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 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…)

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?2. Some argue that NFL football can’t survive because it’s too violent. On the other hand, Klosterman argues, it just might flourish because it’s so violent. What does he mean by this? If he’s right, what sort of change ought the NFL make to the game, and to what extent do you think they’d be successful?

3. Russ recited the opening lines of Tennyson’s “Ulysses.” I can still recite all the prepositions in alphabetical order (thank you, Mrs. Pulver). What can you recite? What has memorizing this done for your understanding? Should we emphasize rote memorization more or less with young people today? Why?