk, using the prompts below.

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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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What's the track record of multi-billion dollar projects affecting the lives of millions of people? Surprisingly poor according to this week's guest, Oxford University''s Bent Flyvbjerg this week on such megaprojects. Now we'd like to hear about what you took away from this week's episode. Share your thoughts with us in the Comments, and share these discussion questions over dinner. Either way, we love to hear from you!

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CATEGORIES: Extras



Did an 800 year old piece of parchment really change the world? That was the central question of this week's episode with Nicholas Vincent.

Now we want to turn the conversation over to you. Use the thought prompts below to carry on the conversation in the Comments. (And we hope you spark some off-line conversation of your own, too!) You never know...your Comment could be featured in an upcoming EconTalk post!
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There's a healthcare revolution underway, and while your smartphone may be center-stage in this drama, there's more to the story than apps. Eric Topol of the Scripps Translational Science Institute joins EconTalk host Russ Roberts for this week's conversation.

Now we'd like to hear from you. Please respond to any of the following in the Comments. Reach out to your friends, too, and let's all continue the conversation.

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This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts interviewed Michael O'Hare on the somewhat mysterious world of art museums and the way their visitors experience art there.

As always, we'd like to hear what you took from this week's conversation, and to continue our own conversation here.

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CATEGORIES: Extras



This week EconTalk host Russ Roberts spoke with Leonard Wong, research professor at the U.S. Army War College, about the honesty and ethics among officers complying with various reporting and training requirements.

We want to hear your thoughts on the tension between regulatory requirements and honesty, in the military and elsewhere. Use the prompts below as conversation starters, and please share your thoughts in the Comments. We love to hear from you.

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CATEGORIES: Extras



EconLog's Scott Sumner argues in this week's episode that too many people reason (incorrectly) from a price change, causing confusion about the factors behind today's continuing low interest rates. The conversation also touches on the role of the Federal Reserve and its monetary policy, and the effects of regulation on issues such as inequality.

Now we'd like to hear from you. Use the prompts below to spark conversation in your classroom or at the dinner table. Or simply use them to help further your own understanding. However you use them, we'd love to hear about it in the Comments.

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This week's guest, Phil Rosenzweig joined EconTalk host Russ Roberts to talk about his new book, Left Brain, Right Stuff.

We'd like to know what you took away from this week's recorded conversation, and hopefully spark some more here online. Use the prompts below, and share your thoughts in the Comments. We love to hear from you.


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This week's episode was recorded and filmed last month before a large crowd at Ball State University. EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed philosopher James Otteson and Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith to talk about another famous Smith...

For this special episode, we'd like to again give you a chance to see your response on EconTalk. Choose one of the prompts below, and submit your response (500 words or less, please) via email to mail@econtalk.org by midnight EST on Sunday, April 12.

[Video below the fold.]

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This week's episode, garnering a PG-13 rating from Roberts, was a fascinating look inside the formal and informal governance structures of America's prisons with guest David Skarbek.

As always, we'd like to continue learning from and conversing with one another. Have a look at the prompts below, and share your response in the Comments. Thanks for listening; we love to hear from you.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



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



We hope you enjoyed this week's conversation with Paul Romer of New York University and director of NYU's Marron Institute of Urban Management. And now we'd like to hear what you got out of it, and for you to help us continue our conversation.

Have a look at the prompts below and share your response in the comments. We look forward to the interaction.

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CATEGORIES: Extras , Growth



This week's episode was recorded before a live audience at the Cato Institute and featured GMU economist Lawrence White. The focus of the conversation was a new book edited by White offering suggestions for reform of the U.S. monetary system. As always, we'd like to hear your responses. Please help us continue our conversation in the comments.

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Join our streaming broadcast direct from Ball State University, 5:00-6:30 pm (EST) Wednesday, March 11th! The event will feature a conversation between Russ Roberts, host of EconTalk, James Otteson of Wake Forest University, and Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith of Chapman University, discussing the relevance of Adam Smith for the 21st century.

Please note: We recommend utilizing Firefox for best viewing of the stream.

We will also be releasing audio and video as a regular EconTalk episode in a few weeks.

Addendum: The audio and video are now available at http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2015/04/vernon_smith_an.html

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CATEGORIES: Adam Smith , Extras



Continuing Education... David Zetland on Water

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

We hope you enjoyed this week's episode on the pricing and availability of water with David Zetland. As always, we'd like to hear what you got out of it, and for you to help us continue our conversation.

Have a look at the prompts below and share your response in the comments. We look forward to the interaction.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Environment , Extras



Steil Follow-up

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts

I want to thank everyone who responded to the Benn Steil continuing education post. Most of the responses were related to the question about war's impact on GDP and why I thought war was bad for the economy even though it boosts GDP.

Listener/reader David Hurwitz did a nice job on these topics. He wrote:

Wartime spending meant less of everything consumers would want like cars, refrigerators, more housing square feet per person, etc. Thus in a real sense, the economy is worse off in terms of both production goods that exist in the world, and net global economic capability as a consequence of the destruction. Production to replace the destruction of war only means time is wasted to get back to where one was before. Those that died or were physically or spiritually maimed don't show up in such calculations.

Such thinking means for one thing that poor thinkers would see the horrible effects of war as a solution to some future mess that leaders brought on the world.

People are not better off when their GDP is higher if a large enough part of the rise is the cost of weapons that were not deemed necessary or desirable before the war.

He then added:

Seeing something as having good attributes that don't exist creates false signals which leads to pressure in the direction of achieving that erroneously identified good.

Exactly. When we talk about benefits of war, we encourage war. Sometimes war is necessary. But there's no reason to think that it has a silver lining of creating economic prosperity.

I encourage everyone to go back and listen to this EconTalk episode with Robert Higgs and to read his work on the true state of the economy during WWII. And watch the Keynes-Hayek rap Fight of the Century for another treatment of these issues.

CATEGORIES: Extras



Last year's most popular guest, Duke University's Mike Munger, was back on EconTalk this week, discussing the process of choosing in groups.

Their conversation ranged from Odysseus to the Lewis and Clark expedition, and more. Now it's your turn...Choose one of the questions below and submit your reply via email to mail@econtalk.org by midnight on Monday. Some of the responses will again be highlighted in our follow-up.

Thanks for helping us continue the conversation.

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Your Favorite Episodes of 2014

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts

I want to thank everyone who completed the survey--almost 1200 people responded from over 60 countries. Here are the top ten episodes of 2014 as voted by you. Every episode got at least 3% of the vote. The top episode got 25%. I especially want to thank you for your comments. Your interest in EconTalk and your appreciation for our efforts is deeply satisfying to me. I hope 2015 can be even better as we try to add ways for you to deepen your learning if that interests you.

1. Michael Munger on the Sharing Economy
2. Marc Andreessen on Venture Capital and the Digital Future
3. Bryan Caplan on College, Signaling and Human Capital
4. Russ Roberts and Mike Munger on How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life
5. Sam Altman on Start-ups, Venture Capital, and the Y Combinator
6. Nina Munk on Poverty, Development, and the Idealist
7. D. G. Myers on Cancer, Dying, and Living
8. Daron Acemoglu on Inequality, Institutions, and Piketty
9. William Easterly on the Tyranny of Experts
10. Jonathan Haidt on the Righteous Mind
10. Thomas Piketty on Inequality and Capital in the 21st Century

CATEGORIES: Extras , Favorites



The Council on Foreign Relation's Benn Steill was Russ Roberts's guest this week on EconTalk, where the conversation ranged from Soviet spies to anti-Semitism and imperialism to international power grabs galore.

Now we'd like to hear from you, and take this week's conversation a bit deeper. Choose one of the prompts below and submit your reply (250 words or less, please) via email to mail@econtalk.org by midnight on Monday.

And again, special congratulations to listeners Rick and Warren, whose responses Roberts used in his follow-up to last week's episode with Daniel Sumner.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras , History



Sumner Follow-up

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts

The Continuing Education entry for last week's episode with Dan Sumner asked the following two questions for you to respond to:

1. Mancur Olsen and Gary Becker argue that small groups have greater political power than larger ones, which seems counter-intuitive, as they would muster less influence (fewer votes and less money). Explain why it would be the case that their political influence would increase. Roberts notes that over recent decades, the agriculture industry has become increasingly concentrated into smaller number but larger firms. To what extent has this borne out Olsen and Becker? What does this suggest about the political power of agriculture going forward?

2. How do crop insurance programs differ from direct payment subsidies, according to Sumner? How do the effects (intended and unintended) of each type of program compare? What was Greg Page's case for his support of the switch in the 2014 farm bill from the latter to the former. What do you think Sumner would say in response to Page about which is preferable?

Everyone chose the first question--why are small interest groups relatively powerful. You'd think they'd be irrelevant. They have fewer votes to offer and potentially less money.

Rick Groves got off on the right track when he noted:

Invariably, the interests of larger groups are more complex, nuanced, and diffuse. Small groups can sustain a clear, consistent set of requests that can be addressed directly and engaged with more reliably.
A listener named Warren got to the heart of the matter by pointing out that political lobbying has a collective-action problem--it's tempting to let another peanut farmer do the lobbying and work because you might get the benefits, anyway. Smaller groups find it easier to overcome this problem, as Warren argues:
The smaller the collective action group, the more likely that the group will be able to overcome the collective action problem. (1) Because in a smaller group it is easier to monitor as to whether or not people are able to be free-riders and to then introduce some kind of mechanism to encourage them to join the collective enterprise. And (2) smaller groups will find it easier to organize politically. The farming lobby, being very small in proportion to the public as a whole, are much easier to organize politically than the whole public. Therefore, the farming lobby is able to impose negative externalities on the general population at large. We have a government failure generated by structural incentives within the political process.
The only thing missing here is the relevant jargon, which is "transaction costs." Smaller groups have lower transaction costs and while they may have fewer resources than larger groups, their incentives to employ those resources politically and their ability to encourage the employment of those resources politically are larger than for small groups. To take a simple example, crop insurance of $20 billion per year costs the average American about $60. That amount is so small that most Americans are unaware of it. And if you are aware of it, how much time are you willing to spend to stop that from happening? Not so much. It's just not worth it. But if you are a farmer who gets tens of thousands of dollars from the program, you will be very interested in the program, eager to help politicians who implement the program, and eager to coordinate with your fellow farmers to make it happen. From the New Republic summary of the most recent farm bill:
Referring to beneficiaries as "farmers" underplays how giant agribusinesses really benefit from subsidized crop insurance. There have traditionally been no limits to premium support, meaning the richest businesses reap the most benefits. A provision from Sen. Tom Coburn to reduce payouts for farmers with over $750,000 in income was stripped from the final bill, despite passing the Senate twice. The Environmental Working Group, a critic of crop insurance, estimates that 10,000 policyholders receive over $100,000 a year in subsidies annually, with some receiving over $1 million, while the bottom 80 percent of farmers, the mom-and-pop operations, collect only $5,000 annually. These are educated guesses, because under current law, the names of individual businesses receiving support are kept secret, a provision maintained in the new farm bill. The House version included a measure that would disclose which members of Congress receive subsidies, but that was dropped.

So congrats to Rick Groves and to Warren for doing an excellent job.




This week, Roberts spoke with agriculture & resource economist Daniel Sumner on the history, winners, and losers of U.S. agricultural subsidies from the New Deal to today. Now we'd like to go deeper and see what you took from this week's conversation.

Choose one of the questions below and submit your response (250 words or less, please) via email to mail@econtalk.org by midnight on Sunday, February 15. Put "Sumner Extra" in the subject line. We'll post some of your responses at EconTalk so we can continue the conversation.

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This week, we want to further the learning associated with Alex Tabarrok on Private Cities. We can learn a lot from one another.

So this week, choose from one of the prompts below the fold, and post your reply (250 words or less, please!) in the comments. We'll highlight some of our favorites (and maybe even send some surprises your way). We also hope you'll comment on each others' replies.

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Nassim Taleb returned to EconTalk this week, to discuss his recent paper on the risks inherent in genetically modified organisms. Contra last week's guest, Greg Page, Taleb sees the potential for global ruin in GMOS.

Share your reactions to the following prompts with us, and let's continue the conversation.

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CATEGORIES: Extras



Greg Page, former CEO of Cargill spoke with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what it's like to run a global food company and issues affecting world food markets.

Here's your chance to test your knowledge and share your answers to questions from this week's conversation.

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This week, Joshua Greene of Harvard University and author of Moral Tribes spoke with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about moral dilemmas and what Greene calls the tragedy of common-sense morality.

What did you think of this week's conversation? Use the prompts below to share your thoughts. As always, we love to hear from you.

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This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed author James Tooley to talk about what he discovered in researching the educational options of the world's poorest children. What he found is surprising to many, but as Roberts notes, some find Tooley's work dangerous. Let us know what you think about their conversation, using the prompts in this week's Extra.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Education , Extras



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



In this week's episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts talks with James Otteson about socialism and capitalism, touching on camping, G.A. Cohen, Adam Smith, and education along the way.

Use the questions below to check your knowledge or respond. As always, we love to hear from you.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Bostrom follow-up

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts

Bostrom Follow-up

For me, the interview with Nick Bostrom was mind-blowing. I've been thinking about it quite a bit since we did the interview and the thoughtful comments from listeners have continued the process.

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CATEGORIES: Extras , Nick Bostrom



In this week's futuristic episode, Roberts chatted with philosopher Nick Bostrom on the promises and potential dangers of superintelligence, smart machines which he believes will be able to radically outperform humans in the future.

Are you as concerned as Bostrom about these supermachines? Do you share Roberts' skepticism about their danger? Wherever you fall, share your thoughts with us in the comments. As always, we love to hear from you.

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EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomes back University of Chicago's Emily Oster in this week's episode, in which they discuss the differences in infant mortality rates across nations, as well as the challenges and opportunities afforded by health data.

Share your thoughts on this week's conversation by responding to any or all of the questions below in the comments. We love to hear from you!

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CATEGORIES: Extras , Health



This week's EconTalk episode with Vernon Smith helped me understand something that has been bothering me for a long time.

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CATEGORIES: Adam Smith , Extras



Nobel laureate Vernon Smith joins EconTalk host Russ Roberts this week on EconTalk to discuss Adam Smith's approach to economics and human behavior.

And now we'd like to hear from you...Use the prompts below to share your reactions to this week's conversation in the comments. Or use them to start your own face-to-face conversations, and let us know how it goes.

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Thinking About Health... An EconTalk Playlist

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

We hope your thinking about the economics of the end of life were challenged in this week's episode with palliative care physician Becky Liddicoat Yamarik.

We've taking a slightly different direction in this Extra...We're pleased to introduce our first EconTalk Playlist, along with some prompts for thinking about the economics of health and health care. If the Yamarik episode intrigued you, too, we hope you'll enjoy visiting (or revisiting!) these past health-related episodes.

We hope you enjoy it, and as always, we love to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments, or start your own conversations offline.

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CATEGORIES: Extras , Health



Russ Roberts welcomed MIT's Daron Acemoglu back to EconTalk this week, in an episode focused on the interplay between institutions and inequality.

Now it's your turn...Use the prompts below and share your reactions in the comments. If you use the prompts elsewhere (in a class, at the dinner table or a cocktail party), we'd love to hear about that, too.

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CATEGORIES: Extras , Income Inequality



Nobel laureate and emeritus professor at MIT Robert Solow sat down with EconTalk host Russ Roberts this week to discuss growth theory and the challenges of macroeconomics.

Now let's hear from you. Use the prompts below for comments here at EconTalk, or use them to start your own conversations offline. We love to hear from you.


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There's a new sheriff in town!This week, there was a new sheriff in town! Russ Roberts was the guest in this week's episode, while EconTalk fave Mike Munger stood in as interviewer. The subject was Roberts's new book, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life. Whether your life changes have already happened or are still pending, we want to hear from you.

Use the prompts below to share your thoughts in the comments, use them as a classroom assignment, or use them to spark conversation at a cocktail party. But do let us know your thoughts; we love to hear from you.

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CATEGORIES: Adam Smith , Books , Extras



Are you concerned that robots will take your job? Could you write out complete instructions for riding a bike? This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts explored these questions and more with MIT's David Autor. Now we'd like to hear from you.

Please use the questions below as prompts for the comments section. Or use them in your offline interactions. Either way, we're anxious to broaden the conversation. We love to hear from you.

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CATEGORIES: Extras



This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts talked with Thomas Piketty, author of the controversial and best-selling tome, Capital in the 21st Century.

As always, we'd like to hear your thoughts on this episode. Use the prompts below and share in the comments section, or use them to prompt discussion offline. Either way, we know you have something to say, and we love to hear from you.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras , Income Inequality



In this week's episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts spoke with education journalist Elizabeth Green about her new book, Building a Better Teacher. Their conversation covers teaching as a craft, the role and history of schools of education, and the efficacy of various education reforms.

Now we'd like to hear your reaction to this week's conversation. Reply to the prompts below in the comments, or use them to spark your own conversation offline. And let us know how it goes...As always, we love to hear from you.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Education , Extras



This week, Russ Roberts chatted with former Stanford professor and Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller about the present and future of online education.

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We'd like to hear your thoughts about blended learning and/or online education. Use the prompts below and post your response in the comments, or start your own conversation offline and let us know how it goes. We love to hear from you.

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CATEGORIES: Education , Extras



This week Roberts discussed free-market environmentalism with Terry Anderson, of the Property and Environment Research Center and the Hoover Institution.

FME's unique combination of free-market principles and environmental stewardship may not be as radical as when it was introduced, yet still is not mainstream. Let us know your thoughts on its potential. We hope you find the prompts below useful. As always, we love to hear from you!

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This week, Roberts returned to a political-economy topic, law, with guest Barry Weingast of Stanford.

As always, we'd like to hear what you thought. So use the prompts below to share your thoughts and spark some conversation.

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This week's episode featured two guests, Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha of LinkedIn and co-authors of The Alliance and The Start-Up of You.

Whether you're looking to improve your own employment prospects, build a better team at work, or interested in the newest in tech and V.C., we'd love to hear from you. Use the prompts below the fold to join the conversation in this forum, or start your own conversation offline, and let us know how it goes.

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This week, Russ Roberts spoke with Y Combinator president Sam Altman about tech, innovation, Y Combinator's impact, and more.

Share your thoughts on this week's episode, exploring the prompts below. Or pose your own question(s) for conversation. Either way, we love to hear from you.

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Roberts returns to the topic of development this week in his conversation with Columbia's Chris Blattman, advocate of a radical approach to fighting poverty.

Share YOUR thoughts on this week's episode...Join the conversation in the comments, or start your own offline. We love to hear from you!

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CATEGORIES: Extras



This week, Russ welcomed back Mike Munger for his 26th appearance on EconTalk! Their topic of conversation- the rise of the sharing economy.

We're interested in your experiences in the sharing economy, as well as your reaction to our Extra prompts this week. Respond to them here at EconTalk, start a conversation over dinner...it's up to you. As always, we love to hear from you.

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CATEGORIES: Extras



In this week's episode, Roberts talks about risk and uncertainty with 2013 Nobel laureate, Lars Peter Hansen.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Use the prompts below the fold to join our conversation online, or start your own offline. Let us know what you think. We love to hear from you!

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Again, I want to thank everyone who responded to the Easterly Essay questions I asked. The last question was:

Roberts challenges Easterly to respond to those who claim that Finland in education or China in economic growth are models that policymakers should emulate. What is the strongest version of this claim that Roberts provides? How would you respond?

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CATEGORIES: Extras , Growth



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



The Best Easterly Essays

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts

I want to thank the people (39 in all) who submitted essays in response to the questions I posed about the Easterly episode. I thought the best essays were submitted by Luke Edwards, Conor Lennon, Alex Ruch, and Michael Tew. Their essays will be posted here over the next few days. Please comment on their essays and watch this space for another opportunity to write for EconTalk.

CATEGORIES: Extras



This week, Roberts spoke with Gregory Zuckerman about his new book, The Frackers, and the renaissance of energy production in the United States.

Use the prompts behind the fold to encourage conversation, either online or off. As always, we love to hear from you!

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CATEGORIES: Books , Environment , Extras



A Chance to Write for EconTalk!

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In this week's episode, Roberts talks "The Tyranny of Experts" with guest William Easterly.

For this week's Extra, we thought we'd change things up a bit...

Choose one of the four questions (below the fold) and compose an answer of 600 words or less. Send it to mail@econtalk.org by midnight Sunday June 22. Put "Easterly Essay" in the subject line. Selected entries chosen by Roberts will be posted the following week on EconTalk.org, and the authors will receive a complimentary Liberty Fund book.

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Becker Postmortem

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts

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CATEGORIES: Extras



In this week's episode, Roberts and Edward Lazear share their recollections of recently deceased Nobel laureate Gary Becker. We'd like to hear what you think of Becker's work, and encourage you to join the conversation.

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CATEGORIES: Extras , Nobel Prize Winners



This week's EconTalk was a live episode.

Share these prompts with your friends, family, students, co-workers, and let us know how the conversation goes! We love to hear from you.

Continue Reading
:

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Yuval Levin Postmortem

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts

I want to respond to a number of interesting comments and add some thoughts on the episode with Yuval Levin.

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CATEGORIES: Extras



The origins of the Left-Right divide in American politics is the primary focus of this week's episode.

Consider the prompts below, and let's continue the conversation.

Keep reading:

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CATEGORIES: Extras



Marc Andreessen Postmortem

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts

This week's interview with Marc Andreessen was one of my favorite episodes in a while.

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CATEGORIES: Extras



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