Russ Roberts

Philosophy and Methodology Podcast Episodes and Extras

Category Archive with 74 podcast episodes and extras
 

Podcast episode D. G. Myers on Cancer, Dying, and Living

EconTalk Episode with D. G. Myers
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size:31.9 MB
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Podcast episode Hansen on Risk, Ambiguity, and Measurement

EconTalk Episode with Lars Peter Hansen
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size:27.7 MB
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Podcast episode Yuval Levin on Burke, Paine, and the Great Debate

EconTalk Episode with Yuval Levin
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size:31.5 MB
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Podcast episode Richard Epstein on Classical Liberalism, Libertarianism, and Lochner

EconTalk Episode with Richard Epstein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

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Podcast episode Velasquez-Manoff on Autoimmune Disease, Parasites, and Complexity

EconTalk Episode with Moises Velasquez-Manoff
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size:33.4 MB
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Podcast episode Robert Frank on Coase

EconTalk Episode with Robert Frank
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size:29.7 MB
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Podcast episode Jonathan Haidt on the Righteous Mind

EconTalk Episode with Jonathan Haidt
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size:28.9 MB
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Podcast episode Joel Mokyr on Growth, Innovation, and Stagnation

EconTalk Episode with Joel Mokyr
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size:30.1 MB
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Podcast episode John Ralston Saul on Reason, Elites, and Voltaire's Bastards

EconTalk Episode with John Ralston Saul
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size:33.2 MB
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Podcast episode Oster on Pregnancy, Causation, and Expecting Better

EconTalk Episode with Emily Oster
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size:28.0 MB
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Podcast episode Taleb on Skin in the Game

EconTalk Episode with Nassim Taleb
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size:28.8 MB
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Podcast episode Pindyck on Climate Change

EconTalk Episode with Robert Pindyck
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size: 29.8 MB
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Podcast episode Michael Lind on Libertarianism

EconTalk Episode with Michael Lind
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size: 32.0 MB
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Podcast episode Stevenson and Wolfers on Happiness, Growth, and the Reinhart-Rogoff Controversy

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

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

Size: 29.8 MB
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Podcast episode Kling on the Three Languages of Politics

EconTalk Episode with Arnold Kling
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size: 29.6 MB
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Podcast episode Jim Manzi on the Oregon Medicaid Study, Experimental Evidence, and Causality

EconTalk Episode with Jim Manzi
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size: 27.6 MB
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Podcast episode Burgin on Hayek, Friedman, and the Great Persuasion

EconTalk Episode with Angus Burgin
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size: 31.7 MB
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Podcast episode Boettke on Living Economics

EconTalk Episode with Pete Boettke
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size: 29.6 MB
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Podcast episode Jerven on Measuring African Poverty and Progress

EconTalk Episode with Morten Jerven
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size: 31.8 MB
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Podcast episode Boudreaux on Reading Hayek

EconTalk Episode with Don Boudreaux
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size: 33.6 MB
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Podcast episode Angell on Big Pharma

EconTalk Episode with Marcia Angell
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size: 27.6 MB
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Podcast episode Munger on John Locke, Prices, and Hurricane Sandy

EconTalk Episode with Mike Munger
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size: 31.4 MB
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Podcast episode Nosek on Truth, Science, and Academic Incentives

EconTalk Episode with Brian Nosek
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Brian Nosek of the University of Virginia talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how incentives in academic life create a tension between truth-seeking and professional advancement. Nosek argues that these incentives create a subconscious bias toward making research decisions in favor of novel results that may not be true, particularly in empirical and experimental work in the social sciences. In the second half of the conversation, Nosek details some practical innovations occurring in the field of psychology, to replicate established results and to publicize unpublished results that are not sufficiently exciting to merit publication but that nevertheless advance understanding and knowledge. These include the Open Science Framework and PsychFileDrawer.

Size: 28.9 MB
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Podcast episode Scott Atlas on American Health Care

EconTalk Episode with Scott Atlas
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Scott Atlas, Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and author of In Excellent Health, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the U.S. health care system. Atlas argues that the U.S. health care system is top-notch relative to other countries and that data that show otherwise rely on including factors unrelated to health care or on spurious definitions. For example, life expectancy in the United States is unexceptional. When you take out suicides and fatal car accidents, factors that Atlas argues are unrelated to the health care system, the United States has the longest life expectancy in the world. A similar change occurs when measuring infant mortality--foreign data do not include as many at-risk births as in the United States and the measure of a birth is not comparable. In a number of other areas including cancer survival rates, access to hip replacement surgery and waiting times to see a physician, Atlas argues that the United States is also at or near the top. The discussion concludes with a discussion of access to health care for the poor and the failure of Medicaid.

Size: 28.4 MB
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Podcast episode Taubes on Why We Get Fat

EconTalk Episode with Gary Taubes
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Gary Taubes, author of Why We Get Fat, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about why we get fat and the nature of evidence in a complex system. The current mainstream view is that we get fat because we eat too much and don't exercise enough. Taubes challenges this seemingly uncontroversial argument with a number of empirical observations, arguing instead that excessive carbohydrate consumption causes obesity. In this conversation he explains how your body reacts to carbohydrates and explains why the mainstream argument of "calories in/calories out" is inadequate for explaining obesity. He also discusses the history of the idea of carbohydrates' importance tracing it back to German and Austrian nutritionists whose work was ignored after WWII. Roberts ties the discussion to other emergent, complex phenomena such as the economy. The conversation closes with a discussion of the risks of confirmation bias and cherry-picking data to suit one's pet hypotheses.

Size: 36.8 MB
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Podcast episode Manzi on Knowledge, Policy, and Uncontrolled

EconTalk Episode with Jim Manzi
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Jim Manzi, author of Uncontrolled, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the reliability of science and the ideas in his book. Manzi argues that unlike science, which can produce useful results using controlled experiments, social science typically involves complex systems where system-wide experiments are rare and statistical tools are limited in their ability to isolate causal relations. Because of the complexity of social environments, even narrow experiments are unlikely to have the wide application that can be found in the laws uncovered by experiments in the physical sciences. Manzi advocates a trial-and-error approach using randomized field trials to verify the usefulness of many policy proposals. And he argues for humility and lowered expectations when it comes to understanding causal effects in social settings related to public policy.

Size: 29.3 MB
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Podcast episode Yong on Science, Replication, and Journalism

EconTalk Episode with Ed Yong
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size: 32.8 MB
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Podcast episode Larry White on the Clash of Economic Ideas

EconTalk Episode with Lawrence White
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Lawrence H. White of George Mason University and author of The Clash of Economic Ideas talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economists and their ideas of the past one hundred years. They discuss Keynes and Hayek, monetary policy and the Great Depression, Germany after the Second World War, the economy of India, and the future of monetary policy.

Size: 28.8 MB
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Podcast episode Schmidtz on Rawls, Nozick, and Justice

EconTalk Episode with David Schmidtz
Hosted by Russ Roberts

David Schmidtz of the University of Arizona talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the work of John Rawls and Robert Nozick. The conversation covers the basic ideas of Rawls and Nozick on inequality and justice and the appropriate role of the state in taxation and property rights.

Size: 34.6 MB
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Podcast episode Burkhauser on the Middle Class

EconTalk Episode with Richard Burkhauser
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size: 27.7 MB
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Podcast episode Derman on Theories, Models, and Science

EconTalk Episode with Emanuel Derman
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Emanuel Derman of Columbia University and author of Models. Behaving. Badly talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about theories and models, and the elusive nature of truth in the sciences and social sciences. Derman, a former physicist and Goldman Sachs quant [quantitative analyst], contrasts the search for truth in the sciences with the search for truth in finance and economics. He critiques attempts to make finance more scientific and applies those insights to the financial crisis. The conversation closes with a discussion of career advice for those aspiring to work in quantitative finance.

Size: 27.4 MB
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Podcast episode Weinberger on Too Big to Know

EconTalk Episode with David Weinberger
Hosted by Russ Roberts

David Weinberger of Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and author of Too Big to Know, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book--how knowledge and data and our understanding of the world around us are being changed by the internet. Weinberger discusses knowledge and how it is attained have changed over time, particularly with the advent of the internet. He argues the internet has dispersed the power of authority and expertise. And he discusses whether the internet is making us smarter or stupider, and the costs and benefits of being able to tailor information to one's own interests and biases.

Size: 29.1 MB
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Podcast episode David Rose on the Moral Foundations of Economic Behavior

EconTalk Episode with David Rose
Hosted by Russ Roberts

David Rose of the University of Missouri, St. Louis and the author of The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book and the role morality plays in prosperity. Rose argues that morality plays a crucial role in prosperity and economic development. Knowing that the people you trade with have a principled aversion to exploiting opportunities for cheating in dealing with others allows economic actors to trust one another. That in turn allows for the widespread specialization and interaction through markets with strangers that creates prosperity. In this conversation, Rose explores the nature of the principles that work best to engender trust. The conversation closes with a discussion of the current trend in morality in America and the implications for trust and prosperity.

Size: 32.9 MB
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Podcast episode Taleb on Antifragility

EconTalk Episode with Nassim Taleb
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nassim Taleb, author of Fooled By Randomness and The Black Swan, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about antifragility, the concept behind Taleb's next book, a work in progress. Taleb talks about how we can cope with our ignorance and uncertainty in a complex world. Topics covered include health, finance, political systems, the Fed, your career, Seneca, shame, heroism, and a few more.

Size: 34.0 MB
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Podcast episode Klein on Knowledge and Coordination

EconTalk Episode with Daniel Klein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Dan Klein of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in Klein's new book, Knowledge and Coordination. Klein argues that allegory is a powerful way to think about outcomes of emergent order. He goes deeply into the concept of the invisible hand and creates a novel way to evaluate processes that not under any one's control. Klein then suggests novel ways of evaluating economic outcomes outside of the traditional metrics and techniques. Along the way, Klein emphasizes the role of uncertainty and imperfection in the entrepreneurial process.

Size: 29.9 MB
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Podcast episode Taubes on Fat, Sugar and Scientific Discovery

EconTalk Episode with Gary Taubes
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what we know about the relationship between diet and disease. Taubes argues that for decades, doctors, the medical establishment, and government agencies encouraged Americans to reduce fat in their diet and increase carbohydrates in order to reduce heart disease. Taubes argues that the evidence for the connection between fat in the diet and heart disease was weak yet the consensus in favor of low-fat diets remained strong. Casual evidence (such as low heart disease rates among populations with little fat in their diet) ignores the possibilities that other factors such as low sugar consumption may explain the relationship. Underlying the conversation is a theme that causation can be difficult to establish in complex systems such as the human body and the economy.

Size: 38.0 MB
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Podcast episode Ramey on Stimulus and Multipliers

EconTalk Episode with Valerie Ramey
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size: 31.7 MB
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Podcast episode Wapshott on Keynes and Hayek

EconTalk Episode with Nicholas Wapshott
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nicholas Wapshott, author of Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich A. Hayek--their ideas, their disagreements, their friendship and how the two men influenced economists and public policy during their lifetimes and beyond.

Size: 31.7 MB
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Podcast episode Rosenberg on the Nature of Economics

EconTalk Episode with Alex Rosenberg
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Alex Rosenberg of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the scientific nature of economics. Rosenberg, a philosopher of science talks about whether economics is a science. He surveys the changes in economics over the last 25 years--the rise of experimental economics and behavioral economics--and argues that economics has become more scientific and that economists have become more aware of flaws in economic theory. But he also argues that economics is unable to make precise predictions about the effects of various changes in policy and behavior. The conversation closes with a discussion of the role the philosophy of science can play in the evolution of economics.

Size: 26.3 MB
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Podcast episode Garett Jones on Stimulus

EconTalk Episode with Garett Jones
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Garett Jones of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the workers who were hired with money from the 2009 American Recovery and Re-investment Act--the stimulus package. Jones (with co-author Daniel Rothschild) recently completed two studies based on surveys and interviews with firms who received stimulus funds and workers who work at those firms. They found that 42% of workers hired had been unemployed. The remainder came from other jobs or from outside the labor force such as retirement or school. Is 42% a big number or a small number? Jones argues it is small and defends his conclusion. The conversation also includes a discussion of the labor market generally and why the stimulus spending may not have been effective.

Size: 28.7 MB
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Podcast episode Banerjee on Poverty and Poor Economics

EconTalk Episode with Abhijit Banerjee
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Abhijit Banerjee of MIT talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Banerjee's book (co-authored with Esther Duflo), Poor Economics. The conversation begins with how randomized control trials (a particular kind of social experiment) have been used to measure the effectiveness of various types of aid to the poor. Banerjee goes on to discuss hunger, health, and education--the challenges in each area and what we have learned about what works and what does not. The conversation closes with a discussion of the role of the labor market in the private sector.

Size: 23.0 MB
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Podcast episode Otteson on Adam Smith

EconTalk Episode with James Otteson
Hosted by Russ Roberts

James Otteson of Yeshiva University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Adam Smith. The conversation begins with a brief sketch of David Hume and his influence on Smith and then turns to the so-called Adam Smith problem--the author of The Wealth of Nations appears to have a different take on human nature than the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith worked on both books throughout his life, yet their perspectives seem so different. Otteson argues that the books focus on social behavior and the institutions that sustain that behavior--market transactions in The Wealth of Nations and moral behavior in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Both books use the idea of emergent order to explain the evolution of both kinds of social behavior and social institutions. The conversation concludes with a discussion of what Smith got right and wrong.

Size: 32.7 MB
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Podcast episode Munger on Exchange, Exploitation and Euvoluntary Transactions

EconTalk Episode with Mike Munger
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Mike Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the psychology, sociology, and economics of buying and selling. Why are different transactions that seemingly make both parties better off frowned on and often made illegal? In theory, all voluntary transactions should make both parties better off. But Munger argues that some transactions are more voluntary than others. Munger lists the attributes of a truly voluntary transaction, what he calls a euvoluntary transaction and argues that when transactions are not euvoluntary, they may be outlawed or seen as immoral. Related issues that are discussed include price gouging after a natural disaster, blackmail, sales of human organs, and the employment of low-wage workers.

Size: 28.8 MB
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Podcast episode Harford on Adapt and the Virtues of Failure

EconTalk Episode with Tim Harford
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Tim Harford, author and journalist, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Adapt, Harford's book on the virtues of failure and the trial and error process. Harford argues that success is more likely when there is experimentation and trial and error followed by adapting, rather than following a top-down, ex ante plan driven by expertise. The conversation looks at the what war can teach us about information, knowledge, and planning, the challenge of admitting mistakes, and the implications of trial and error for our daily lives.

Size: 26.9 MB
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Podcast episode Byers on the Blind Spot, Science, and Uncertainty

EconTalk Episode with William Byers
Hosted by Russ Roberts

William Byers of Canada's Concordia University and author of The Blind Spot talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the nature of knowledge, science and mathematics. Byers argues that there is an inherent uncertainty about science and our knowledge that is frequently ignored. Byers contrasts a science of wonder with a science of certainty. He suggests that our knowledge of the physical world will always be incomplete because of the imperfection of models and human modes of thought relative to the complexity of the physical world. The conversation also looks at the implications of these ideas for teaching science and social science.

Size: 32.3 MB
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Podcast episode Papola on the Keynes Hayek Rap Videos

EconTalk Episode with John Papola
Hosted by Russ Roberts

John Papola of Emergent Order talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about their collaboration creating rap videos based on the ideas of John Maynard Keynes and F. A. Hayek. Their first was "Fear the Boom and Bust" which was released January 25, 2010. This past week they released "Fight of the Century." The latest video discusses the overarching differences between the philosophies of Keynes and Hayek and their views on whether government spending promotes recovery from an economic downturn and whether it leads to prosperity. In this conversation, Papola and Roberts discuss some of the underlying ideas in the video--whether the military spending of World War II ended the Great Depression, the debate between Malthus and Say and their influence on Keynes and Hayek, and the fundamental differences between Keynes and Hayek in how economic prosperity is created.

Size: 37.2 MB
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Podcast episode Rubinstein on Game Theory and Behavioral Economics

EconTalk Episode with Ariel Rubinstein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Ariel Rubinstein of Tel Aviv University and New York University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of game theory and behavioral economics, two of the most influential areas of economics in recent years. Drawing on his Afterword for the 60th anniversary edition of Von Neumann and Morgenstern's Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, Rubinstein argues that game theory's successes have been quite limited. Rubinstein, himself a game theorist, argues that game theory is unable to yield testable predictions or solutions to public policy problems. He argues that game theorists have a natural incentive to exaggerate its usefulness. In the area of behavioral economics, Rubinstein argues that the experimental results (which often draw on game theory) are too often done in ways that are not rigorous. The conversation concludes with a plea for honesty about what economics can and cannot do.

Size: 27.9 MB
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Podcast episode Dyson on Heresy, Climate Change, and Science

EconTalk Episode with Freeman Dyson
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Freeman Dyson of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about science, his career, and the future. Dyson argues for the importance of what he calls heresy--challenging the scientific dogmas of the day. Dyson argues that our knowledge of climate science is incomplete and that too many scientists treat it as if it were totally understood. He reflects on his childhood and earlier work, particularly in the area of space travel. And he says that biology is the science today with the most exciting developments.

Size: 30.3 MB
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Podcast episode Caldwell on Hayek

EconTalk Episode with Bruce Caldwell
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Bruce Caldwell of Duke University and the General Editor of the Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Hayek, his life, his ideas, his books, and articles. The conversation covers Hayek's intellectual encounters with Keynes, Hayek's role in the socialist calculation debate, Hayek's key ideas, and a discussion of which of Hayek's works are most accessible.

Size: 34.5 MB
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Podcast episode Boettke on Mises

EconTalk Episode with Pete Boettke
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Pete Boettke of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the life, work, and legacy of Ludwig von Mises. Boettke outlines Mises's most important contributions to economics--business cycle theory, the socialism/calculation debate, and the application of economics to a wide range of behavior beyond the financial. Boettke discusses how Mises fits into the Austrian tradition and how he influenced scholars who came after him. The conversation closes with a discussion of Mises's most important works and suggests which books and articles are most accessible to a beginner who wants to explore Mises's ideas.

Size: 34.6 MB
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Podcast episode Phillipson on Adam Smith

EconTalk Episode with Nicholas Phillipson
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nicholas Phillipson, author of Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the life of Adam Smith. Drawing on his recent biography of Smith, Phillipson discusses his intellectual roots, his intellectual journey, and what we know of his influences and achievements. Phillipson argues that Smith was shy, ambitious and very well-liked. He highlights the influence of Francis Hutcheson and David Hume on Smith's thinking. Phillipson gives his take on how the ideas of The Theory of Moral Sentiments mesh with The Wealth of Nations and argues that the Theory of Moral Sentiments was a response to Mandeville and Rousseau.

Size: 32.5 MB
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Podcast episode Robert Frank on Inequality

EconTalk Episode with Robert Frank
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Robert Frank of Cornell University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about inequality. Is there a role for public policy in mitigating income inequality? Is such intervention justified or effective? The conversation delves into both the philosophical and empirical evidence behind differing answers to these questions. Ultimately, Frank argues for a steeply rising tax rate on consumption that would reduce disparities in consumption. This is a lively back-and-forth about a very timely topic.

Size: 28.3 MB
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Podcast episode Caplan on Hayek, Richter, and Socialism

EconTalk Episode with Bryan Caplan
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Bryan Caplan of George Mason University and blogger at EconLog talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about two books: Eugene Richter's Pictures of the Socialistic Future and F. A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. Both books warn against the dangers of socialism. Pictures of a Socialistic Future, published in 1891 is a dystopian novel imagining what life would be like after a socialist revolution. The Road to Serfdom, published in 1944, explores the links between economic freedom and political freedom and the inherent similarities between communism and fascism. Both books look at the German roots of centralized planning and the nature of the people who rise to power when the State is powerful. The conversation includes discussion of the these topics as well as the rule of law and the amount of state control of the economy in Nazi Germany.

Size: 31.7 MB
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Podcast episode Menand on Psychiatry

EconTalk Episode with Louis Menand
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Louis Menand of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of psychiatry. Drawing on a recent article of his in the New Yorker, Menand talks about the state of knowledge in psychiatry and the scientific basis for making conclusions about mental illness and various therapies. Menand argues that the research record shows little difference between the effectiveness of psychopharmacology and talk therapies of various kinds in fighting depression. Neither is particularly successful in any one case. Other topics that are discussed include the parallels between economics and psychiatry in assessing causation, the diminished role of Freudianism in modern psychiatry, and the range of issues involved in using medication to avoid pain and hardship.

Size: 25.8 MB
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Podcast episode Roberts on the Crisis

EconTalk Episode with Russ Roberts
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Russ Roberts, host of EconTalk, discusses his paper, "Gambling with Other People's Money: How Perverted Incentives Created the Financial Crisis." Roberts reflects on the past eighteen months of podcasts on the crisis, and then turns to his own take, a narrative that emphasizes the role of government rescues of creditors and the incentives this created for imprudent lending. He also discusses U.S. housing policy, particularly the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and how the government's implicit guarantee of lenders to the GSE's interacted with housing policy to increase housing prices. This in turn, Roberts argues, helped create the subprime market, created mainly by private investors. The episode closes with some of Roberts's doubts about his narrative.

Size: 41.4 MB
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Podcast episode Leamer on the State of Econometrics

EconTalk Episode with Ed Leamer
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size: 27.4 MB
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Podcast episode Taleb on Black Swans, Fragility, and Mistakes

EconTalk Episode with Nassim Taleb
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest thoughts on robustness, fragility, debt, insurance, uncertainty, exercise, moral hazard, knowledge, and the challenges of fame and fortune.

Size: 30.7 MB
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Podcast episode Nye on the Great Depression, Political Economy, and the Evolution of the State

EconTalk Episode with John Nye
Hosted by Russ Roberts

John Nye of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Great Depression, the evolution of the State, and attitudes people have toward free markets. Nye argues that support for modern capitalism is fragile because people have trouble trusting the market process which is based on anonymous exchange with strangers. So when a crisis comes, it leads to demands for a larger role for top-down decision making. Nye sees the Great Depression as part of a larger public disillusionment beginning in World War I.

Size: 26.6 MB
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This is the sixth and concluding podcast in the EconTalk Book Club discussion of The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith. In this episode, Dan Klein of George Mason University and EconTalk host Russ Roberts discuss Parts VI and VII of the book. They close by putting the book in context.

Size: 44.3 MB
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This is the fifth podcast in the EconTalk Book Club discussion of The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith. In this episode, Dan Klein of George Mason University and EconTalk host Russ Roberts finish discussing Part III and discuss Parts IV and V of the book.

Size: 41.5 MB
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Podcast episode Wolfe on Liberalism

EconTalk Episode with Alan Wolfe
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Alan Wolfe, Professor of Political Science at Boston College and author of The Future of Liberalism, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about liberalism. Wolfe argues that the essence of liberalism is giving as many people as possible control over their own lives. Wolfe traces the evolution of liberalism through Western civilization. He rejects the distinction between modern liberalism and classical liberalism seeing Adam Smith as a liberal but not F. A. Hayek. The conversation closes with a discussion of the role of competition in encouraging religiosity in the United States.

Size: 24.7 MB
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Podcast episode Leamer on Macroeconomic Patterns and Stories

EconTalk Episode with Ed Leamer
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Ed Leamer, of UCLA and author of Macroeconomic Patterns and Stories, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how we should use patterns in macroeconomic data and stories about those patterns to improve our understanding of the economy. Leamer argues that economics is not a science, but rather a way of thinking, and that economic models are neither true nor false, but either useful or not useful. He discusses various patterns in the recessions and recoveries in the United States since 1950. The conversation closes with a discussion of the reliability of econometric analysis.

Size: 30.3 MB
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Podcast episode Klein on The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Episode 4--A Discussion of Part III

EconTalk Episode with Daniel Klein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

This is the fourth podcast in the EconTalk Book Club discussion of The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith. In this episode, Dan Klein of George Mason University and EconTalk host Russ Roberts discuss Part III of the book.

Size: 43.2 MB
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Podcast episode Reis on Keynes, Macroeconomics, and Monetary Policy

EconTalk Episode with Ricardo Reis
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Ricardo Reis of Columbia University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Keynesian economics in the classroom and in research. Reis argues that Keynesian models are a useful framework for helping undergraduates understand macroeconomic ideas of general equilibrium. More generally, Reis argues, Keynesian ideas remain influential in macroeconomic research, particularly among Neo-Keynesians. Reis discusses the lessons the economics profession and the world have learned from the Great Depression and suggests that those lessons have helped us manage the current crisis. The conversation closes with a discussion of whether economics is a science.

Size: 30.7 MB
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Podcast episode Klein on The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Episode 3--A Discussion of Part II

EconTalk Episode with Daniel Klein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

This is the third podcast in the EconTalk Book Club discussion of The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith. In this episode, Dan Klein of George Mason University and EconTalk host Russ Roberts discuss Part II of the book.

Size: 28.7 MB
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Podcast episode Roberts on Wealth, Growth, and Economics as a Science

EconTalk Episode with Russ Roberts
Hosted by Russ Roberts

EconTalk host Russ Roberts talks with reporter Robert Pollie about the basics of wealth and growth. What happens when the stock market goes down or the price of housing? When wealth goes down, where does the wealth go? How do these changes affect our wealth? What is the relationship between wealth and inflation? Roberts explains the economic fundamentals of these changes. At the end of the conversation, Roberts discusses the implications of the current economic crisis for assessing the state of economics as a discipline.

Size: 23.5 MB
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Podcast episode Klein on The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Episode 2--A Discussion of Part I

EconTalk Episode with Daniel Klein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

This is the second podcast in the EconTalk Book Club discussion of The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith. In this episode, Dan Klein of George Mason University and EconTalk host Russ Roberts discuss Part I of the book.

Size: 40.9 MB
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Podcast episode Don Boudreaux on Macroeconomics and Austrian Business Cycle Theory

EconTalk Episode with Don Boudreaux
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Don Boudreaux, of George Mason University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the microfoundations of macroeconomics and the Austrian theory of business cycles. Boudreaux draws on Erik Lindahl's distinction between microeconomics and macroeconomics, emphasizing the difference between individual choices and the coordination of economic activity. Other topics include the Austrian view of capital and investment, the Austrian view of monetary policy, the issue of aggregation, and the intellectual successes of the Keynesians.

Size: 31.4 MB
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Podcast episode Klein on The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Episode 1--An Overview

EconTalk Episode with Daniel Klein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Dan Klein, of George Mason University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Adam Smith's lesser-known masterpiece, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, on the 250th anniversary of its initial publication. Klein highlights key passages and concepts of the book including its relation to The Wealth of Nations, Smith's willingness to accept "vague, loose, and indeterminate" rules rather than precise ones, Smith's criteria for assessing what is moral and what is not, and Smith's conception of justice.

This podcast is part of the EconTalk Book Club on The Theory of Moral Sentiments. It will be followed by four bonus podcasts in the coming weeks going through the book systematically. Interested listeners who wish to do the reading in advance can find the schedule along with more background on the book on the EconTalk book club page, accessible from the EconTalk home page.

Size: 38.3 MB
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Podcast episode Taleb on the Financial Crisis

EconTalk Episode with Nassim Taleb
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nassim Taleb talks about the financial crisis, how we misunderstand rare events, the fragility of the banking system, the moral hazard of government bailouts, the unprecedented nature of really, really bad events, the contribution of human psychology to misinterpreting probability and the dangers of hubris. The conversation closes with a discussion of religion and probability.

Size: 25.9 MB
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Podcast episode Klein on Truth, Bias, and Disagreement

EconTalk Episode with Daniel Klein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Dan Klein, of George Mason University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts on truth in economics, bias, and groupthink in academic life. Along the way they discuss the Food and Drug Administration (and the drug approval process), the culture of academic life and the roles of empirical evidence and prediction markets in adjudicating academic disagreement. The conversation closes with a discussion of Econ Journal Watch--the watchdog journal Klein founded and edits--and an invitation to listeners to join a discussion of The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith.

Size: 31.2 MB
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Podcast episode Roberts (and Hanson) on Truth and Economics

EconTalk Episode with Russ Roberts
Hosted by Russ Roberts

EconTalk host Russ Roberts talks about the role of empirical evidence and bias in economics and why economists disagree. Roberts talks about how his interviews with various economists at EconTalk have forced him to reassess the role of empirical evidence in various debates in economics and economic policy. Roberts is joined by Robin Hanson of George Mason University for counterpoint and therapeutic advice for those uneasy about the scientific or non-scientific nature of economics.

Size: 34.1 MB
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Podcast episode Ayres on Super Crunchers and the Power of Data

EconTalk Episode with Ian Ayres
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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

Size: 28.8 MB
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Podcast episode Taleb on Black Swans

EconTalk Episode with Nassim Taleb
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nassim Taleb talks about the challenges of coping with uncertainty, predicting events, and understanding history. This wide-ranging conversation looks at investment, health, history and other areas where data play a key role. Taleb, the author of Fooled By Randomness and The Black Swan, imagines two countries, Mediocristan and Extremistan where the ability to understand the past and predict the future is radically different. In Mediocristan, events are generated by a underlying random process that is normally distributed. These events are often physical and observable and they tend to cluster around the middle. Most people are near the average height and no adult is more than nine feet tall. But in Extremistan, the right-hand tail of events is thick and long and the outlier, the seemingly wildly unlikely event is more common than our experience with Mediocristan would indicate. Bill Gates is more than a little wealthier than the average. The civil war in Lebabon or the events of 9/11 were more worse than just a typical bad day in the Beirut or New York City. Taleb's contention is that we often bring our intuition from Mediocristan for the events of Extremistan, leading us to error. The result is a tendency to be blind-sided by the unexpected.

Size: 19.2 MB
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