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Russ Roberts and Mike Munger on Wild Problems

Waze and Google Maps tell us the best way to get to where we're going. But no app or algorithm can tell us whether we...

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Gerd Gigerenzer on How to Stay Smart in a Smart World
IBM's super-computer Watson was a runaway success on Jeopardy! But it wasn't nearly as good at diagnosing cancer. This came as no surprise to...
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L.A. Paul on Vampires, Life Choices, and Transformation
Philosopher and author L.A. Paul talks about her book Transformative Experience with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Paul explores the uncertainties...
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Econtalk Extra
By Amy Willis

Pandemic Priorities

It's been over two years since the COVID pandemic began, and a great deal of progress has been made. But how much have we learned? We have a vaccine available, now for people of almost all ages. It's an extraordinary...

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Agnes Callard on Aspiration

Where do our deepest personal values come from? Can we choose those values? Philosopher and author Agnes Callard of the University of Chicago talks about her book, Aspiration, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Callard explores the challenge of aspiration--who we...

Waze and Google Maps tell us the best way to get to where we're going. But no app or algorithm can tell us whether we should head there in the first place. To economist Russ Roberts, the reason is simple: Humans are dynamic and aspirational beings. When it comes to making life's big decisions, from what to study to who...

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IBM's super-computer Watson was a runaway success on Jeopardy! But it wasn't nearly as good at diagnosing cancer. This came as no surprise to Max Planck Institute psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer, who argues that when it comes to life-and-death decisions, we'll always need real, not artificial, brains. Listen as the au...

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Economist John List of the University of Chicago talks about his book, The Voltage Effect, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. He discusses what determines scalability and argues that the only good ideas that count are those that scale. Along the way, he draws on his experiences as chief economist of Uber and Lyft to peer...

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It's been over two years since the COVID pandemic began, and a great deal of progress has been made. But how much have we learned? We have a vaccine available, now for people of almost all ages. It's an extraordinary achievement, but how effective is it in the end? And perhaps more importantly, what do we now know abou...

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When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccination, is the risk of myocarditis greater than the benefit to a healthy male teen? Is natural immunity really better than vaccination--and were we right to mask the kids? Dr. Vinay Prasad of the University of California San Francisco talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what w...

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A language, a flag, a national anthem and shared history—like a heart that has to pump harder to support a heavier body, the bigger a nation gets, the harder to curate an identity. Nassim Nicholas Taleb talks about scale and governance with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Taleb sings the virtues of smaller relative to la...

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Immigration to the United States, say Ran Abramitzky and Leah Boustan, is more novel than short story: It takes decades for new immigrants to catch up economically. But their kids on average thrive economically and have higher rates of upward mobility than American-born kids. Abramitzky and Boustan talk about their boo...

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How much of life can be solved by algorithms, and how much just can't be solved? Listen as A.J. Jacobs, author of The Puzzler, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the lessons he learned from solving every kind of puzzle imaginable, including the biggest stumper of all: what it really means to be a human being.

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How do books change our lives? Educator and author Roosevelt Montás of Columbia University talks about his book Rescuing Socrates with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Drawing on his own educational and life journey, Montás shows how great books don't just teach us stuff--they get inside us and make us who we are.

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Former Google ads boss Sridhar Ramaswamy says that we live in a world that seems to give out free content when we use a search engine. But that world comes with a hidden cost--search results that distort what we find and serve advertisers rather than searchers. Ramaswamy talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how...

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In October 1973, an unhappy Leonard Cohen was listening to the radio on his Greek island home when he heard that Israel was at war. He headed to Tel Aviv, exchanging a personal and creative crisis for a national one. Absent a plan and even a guitar, Cohen wound up serenading Israeli soldiers at the front. Journalist Ma...

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Why are some people incurious? Is curiosity a teachable thing? And why, if all knowledge can be googled, is curiosity now the domain of a small elite? Listen as Ian Leslie, author of Curious, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts why curiosity is a critical virtue, why it's now in dangerous decline, and why, when it...

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Are you merely a cog in the larger economy? What's wrong with being a cog? After all, cogs are individual decision-makers, and isn't that the appropriate focal point of economic analysis? Even if being a cog isn't so bad, what are the monsters you need to look out for in the digital economy? And what sort of economic p...

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Mainstream economics, says author Diane Coyle, keeps treating people like cogs: self-interested, rational agents. But in the digital economy, we're less sophisticated consumer and more monster under the influence of social media. Listen as the economist and former UK Treasury advisor tells EconTalk host Russ Roberts ho...

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What's the single best thing happening in technology right now? According to entrepreneur and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, it's the ability to live in rural Wisconsin but still earn a Silicon Valley salary. Andreessen also explains to EconTalk host Russ Roberts why software is still eating the world, why he's an...

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It's tempting to explain Russia's invasion of Ukraine with Putin's megalomania. Economist Chris Blattman of the University of Chicago talks about his book Why We Fight with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Blattman explains why only a fraction of rivalries ever erupt into violence, the five main reasons adversaries can't...

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